“It’s never too late to find that someone special”. “Older and Single is fun, fast and easy to use”. “Meet the Foxy Fifties!”. These are some of the straplines I found when doing some research on internet dating.
One thing is clear. Internet dating is no longer purely the domain of youngsters. An ever-increasing number of boomers, seniors and retirees are using Internet Dating Services. Factors that have encouraged this age group to embrace online dating are the divorce rate (a significant increase in over-50s divorces), the death of a spouse, and internet useage. Importantly, the stigma of online dating has all but disappeared – it has now become the acceptable norm. The older generation are not necessarily using this platform with the end-result of finding a soul-mate with marriage in mind, but often searching for companions, friends and potential partners. South Africa is a difficult place to meet people, with many women not wishing to venture out at night on their own, for unfortunately obvious reasons.
Does online dating actually work? YEI spoke to some over-50s to find out their view on the virtual matchmaker.
Robyn* had this to say –
Finding myself suddenly single at 47 was a shock. I made the decision that I did not want to be single for the rest of my life. I loved being married and was in love with my husband until he died. I therefore carried no ugly baggage with regards to men. I don’t believe in ‘the perfect man’. I believe in being tolerant. And I am not the big romantic!! I also know that being friends is more important than all the romance and glitter that goes with it.
With all that in mind, I decided to find a partner. My friends are all married, their friends are all married, and the work place is never a good idea. So finding a partner would need to be via the internet. If that didn’t work, I would try the speed dating thing.
I put up what I thought was a realistic profile of myself, and had very few replies compared to other people I know.
Some of the men I chatted with were just lonely and wanted nothing more than an email pal. Others wanted to connect face to face immediately.
When I met Dave, he was about to cancel his membership because of his experiences with some women. Some were looking for gold, some were looking for a father for their kids, and some were either drug- or drink dependant. I was the first ‘normal person’ he had met on the site. Except for one deluded old guy, all the men I met were really nice, but lonely and looking for a genuine partner.
Dave was also looking for a partner because he did not want to be single. Dave and I discovered that we were interested in the same things, had similar backgrounds, and were close in age. We hit it off really well. That was 5 years ago. The rest, as they say is history.
This is probably as unromantic as it gets, but it worked for Dave and I. I would recommend internet dating – just make sure your head is screwed on right and you have both feet planted on mother earth!
Jennifer* had a different experience –
I have tried Internet Dating, but only met real creeps!!!!! I have had a couple of guys who after the second email have been telling me how much they love me and can’t wait to have sex with me !!!!
The funniest was when I had three guys write to me. I answered all three and asked them to tell me more about themselves. Well – I received three emails – all almost identical!!!!! So I copied them all into one email and sent it back to all three guys with one word – “busted!” Needless to say I never heard from them again – thank goodness.
Marie*, in her early 50’s, gave up internet dating when she found that only older men contacted her, which did not interest her. She prefers men of her own age. However, men of a similar age to her were looking at younger women – in their 30’s and even in their 20’s. Another disappointment to her was that her married friends seemed to only invite her to their dinner parties when she had a partner.
One thing is clear – the stratospheric rise of Internet dating has proved that this has become a very popular way for couples to meet and for the over-50s, a perfect way to “dip your toes into the online dating pool”. Your perfect partner could be just a click away!
Some survival tips for mature daters:
- Do your research – investigate several sites before you decide on one or more.
- Be prepared to be disappointed – words and an image on a screen do not necessarily reveal the personality behind the person.
- Get a second opinion – If someone interests you, get your friends to meet him/her.
- Be authentic on that first meeting – be the real you.
- Don’t settle for less than you want.
- Don’t behave like a lovestruck teenager!
- Protect yourself – don’t share personal information (email, phone numbers) until you really know and are comfortable with the person.
- When you meet for the first time, do so in a public place. Tell a friend where you are going and arrange that you will call him/her when the meeting is finished.
- Be wary of online imposters and don’t respond to calls or emails for money or financial details.
- If the relationship progresses to the point of intimacy, insist on using a condom.
* The readers’ names have been changed
Note from YEI: On doing research into Internet Dating, I found that the ladies were more interested in giving their opinion than the men. We would really value hearing the experiences of the gentlemen out there!