Should she try online dating?

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

I’m a 60 year old woman who has been single for about eight years. I have plenty of friends and a nice social life. But, like so many people, I would like to meet someone special. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to necessarily marry again but a companion at this stage of life would be nice.

I have had lousy luck meeting men. I’m hardly going to hang out in the bars, I don’t go to church. While I do belong to some service groups, I’ve known most of those men for my entire career. I’ve taken some classes hoping to connect with someone but that didn’t work.

Lately, I’ve have been seeing ads for an online dating service that is for people over fifty. Do you think they work? It kind of scares me but my kids date people they meet online all of the time. They say I should sign up, that online dating is the way to go. I feel very cautious. Do you think it’s safe?


Single and Curious


Dear Reader,

Online dating services have exploded over the last ten years. They have proven themselves to be a viable option for millions of people. Apparently, they have worked for your kids. I know online dating has happily worked for my kids. It just seems to be that those of us over fifty are the ones feeling  the greatest reservations about meeting people this way.

Naturally, you would be cautious about venturing into this arena. That’s a wise approach. Take time to identify exactly what it is you want. Know your values and your interests. Are you looking for someone to share dinner and a movie?  A travel companion? Should he live locally or are you willing to try a long distance relationship? Once you have a realistic idea of your needs, it’s time to approach an online dating site.

For anyone using online matching services, regardless of his/her age, I’d recommend the following:

*  Make sure any service you use allows you to communicate with another member without initially disclosing your contact information. Most sites have a secure, internal, messaging system. This allows you to control how fast you want to progress, as well as how much information you want to share.

*  Use your common sense! One of the problems with Internet communication is that people tend to feel less inhibited. Anonymity propels some to say what they think others want to hear or agree to things they normally might avoid. Remember, without crucial body language and vocal qualities to help us clearly understand what is being said, it’s easy to get swept away by the written word.

*  Take things at your own pace. After exchanging messages and email, always move onto a phone call. (Never skip this step! If a man won’t agree to this, you have all the information you need to end things right there.) Listen for inconsistencies in his story – use those instincts you’ve honed throughout your lifetime. Feel free to ask for a photo. When you have  those first calls, block your phone number if it makes you feel better. Remember, this is about you having a safe and enjoyable experience.

*  Don’t set up a first date until you feel comfortable. Agree to a public place and arrive in your own car. Coffee or lunch is a great way to begin. Get to know him and pay attention to his answers. Always have  a charged cell phone with you and if he suggests moving the date to another locale, go only if you feel comfortable and again, in your own car. (Make sure a friend knows you are meeting someone – better safe than sorry, right?)

Remember, you know what you are looking for at this point in life. Don’t feel pressured into anything that isn’t a good fit for you. We’re talking about your happiness.

Perhaps all of these cautionary tips make you feel even more leery of online dating. They shouldn’t. Think of them as simple guidelines that would benefit anyone dating in this day and age.

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