You might be wondering what happened to the days of the blind date, of the cousin-who-knows-someone, of serendipity, slow-dances, neighborhood socials.
Yes, things have changed. And yes, dating technology might be a bit less personal than what you remember. But there are many upsides to online dating, and for the 50-and-up club in particular, it can be a safer, more efficient, and more nuanced means of meeting Mr. or Ms. Right.
Of course, online dating can seem intimidating at first. So here are 5 hacks for setting up a good profile, finding the right photos, and getting back out there.
1. Trouble with your profile? Have your loved ones write it for you
Writing a dating profile can be overwhelming. How can you possibly sum yourself up in so little space? Especially such a rich, well-lived life? What should you include? What should you leave out?
It’s easy to get stuck in your own head. A good solution is to ask those closest to you for their impressions. Sometimes our friends and family know us better than we know ourselves, and the answers they give us can not only help, but surprise us (and let’s be honest, the compliments wouldn’t hurt).
Another advantage is that it can produce a more multifaceted picture of your personality. Find people you have different relationships with, and their answers, when added together, will shed light on the different elements of your personality. What kind of friend are you? What kind of parent? What kind of co-worker, tennis partner, or neighbor? Of course, make sure to turn to people who love you. The answers can paint a more well-rounded portrait of you than what you may have been able to come up with on your own.
2. Embrace your age
Embracing your age doesn’t have to mean resigning to it. In fact, quite the opposite. Chances are you have a long list of life experiences to draw from, and they can serve as a launching pad to express your current attitudes, life’s philosophy, and even your sense of humor.
Use your experiences to your advantage. With age comes more experience. With loss comes gratitude for life. By no means feel pressured to put a happy spin on your hardships. But to whatever extent you’re comfortable with, remind yourself of the things you’ve learned from the experiences in your life and think about how they have informed the person you are today.
By presenting your life through the rich prism of experiences, adventures, and yes, even losses that you’ve experienced, you can use your history as a way to exhibit your sense of endurance, grace, and contentment.
So, you don’t need to shy away from acknowledging where you’ve been. Use it to your advantage. Add some humor if it helps. “Can I cook? Please. At Woodstock people were fighting over my grilled cheese. Imagine what I can do when I’m not surrounded by mud?”
Choose some examples from your past, whether humorous, challenging, or if possible, a mixture of both. You can use them as anecdotes in your dating profile, or on a date itself. Even hardships, when addressed with a mix of sincerity, honesty, and humor, can project an image of confidence and authenticity that will quickly set you apart, both on the computer screen and in person.
3. Say cheese....and queso...and formaggio
When it comes to choosing photos for your profile, of course it’s important to look good: make sure you’re smiling, well-groomed, etc etc. But pay attention to what’s going on behind you, too.
The backgrounds of your photos will tell a story even your smile can’t. Think of them as telling a story without words: where you like to eat, where you like to travel, where you like to relax.
Try to diversify your photos so that they capture a wide spectrum of experiences. Whether you’re strolling the beaches of Costa Rica, heading into the symphony for the new Dvorak performance, or grilling in the backyard, try to portray yourself in a variety of settings.
If you find yourself lacking photos, it’s never too late to take some. Ask friends or family to snap photos of you the next time you’re out, especially if you’re in a place of natural beauty or cultural significance. And if possible, try to use photos of yourself doing what you love. The natural joy will show on your face.
4. Use your smile—but don’t forget about your ears
It’s an unfortunate truth that with age comes stories of loss, health problems, and other hardships. At some point or another, a date will likely share difficult stories with you, so it’s important to be attentive to them so that you can move forward with thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
If your date confided in you about a past heart issue, for example, that’s information you’ll want to consider when choosing a restaurant, or brainstorming an outdoor date activity. Or take somebody who was recently divorced; maybe they’re not ready for that new Oscar-winning drama about a failed marriage everyone else is talking about. Or perhaps a widow/widower has painful associations with certain date spots, foods, or music. Being attentive and sensitive to the stories your date shares can help you be more thoughtful to their needs and keep you both from uncomfortable situations.
5. Find the online dating site that best expresses your strengths
The proliferation of dating sites for seniors means you have the luxury of choice. A good tip is to reflect on what type of relationship you want and how you’re most comfortable presenting yourself; after that, you can find the site that best matches your preferences. Other key factors, such as matching capabilities and level of tech involvement, are also helpful in helping you find the right site, and after that, the right match.
SilverSingles.com is especially great for those looking for a serious relationship. The site, which is geared specifically toward the 50-and-up club, automatically filters out inactive users so that you don’t waste any time on vain pursuits. It also offers a comprehensive matching service, which begins with a questionnaire to learn your personality type. First-time online daters might find this helpful in ushering them into the unfamiliar world of online dating.
Another site geared specifically for mature daters is Ourtime.com. Our Time is an easy-to-use site with minimal gadgets, making it ideal for those who aren’t fully at home with technology. The process involves adding photos, writing a short bio, and answering 3 simple questions that will give users an idea of who you are.
Match.com, though not specifically tailored toward seniors, is nonetheless one of the most popular and successful dating sites for users of all stripes. Match has online dating down to an art, with a proven match algorithm and success stories to back it up.