Internet dating: is it really so scary?

When people get married they don’t think for a second that it will end in divorce.

Women looking at male dating profile on laptop screenImagine some time down the line, then, when you’ve built a life together, had a family, built a good circle of friends. To all intents and purposes you are leading a good life, until one or both of you decide to call it quits as it’s just not working.

It’s hard enough to start again at any age. But it’s especially harder when you’re over 50, usually because you’ve lost your confidence and haven’t actually been on a date in years.

Believe it or not, there are loads of people out there who are just like you. Not everyone is divorced; some people are widowed or have never even been married. The way to meet these new friends is online dating.

It’s not as scary as you think, ladies, and now, hopefully, there is no stigma attached to it. Here’s a quick guide to the rules.

Your profile picture

If you’re posting a profile pic make sure there is more than one. Try to include a couple that show you involved in any hobbies you might have.

This does not mean washing the car in a bikini, pictures with grandkids, pets, your thimble collection or pictures of the plastic flowers in your garden.

You’ll most certainly see profile pictures of men on a night out with an ex with her face blanked out, motorbikes, caravans and a picture of the guy with his daughter on her wedding day. Guaranteed.

Don’t be scared to ask if someone has more pictures if there is only one on their profile. It’s easy to get catfished when you’re older. Catfishing is the term for someone using a fake picture or profile online to begin a relationship with you.

In fact you may want to think about not posting any pictures at all when you first put a profile on any sites. This will weed out the desperate men who contact you, without even caring what you look like.

Your personal profile

Don’t start with, “I’ve never done this before.” Nobody cares.

Keep it upbeat, with information about the things you like to do, maybe the places you’ve visited and any future plans you might have. You want these guys to be interested in going on a date, not falling asleep.

A funny profile is also a winner. Everyone has a sense of humour and most people will find that attractive in a partner.

Prepare to receive loads of messages when you first go on but don’t feel obliged to answer every single one. Some men just sit there all day, sending out hundreds of messages to women in the hope of someone – anyone – replying.

One or two may get quite annoyed if they don’t get a reply straight away. Don’t worry if that happens. You can always block someone if they step over the line.

If you’re chatting with someone, play safe and don’t take the conversation offline straight away, although some guys will give you their phone number as soon as you’ve replied to a message.

There are moderators on these sites making sure everything’s above board. If a guy is interested, he won’t mind keeping the chat going through messaging.

The first date

Although going for dinner would seem an obvious choice, this can seem an awfully long time if you end up not really enjoying yourself.

You might have been getting on while chatting online. Hopefully you will have spoken on the phone a couple of times before actually meeting. Still, sometimes the guy you’ve been bantering with has disappeared by the time you meet up.

This could be nerves. Perhaps it’s too easy being anonymous behind a keyboard. But no matter, just try and have a good time anyway.

Which brings me to drinks. Men like to talk about themselves, their job, car, and, of course, their ex, so it’s easy to lose track of what you’re drinking. It could lead to agreeing to do something you would regret when sober.

A second date, ladies. Why, whatever did you think I meant?

This is just one of the reasons why going for coffee is such a good idea. A coffee in the afternoon is less stressful and, in a way, it’s not a date, more like meeting someone to see if you’d both like to go for dinner.

White haired man and older woman having cup of tea and smilingA coffee may last an hour at the most, which is long enough to know if you want to see someone again. Don’t assume the guy will always pay for your frothy frappé with a double shot of common sense, especially if he decides that you’re not what he’s looking for.

It’s time to get online – safely

Whichever you decide to do – dinner, drinks, coffee or sky diving – just make sure you’ve told someone where you’ll be. Use common sense. No matter how many conversations you’ve had online, you are meeting a stranger.

Meet in a public place. Don’t go to his home, or somewhere private, unless you are completely sure you feel safe. Maybe even agree to call a friend at a set time, to give the thumbs up, or rescue me signal. Before you even meet, do some research. There’s plenty of information to be found about online dating safety, including secure profile tips.

Online dating can be a lot of fun. You will meet a wide variety of guys. Some you’ll like but they won’t like you and vice versa. As long as you don’t take it too seriously you should be fine.

They’re not all sharks, you know. Some are more like goldfish, with the same attention span, and have forgotten your name in two seconds.

The trick is to enjoy it, and hopefully you’ll the find the one where you are both on the same page at the same time.

Now, go get ’em ladies.

Jacqueline Wright

About Jacqueline Wright

I'm a 50+ woman living in Manchester with my lovely gay housemate and loving it. Apart from going on the odd date I like to read, do a bit of writing and rather a lot of socialising. I'm really enjoying this chapter of my life. Follow me on Twitter

  • ginandtonic

    I have a friend who is 60 and divorced about 5 years ago. She met a man online, and was with him about 3 or 4 years but finished with him last year because she wasn’t happy with him. This upset her terribly and it’s taken her a long time to get over it. She is now scared to go back to internet dating, because she is frightened of hurting someone again by ending their relationship like she did the last time, as well of course of the fear of rejection herself. I’m not sure how to advise her, it seems flippant to say “just get on with it” as she seems paralysed by fear.