27 Apr Online Dating for Seniors: A Beginner’s Guide
Returning to dating can be an intimidating experience for older adults. The online dating world can add further uncertainty while feeling scary or overwhelming. The following is a guide to cyber dating for seniors when you don’t know where to start.
April 27, 2020 by Brett Shay
Single and over 60? In no way is it too late to find someone to be with. With the advent of online dating targeted to older adults, cyber matching has less of a stigma than ever. Online dating is growing in popularity with seniors. This makes it a new part of the mainstream- 29% of seniors reported being on a date with someone they met online within the last 12 months.
Whether you’re divorced or widowed and ready to jump back into dating or just haven’t found the perfect match yet, there are others like you out there looking to meet others locally. If you’re considering online dating or even the chance to meet new friends you may not be sure where to begin. We’ll give you some pointers to get started.
Preparing for new experiences
Online dating for older adults can be fun! Worried about meeting those with too much baggage? With decades under our belt, we all have some level of burden and hindrances to overcome. While years of experience dating, a bad marriage, or other life lessons learned can leave some users more jaded about dating prospects or life in general, there are also some major advantages of dating well into your twilight years.
Seniors tend to be more comfortable in their own skin and relaxed than their younger counterparts. Older adults are also likely to know what they want, are more mature, and less inclined to play games or waste time. Moral of the story? Dating has its pros and cons at any age, but matchmaking as a senior will likely prove to be a much different experience than you remembered from your youth.
Stay safe and avoid scammers
The ease, convenience, and plethora of options in online dating are its advantages. They also make them easier targets for scammers and other dangers that follow all online daters, including seniors who tend to be at greater risk in general of falling prey to con artists.
The research and measures one can take to ensure their safety could take many forms. One might even think some of the below referenced steps might be overkill, but the moral of the story is to take basic precautions and use common sense.
A few helpful tips for staying safe include:
Guard your personal data
Don’t disclose too much personal data, such as home and work address, and other sensitive information like bank and credit card information. Be smart about other information that could uncover your whereabouts to make you prey to a scam or trolls, including providing upcoming vacation dates or profile photos that could reveal more info than you realize. You can even get a disposable phone number for free via different options including services like Google Voice that can be used right on your everyday phone. Some users have these numbers for the sole purpose of online dating when giving out contact information off of dating sites.
Financial requests are always a no-no
Anyone seeking money, gift cards, or any other merchandise or items of value is a red flag bigger than all others. Report any requests to the app or site in reference and cease further conversation with them in the meantime.
Converse on the dating platform
Scammers or trolls with bad intentions often try to move chat away from a dating site. Why does this matter? Different sites have protocols and algorithms that can uncover con artists, or at least deal with them more effectively when they are reported. Basically, if they can move away from the platform, it’s less likely that they are caught and more likely that they can continue to prey on victims unimpeded.
Do your research
If it’s not already innate to do a Google search of your potential match, then make it a part of your routine. Some key items to look for include not just their name, but also their email address, phone number, and even profile name if different than their given name.
Reverse image search
In many cases, fake profiles use pictures taken from other parts of the web. It isn’t foolproof, but try a reverse image search of your match’s photo(s). There are many options, but the most well known include TinEye and Google Images. If you’ve used Google Images but aren’t sure how to search by image, just look for the picture upload option on Google Images to start your search by identified photo.
Meet via virtual video chat first
Feel free to “meet” your potential date through virtual video options like FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype. This can give you a feel for them and help to confirm that they are who they say they are. You can get an initial introduction from the safety of your own home.
As an added bonus, it allows you to have a date without the time, commitment, or effort of having to meet them first. This can save you time and energy if you don’t identify a connection off the bat, or it can accelerate physical and emotional bonds and excitement between you leading up to the face-to-face meeting.
Set up the meeting in a public place
This should go without saying, but always meet in a public space for the first time. This doesn’t just mean not meeting in your home or theirs. Consider skipping venues that could be relatively hidden or isolated, such as a hike or park space. Of course, a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop are straightforward choices to start with.
Tell at least one friend or family member where you are going
Be sure to advise someone close to you what your plan is, with whom, and what time you will be there. At the very least, just let them know the basics like “You are meeting a friend for lunch downtown” if you don’t want to share too many details. That way, then can be aware and check in if something is off or if they don’t get an update from you.
Consider sharing your location through your phone with a friend or loved one as well. This can easily be done, and on a temporary basis if you wish (like for one hour or one day) on various platforms, including the iPhone.
If it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is
Be mindful of what a match might be doing and saying. Overly generous promises, sharing glamorous stories or far-fetched tales, and pictures that just look a little too good to be true are just several warning signs that a person or situation isn’t what it appears to be on the surface.
Finding the right platform
A brief online or app search for online dating can quickly overwhelm you as there are endless options out there. Begin by thinking about what you want, and be candid about it. Dating platforms have been tailored to various audiences from older adult specific sites to a variety of subgroups from religious connections to more specific interests and hobbies. Take some time to do some research and discover what you might be looking for.
Of course, plenty of general purpose dating sites are available and usually one of the best places to get started. Filters on all of them let you search by age range, (along with plenty of other sort and filter options). You may be more comfortable starting with sites geared for seniors.
While the options may feel endless, we will break down the most common all-purpose platforms and the best options that are tailored or limited to older adults.
General Online Dating Platforms
eHarmony was an early pioneer of online dating. You are probably familiar with them, if at least from the years of commercials. It has a broad range of users, including a substantial amount of older adults. There is a free option for eHarmony, but it’s relatively limited without splurging for the premium version. eHarmony skews on the more serious side of dating, so it’s best suited for those that are genuinely looking for marriage or serious relationship prospects.
POF is one of the largest dating platforms in the world. With many millions of users it’s now and has been for some time one of the enduring sites that’s withstood the test of time. The best quality of POF also makes it one of it’s biggest downsides. The platform is a free one, making it more accessible to a wider audience. However, with being free, it also makes it a greater and easier target for trolling, catfishing, and other scammers out there.
OKCupid has a growing base of seniors as part of its overall user count. It aims to be a happy medium between the standard-bearing swiping apps and those that are more serious minded (while integrating some components of both). It also has a substantial amount of features available for free without the need to pay for a subscription, though there is a premium version.
Like other names listed here, you may be familiar with Match. It’s another tried-and-true platform, and it has a bevy of older adult users as well. Match is almost the opposite of another site mentioned here, POF. It technically has a free version, although it’s almost unusable, making the premium version the only one you should consider if you do sign up. It’s pricey, and because of this you will find somewhat more limited options than a more common free version. The benefit of this is that those who use it are more likely to be serious about commitment, the level of quality tends to be greater, and requiring payment is a great way to weed out scam artists and trolls.
Senior-Specific Dating Platforms
The SilverSingles platform is of course tailored for older singles, but it actually focuses on those over the age of 70. What makes it unique is compatibility matching questionnaires which helps find suitable partners. The site has free and paid options like the others listed here, but the free version only allows 5 matches per day.
Ourtime is dedicated to those over 50. What’s different about OurTime is that it has an expanded scope beyond just dating. Associated members can find friends, travel buddies, and other types of friendship in addition to a chance at love.
This site has a focus on individuals over the age of 50. In fact, it won’t even allow users to sign up that are under 45 years old. It has a pretty extensive list of features even for free versions and one of the largest databases of older adult users available.
Putting your best foot forward
When getting started with online dating, it’s advisable to have a good understanding of pros and cons of these services and how to present yourself in the best light but in an open and clear way.
Honesty is the best policy
First impressions count. Naturally, everyone wants to look their best on their profile. It is important to pick photographs that show your attractive side. However, your pictures should be current and not heavily edited. Almost anyone who has experience with online dating can share the disappointing experience of meeting a prospective date in person who appears much older or heavier than they do on their online profile.
Ask friends or family for advice on photos that show your best side and show you in a flattering and accurate light. They can help give you the honest truth and they can give a second opinion on which photos are better or worse than others.
Keep expectations in check
When reviewing profiles on dating platforms, you may get absorbed by attractive and pleasing pictures on display. As you may have realized when creating your own profile or in initial interactions, it can be simple for people to misrepresent themselves. Maybe when you previously dated, it was years ago and online dating was still taboo, with in-person meetings still the norm. Virtual connections are here to stay, for better and for worse. It’s just a different way to find a connection and opportunity to match with people that you might not otherwise have the chance to encounter.
Of course, you will want an initial attraction. But keep in mind that you – and potential dates – are at different stages in your lives. No matter what a person posts for public display, if he or she is in your age range, there is likely to be evidence of that age. Hair loss, graying and perhaps a few extra pounds may be in the mix.
No checked baggage
Older adults in the dating game probably have a lifetime of experiences that their younger counterparts don’t. From a plethora of relationships both good and bad plus the potential to have been divorced or widowed and have grown children, you may have harbored certain feelings or resentments as a result. On top of that, you may have children, aging or deceased parents, and even grandchildren, plus other ailments stemming from old age.
It might be challenging to not only stop yourself from letting these feelings come to the surface, but it may even be tough to prevent those thoughts from causing you to judge your dates and potential matches prematurely. In addition, be mindful of the history that you share with your matches at first, especially those that surround topics of children, previous relationships, and other touchy subjects.
Difficult though it may be, don’t let some of these aspects of your life come up. It’s better to wait until the time is right for such conversations, usually not until at least the first date, if not later. During initial chats, it can be an easy topic to keep the discussion moving or pique curiosity in a chat. It may also come up from your chat mate or date, but try to stay focused and discuss them when the time is right.
Keeping an open mind
Talk to anyone who has experienced online dating, and they may have found it disheartening or associate negative experiences with it. Of course, the prospect of dating online or in person are both daunting as dating in general is challenging.
With that being said, we have a few final tips on helping ensure you can successfully find prospects without creating too many barriers to matching.
When meeting people in real life, there is no filter option. While some may appreciate the fact that you can sort and filter potential matches by a bevy of options from height, religious and political views, and hobbies, they can also inhibit your ability to find others dramatically.
While there is nothing wrong with filters, identifying requirements that must be met can have the opposite of their intended effect. Instead of honing in to find your ideal mate, it is more likely to reduce your pool of options to the point that it becomes nearly impossible to find anyone at all.
Keep your filters to a minimum and embrace variety.
There’s more under the surface
A profile is much more than what is displayed on a computer or phone screen. Just remember the old adage about “not judging a book by its cover” and look at your own profile- it might offer a snapshot of you, but it’s probable that you wouldn’t find it all-encompassing and that it wouldn’t be fair for others to judge you just based off of that.
Keep this lesson in mind when evaluating others too. No one’s profile will accurately match what one represents as a person fully. Some people are just not good at telling their story virtually, and others might be experts to the point that they misrepresent themselves.
The lesson here is to dig a little deeper before passing judgement about a person solely based on their profile.
Overreliance on algorithms
Many platforms out there, including some previously mentioned here, position themselves based on their stated ability to find matches through algorithms and questionnaires that can reportedly identify compatibility between profiles. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that any of these algorithms work across any platform out there.
Feel free to take a look at how the computer rates your ability to match up as partners, but take it with a grain of salt. Don’t discard a potential connection or alternatively get too excited over a high-matching partner. Get to know them just the same.
The next best thing
Many online daters have fallen into the trap of online dating that more options are just a click or swipe away. Dating is an investment of time and energy. Don’t allow yourself to have this mindset when it comes to your approach. It becomes too easy to make others disposable to the point that you don’t take the time to determine the suitability of others properly before moving on.
Alternatively, keep in mind that others out there will be treating the platforms in this way. Therefore, don’t feel too dejected if you don’t get reciprocated time and energy if other potential matches move on quickly. If this becomes a point of frustration for you, consider the more “serious” platforms out there that are prone to facilitating more connection time between prospects.
Ready to jump in?
After reading our beginner’s guide to online dating for older adults, we hope that you are ready to take the plunge and are excited about the chance at meeting new people. Even if you are still hesitant, start small with one website and begin to build your profile and browse over time.
Luckily, plenty of dating platforms have taken the needs of single seniors into account and facilitated accessible and friendly dating networks. Millions of senior singles have found connection, chat, and solace on dating platforms geared for any interest and for whatever you’re looking for.
Chosen Family Home Care provides home care services to seniors in need of daily assistance, companionship, and other activities around the home in Pennsylvania. Follow our insights page for great resources and fun tips for mature and senior adults no matter what your relationship status is. Check us out on Instagram and Facebook as well.