Don't fret! Online dating isn't rocket science. There are, however, some tips you will want to bring with you into the online dating jungle.
Have a positive outlook
How you approach online dating dramatically determines how much you'll enjoy it. So if online dating is entirely new to you, or you're nervous about dating at large, my first dating tips are to stop fretting.
Does that sound like it's easier said than done? Of course it does! However, if you stop seeing the dating world as scary and instead reframe it as an adventure, it will do wonders for you. Prepare yourself for the fact that it will be like a romantic comedy. You'll meet some fools, some great people, and some that you won't remember a year later as they were so boring they put you to sleep over dinner.
If you expect the dating journey to be perfect, you're fooling yourself. What's more, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Accepting upfront that you aren't going to like everyone and that not everyone will like you will make the ride a lot more enjoyable.
You also need to remember that the world is indeed full of great people. When you meet people online, some of them will be those great people. So be open to getting to know new people.
Plus, mature dating can be a lot of fun. Even if you never considered you'd be dating in midlife (or later), it's an excellent opportunity to experience the kind of dates you didn't when you were younger. Maybe you had all the romance but none of the adventure. Perhaps you had teenage acne and poor confidence, so you never enjoyed dressing up and going out. Whatever it was like, you now have a chance to do it differently.
Let go of your insecurities
You've reached midlife. You don't have the skin of a twenty-year-old. Nor does anyone else your age. All older women and men go through the same thing. And here's the deal: you're looking to meet someone who likes you. All the other people don't matter - you're looking for your match. So don't worry about the rest of them. The perfect fit will like you as you are -that's what matchmaking is all about.
Should meeting new people be daunting to you, read up about social skills and communication at large. What's more, set yourself small goals. If you find the idea of mingling with single men and women overwhelming, start somewhere else. Compliment shops assistants when out and about. Join Bumble BFF and go for a coffee with someone. Join a meetup group or other social group, like a local book circle. Set goals that make sense to you and work your way toward going on an actual date.
You have the chance to create a whole new love life - enjoy it!
Don't overwhelm yourself
Don't start using all the dating sites at the same time. Get the hang of one or two before you try any others. Overwhelming yourself with all the different features isn't going to help.
Choose two different sites
Settle on two different sites that give you the best variety, depending on what you want. For example, Bumble is a popular dating app anyone can use, providing a large dating pool. OurTime, on the other hand, is a site dedicated to over 50s. The dating pool is smaller, but if you're looking for other daters over fifty, it won't be hard to find them.
By choosing one general dating website and one niche site, you get the best of both worlds. And the niche site doesn't have to hone in on dating over fifty. So, for example, you could choose Tinder as your "niche" site if you're looking for hookups (though, admittedly, it's a rather general site). Alternatively, Cougar Life might be worth exploring if you want to do cougar dating. But, of course, most people don't want to do cougar dating, and that's the whole point - you find a site that targets your particular dating preferences.
By choosing two dating sites or apps, you can make the most of the online dating experience.
You can find an article I wrote about online dating sites for over 50s here. That should give you an introduction to mainstream sites, including the likes of Match.com and eHarmony, and niche sites for over 50s.
How to write an online dating profile
When joining the online dating game, you need an online dating profile. Thankfully, this does not require you to turn into Shakespeare overnight. In fact, you need to write very little to create a great profile.
Below are some pointers for creating a great online dating profile. If you want more ideas and some examples, have a look at this article I wrote about creating a catchy dating profile.
Tips for choosing photos for your profile:
- Add at least five pictures, of which you have at least one close up of your face and one image showing your whole body
- Avoid too many selfies, and definitively avoid the bathroom selfies - they're somewhat narcissistic or pathetic depending on how you see it
- Have a couple of photos that show you doing things you love so that people get a grasp of your personality
- Having at least one picture of you and your friends together gives social proof
- Do not have photos of other things than yourself, like your children or your cat - people aren't looking to date those. If you want a picture of you and your cat, on the other hand, that's OK
- If you aren't artistic, have someone go through your photos with you to find the best ones
- Make sure your photos look good but aren't edited to the point where people can't recognise you
Tips for writing your dating profile:
- State everything in the positive - saying you don't like dishonest people sounds negative, whereas saying you like honest people sounds positive
- Do not talk about your exes
- Be honest
- Include some humour, if suitable
- Keep it short, but long enough to show some personality
- Avoid generic sentences, such as, "I love staying in, but also going out and meeting friends." If using statements like that, personalise them: "I love going to the pub with friends or for a hike in the weekend. Though I confess that some weekends, it's me and a good book, or Netflix. One has to recharge sometimes!"
- Likewise, don't just say you "want to meet like-minded people" without telling people a little about yourself!
- Mention the things that put a smile on your face in life or get you out of bed in the morning - make it juicy! People want to feel your passion for life
You can read more and see examples of what to write in this article.
Oh, and no, you cannot leave your profile blank. For example, someone with just one photo and a one-line bio is a lot less likely to get noticed by potential matches. Why? Because people don't want to waste their time. Unless they get a feel of who someone is, they won't bother to match with them. On the other hand, having a decent number of photos and sharing enough about yourself to pique peoples' interests makes potential matches want to find out more.
Say it as it is
If you don't state it in your profile (but it's recommended you do), chat to matches ASAP about what you want from a new relationship. That's to say: do you want a relationship, hookups, or casual dating? To avoid matching with people who aren't indeed a match, stating whether you're looking for something casual or a serious relationship in your profile is a great idea.
You can also set the age range you're looking to date on most dating sites. For example, you can choose whether you want to date older people, younger people, or people your own age. If you don't set it, you'll see matches in all age groups!
If you're looking for ideas for dating sites for over 50s dating, have a look at this article.
The first message
While "hello" might be the starting point for a million different relationships, just saying hello on an online dating app isn't going to cut it. "How are you?" isn't much better.
First of all, writing just "hello" shows you don't care enough to write more. At least, that's how people will see it.
Secondly, if someone gets a lot of messages, the most exciting or fun messages will get their attention first. So unless you look like George Clooney or Angelina Jolie and have a profile that will knock the socks off of every person within a ten-mile radius, you need a great first message.
Here are some ideas for you:
- Ask a question relating to their photos or profile
- Send a funny GIF
- Compliment their personality (not their looks)
For example, you could say: "I promised never to get married again, but after seeing your profile, I might have to reconsider. After all, you're wearing red socks and purple glasses! How cool is that? ;) Seriously speaking, I love your profile! Would love to get to know you. For starters, tell me about the skiing - where did you go? Looks like a great slope!"
"You win an award for quirkiest profile - I love it! I see you like reading - any suggestions for the next book I should read?"
"Wow, that cocktail in your photo looks amazing. What kind of cocktail was it? Thanks for the match, by the way - I look forward to chatting!! :)"
"Hello there! I love your profile. So tell me, what has put a smile on your face today?"
"Hello, hello! I see I've met a fellow coffee connoisseur! Tell me, what are your favorite coffees? Maybe I'll find a new brand to try!"
Try to establish if you have similar interests as soon as possible. People are more likely to keep chatting if they find they have something in common.
As you keep communicating, keep asking interesting questions. If in doubt, Google what you can ask people. "How was your day?" and "How are you?" get boring fast.
We also spoke to Ell at Forgetting Fairytales about this point. Ell told us: “When it comes to what to message… try to avoid the small talk. Pick up on something from their profile, ask questions and (most importantly) have fun with it!”
Give people a chance
Some people are terrible at writing profiles and don't bother to get someone to help them. Others are terrible at chatting. Yet, in real life, these people could be fantastic. Some are better at writing messages than conversing in real life, too.
When you first start out, give people a chance. To find love, you have to swipe right on a few "maybes" sometimes. They might very well surprise you in real life. And if they don't, well, all you lost was a coffee.
Speaking of having coffee with people, here's another important thing: see each meeting as an opportunity to become a better conversationalist. Yeah, some people will be boring, but you can use them to practice your social skills.
Google conversation starters and tips on active listening and body language. You can have fun with this even if your date isn't to your liking. And when you do meet people you enjoy chatting to, it will help you engage with them better. After all, finding a new partner involves communicating. So you want to know as much about them as possible before putting them on the "potential partners" list.
Also, if you are looking for a serious relationship, consider meeting potential partners twice before you make up your mind about them. What I mean is that first impressions don't always last. That person at work who used to annoy you at first might have turned out to be a real gem. When dating, it's the same. So don't be too quick to say no.
The first meeting
The first meeting is really just that - a first meeting. You don't even have to call it a first date if you don't want to! The best dating advice someone can give you for first meetings is bearing that in mind. Planning an elaborate date isn't a great idea.
First of all, you may have to go on a few dates before finding someone you click with. Do you really want to spend hours dressing up for all those dates? Is the time investment worth it?
Secondly, the person might turn out to be someone you absolutely don't click with. Sitting through a 90-minute three-course dinner with someone whom you can barely keep a conversation alive with is no fun. Paying the bill for said dinner isn't fun either.
What's more, when meeting someone for the first time, you're likely both nervous. So by keeping it to a short meeting, it's easier to control your nerves and keep the conversation going. A quick coffee is therefore recommended.
It's even better if you grab a coffee to go at a farmer's market or similar. That way, you naturally move about, and conversation topics can be found around you. For example, you can discuss the stalls, if the coffee is good, and check out some wares.
This is a good tip for the second date, too. If you do an activity together, there's less chance for lulls in the conversation.
You need to meet someone in public a couple of times before meeting somewhere more private. That way, you have a chance at getting to know them first.
Do you meet a lot of people online?
Yes, you do. That's the great thing about it - there's a vast dating pool online. And it allows you to meet people outside your social circle. However, one thing to bear in mind is that you'll likely chat to lots of people whom you'll never meet up with. This is because people usually talk to several daters at the same time. If someone spikes their interest more than the others they speak with, they'll focus on them and leave the others by the roadside.
Others you'll exchange a few messages with only to realise they don't seem like your cup of tea, so you'll be the one who will stop messaging.
Likewise, most people you meet up with won't be as you imagined. Some will be better, some worse.
In other words, when meeting people, see it as a numbers game. It may take chatting to 100 people and meeting with 30, or even 50, before you find love. And while that can sound daunting, one date a week for the next year doesn't sound so bad, does it? You'll likely make friends along the way, too. If you're open to it, that is.
Of course, many people find love after meeting a handful of people. But it's vital you don't expect to find love right away and then get disappointed. Instead, see it as a journey. There will be flight delays, a few bad restaurants, and a grumpy hotel owner or two amidst all the wonderful experiences.
Do you get scammed using online dating websites?
As a general rule, no. But if someone is asking for your address, credit card, or full name, you might want to think twice before handing it out! There are bad people everywhere - online and offline - so keep your head screwed on.
Likewise, if someone seems to want to message forever but not meet up or even do video calls, it might be time to start questioning their motives. While they might not want to scam you, they may not be who they say they are. Or they are simply ten pounds heavier than they said they were. Or perhaps they will never want to meet up because they're already married.
Just don't let the one rotten egg put you off the good ones!
Mix it up
Yes, it's great using online dating sites. It's also great to meet people face to face by joining in local activities, signing up for meeting groups, doing volunteering, taking classes, signing up for the gym, or simply hanging out at the local coffee shop. Social life is important for happiness as well as for meeting new singles. It can take a while to find love, so enjoy your life in the meantime!