- How do I meet someone? (This question is asked 90% of the time.)
- Do I have to tell the truth about my age?
- How do I write an online dating profile?
- Why do I get (a) no responses from online dating; or (b) lots of responses from the wrong people?
- How do I find out early on if a potential date will want to be sexual without coming across as creepy/ slutty/ scary?
- If I have a first date with someone I don’t want to see again, is it ok to just “disappear” and ignore future messages from this person?
- How do I handle rejection?
I discuss dating at length in my newest book, The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50, including much of the information and tips from my workshop. I’ve also written more than 60 blog posts on dating — start here and keep selecting “older posts” when you scroll down to the bottom of the displayed posts. If you’d like me to write a more detailed post answering any of the questions above, or a new question, please write your request as a comment on this post.
DatingAdvice.com, which offers advice from dating experts, has a section especially for seniors. For example, DatingAdvice.com‘s “5 Senior Dating Rules You HAVE to Follow” suggests ways that you can get out and be active in the dating world. I would add to this brief article that even if you don’t “meet someone” doing these activities, you’ll have a fuller, richer, more enjoyable life. Then when you do meet someone in the future, you’ll come across as fulfilled and active, which is much more appealing than seeming depressed and desperate.
I was delighted when DatingAdvice.com wanted to review my new book and interview me in an article by Hayley Matthews titled
“The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50″: Joan Price’s Groundbreaking Book. “Our sexuality isn’t just about what happens when our genitals connect, or try to,” I’m quoted as saying. “It weaves into how we feel about ourselves and our bodies, what we want from our next relationship, what we learned from our last one(s). So yes, the information about dating, solo sex and sex with a new person are all part of what we may go through as we age.”
(Several writers have sent me their books about senior dating, and I keep intending to do a roundup of these. Forgive me, writers — so many projects, so little time. I’ll let you know when I catch up.)
“Online Dating Over 50: The Rules of The Game” on Huffington Post began,
Monica Porter, who dated “dangerously” for a year, shares nine top tips to help protect yourself, including: don’t believe anything, be careful who you get into bed with and split the check. If you’re looking for romance through online dating, make skepticism your starting point, says Monica.
Sure, “be careful whom you get in bed with” and “split the check” are reasonable, whatever your age and whether you’re dating online or some other way. But the negative attitude overall made me cringe For example,
Rule #1 of dating over 50: Don’t believe anyone. Emotionally, you need to construct a wall around yourself which nobody can penetrate until you believe it to be safe. People will plunder your emotions without compunction if you let them. It is up to you keep them locked up, like jewels.
Really? I’ve been online dating for a while now, and though I have my own frustrations with it (see my advice to men here), fearing that my precious emotions will be plundered if I don’t lock them up is not one of them.
Personally, I think that most people of our age who are using online dating sites are looking for love/ lust/ sex/ adventure/ friendship/ companionship, or some combination of these; feel as vulnerable as we do; and have good intentions. Am I naive?
Isn’t the point of a first date to know each other enough to decide whether we want a second date? Isn’t part of that being ourselves, talking openly, and, yes, risking a little? I’ve met people who have their emotions locked up, and I have no interest in dating them.
I invited the fans of my Naked at Our Age Facebook page to weigh in. Boy howdy, were you willing! Here are some of your points:
Janet, 55: I agree, it is very negative. If you go into online dating with fear and negativity, that is what you will attract. I suggest: Know yourself, be clear about what you expect from the site, be clear on the qualities of a date you are seeking, be ruthlessly honest because you have nothing to lose — you don’t want to waste time in a charade. This is the time of life to be real. Be you, be positive, have fun and you will attract what you put out.
Dana, 62: I tried online dating and it seemed like every man I met had a laundry list, and I was too short, not brunette, too chunky, not enough like their ex wife, too much like their ex wife, too independent, not independent enough, too sexual, too frigid, and on and on. They had this woman pictured in their mind and were looking for her and her alone. My strongest recommendation would be not to make snap judgments at the first meeting. Be willing to let things unfold, be curious. Resist the temptation to judge a book by its cover. Just relax and don’t be on the hunt for your “soul mate” (whatever the heck that is). Find a true friend, a joyful companion, a kind soul and be nice. Let life, God, the universe, fate (whatever you want to call it) choose for you.
Jim, 58: As negative as it may be, is the article accurate? I say, for the most part, yes. Photos are old, many of them are of flowers, their dog, whatever. Would it be nice for a woman to offer to help pay for a nice dinner? Never happens. Not that I would accept it either, but the offer would be nice. I think we all have preconceived notions of what we want, but I agree that you need to let things flow. I find that many women aren’t ready to date, let alone have a new relationship. After 3-4 dates, it’s “I just don’t think I’m ready,” or “my ex BF is really trying to be a better man so I’m going to go back and give it another try,” or “I thought I was ready but now I’m not sure.”
Ruth, 67: I think the Huff Post article is valid to some extent — don’t believe anybody! It doesn’t mention that you can ask for a reference after you’ve met someone for the first time and before you hop into bed with them. You can find out about the person’s honesty and relationship history from someone else’s point of view. I don’t agree with the statement, “If you meet someone you fancy, by all means enjoy good, fun sex. But – hard-nosed as it sounds, and I can’t pretend it’s always easy – take the emotion out of it or you will be hurt over and over again.” I can’t take the emotion out of sex and I’m not sure many people can.
Paula Ellen, 53: I find the photo with the article pretty offensive. Why isn’t there a photo of a 60-year-old, gray-haired woman with a thirty-something male? Jesus.
Brian, 64 :
I’m a verbal guy, I’m not interested in profiles without a lot of writing either in the profile essays, or in the explanations of the questions on OKCupid. That’s where I gauge such things as sense of humor, care for others, and intellectual curiosity. I wonder what women are thinking when they post a profile picture showing them scowling or otherwise looking unhappy. My correspondents tell me that they get tons of messages from men on the model of “Hi beautiful, what’s up?” (That sort is the more tasteful) I can’t give advice on how to handle this, except to put clearly in your profile something that you ask for a comment on, if only to see if someone actually read it. I sent a woman one of my usual cheerleading notes, telling her how much I loved her profile and wishing her good luck. Six months later, we’ve got a very fine romance going, despite the long distance. As it happened, one of my lovers had just said goodbye for reasons best known to her, and I had some time/energy to spare.
So, be careful what you don’t ask for. You may get it.
Ashton, 62: I agree that that article is way too negative. I’m a fan of OK Cupid and I think you need to go into it open-minded rather than paranoid. My #1 rule of online dating is to meet sooner rather than later.
Cyril, 65: While I agree that the wording is negative and excessively emphasizes the need for caution, we should not be gullible or leave ourselves open to exploitation, whether by a date or a rogue trader. Simply put, make sure they have earned your trust before you open up.
Chuck: I’m 74 and my honey is 78. We met on JDate two years ago. The obvious catalyst is honesty–and candor. We got the heavy lifting done on our first date (my alcoholism and depression, her husband’s dementia) and moved on from there. Respecting one another’s history and allowing space for individualism, these have worked so well for us.
This man contacted me from OK Cupid. In his photo, he had thick black hair with a little grey, and he described his body type as “average.”
When I arrived at the coffee shop for a first meeting, I spied him from the doorway. I recognized him, but just barely. His hair was white and thinning, and he was at least 40 pounds overweight. I was totally grossed out by his misrepresentation of himself, and I froze. Then, instead of approaching him, I left without letting him see me.
He sent several texts along the lines of “I’m here waiting, looks like you’re running late.” When I finally responded, I told a half truth — “I’m so sorry, I couldn’t meet you” and a total lie: “I’m having trouble dealing with a break-up.”
He sent me a scathing email calling me rude and inconsiderate, and I apologized and said, ‘”Yes, I know, I’m so sorry.”
What advice would I give to men on online dating sites? Be honest, really honest. Post a recent photo. Say what you look like. If you’re 40 pounds overweight, say so. Otherwise you’re misrepresenting yourself, and someone’s going to be pissed off. Hopefully they won’t do what I did and not even talk to you. There’s someone who will love you the way you are, so be yourself.
Do I feel right about what I did? No, I’m terribly embarrassed. I’ve never done anything like this before. I was scared to tell you.
Please realize that I’m not shaming someone for an extra 40 pounds and thinning, white hair — it’s the misrepresentation that doesn’t serve him and doesn’t get him closer to a first date becoming a second date.
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!