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By Shelby Leith

Stepping back into the dating world in your 50s can feel daunting. If you've been off the market for some time, the prospect of swiping left, winking, or sending a virtual rose might sound more like learning a foreign language than kindling romance. And yet, the online dating scene is rapidly becoming the place to be for women over 50 seeking new love or companionship.

Do you remember those sleepovers at your best friend's house during your teenage years, where you discussed your crushes and dreamt of romantic dates? The scenario has changed drastically; we've traded whispers in the dark for typing in the glow of our smartphone screens. This leap from traditional dating norms might feel uncomfortable initially but fear not; you're not alone in this journey.

The Facts About Online Dating

The realm of online dating is no longer solely the playground of the young. According to a study published in Science Advances, women reach their peak "desirability" at 18 online, while for men, it is 50. In other words, if you're a woman over 50, the online dating world is not brimming with potential partners your age who are actively looking for you.

But what does this mean for you as a woman over 50? While it might be disheartening to read that women's online "desirability" declines with age, remember that these statistics don't capture the richness and complexity of mature love. They don't account for the wisdom, self-assurance, and depth of understanding that you bring to a relationship at this stage of life.

Moreover, online dating among older adults is booming. In fact, a Pew Research Center study reveals that the use of online dating platforms has doubled among adults over 50 in recent years. And a significant number of these online daters have found marital or long-term relationships, indicating that success is indeed possible.

In a nutshell, online dating isn't just for the young or the desperate. It's a thriving, diverse world that presents a wealth of opportunities for finding love and connection, even – or perhaps especially – for women over 50. So, let's explore how to navigate this landscape with confidence and resilience.

Challenges of Online Dating After 50

As we venture into the realm of online dating after 50, it's crucial to address the challenges that may appear along the way. Some are universal, impacting all online daters, while others are unique to mature singles.

Firstly, the online dating landscape can be filled with dishonest profiles. Whether it's a profile photo from a decade ago, a significant understatement of age, or a blatant lie about marital status, the truth often gets distorted in the virtual world. According to a study in Woman’s Day, 80% of all profiles include a lie. "If you must put down a different number in the "age" field on your profile to not get filtered out by the search function, make sure it does not exceed 2-3 years and clarify with your true age in the "about me" section." says Gail 61, a social worker who has been dating online since her divorce two years ago.

"When I first started dating online, I didn't disclose my real age. I thought, knocking a couple of years off - a lot of people do that." says Gail. "I will never forget one of my first online matches. A retired doctor, never married, no kids, no baggage. Our relationship started with texting, then moved to the phone. He said lying about age was a dealbreaker. But I planned on telling him, if he was the one. I thought our first date went well until he went quiet. Did he perform a background check on me? Probably."

"Out of curiosity, I decided to Google my match. I eventually came across a notice from the medical board for the suspension of his medical license for a disability due to alcohol or drugs. I felt shock and anger. Not disclosing your real age can put you in the wrong by default, but having a substance abuse disorder incinerates the notion of any future for us." Gail says. "Don't think for a second that ghosting made him look better than saying what needed to be said. Good or bad manners say volumes about who we are as a person. "

Scams are another unnerving aspect of online dating. Older adults, in particular, are often targeted by romance scammers who build virtual relationships only to eventually ask for money.

Lastly, the sheer volume of potential partners can be overwhelming, making it difficult to find genuinely compatible matches. With algorithms prioritizing quantity over quality, it can feel like finding a needle in a digital haystack.

Why Friends May Not Be Your Best Matchmakers

Traditionally, friends have played the role of matchmakers, introducing us to potential partners. While this method has its charm and can lead to successful relationships, it's not without its drawbacks.

Your friends might know you well, but their perspective of what you need could differ from your own. They might set you up based on their preferences rather than yours, which can lead to uncomfortable situations or incompatible matches.

Additionally, you may find your circle of friends tends to interact with the same people, limiting your chances of meeting someone new and exciting.

This is where online dating can serve as a beneficial alternative. Online platforms provide access to a broad and diverse pool of potential partners that you wouldn't usually meet in your everyday life or through friends.

More importantly, you have greater control over who you choose to interact with based on your preferences and comfort. You can filter matches based on shared interests, lifestyle, age, and other criteria, creating a more targeted approach to finding a partner.

While it's true that online dating comes with its challenges, it also opens up opportunities to meet people outside of your immediate social circle, giving you a sense of control and the freedom to meet people at your own pace.

Mastering the Online Dating World

Stepping into the world of online dating can feel like navigating uncharted territory. However, with the right approach and safeguards, it can open a new chapter of romantic opportunities. Here, we combine essential tips for setting up a successful profile and vital safety measures to ensure a positive online dating experience.

Choosing the Right Platform: The Advantage of Paid Dating Sites

In your online dating journey, your choice of platform plays a significant role. While free dating sites may seem attractive, there are several benefits to choosing a paid service:

● Better Behavior: Since members' credit card information is on file, they are often more respectful and serious about their intentions.

● Quality Matches: Paid sites tend to attract individuals who are serious about finding a relationship, which can lead to more meaningful interactions.

● Advanced Features: These sites often offer advanced features, like in-depth questionnaires and better matchmaking algorithms, that help in finding compatible partners.

Creating a Standout Profile

Your profile is your first impression, so make it count! Here's how:

● Authenticity: Be real about who you are, your interests, and what you're seeking. Authenticity attracts compatible matches.

● Balance: Share both personal and general interests. This helps others connect with you on a personal level while also facilitating conversation starters.

● Photos: Choose clear, recent, and flattering photos that showcase your personality. A mix of headshots and full-body photos works best.

Keeping a Realistic Attitude

Remember, the online dating journey is often a marathon, not a sprint. It's important to:

● Stay Patient: Finding the right match takes time. It's unlikely that the first person you interact with will be "the one."

● Be Optimistic, Yet Realistic: Keep hopeful about finding a match, but don't let that cloud your judgment or push you to rush into a relationship.

Spotting Red Flags and Ensuring Safety

As exciting as online dating can be, safety should always be a priority. Here are some essential tips:

● Be Alert: Be aware of common online scams, like the "stranded overseas" scam, where the individual asks for money. Any request for financial aid is a significant red flag.

● Protect Personal Information: Never share sensitive details like your home address, financial information, or personal phone number. Consider getting a burner or Google phone line for dating purposes.

● Choose Public Meetups: Always meet in public places for the first few dates. Share your location with a trusted friend or family member.

With these strategies and safety measures, you'll be better prepared to navigate the online dating world. Remember, the key to successful online dating is authenticity, patience, and always prioritizing your safety. Enjoy the process, and keep an open mind. Who knows where your next click might lead!

Embracing Hope and Exploring New Possibilities

While teeming with opportunities, online dating can sometimes feel like an emotional roller coaster. You'll encounter highs and lows, face rejections, and experience disappointments. It's essential to remind yourself that it's part of the journey. Dating is a numbers game, but it’s a game that you should play slowly and choose your players wisely. Follow the steps and you’ll get the number you need.

Remember, online dating is not the only route to love. Consider offline alternatives that align with your interests and hobbies. Join a book club, attend a cooking class, or take part in local community activities. By immersing yourself in environments that you love, you increase your chances of meeting like-minded individuals.

Lastly, when it feels like you’re losing the game, take some time off and dedicate yourself to self-care. Create cherished memories with friends and family, enjoy your passions, and savor every moment. Online dating is one aspect of your life, not its entirety. Keep it in perspective and remember to live life to the fullest.

Stay resilient, keep an open mind, and maintain a positive attitude. The world of dating, both online and offline, is an exciting adventure. Embrace it, and let it enrich your life in unexpected ways.

Shelby is a Registered Pharmacy Technician for over 18 years living in Whitby, Canada. She is a published writer who specializes in the field of medicine, health, nutrition and fitness. She enjoys expressing herself through words and often writes short, descriptive pieces, poetry or songs in her spare time.

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