DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What can you tell me about online dating for older people? My daughter has been urging me to give it a try, but at age 62, I’m a little hesitant. – Lonely Senior
DEAR LONELY: Dating sites have become enormously popular among the older generation in recent years. In fact, boomers and seniors make up about 20 percent of online daters today, and the number keeps growing. Here’s what you should know.
If you’re interested in dating again or are just looking for a friend to spend time with, dating websites are an easy way to meet hundreds of new single people without ever having to leave home.
If you’re feeling hesitant, a good way to ease into it is to visit a few dating sites and look around. Most services allow you to check out their members at no cost or obligation. Then, if you like what you see, you can sign up (fees typically range between $15 and $60 per month, however some sites are free) and start emailing members you’re interested in or they can email you. Here are some other tips to help you get started.
Choose a site: With over 1,000 matchmaking sites on the Internet today, choosing can be a bit overwhelming. Depending on your preferences here are some popular options to look into.
Or, if you are looking to find a specific type of person, there are hundreds of niche sites like OurTime.com and SeniorPeopleMeet.com for those 50 and older, Alikewise.com for book lovers, DateMyPet.com for animal lovers, VeggieDate.org for vegetarians, JDate.com for Jewish singles, BlackPeopleMeet.com for African Americans, and ChristianMingle.com whose slogan is “Find God’s Match for You.” Or, check out AARP’s new dating website partner, HowAboutWe.com.
Create a profile: When you join a dating site you’ll need to create a personality profile that reflects who you are, including recent photos, hobbies, interests, favorite activities and more. If you need some help, sites like eFlirtExpert.com or VirtualDatingAssistants.com can write one for you for a fee.
Use caution: When you register with a dating site you remain anonymous. No one gets access to your full name, address, phone number or email until you decide to give it out. So be very prudent who you give your information to, and before meeting, chat on the phone a few times or video chat online, and when you do meet in person for the first time, meet in a public place or bring a friend along. If you want to be extra cautious, you can do a quick background check on your date for a few dollars at sites like valimate.com and mymatchchecker.com.
Don’t be naive: In an effort to get more responses, many people will exaggerate or flat out lie in their profiles. Or post pictures that are 10 years oldand 20 pounds lighter. So don’t believe everything you see or read.
Make an effort: A lot of times, people – especially women – sit back and let others come to them. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. When you find someone you like, send a short note that says, “I really enjoyed your profile. I think we have some things in common.” Keep it simple.
Don’t get discouraged: If you don’t get a response from someone, don’t let it bother you. Just move on. There are many others who will be interested in you and it only takes one person to make Internet dating worthwhile.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.