Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about online dating? My 34-year-old daughter met her husband-to-be on the Internet and has been encouraging me to give it a try. But at age 60, and eight years divorced, I’m a little gun-shy. What can you tell me? —Single and 60
Online dating isn’t just for twenty and thirty-something’s! As a matter of fact, boomers and seniors have become the fastest-growing group of Internet daters, and the numbers keep on 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 Web sites provide an easy way to meet hundreds of single people without ever having to leave home.
If you’re not sure weather to take the plunge or not, try visiting 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 range between $20 and $60 per month) and start e-mailing members you’re interested in or they can e-mail you. Most sites also offer instant messaging and chat rooms. Here are some other tips to help you get started.
Research your options: There are dozens of Internet matchmaking sites out there to choose from including the big general interest ones like Match.com and eHarmony; over-50 dating sites such as PrimeSingles.net, SeniorFriendFinder.com and SeniorMatch.com; and niche sites that match people based on their interests, religion and ethnicity like ChristianCafe.com, BlackSingles.com and JewishFriendFinder.com. Before choosing, research the differences, looking at things like the percentage of men vs. women and how many of them live in your area. Don’t be afraid to try out different sites or more than one at a time. Online-Dating-Zone (www.online-dating-zone.com) is a good resource to help you compare. (Note: If you don’t want to spend any money try PlentyofFish.com, a free dating Web site that’s become very popular.)
Create an honest profile: When you join a dating site you’ll need to create a personality profile that reflects who you are which can include photos, hobbies, interests, family history, dreams, goals, favorite activities and more. If you need some help, AARP offers an interactive Personal Ad Maker that can help you create a good profile for free. Go to www.aarpmagazine.org/lifestyle and click on "Create your own personal ad" at the bottom of the page. Sites like ProfileHelper.com or E-cyrano.com can also help you for a fee.
Be safe: When you register with a dating service you remain anonymous. No one gets access to your full name, address, phone number or e-mail address until you decide to give it out at your own discretion. So be very prudent with giving out your personal information. And before meeting in person, chat on the phone at least several times, and always meet in a public place.
Be skeptical: In an effort to get more responses, many people will exaggerate or flat out lie in their profiles, or post pictures of themselves that are extremely flattering and not very true-to-life. So don’t believe everything you see or read. If they look or sound too good to be true, they probably are.
Make the effort: A lot of times, people — women especially — 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 take rejection personally: If you don’t get a response from someone, don’t let it get in your head. Just move on. There are many others that will be interested in you and it only takes one person to make Internet dating worthwhile.
If dating sites don’t appeal to you, consider joining a social-networking site. Today, there are a variety of sites (Eons.com, Boomj.com and Rezoom.com) created specifically for boomers and beyond that are great places to meet people without the stigma or looming pressure of finding a mate.