Dating Advice to Men Over 50, 60, 70+
7/28/14: I wrote this in 2010. I’m updating it now, with a few more years of experience with dating as a senior. Here’s what I said in 2010, with updates italicized in blue.
Yes, I’ve started online dating, and I’m actually enjoying it.
I realize that my enjoyment goes hand in hand with not having anything at stake, no big expectations. I’m not looking to replace Robert (couldn’t be done even if I wanted to, which I don’t) or find someone to give my life meaning and joy (my life already has meaning and joy). I want to bring more male energy into my life, meet new people, get out, have new experiences. If that results in connecting with someone wonderful, that’s a big bonus.
I wrote this on a message board for women over 50 in response to one person who was scared to date:
If you think of dating as your way to learn about another person and about yourself without risking anything, it can be fun — go for coffee or a walk or dinner with someone new, talk, see what you both enjoy discussing and doing. It’s when you think of dating as auditioning a potential soul mate that it becomes fraught with anxiety, unpleasantness, and emotional danger.
First dates aren’t scary to me in the least. I’m interested in learning what we do and don’t have in common, and which of the divergences matter a lot. Plus, the writer in me loves hearing people’s stories, and first dates are a great way to learn a huge amount in an hour, because it’s expected that we share our stories.
Although I’m newly dating after almost ten years, I already have some strong opinions about online dating do’s and don’t’s. (When did you ever know me to not have strong opinions?) Here are a few, aimed at men because that’s my experience. I’m sure I’ll add more as I proceed, and I encourage you to add your own. (Be constructive, not nasty, please.)
1. Please use a current image as your default photo. It’s fine to include older photos also — I love to see the long, bushy hair you wore in 1969!–but label them with the year, and make those secondary photos, not your main one.
2. Include at least one recently taken close-up of your face. Do. Not. Wear. Sunglasses. I can’t tell you how many profiles I skip over because the man is wearing sunglasses. I need to see your eyes. (I can’t believe how many men wear sunglasses in their profile photos. Please, guys!)
3. Have a photo taken if you don’t have one already. You don’t need to go to a photography studio — all your friends have digital cameras. Make your default photo just you — no buddies on a fishing trip, no arms around a woman who might be your daughter or maybe your ex-wife, and absolutely no edited photo with the woman at your side cropped out (we can tell)!
4. Smile! Most of the profiles that men post show them either scowling or looking intently serious. I know that’s because you’re taking selfies and you don’t want to put on your reading glasses to see the tiny screen. Ask someone else to take your photo, and smile as if you’re glad to meet us.
3. Describe what makes you interesting and unique. Skip the usual “I like moonlight walks on the beach,” etc. — if everyone who said this actually did it, the beaches would be crowded at nighttime, and they’re not. Instead, think about the qualities and interests that will attract us and make you stand out from all the other profiles we’re reading.
Please, good men, I know you’re out there. How do we find you?
Since I’m a straight woman reading men’s profiles, this post is slanted to my experience. Help me expand it. I’d love to hear from you about your experiences, likes and dislikes, and pet peeves about the people of any gender whom you meet (or choose not to meet) through online dating. I hope you’ll comment!
I am a 53 year old, well educated woman who really wants to meet a man who loves me for me, but I get very turned off when I go on dating sites, meet up with people, or read profiles. It seems like there is no one who matches what I am looking for, or who seems like they are looking for someone quirky and artistic like me. I keep finding that men want someone with a good job, who is "optimistic," or their profiles give the impression that they are only interested in sex. I also am attractive and don't want to meet men who are only initially interested in me for my appearance, but wouldn't go the long haul with me because I don't lead a conventional life, or make much money. Another problem is that I suffer from depression and don't know know how to find someone who would be okay with that.
Anonymous, if your profile reflects how quirky, artistic, and unconventional you are, that will help. But realize that attraction is what leads us to respond to a stranger's profile. I think it's ok if someone contacts you initially because he's attracted to your photo. That doesn't mean anything about the long haul.
As for depression, I think if you're getting treatment that works for you, you don't need to divulge that in a profile or on a first date. Wait until you see there's potential for a third date or so.
How have other people handled this?
I dated online for 5 years and found/married a soulmate woman 7years back now. Advice?
1. this is work; do the numbers; lots of coffee dates.
2. investing $1.50 for coffee keeps expectations down and the learning curve up; I did three in one day.
3. make each coffee date count; I spent 60-90 min. on each one; I wanted to learn about connecting
4. go home and journal about what worked/didn't work on that date; I did this after EACH date
5. rework your profile; often. Grow, learn, write down who you are NOW on one page; who you think SHE is on another; this will change as you date
6. do a "must have/can't stand" list; what you have to have and what you won't stand for (e.g.: cig smoker); and be realistic. You're only gonna get 80% of what you want. Make sure the 20% your are not getting doesn't include something you can't live without
7. ask her if she is orgasmic and touches herself; yes, on the first date. I did this with success and was gentle about it; too important not to address.
The first date and who pays….Ladies, let the gentleman pay. If done properly, it's at most $15/$20, cheap enough to not be a hassle.
Unless the gentleman expressly says he does not not, most guys will want a second date. That is your time to ante up and say, "Coffee is on me!".
Personally speaking, a lady who has pets, especially dogs, will not be available for those quick, spontaneous meetings for a glass of wine or a sudden weekend getaway. Just an observation…
As to the photo issue (Newbie's comment) I am a woman of 64 who has used Match in the past and not posted a photo. I also don't list much in my profile because I'm interested in connecting with men I'm interested in. When I find one I email change my profile ("Interested in meeting a man on a mountain" for instance re a profile of a man who lived on a mountain) and tell him to look at my profile and if interested I'll immediately send him a current (and it is) photo. They've always responded.
I've met several very interesting men this way – two I began a relationship with. I am not comfortable with posting a photo either.
Also – please gentlemen – no hats/caps. I've found most who do it are bald or nearly so. I find that very sexy! Please don't cover it up.
And for the ones who are only interested in meeting women 10-20 years younger….really? You have no idea what you're missing out on! When I read those ads I think less of the men – yes I'm judging but it's spontaneous – I just think they must be shallow in ways that I want to pass right on by in a "better her than me" way.
Soon I'll be back in the dating pool, and like you Joan am not looking for a spouse, just a great person to have fun with no matter what we do. I'd love to Go for the Gold with someone and be all that we can be together whether it be conversation, cooking together, sex, traveling, writing, reading….let's LIVE this life and turn it up! If not now when?
I've yet to meet a match sexually (preferences, not stamina!) and know I may not. That would be sad, but I'd still very much enjoy a boon companion. I know at this point in life what works for me and what doesn't so I'm over the posturing and hope the men I meet are as well.
P.S. Note to Walker – what a great name!
You are missing the best guys. With no photo on your profile only one in seven will click to read about you. It also tells me you are not brave enough to play hard. Yes, a photo is playing hard. This worked for me. At 54 I dated 5 years like a man crawling over glass to find a good woman; and I did. Married 7 years now at 66, glad I got brave and did the work back then.
Fully understanding the desire to appear younger, I often see a profile with a line, "I'm much younger than my years," accompanied by a photo that looks 40-50. In the day of Photoshop, it is easy to make that happen. Even without PS, one can de-focus and remove the wrinkles.
But then we meet and the woman I see is obviously 60 or 70 or more. I don't mind the age, but I feel that the person doesn't trust me to go beyond the surface–or she is just a congenital prevaricator.
I love women with the confidence and trust to call themselves "a wrinkly kitten" 😉
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If we don't get that by 70, we are hopeless
Re paying on a first date: I'm fine with paying my way although I do think there is something to be said for the man paying especially if he's suggested the restaurant (as opposed to a cup of coffee). It's part of the courtship ritual… BUT what I find annoying is when a man asks me out to a restaurant, eats twice as much as I do (orders appetizers, a drink, etc.) and then suggests that we "split" the bill and I end up subsidizing his meal. This has happened more than once!
The next time this happens to you, Lucy, I hope you'll say, "I'd be happy to split if our meals were roughly the same price, but since yours came to $15 more than mine, let's figure out a fairer way to divide it."
Great advice. But you DO want men who would say something like "I hate libbers who act like men" to say just that. It's an excellent filter, as you saw.
Ah, you're right, Brian. Get deal-breakers out in the open early!
Let's put an end to photos taken in front of the bathroom mirror..makes me think you don't have any friends who would take your photo for you.
And the biggest thing I'd like to see is for men, and women, to use the same courtesy they would use in real life. Respond to emails, a quick, "thanks but I don't think we're a match" would work.
I agree with your thoughts that dating can be fun and can be an opportunity to have new experiences, even when one knows the chemistry isn't there.
Regarding Newbie's comment (Dec 2010) and his legitimate concern about posting a picture online because of his public status — I had the same concern when I first started online dating. I've gotten over it.
I'm an internationally known author in a professional executive career. What's the worst that can happen if one of my readers or colleagues or clients sees my online profile? They'll find out, among other things, that I'm single and dating, that I love Yosemite, that I want a long term relationship, and that I'm a baseball fan. I don't put anything in my profile that I would be embarrassed about anyone knowing.
If I happen to meet someone who turns out to be more impressed with my name and fame than me, I'll learn it pretty quickly and can rule them out — before they know enough to stalk me or anything else I'm afraid of in my more paranoid moments.
So, Newbie, post a photo! You're ruling out all those wonderful women who, like me, want to get a hint of your face and expression before deciding to date you. I date no one who doesn't post a photo.
I agree with all of this. When I found myself single again at age 48, I thought that my life was over. But it's turned out to be ten times better than I ever hoped it might be. And all of your points also go for women. Particularly, besides having a recent picture, tell us your real age. As you say, it'll come out sooner or later, and it's better to be up-front about it. I'm 51 now, and I'm not interested in younger women. And honesty is very attractive in itself.
A lack of recent photos, or lack of a bunch of good photos can be a red flag for me. An easy way to get good pics for personals profiles is to buy a disposable camera or two. Carry them around and ask friends, coworkers, even strangers – to take your picture. Then have the pictures developed onto a disc for easy transfer to your profile. You're just bound to get good pics if you have enough people take enough pics of you in varied venues.
Its easy, fun, and productive.
You really do need to post a photo. I get why you don't want to, but most women won't initiate an email exchange without a photo, because a faceless man is hiding something.
Here is my wrinkle: I am a 33 year old professional male. I am an attorney – specifically a prosecutor. I deal with very serious cases (e.g. murder, rape, robbery). I have turned to online dating because I prefer to date someone older. I generally do not meet these type of women in my normal social circles. I do not feel comfortable posting a picture on my profile for a dating website because I desire a certain level of privacy because of my work. That being said – I will always send a picture after a connection is made over email. However, I have found that most women don't believe that I am actually single, or that I am being disingenuous in not posting a picture. It's a real let-down.
The "blank" photo is what says creepy or hiding. You could have some fun with a mask or even a bag that says "I have a kind of sensitive job – I'll send you a photo privately" That would make me laugh. Amy Webb's book tells of her (now) husband who wrote "arctic seal hunter" as his job – it got a funny conversation going.
I'm thrilled that readers are eager to comment. Please join them! If you're having trouble negotiating Google's comments section, realize that you can skip the "Google account" under "Choose an identity" and just enter your name (or name choice) after you click "Name/Url." I appreciate you adding your real age. — Joan
You have some very good and positive advice. But how can we (men) learn how to relax around women on a first date? What can we do to reduce the pressure we feel and hence the stiffness we exhibit?
Most women don't understand that we are trying to be simultaneously manly men a la John Wayne and sensitive, insightful men like Woody Allen. We are trying to achieve the confusing and often conflicting image of what we think the women are looking for. Why? because it sucks to feel rejected.
I try to unpack my expectations, fears, insecurities, frailties, etc. and instead have fun with the date like an adventure.
I try to focus on the activity — walking in the park, sharing a piece of decadent chocolate cake with the coffee, a glass of champagne to celebrate the potential of a man and woman coming together — and this helps me refocus and enjoy the adventure. It takes the pressure off and provides an ice breaker, an opening that allows the conversation to flow a little easier. And it’s fun.
I love it! Have done it for years when looking. Some of my most treasured relationships and friendships began on line.
My profile includes that I take pleasure in enjoying the sensual pleasures of all five senses, am a card carrying nudist, and I’m “not dead yet.” Toned down my profile a bit after a first date with a lovely lady who decided, based on my profile, that I was "too sexual" for her.
In dating single women I have been up front about those pleasures and about 30 have asked me to take them to a naturist/nudist venue. Ladies love freedom and body acceptance too.
What surprised me about that is that almost all the women I've met on line WANTED to be sexual on the first date. Many have even flown or driven to see me and nearly pushed me in to bed upon arrival. Two have waited until the second date.
But the big thing the World seems to be missing about senior on line dating is that the women are VERY sexually aggressive very early. These are professional women with respectable jobs in medicine, behavioral health, education. If women are reluctant to be up front about their sexuality they gotta know that their sisters are – in a healthy adult manner.
I appreciate all the work you do to keep the benefits of healthy sexuality in seniors from being ignored or put down.
Joan, great stuff, I agree completely. Your points apply to EVERYONE participating in online dating, I suspect.
I think that agreeing to "spend an hour together over coffee" is a another way to take some pressure off. It puts a boundary on the time so there's no pressure if there's no chemistry.
Joan, these are all great points, and they are also useful for women to follow, especially the three ideas about profile & photos.
A misleading profile tells a lot about a person. The main message is one of lies and deception when people refuse to show who they are–in a situation that requires honesty if it is to benefit anyone.
Your other point about paying for dinner is right on, too. If I was dating, I'd absolutely want to pay my share.