By Glenn Baja
Feeling lonely, isolated, and forlorn in the middle of a cold January night, I was on the computer when an ad popped up on my screen advertising a dating site. I’d seen them time and time again, always ignoring and viewing them as obnoxious intrusions into my life, but this time was different. Out of curiosity, for I had never checked one out in the past, I clicked on it. Hours or days later –– I cannot remember which –– I had finally put some pictures together, a bio, my “stats,” and signed up for a 1 month subscription. I had officially started my foray into the world of online dating after 50, at the ripe age of 59.
Your profile is the first thing people see on a dating site, and to be honest, most readers will only take a few moments to look-over and determine if you’re a potential candidate or not. That puts a lot of pressure on people to make their profiles appealing, especially for those who are trying online dating for the first time. It’s understandable then, that almost one-fourth of first time online daters ask someone to give them a hand with this part of the process, especially in choosing photos and tweaking some of the language.
One of the first questions was what age was I interested in. Well…I had to think about that. I’d seen a number of men my age in the past walking around with beautiful “arm-candy.” You know, those “bombshells” that are half their age, gorgeous, and flat-bellied…the kind men fantasize about when they’re married. It all seemed like such a no-brainer! But the thought of dealing with a “youngster,” and all the baggage that might come with it, just didn’t seem appealing.
Maybe I was just showing my age, or perhaps this thing called “wisdom” had finally caught up with me, but the days of trolling around, strutting my ego, and showing fake interest in things I really didn’t give a damn about just didn’t seem appealing. Did I really want someone half my age?
I already knew the answer to that question. What I really wanted was to find a partner closer to my age that I could relate to, have fun with, and had similar interest.
Does It Work?
Is online dating worth the effort? Can it really result in more than just a quick “hook-up” or manipulative women looking for an easy ticket to riches and comfort? Are most men just looking for someone to take care of them as they get older? These are all legitimate concerns, and you always run the risk of coming across these type of situations, but statistically the numbers say otherwise.
Once considered unthinkable, online dating is booming and is a multibillion dollar business that is continuing to grow. Over half, 53%, of single people have created a dating profile according to Match’s recent Singles in America study which polled over 5,000 single individuals. While it’s true that the majority of online daters are young, between 15-20% of people 50 and above have tried online dating, and the numbers are growing.
A lot of great “love stories” begin online. Of the 10,000 subscribers surveyed by Consumer Reports, 44%, of those said it led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage while only 25% of these same respondents met a first date through friends.
Other survey results also confirm the success of online dating. In 2015 the Pew Research Center found over half of men and women believe online dating is a great venue for meeting people. Of those who dated, 66% of them went out with someone whom they were matched with. The ability to choose from, and cater the process to your wants, makes for a system that generally presents pretty good odds of finding and meeting someone that you may click with.
Lastly, the Statistical Brain Research Institute also concludes that if a serious relationship is what you’re looking for, online dating is the way to go. Their results show that 17% of couples who married within the last year met on a dating website. With online dating you get very specific about your wants and needs, and that makes it quick and easy to find that special someone who you can meld with.
Picking an age category you’re interested in is just one of the many dating profile decisions you will need to make. Other criteria like income, education level, body preference, ethnicity, location, children at home, smoking and drinking habits is also addressed. Divulging personal information, such as your income, can be avoided if you prefer not to answer.
Most people tend to attribute more importance to a few certain characteristics than others. For some, it may be money and security while others prefer looks. Others may be biased by body type or level of education, while many just want to find someone to do fun stuff with like hiking, traveling, or dancing. Some are just tired of being lonely, want some company and companionship, and are hoping that the love they desire is out there somewhere.
Statistically, what is most Important? According to the Statistical Brain Research Institute, almost two-thirds of people (64%) who use online dating say the number one thing they’re looking for in a date or partner is common interests, while less than half (49%) say physical characteristics are most important.
One thing that takes some time is listing the kind of person you believe yourself to be. What type of activities do you like to do? What type of qualities are you looking for in a partner? It makes you think, perhaps for the first time in a long time, as to what you really want for yourself. It makes you to take a deep look within and ask yourself some tough questions. It’s a powerful process, but only if you’re totally honest with yourself. If not, it’s easy to see through the shallowness of the words.
As with so many things in life, the effort, energy, and intention you put into something equates to what you get back.
Are you looking for a serious relationship or only interested in casual dating? You can easily let others know exactly where you’re at in life. Just coming off of a divorce? People who have been divorced or single for a while seem to be more “seasoned” online daters than others. They can usually tell within a matter of moments whether or not the profile in front of them holds any interest or not.
Things To Watch For
Probably the biggest issue to be concerned with is the fact that more than half of the people lie on their dating profiles. While we all wish to put our best foot forwards, many of us believe the “truth” about ourselves just isn’t good enough. Research shows that 20% of women will use photos from when they were younger, while 40% of men will lie about their jobs.
The fact is 10% of online daters quit after three months. While I think online dating is one of the best things since sliced bread, it can be a frustrating experience for some — especially if they’ve been doing it for weeks, months, or even years without finding success. In fact, as reported by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, one out of every 10 online daters gives up after 90 days.
Over half (59%) of people think online dating is a fantastic way to meet others, but there are some skeptics. According to a Pew poll, 23% think those who date online are desperate. I disagree. However, that number has gone down a good bit. In 2005, it was 29%, so more people are starting to look at online dating in a positive light.
There’s also is a learning curve to online dating. Once I was set up and searching through the vast numbers of profiles online, I found myself immersed in looking at women from all parts of the country. Oregon, North Carolina, Texas…far from my haunts in Michigan. While many of the bios were very interesting, I realized I needed to bring my search closer to home. One can only go so far with words and telephone calls before you have meet in person. So I had to refine my search to an area closer to where I live, despite the temptation to find “love” in a seeming exotic location hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.
Even with this narrowing, the number of profiles to peruse though is overwhelming. My suggestion? Get very specific…right away. Go for the age you’re looking for, give or take a couple of years, the body type and looks that interest you, the education level you want, and any other “exacts.” You’ll save yourself a lot of time on the computer, and hopefully “zero in” quicker on the person that closely matches you.
The odds of people looking only for a short-term hookup also exist. Statistic Brain found 33% of women have sex on their first online dating experience. It’s no secret that there’s plenty of people online who want nothing more than to meet someone to have sex with. There’s no shame in that, and it’s why controversial sites like BeNaughty exist. Online dating has allowed people to be upfront about their desires and has given them a way to connect with those who are like-minded.
Be aware that online dating can be very time consuming. Between researching and screening profiles, reaching out to people, writing, and taking the time to learn who someone is prior to meeting them takes a lot of time. The writing eventually leads to telephone calls. Frankly, I typed on the computer and talked on the telephone more than I ever wanted. Once, I drove 2 hours away to meet someone at a designated mid-point for lunch, only to know within moments that it wasn’t going to work out. Sometimes the initial correspondence goes nowhere real fast. One said “no way!” when she learned I’d been divorced for less than a year…her minimum before taking a chance on a guy.
Another challenge you may encounter is the task of keeping people straight…not getting names, facts, and backgrounds mixed up. Initially, you reach out to a lot of people. More than once I asked about something that pertained to someone else, a good example being when I mixed up who I thought was a teacher with a person who had not gone to college and was temporarily unemployed. It can be very embarrassing if your not careful about keeping your names, faces, and facts straight.
My suggestion? Take notes!
Dating & Niche Dating Sites
The Online Dating Industry’s Annual Revenue of $1.8 Billion per year is robust and predicted to continue growing. Statistically, the typical online dating customer spends about $243 annually. That comes out to only $20 a month, so from a financial standpoint, online dating is a very affordable way to meet people.
The number of sites can be overwhelming. Just about any niche you may be looking for exist. According to Online Dating Magazine, there are more than 7,500 online dating websites — over 2,500 in the United States and 5,000 world-wide. Of course, you have your Match.coms and your eHarmonys out there, but there’s also sites for clowns, Trekkies, and even sea captains.
The sky’s the limit!
Good for all ages:
zoosk.com (favored for matching compatible singles based on a user’s on-site activity; it is fun and flirty and caters to more of a millennial crowd.)
match.com (best for all kinds of daters; it’s the most popular site with 23.5 million users)
blackpeoplemeet.com (meet other black singles in your area)
eharmony.com (for those looking to get hitched; of all US marriages, eHarmony is responsible for 4% of them)
Free, or mostly free, sites:
okcupid.com (best for the opinionated; it ask lots of questions of a person; good for liberal women)
tinder.com (hook-ups are common, but most users are looking for relationships)
plentyoffish.com (the best, mostly-free, site)
For the rich:
millionairematch.com (the first, most effective and largest site in the world to connect with, date, marry successful, beautiful people; Its members include CEOs, pro athletes, doctors, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs, beauty queens, fitness models, and Hollywood celebrities, just to name a few)
sugardaddymeet.com (a high quality sugar daddy dating site for sugar daddies and sugar babies; it features about 25% sugar daddies and 75% sugar babies)
For the over 50 age group (normal sites)
seniorpeoplemeet.com (finding others your own age for love)
ourtime.com (best for mature dating)
silversingles.com (best for singles over 50)
seniormatch.com (#1 senior dating site for singles over 50)
olderwomendating.com (premier dating service for older women)
Specialized Dating Sites:
elitesingles.com (best for educated professionals)
bicupid.com (world’s largest and most effective bisexual, bi-curious, and bi-couple dating site)
largefriends.com (dating site for curvy singles and admirers)
interracialmatch.com (for interracial relationships)
richwomen.org (rich women looking for men)
richwomenlookingformen.org (rich women looking for men; older men or younger men)
fitness-singles.com (largest site for fitness dates and exercise friends)
runningsingles.com (for long-distance runners)
meetmindful.com (mindful living meets online dating)
consciousmatch.com (meet your conscious partner here)
yourtravelmates.com (find your travel buddy)
misstravel.com (never travel alone)
uniformdating.com (have a thing for a man in uniform? Are you a soldier, nurse or pilot?)
Very specialized sites:
hookup.com (Forget dinner and a movie. Get right to it!)
ashleymadison.com (expensive, infidelity dating site)
positivesingles.com (the largest confidential herpes and STD dating community site)
grindr.com (the wold’s largest social networking app for gay, trans, and queer people)
benaughty.com (fun dating with no waiting!)
Overall, I think dating sites are great! I like the idea of learning a lot about a person before you even reach out to them. You can really narrow things down compared to the old way of meeting people in person and taking lots of time before knowing much about them. Dating sites save time…and probably lots of money too. But the time is the important thing. As we all know, time is the most precious commodity we have. If we can shorten the time to find love and companionship at our age, why not go for it?
It worked for me. Of the 10-12 people I dated, I ended up finding myself happy with the right person. Nearly seven years later we are still together. While not married by choice, I’m in the best relationship I’ve ever experienced. I’m happy, joyful, and forever appreciative of the person I found. It made we realize just how precious and special finding love can be!
Don’t give up. Give love another chance. Risk putting yourself out there once again. Try online dating. It worked for me, just as it has for so many others. It can for you too!