ZestNow: Women over 50 have become very interested in meeting guys online. We understand that it’s a good way to expand their circle of potential dates.
Damona Hoffman: Over-50 singles can rejoice! They now make up the fastest growing segment of online daters. By the time you’re 50+ you already have your circle of friends and habits well formed. Online dating is a great way to expand a dating pool instantly and develop new dating habits, especially if they are now single again after years of partnership.
ZN: You rightly point out, however, that online dating may be different for our age group than for younger people. We’d appreciate some tips to help us.
Many of my over 50 clients are not necessarily looking to marry again vs my 30-something gals who are on a mission for marriage. You have to be honest about what you want. If it’s just companionship, that’s ok. If it’s a second husband, that’s ok too. Just be honest about who you are and where you’re at and be ready to go along for the ride.
ZN: As women dating over 50, how can we determine which sites are better for us to use to meet the guys we’d like?
DH: I always like to start out big then go small. To see what’s out there, check out one of the three major sites: Match, OKCupid, eHarmony. This will give you an idea of what the larger dating pool is like. Then—if you follow my first rule to be in two places at once—find a smaller niche site that is more along the lines of what’s important to you. If religious preference is crucial, go to JDate or ChristianMingle. Love hiking? Go to hikerspassions, and so on.
ZN: What about the profile? It’s a little intimidating. How much should we write? What kind of tone should we aim for?
DH: In my book, “Spin Your Web: How to Brand Yourself for Successful Online Dating” I lay out the Dos and Do Nots of a successful profile based around a simple trick I call selling the Product You. You want your personality to shine through, but you don’t want to give away everything about yourself right away. Showcase your humor and interests with a story instead of a laundry list. Instead of saying, “ I like long walks on the beach…”, tell a story about being on a beach and tripping over a sand castle, or finding mutant starfish. This shows not only your beachcombing hobby, but gives them a little slice into how you view the world.
ZN: How much should we reveal on the site? Is it OK to fudge a little on the age and weight part? How much?
DH: Like your mother always said, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free. The same thing goes with a profile. I tell my clients that life is like a museum and a profile is the special exhibit. You, as the curator of the exhibit, can only exhibit a few choices items about yourself. What would sum you up in three things? If being a liar is one of those things, then for sure, fudge your age. But if you want to be romantically involved with someone, lying is never a good way to start off since, if they’re interested, they will find out the truth sooner or later.
ZN: I know you talk about “branding” yourself in your book. What do you mean by that?
DH: Personal branding is just as important in dating as it is for a career. Basically it’s showcasing your best assets. The top things that you have to offer in relationship, or in a job, can be summed up in a few sentences—hence a profile (or resume) and can often be communicated in an instant through descriptive photos. People make a decision within seconds about whether or not they want to get to know you better so with online dating it’s really important that you’re putting a clear message forward.
ZN: What can we do to give the best presentation of ourselves?
DH: Rule number one is to smile. A smile shows that you have a caring, thoughtful and energizing personality. Plus, when you smile it actually impacts you emotionally and physiologically. It makes you more approachable and gives the impression that you are having fun and you’d be fun to be around.
ZN: How much should we reach out to contact guys ourselves rather than letting them do the first contact? Are those expectations different for older men than for the younger generation?
DH: You have to remember that you’re dealing with computer algorithms which dictate who you see and who is shown to you. This means that you might see your perfect guy online but you may never come up in his searches. Generally, however, men are responsive if they feel an attraction to the woman who messages them in spite of what fields in their profile do not line up with their ideal mate. That’s why I insist that my clients, both men and women, are proactive in sending emails. Once the relationship moves offline however, men generally should drive the dating in the early phase.
ZN: What about using Skype or texting? Do we need a Facebook page? How does it figure into all this?
DH: I see texting as the biggest contributor to dating stress because there’s a lot of room for miscommunication and you don’t have the opportunity to correct or defend yourself. Casually suggest that he picks up the phone to chat every once in a while and if he likes you, he’ll take the hint. Skype dating is good for those live far from one another. And I don’t just mean a few miles. I mean across country or across continents. As far as social media you have to protect your privacy when you’re in the early dating phase. If they ask if then can friend you on Facebook too early on, tell them it’s only for your old college chums and set it to “Private”.
ZN: How should we respond if we’re just not interested in the guy?
DH: It’s always best to be honest. Simply tell the guy that you think he’s very nice and enjoyed speaking to him, but don’t think it’s a match. Better to know than not know.
ZN: What about security and privacy issues?
DH: With catfishing being so prevalent nowadays (essentially fake profile and online identities), it’s best for all online daters, once they meet someone online, to get offline and meet in person as soon as possible. That being said, once you set up that first date ALWAYS let someone else know where you’re going and who with. Also give them a time that you should be done with the date, in case they don’t hear from you. As far as privacy issues go, avoid giving anyone your home address or driving you home/picking you up until you get to know them better.
Also take care and be aware that STDs have doubled in the last decade in the 50+ demographic – and many blame online dating for it.
ZN: How much online or phone contact should we have, before we decide to meet.
DH: My personal preference is to have a short, 10-minute phone call before the first date just to “feel” the person out before you actually meet face-to-face. You can best gauge someone by speaking to them, so if something seems off, abort mission. Also, 10 minutes is the perfect amount of time to get a small glimpse into who they are, so avoid phone calls that last longer than twenty minutes and save some details for the date.
ZN: Can you give us some tips for the first date?
DH: The first date is not about you deciding whether or not this guy is The One, it’s about you deciding if you’d like to see more of him. For that reason I always advise doing drinks first (coffee, tea or cocktails) at a public location on a date that lasts no longer than an hour—an hour and a half tops. You are supposed to leave him wanting more and leave you wanting more of him.
ZN: How can we easily terminate contact with a persistent guy when we don’t want to continue communication?
DH: Telling a man that you are not interested and would appreciate it if he stopped calling should do the trick. If it does not, then contact the site where you met him from and alert them to his actions. They’ll deal with him. If they don’t, go to the police and file a report.
ZN: What mistakes should Boomer women avoid?
DH: I wouldn’t call them mistakes necessarily, but the most important thing to avoid is negativity about age, family, life—anything. A date is not your therapist, hair stylist or sister, so don’t treat him as one. Be positive and proud of who you are and remember, even the bad dates have purpose and promise in your dating career. Look at every closed door as an opportunity for growth.
ZN: Can you tell us how successful online dating sites actually are for people over 50?
DH: Like I said earlier, the over-50 set is the number one growing age-demographic for online daters, so that being said, basically it works! One in four new relationships begin online. Those are pretty amazing odds. And, aside from the promising statistics, what do you have to lose? It’s just about getting out there and selling your Product -You.
Contact www.DearMrsD.com for profile polishes, coaching, programs, advice and tips.
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