How To Tackle Online Dating In Later Life
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“Spend time creating a profile you’re happy with that features at least three different types of photos to show yourself at your authentic best,” says dating expert Kate Taylor. “Choose a colourful headshot to draw people to your profile, then a full-length shot so people get an idea of your body type. And thirdly, an ice-breaker photo that shows your personality, e.g. playing an instrument or sport, or hugging your pet – anything that makes it easy for people to engage with you. In terms of your bio, keep it brief and friendly. Think of it as encouraging potential matches to ask questions to find out more about you.”
Divorce coach Sara Davison agrees that authenticity is best: “Just be yourself. Allow your true self to shine through by showing your different interests, ideally through images which bring them to life. The best relationships are built on trust, so it’s important to be honest and to use realistic and recent images. If you’re struggling for inspiration, friends can be a valuable resource and often know you better than you know yourself.”
“Spend time each day looking at potential matches, even if it’s just 30 minutes,” suggests Kate. “Remember, you’ve got to put the effort in to get something out of it – like most things in life. Dating apps like Ourtime have a clever algorithm that monitors your behaviour (who you write to, who you quickly click past, who you send a like to etc), learns the type of person you’re really attracted to, then sends you more profiles based on your habits. Also, don’t be afraid to go on lots of first dates, even if you’re not convinced they’re ‘the one’. Chemistry is so different in person that it is often the ones you’re not sure about online who end up being irresistible in real life.”
“Approach online dating as a new skill to learn – accept it will take a while to get into your groove and hone your craft,” says life coach Mhairi Todd. “Allow yourself the space and time to learn what genuine connections look and feel like in the online dating landscape. With that in mind, it can be easy to get hung up on each chat and person as if they are ‘the one’. Instead, have healthy and hopeful scepticism. Don’t devote all your time to one person then feel deflated when they turn out not to be right. The reality is that it’s often a bit of a numbers game, so I’d always prepare an opener, like ‘Hi (name), I was trying to think up something witty and interesting to say but it’s taking too long and I wanted to message you. How’s your day going so far?”
“Common interests are important, but they shouldn’t be deal breakers,” says Mhairi. “Shared values are important because these are based on how you like to live your life. Most people don’t actually know what their values are, but you will know what's important to you. Connect the two by writing a list of what's important in your life right now, then put that list in order of importance. Then, list off as many adjectives as you can that make each of those things. Finally, choose the three adjectives that stand out most – this will help you to prioritise your values and look for people with similar ones.”
Sara agrees: “It’s a myth that you need to have lots in common for romance to spark. In my experience, the best relationships are founded on complementary interests. For example, if you are a keen cook, finding a partner who loves food is a win-win. Or you may enjoy travelling and your partner is a keen sailor, so introduces you to a new way to see the world and learn a new skill. This is a great time to explore new ideas and opportunities, so synergy, rather than being the same, is much more valuable.”
That said, having things in common can be particularly useful when dating in later life, suggests relationship expert Tina Wilson. “It can be advantageous to have things in common when dating people who are 50 plus. You may have greater disposable income if your children have left home, or you’ve paid your mortgage off so you will want a potential partner that can match that. Underpinning all of this is strong family values and empathy and understanding of others. A caring and attentive partner who shares the same core values as you will override any hobby you may have in common.”
“Be clear in your own mind about what you are looking for before you start dating,” says Sara. “This makes it easier to filter out the best matches for you. It’s not just about what you want, but what you actually need from a relationship at this stage of life. Be honest and upfront about this but be realistic and communicate with them in a kind and open-minded way, as it’s likely they too are figuring out what they want and you don’t want to put off a potential match.” Kate adds that it’s a good idea to vocalise your expectations on dates: “Don’t be afraid to be upfront and make sure your actions match up with your words. Lots of people over 50 are looking for commitment. You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops but being transparent and expressing what it is you’re looking for from the onset helps.”
“There are many reported cases of fraudsters on sites where people are not what they seem,” explains Sara. “Catfishing is the process of luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. So, if they seem too good to be true, they usually are. Don’t share personal information until you are sure you know who you are sharing it with. If someone asks questions that make you feel uncomfortable, listen to your instincts and cut off contact. Other red flags include asking you to send money or pressuring you to share personal details. It's also important to know your deal breakers in a relationship and be prepared to walk away if your boundaries are breached. No second chances – stick to your guns and always listen to your gut instinct. Write down your list of up to five ‘must not haves’ and, if any of these show up, unmatch and cut all contact. The biggest mistake I see time and time again is thinking that someone can change someone else, or that they will be different with you. They will not. So deploy your parachute and leave immediately.”
“Keep all communication on site until you’ve met in person,” adds Kate. “Not only is that a good safety tip, but it also avoids most of the frustrating parts of modern dating, like ghosting, catfishing or ‘breadcrumbing’ (where someone keeps you dangling with charming messages without ever stepping up for a date or committing to you). Don’t let yourself fall in love with someone’s long romantic text messages. Save all your time and attention for people keen enough and serious enough to leave their house to meet you.”
“When it comes to dating in later life, look for positive signs also known as ‘green flags’,” says Tina. These could be strong family values, talking about their loved ones a lot, and vocalising their feelings and expressing their emotions – this creates a healthy environment to communicate. It’s also a positive sign if they pay attention to the finer details and if they remember small things about you like your favourite film or the name of your beloved pet – all of which shows they have a genuine interest and want to get to know you.” Kate adds that self-awareness is also important: “Nobody reaches midlife without some emotional baggage. It’s a green flag when a potential partner shows they’ve taken steps to work through their issues. Look for self-awareness, honesty and vulnerability in a partner. Other green flags include if they’re willing to inject new perspectives and fun into your life, which is always a bonus.”
“Disappointment is hard at any age but, by the time you’re in midlife, you’ve usually developed more resilience than you had at a younger age,” explains Kate. “It’s one of the benefits of being older. The worst disappointments happen when the rest of your life isn’t fulfilling – then, if your relationship ends, it can feel like you’ve lost everything. So, try to keep all areas of your life rewarding. Stay in touch with friends, keep your own hobbies, work or volunteer, and set yourself goals and challenges. Let romance be one part of your life, not your entire life.” It’s also important to be kind to yourself and not put too much pressure on finding a new partner, explains Mhairi: “Look after your self-worth. You are wonderful and capable and should be treasured not because of what you achieve or who loves you, but because you exist. Your worth is not dependent on a particular person reciprocating their feelings.”
Dinner, drinks and or coffee are all good date ideas, but don’t be afraid to suggest things you really enjoy says Tina. “Throw in your personality and a bit of style. Something like an open-air cinema date could be really fun. You can still chat and take a picnic, but a film you both remember from your twenties will help you bond over shared nostalgia.” If you prefer meeting for drinks or a meal, lunch has fewer expectations than dinner, says Kate: “Lunch is more casual and often easier to fit into to your schedule. It doesn’t have to last hours either. If you’ve got time, try a new activity together which can be a great ice breaker, or look for an activity you can do side by side – it’s often easier to talk when we’re side by side with our companion, rather than face to face (this is why we often have such good conversations in a car).”
eHarmony has a good success rate and a wide pool of people to choose from. Ideal for those in midlife, users can select their preferences, hobbies and long-term goals. It’s been available for over 20 years and has several safety measures to protect users.
Ourtime was specifically created for those aged 50 and above. The algorithm monitors your behaviour to match you with likeminded people and it is regularly moderated. A great option if you’re worried about ageism in the online dating landscape, it also hosts regular in-person events. Plus, because it’s owned by Match Group, your profile will appear on other dating sites, widening the net.
If having lots in common and shared interests is important to you, Silversingle is a great option. Users take a detailed 30-minute personality test and questionnaire to help match them with likeminded people. Again, only those aged 50 and above can register. Instead of searching for your own matches, the site exclusively shows you a list of potential matches based on compatibility.
If you know exactly what you’re after, Bumble has a wide pool of users around the UK. Women must make the first move by liking a picture or starting a conversation with a potential match. You can even make video calls, but you only have 24 hours to initiate a conversation before the match expires.
Hinge has an impressive success rate, but it’s also a great app for casual daters, whether you’re looking for a companion or simply someone to try a new hobby with. Users can add pictures, videos or voice notes, making initiating conversations quick and easy.
If you don’t have much time to date or like the idea of meeting someone in your profession, Elite Singles matches users based on a personality test. The majority of users are aged between 30 and 60.
For more information and relationship and dating advice, visit OurTime.co.uk, LoveKateTaylor.com, RevolveCoaching.co.uk, SaraDavison.com and WingmanApp.com
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