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Online Dating Magazine > Features > Older Dating

Online Dating Over 40
by Julie-Ann Amos for Online Dating Magazine

 

Online dating used to be for the young, yet increasingly older people are using the Internet to find a partner, whether it be for love and commitment, a companion for hobbies, or simply a more active social life. Mark Lasky, the author of “Online Dating for Dummies,” says that ”Seniors are the fastest growing area of online dating.

It’s a sad fact that divorce rates are rising all the time, so the older you are, the more likely you are to be looking for a new partner. Yet if you’re over 40, it may well be the first time you’ve used the internet for something so personal, and it may all seem very strange. But don’t panic! The Internet has only been around for twenty years, so online dating is a relatively new phenomenon for everyone, not just the over 40’s.

What may seem daunting is that many of the online dating sites appear to be aimed at those under 40. This is reinforced by advertising campaigns in the media and on TV which firmly pitch their sales effort at the younger end of the market. Whether or not this is their intention, it’s how it comes across to many people, so hopefully, this will change over time.


Not Alone

Over 40 million people in the US alone access online dating websites every month. In fact, it’s the fastest growing sector of online content. So there’s no reason to feel embarrassed because nowadays, large numbers of people are doing it. You may be surprised to discover that the number of people using online dating (as opposed to more traditional methods) actually rises with age. For example only 3% of men aged 18-24 do online dating, whereas for men over 40, it’s 14%. These figures came from an independent survey of American singles, carried out for MatchMaker in 2003. There were other differences:

» Looks were more important to younger than the over 40 singles – ten times the number of women aged 18-24 counted looks as the most important quality in a potential date as women over 40.

» Over 40’s of both sexes chose intelligence as the most important quality twice as often as younger people.

In fact, evidence is mounting that women in their 40s are having the most luck when it comes to online dating. Offline, mature women can find it hard to meet someone. Online, over 25% of women over 40 have been quoted as finding someone through online dating. So online dating is definitely not just a young person’s game.


Niche Online Dating Sites vs Mainstream Online Dating Services
There are large numbers of sites springing up all the time catering to specialist needs, and the over 40 age bracket is no exception. Sites such as SeniorFriendFinder.com specialize in the over 40 market, and AgeMatch.com seeks to attract those interested in “age difference relationships” by quoting that "Close to a third of unmarried American woman in their 40s through 60s who date are going out with younger men." (CBS/AP, 9/29/03). Yahoo! Personals and Match.com, on the other hand, are mainstream sites that also have active and successful populations of online daters over 40.


Many Advantages
Let’s start with some good news: You may feel that you are at a disadvantage technologically, but you’re probably at an advantage experience-wise. Here’s why:

» Judging character, and the ability to “read people” is a skill developed over time, so you have sound judgement on which to base your decisions – something which those in their early 20’s may not have had enough time to develop.

» You probably have a far more accurate idea of what it is you really want in a partner – and what you don’t want.

» You’re far more self-aware than you were in your 20’s. Generally you have a far better idea of who you are, your values, needs and wants.

» You have more to lose if you get it wrong - the older you are, the more you realize that time isn’t on your side, especially if you are divorced.

» You may have children you need to consider. This is actually an advantage – you know how serious your decisions are and the impact they can have on your life, so your decisions are therefore likely to be much more balanced, less idealistic.

» Any match you make is more likely to last because of all the above things – you’re simply going in with eyes wide open.


How it Works

You can usually browse sites and take a tour to check them out, or read our reviews of how sites work. Check out reviews and look at several sites before seeing what looks like the right one to try for yourself. Take free memberships if possible at first to see if the site offers what you want before making any commitment.

Basically the format is usually broadly the same:

» You place an ad, or profile online, with or without a photo. You can often maintain your privacy and browse ads before committing to creating your own.

» If you need help, most sites give some, or read our guide on creating a profile/ad.

» You do not need to be a technical genius, you just need to know how to use the internet and your email.

» Be prepared to pay for the service. Check costs – price isn’t always equivalent to quality in your desired age range, but generally speaking, you get what you pay for.

» Beware of hidden costs – basic/standard membership at some sites is free, but increased services such as technical support, searching options and the ability to view photos or contact people costs an added fee – which could be more expensive than just taking a fee-paying all-inclusive package.

» You can browse other people’s profiles, and contact them if they interest you (this means you select who you contact, so they are more likely to be what you’re looking for, but may not be interested in you).

» Or you can sit back and wait to see who contacts you (this means you take pot-luck as to who contacts you, but don’t lose any face or get despondent contacting people and being given a polite brush-off).


Words of Caution

» Be careful of charges. If you pay by credit card, check to see if your subscription will autorenew until you cancel it, or whether you get to approve the charge each time it renews your fee.

» Beware of scammers. There are far less of them than rumor would have us believe, but be careful not to disclose any information about your location, circumstances or personal data such as zip codes, telephone numbers and personal email addresses. Most sites offer a facility to direct incoming and outgoing emails via the site, so your email address remains anonymous until you wish to give it to someone. If not, set up a free email account with hotmail, yahoo etc rather than using your own personal email address.

» Never discuss money with anyone until you have met them several times and are completely comfortable with them. And regarding meeting – be careful, use public places, tell people where you’re going, and read our guide to meeting for the first time.

» Don’t believe everything you read. There is no substitute for getting to know someone over time, no matter how perfect they seem at first reading. Emails, then telephone conversations, leading eventually to a date are sensible, and allow you time to read between the lines and gather as much information about who you’re getting to know as possible. Similarly, if you assume pictures are their very best, and may have been taken a few years ago, you’ll be less disappointed in real life if and when you meet. And if they were true to life, you’ll have an unexpected bonus!

» Be prepared for the unfortunate fact that many people prefer to date people younger than themselves. This means that if you are looking in the ten-years-younger bracket, the people contacting you may be in the ten-years-older bracket. You need to be aware of this so you don’t become intimidated and think there’s something wrong with your profile, it’s just human nature at work!

» Finally, don’t pin your hopes on dates or meetings. Treat each date as if it’s an audition to see if they’re worth seeing again, not to find out whether they’re the perfect partner, or the man/woman of your dreams. That way you’ll have fewer disappointments, and will be far more realistic and relaxed about the meeting, which can only help things go well on the date.



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