Navigating the dating world in your 50s can be tough. You have children, maybe even grown children. You have a job, perhaps a demanding one. Most of all, you are out of practice so your confidence level may be low. Does it still work the same way?
Dating can be especially tough if you were in a long-term marriage that ended abruptly in death or divorce. You grew used to your spouse and the idea of having to get to know someone else and create a new history with a new person is daunting and, perhaps, a little scary.
That’s okay. Those are normal feelings. However, your fears and inhibitions shouldn’t stop you from getting out into the dating world.
One element to dating that has dramatically changed over the past decade is online dating. There are many online sites that offer ways to get to know people and have helped many find the love they truly desire.
Online dating isn’t for the faint of heart.
Here are some things to be aware of when you decide to take your love online:
- There are various sites that fulfill different needs. Some sites are especially for those seeking serious relationships while others just introduce people for lunch or drinks. There are sites for different age categories as well and there are several that cater to the over 50 crowd. Research the different sites before you sign up.
- Stick to reputable sites. With so many choices, there are some hoax sites that wind up at the top of the search page. Look at recommendations and ratings under each site listing to ensure you are dealing with a reputable site. Also, look at their question-and-answer section to see how you can contact someone if you have a concern or problem.
There are both free and paid dating websites and one isn’t more reputable than the other. You can try a couple of different sites to increase your chances at finding love.
- Realize that getting yourself online will take some time. You will need to fill out an application and upload a decent picture. That can present a couple of obstacles.
First, getting a decent picture to upload can be an issue if you don’t have a recent professional one. It would be best to go ahead and get a photographer or a good friend to take a couple rather than upload an old one or one where you aren’t at your best. It is best to not use a phone selfie because those can look odd.
Your first obstacle may be simply asking someone to help you with a picture. Some people are embarrassed they are seeking love online and don’t want anyone to know. A good friend to confide in for help is a great solution that comes with no judgement.
The same goes for filling out the application. Some people aren’t as computer literate as others, so ask for help if you need it. If you are insistent on close friends or family not knowing your plans, go to the public library. You can get a media specialists to help you with the computer application without any questions or fuss.
- Be honest with yourself and on your application. Many put down what they think others will like. Be your real self. That will go a long way to attracting the right person for you.
This is a good time to rediscover yourself, your interests and your passions. Be sure to get to know yourself in this process. It wouldn’t hurt to pick up a new hobby or hairstyle to create conversation and give you more confidence.
- Understand some of the nuances of being over 50 may pop up with you or your date. Either of you may have unique family situations and obligations that could be somewhat challenging. The best thing to do is stand up for yourself and tell your family you need some time to yourself.
Another issue could be emotional baggage you’re carrying around from the last relationship. Be aware of that and understand a new relationship doesn’t necessarily have to fit the pattern of your last relationship.
Finally, another issue could be your own lack of self-confidence or a negative self-image. You don’t look like you did at 20, 30 or even 40. What you have is wisdom and life experience that is worthy of sharing.
- Put the time into developing a new relationship. You spend a good bit of time filling out the application and looking online, so there is no reason to waste that effort by not following through with conversations and possibly meeting. Don’t be afraid to take the next step.
The next step after introductions is to chat in a private chat room on the dating website. You can get more personal with a possible date this way and decide if you want to pursue it.
Remember to keep safety rules in mind when arranging to meet someone. Meet in a public place like a restaurant. Don’t give them your home address or even cell phone number but communicate through the dating app. Get to know them a while before providing them with personal information.
Also remember there can be scammers seeking out potential victims on online sites. Unfortunately, older daters are targeted because of their lack of online savviness and their vulnerability after ending a long-term relationship. While reputable sites are great at verifying their users, don’t assume all are verified. Be wary of people who want to move too fast and shut it down if they hint they need money.
- Move beyond the first page of the dating site. Expand your reach. Talk to people in public chat rooms. Get to know others in a friendly way.
Online dating can be beneficial if you take it slow and put in the time to get to know people. Don’t look at it with a targeted approach of finding someone to spend your life with but view it as a growth process for you. It’s a chance to get to know a lot of different people, to find out about them, develop friendships, get to expand your horizons and find out more about yourself.
When you take that approach, online dating becomes fun and comfortable without the pressure. That gives you the best chance at finding true love.