How to Date Online Safely and Successfully
I strongly believe that on-line dating is the best option for older singletons - because our modern society makes it hard to meet a wide enough range of potential partners anywhere else.
Having said that, on-line dating can be a discouraging business, especially if you approach it the wrong way. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the experience. Who knows, if you follow my suggestions, you may also be like me and find your Mr Right (and marry him) at 50!
Don't Get Discouraged!
If you were house-hunting, would you expect to find the perfect home on the first inspection? How many houses might you inspect before you buy? If the first half a dozen were useless, would you give up? Or would you keep on looking until you found the right one?
Now consider, a husband is a far more important investment than a house. So tell me, why do so many women give up after "inspecting" only half a dozen men? Make up your mind, before you start, that you're going to be persistent - even if the first few guys are utter losers.
Choose A Dating Site Wisely
DON'T confuse chatrooms with dating sites. Chatrooms have their place, as a forum for sharing discussion of common interests with other people. But there are lots of pitfalls if you try using them for romance. More on that later.
Also avoid free sites. There are plenty of genuine people on free sites, but they are also more attractive to predators. On a free site, it's easy to use a fake name and address and no one is any the wiser. On a paid site they will need to use a credit card, and that credit card will require a real name and address. Even if the card has been obtained fraudulently, the transaction gives the police a place to start investigating - so predators are more likely to go for the free sites where they don't run any risk of being tracked down.
Browse through a few dating sites before choosing which one you want to list on. Check out some of the profiles and make sure that most people are looking for life partners.
Some sites specialise in casual relationships (it will be obvious from the profiles). No matter how lonely you feel, there's no point wasting your time on them! I also don't recommend sites that focus on specific sexual preferences, because they can also attract people who want casual sex rather than a long-term relationship.
Take Baby Steps
Don't feel you have to plunge straight into full-on dating
Take your time. Most sites will allow you to register but keep your details private. That's not going to get you anywhere long-term, but it will let you write your profile and get to know the site well, before you put yourself "out there". Same goes for your photo - add it when you're ready, not before.
Tell the truth in your profile. Personally, I think it's fine to lie about your age IF you look younger than you really are - but not otherwise! Men seem to think all women over about 40 will be wrinkled old bags (even if they are 50+ themselves!). If taking a couple of years off your age gets you as far as meeting for coffee so he can see you still have a great figure and a good complexion, do it!
Once you start to feel confident, don't be passive. You are not a winsome young lady in some Jane Austen novel where you have to wait for the gentleman to acknowledge you!
On most dating sites, you can contact people in a couple of ways. One is free (sometimes called a "kiss"). All it says is, "I'm interested, here's my profile". Alternatively, you can buy coupons or stamps, which you can use to send emails (in which case you can say as much as you like).
If you send a kiss, the recipient has to use one of his coupons to reply to you (although he can say "no thanks" for free). Naturally, this means the guys are going to be choosy in who they reply to, because it's costing them money!
If you send an email, on the other hand, the recipient can reply for free. So you are much more likely to get a response if you take the initiative and send an email.
Meet Him Immediately
Never, ever let a man delay meeting you. If he won't set up a date after one or two emails, dump him!
Yes, yes, I know that goes against advice you've heard, that you should be cautious about meeting men from dating sites - but that advice is balderdash.
I'll tell you why. Men with bad intentions are actually more likely to delay meeting, because a long email, phone or even Skype correspondence gives them time to "groom" you. It's very easy for a predator to hide his true nature from you, while sounding completely warm and sincere. By the time you've been chatting for a few weeks, you'll feel you know him well even though you may actually know very little about him. When he finally proposes a get-together, it will be at his home or your home, or he may offer to pick you up in his car - all places where you'd be easy prey. So don't risk it - if he sounds like your kind of guy, insist on meeting him at once, in a safe neutral place.
Besides, at our age we can't afford to waste time with someone who isn't telling the whole truth (maybe he's married; maybe his photo is twenty years old - or not even him!; maybe he's five feet nothing or seven foot tall; or two hundred pounds). It is easy to tell half-truths in writing but much harder face to face. I've known plenty people who've had long email correspondences before finally meeting someone, and then found out they're nothing like what they imagined. You haven't got time for that!
If the person is cautious about meeting in person, be suspicious: why wouldn't they want to meet you, unless they've got something to hide? Challenge them with that - if they don't agree, cross them off your list and move on.
If you're thinking, "but meeting is dangerous", get that silly idea out of your head. Once you're sitting in the coffee shop or bar, you're in exactly the same position as if you'd met this person on a date. The difference is that you know a lot about their likes and dislikes, hopes and aspirations, their age, their marital status etc. already.
- Use a dating site that requires a paid membership, not a free one. A site that requires payment means that members can be tracked via their credit card payments, so they are less attractive to predators.
- Set up an email account (e.g. on Yahoo or Google) that you use just for dating. That way, if you do come across a jerk, you can dump that email address and he will have no way of finding you.
- Never give your address, or even your phone number, until you've met the person face to face, and feel confident that you want to take the relationship further.
- For your first date, always arrange a meeting in a safe neutral place such as a coffee shop during daylight hours.
Follow these simple safety rules and online dating is actually less dangerous than meeting someone by chance in a bar. Don't be shy, go for it!
© 2016 Kate Swanson