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.
If online dating, in particular, feels alien to you or you’re afraid of it, I urge you to reconsider.
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.
10 Do’s and Don’ts If You’re New to Online Dating Over 60
5 DON’TS for online dating newbies
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 weirdos.
2. 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.
3. 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 who are a bad match for you.
- Save time and reach your goal of finding your ideal partner faster.
4. (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, 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.
5. 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.
5 DO’S for online dating newbies
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
- 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
5. 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.
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’re mean-spirited when talking about their friends, families, co-workers, employees, etc.
- They can’t stop laying into their ex, and may even be venomous about it.
- 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.