If you’ve been resistant to online dating, maybe you have misconceptions. And maybe you don’t understand why it’s one of the best ways to find your soulmate.
Are you . . .
- Turned off by dating again at this age?
- Worried about making the same mistakes you did in your bad marriage(s) or past long term relationship(s)?
- Getting back into dating after widowhood and grieving?
- Afraid of online dating and all the losers, loonies and scammers?
- Dating a lot but not finding the right one?
- About to give up on finding true love and romance?
I know how you feel. All of the above applied to me at some time or another. Some of these things hit me all at once. But I persevered, because I really wanted love in my life again.
No doubt about it. Dating is hard work, and sometimes unpleasant, disappointing and stressful, so I completely understand why you may hesitate diving in. Maybe it’s not worth all the trouble.
But, if you really want to find true love . . . your soulmate . . . an ideal partner . . . or even just date a little and see how it feels, it certainly is worth all the trouble.
A great way to start is by reading and completing our Mature Dating Game Plan. It will help you understand more about yourself and exactly who will be the right kind of partner for you.
When you’re ready to get out there, I strongly urge you to consider online dating, even if it feels weird to you, or you’re afraid of doing it.
Go ahead and network with your friends and family to get dates, but also step into the online dating world.
Unless you have a very robust network of people who may know of people for you to date, online dating will probably provide many more prospects.
But before you dive in headlong, here are some things to consider.
16 Do’s and Don’ts If You’re New To Online Dating Over 60
Click on the headings below to take you right to that section:
10 DON’TS for online dating
6 DO’S for online dating
10 DON’TS for online dating
1. Don’t post photos of yourself on your profile that are older than a few years.
Although you hope that people won’t judge you solely on how you look, your dating profile photos are extremely important.
They are the first things people will see on your profile, and probably the only things they’ll notice when the dating sites circulate your profile thumbnail, when matching you with others.
People connect better with content about someone if it includes at least one photo. So, attractive photos will make whatever you write in your profile hit home better with people.
Take some headshots and some full body shots, from various distances, in various poses and locations. Wear clothing that is attractive and fits you well.
Be sure that your close-ups, or headshots, convey warmth and approachability. Take lots of photos and choose the best ones. It would be a good idea to have others help you decide. And make sure your photos accurately depict what you look like.
You’ll need someone to take your full body shots. Maybe take a few of you doing activities you love, and make note of that in the photo caption.
I hope it goes without saying, don’t post lewd or suggestive photos, unless you’re prepared to deal with lots of responses from people looking for quick hook-ups.
2. Don’t post unrealistic, glam photos on your online dating profile.
If you’re seriously dating, you MUST include at least one photo. Several are better, showing you in different locations, doing different things, but with a clear view of your face.
Take and choose photos that represent you well. You don’t want your dates to go into shock when they first see you.
Photos to avoid:
- Headshots that are highly touched up, with perfect lighting, that don’t reflect what you really look like.
- Headshots of you overly made up, if you’re a woman.
- Photos taken more than 5 years ago. I’ve actually seen profiles with high school photos!
- Only full body shots, taken at a distance, so you can’t see your face well.
- Group photos in which you can’t be distinguished from the rest.
- An abundance of photos showing your car, pets, house, or something that isn’t you.
- Pictures of the humongous fish you caught.
And make sure that at least your main headshot (the one that people see first with your profile) is of good quality.
3. Don’t put your real name or any other identifying information about yourself on your profile.
Maybe this is an obvious “don’t”, but I came across many men who used their full names for their profile name or handle. Some also included where they worked or other specifics that I could use to search for deeper info about them.
Of course, this was great for me. I could Google their names to find out more about them, before considering reaching out to them.
But not so smart for the men. Women can be catfish, predators and scammers, too. With someone’s full name and other bits and pieces of information, it may be possible to determine your location, and maybe even steal your identity.
Take a hint from what I said about searching for more info about your date. It’s perfectly okay (in fact, wise) to Google your dates’ names to find out details.
But don’t get so carried away that you dismiss someone for flimsy reasons.
4. Don’t vent your anger at others (exes, political figures, etc.) in your online dating profile . . . or make dates with those who do this.
First, don’t use ALL CAPS for emphasis. That screams anger and can easily turn people off.
I always steered clear of men who used ALL CAPS in abundance.
I especially passed on men who griped about their exes in their profiles. It says a lot about someone if they use their dating profile as a forum to set the record straight.
I figured that if things don’t go right between him and me, I could be next on his profile-ranting hit list.
People who need to vent like this are clearly not over those soured relationships and will probably bring unresolved issues into a new relationship.
I also avoided men who vented about their online dating experiences on their profiles. Typically these men had been in the dating game too long, or were too picky, or were too jaded to be open to accommodating a new person in their lives.
5. Don’t reach out to someone for the first time with a stock email message.
One of my pet peeves when someone first reached out to me was getting a message that said only this:
“Let’s meet for coffee.”
It happened a lot.
If they couldn’t muster a reason why I should meet them, how interested could they really be?
When I first reached out to men, I put some thought into it.
You’ll be much more likely to get a response if you take a few moments to personalize each first email or text, based on what you see in their profile. Try something like this:
I enjoyed reading your profile. I see you’re interested in [insert something you read in their profile]. I am, too. In fact, [insert a tidbit about the item].
Let me know if you’re interested. Hope to hear from you soon.
Have a great day!
(your profile name or handle)
Keep it brief, but personal and engaging.
6. Don’t hold out for someone who sounds great, but keeps avoiding meeting in person.
This happened to me a few times and was so frustrating, until I figured out what was probably going on.
If someone you’re interested in is resistant to moving on from emailing (or texting) to phone calls, or moving beyond that to meeting in person, something’s not right.
Their resistance can mean any number of things, including:
- They’re not who they appear to be in their photos or they’ve used the photo of someone else.
- They’re married or in a so-called committed relationship, so they’re not really available.
- They’re not ready or interested in seriously dating.
- They’re scammers who will patiently lure you in and hit you up for money.
- They get some kind of sick pleasure (maybe sexual pleasure) from phone calls with you, and that’s all they’re interested in.
So pay attention to the warning signs.
I would hate for you to zero in on someone like this, at the expense of anyone else. You’ll waste precious time and may get hurt.
People can come across beautifully via email and/or can be great conversationalists via phone.
They can be adept at making you feel like a million.
But, if things have been stagnant for more than a few weeks or a month, you really need to question why they’re turning you down for a meeting.
By the same token, if you want to drag out the email and phone time without meeting people in person, you may not be ready to date.
7. Don’t put up your online dating profile and then sit back and wait for people to ask you on dates.
Be proactive. Spend some time each day perusing the profiles of potential dates. If they look interesting and you see no red flags, reach out to them and exchange a few emails or texts, and then a few phone calls. Then decide if you want to actually meet them in person.
In my experience, men seem less apt to reach out to women. Maybe they have a harder time with rejection than we do. I often had men tell me that they were flattered that I reached out to them initially.
If you sit by passively waiting for potential dates to get in touch with you, you may wait a long time. Take control and don’t be afraid to get in touch with people. You can always put the brakes on things, if you want to.
8. Don’t dive into online dating without first identifying who your ideal partner is.
Take the time to identify (or target) the right kind of person for you.
You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and time by setting the criteria and deal breakers, before you start proactively dating . . . or pausing and stepping back to do this work if you’ve been dating for a while.
When you know who you’re looking for, you’ll be better able to:
- Write the narrative section of online profiles, to attract the right people.
- Differentiate yourself from the sea of other single people competing against you.
- Generate chemistry for you as a person and potential partner.
- Weed out prospects that are a bad match for you.
- Save time and reach your goal of finding your ideal partner faster.
9. (On the other hand) Don’t be too specific about who you will and won’t date.
If your dating checklist includes an unreasonable number of criteria representing things in a partner you can’t live without, you’re probably starting out by being too picky.
By zeroing in too much on superficial things (like height, hair style or the way they dress), you’ll overlook people who may be just right for you, overall, even though they may possess some characteristics you wish they didn’t.
We all have our faults. You’re going to have to expect and accept some shortcomings in your partner. But if you stick to your list of absolute dealbreakers (things you cannot accept in someone, like smoking or heavy drinking), you should be okay.
Be more concerned about their values, lifestyle and things that indicate what they’ll be like to live and be with over the long term.
10. Don’t feel pressured to take a budding relationship to the next level, before you’re ready.
For instance, you may speak and/or meet with people who push you to go out for dinner on the first date, but you know just going for coffee is a better idea. Stand firm. If they disrespect your wishes that strongly, maybe you should think twice about dating them at all.
I had some rules about dating flow that I followed fairly closely, such as:
- I wouldn’t meet them in person without first exchanging a few emails and then phone calls.
- I insisted on daytime first dates and always somewhere public and well-peopled.
- I wouldn’t get into a date’s car until the third date.
- I wouldn’t let them in my house until after I went on a date with them in their car.
In general, I feel that men should always let women set the pace. If they push hard against this, and try to talk you into things after you decline, that’s a big red flag.
6 DO’S for online dating
11. Do try to differentiate yourself in your online profile.
A profile that reads pretty much the same as every other person on the various sites won’t prompt people to want to reach out to you, as much as a profile that makes you stand out from all the other people looking for true love.
Saying that you “love long walks on the beach” doesn’t tell me much about you. Most people will say they like walking on the beach.
But, if you tell a brief story about a time and place where you enjoyed walks on the beach, you’ll generate chemistry better and attract more people to you.
You don’t want to appear the same as everyone else. You want to distinguish yourself.
Write interesting and compelling things about yourself, so people on the dating sites will connect with who you are and want to meet you.
Write specifically about the kind of person you are and what you care about most. And write specifically about who you’re looking for.
If you’re not clear about these things, you’ll probably get a lot more people reaching out to you . . . but most of them won’t be suitable. Better to weed them out at the get-go.
Here’s a tip that worked well for me: Pay particular attention to the first few sentences in the narrative section(s) of your online profile. That’s where you can capture people’s attention, and compel them to read the rest of your profile.
12. Do be clear early in the game about your intentions.
- Are you only interested in quick, sexual hook-ups?
- Do you want to find someone for companionship or friendship only – no sex?
- Or, are you looking for a “forever” romantic partner with all the bells and whistles?
Whatever you want is okay, and these are all good reasons to be on the dating sites. You’ll find others who want the same thing.
If you hesitate putting your true intentions right there in your profile, you really should address the issue when you first start communicating.
It’s only fair not to string someone along who may be looking for a different kind of relationship than you.
Similarly, if you don’t want casual sexual hook-ups, don’t pretend that it’s okay with you. Especially if your thinking is that you can turn this relationship into the forever love you really want.
It probably won’t happen, and you will have wasted all that time.
I always appreciated it when men stated their preferences clearly in their profiles.
Since I fell into the category of “looking for a ‘forever’ romantic partner with all the bells and whistles”, I could easily rule out those guys who fell into one of the first two categories above.
Don’t mislead about, or cover up, your true intentions. Be up front early on. It will come out soon enough anyway.
13. Do go out on lots of dates to get experience.
Unless you’re very lucky, you probably won’t meet “the one” as soon as you start dating.
And you may not meet “the one” after several months of dating.
Be willing to keep at it. Be willing to go on lots of first-and-only dates.
- Some dates will be great and you’ll think they have potential, but they won’t feel that way about you.
- Some will be just “okay”, but you’ll know you don’t want another date with them.
- And, some will be awful, with unpleasant people. You may feel like you’ve wasted your time.
Dating can be a drag, but with the right attitude, you’ll come to see how valuable it is to go on dates with various kinds of people. You get better at it, and you’ll get better at understanding what kind of person will be right for you.
Go into each first date with a positive attitude and this mantra,
“It’s just one date, maybe an hour or so of my time. It’s an opportunity to learn a little something about another human being. If things don’t work out, I’ve gained that much more insight into who will be the right one for me.”
And remember my two secret weapons for great first dates: smiling combined with attentive listening. Both will make you more attractive to them, and will also make you feel better.
More tips in my post, Lighten Up On the First Date! It’s Just a Date.
14. Do prepare a few questions and topics of conversation for dates.
Before the first date, reread their online profile and jot down a few things to discuss. If you exchanged a few emails and had a phone call or two before setting the date, refer to those experiences.
Use your questions to break the ice, if needed, and keep a balanced conversation going. Mostly, keep the conversation light and breezy.
Don’t get into comparing war stories about your exes. That makes for a negative vibe between you. If your date can’t stop themself from lashing out at their ex, they may not make a very good partner. They may not be over their ex. They may not be ready to let someone new into their life.
15. Do play it safe on dates. Take precautions.
Each first date through online dating is actually a blind date. You gather a little information about them before you meet them in person, but they’re virtual strangers to you. Don’t blindly go into first dates. Be careful.
- Choose safe locations and situations, and be mindful of your own risky behavior.
- Don’t get into your date’s car on the first date. Drive yourself or get there yourself.
- Don’t invite your date to your home on the first date.
- Make your first date a daytime coffee date, so you can escape quickly and easily, if necessary.
- Be careful with alcohol. Better yet, don’t drink at all on first dates.
More tips in my post, Online Dating Advice Every Man and Woman Over 60 Needs To Know
16. Do trust your gut, before you go on a first date . . . and once you’re on one.
You may get a creepy feeling about someone just from the email/text communications and phone calls you have, before you have a first date.
If something about them doesn’t feel right, pay attention. Don’t brush off that nagging sensation that there’s something wrong with them.
Be just as cautious with those who are overly attentive or profusely complimentary, as you are with people who are discourteous, dismissive or otherwise nasty to you or other people.
Scammers are very good at making you feel very good. You should be suspect of someone who pours on the complements when they haven’t even met you yet.
And narcissists also often operate this way. They pour on the compliments and make you feel like a million . . . at first. Then, once they’ve reeled you in, their M.O. changes.
Also, be suspicious of someone who won’t commit to having that first date. If they only want to talk to you on the phone, after you’ve tried several times to set up a date, something is probably wrong. Most often that means they’re married or already in a relationship. It could also mean they’re using the phone calls to pleasure themselves.
Remember that, even if you’ve made a date with someone, you’re under no obligation to keep it. But you certainly should have the courtesy to cancel it.
When you’re on the first date, here are some red flags that should make you reconsider them as potentials:
- They ask you very little about yourself and seem disinterested when you speak.
- They can’t stop laying into their ex, and may even be venomous about it.
- They’re mean-spirited when talking about their friends, families, co-workers, employees, etc.
- They answer cell phone calls when there’s no emergency situation pending. They don’t want to miss a call.
- They’re rude or overly demanding to the wait staff.
- In general, you don’t get a good vibe from them.