Data released by marriage guidance experts Relate reveals that those born between 1946 and 1964 will be the first generation for whom living alone in old age may be the norm thanks to the rising divorce rate. If you factor in bereavement that means there are a helluva lot of frisky over 50s out there.
If you find yourself single in later life dating at 50 plus can be a daunting prospect. How do you find prospective partners?
Single middle aged men in bars and clubs can look predatory and pervy and women a tad desperate. Well-meaning friends try to arrange hook-ups but let’s be honest there are only going to be limited options in their “single and available” address book.
Then of course there is the oft quoted “join a local organisation that caters for people with similar interests to yourself”. Nothing wrong with that at all but ladies do you honestly want to compete like mad for the only straight male at the salsa/ceroc/modern jive group? Or sift through the muddy wellies and dirty fingernails at the allotments to find the George Clooney of the radish world? How about a drama group? Hmm, limited potential for leading men there, as indeed there would be at the knitting, crochet, bakery and ceramics classes.
On the other hand chaps how many single eligible women do you think you’re going to bump into at the classic car or motor bike convention? Last time I looked there weren’t too many of them at the local cricket, football or rugby club either.
When I split up with my long-term partner some 8 years ago I was deeply worried about how I would meet women. Single at 55 really is a damn sight harder than single in your forties. I didn’t have many unattached friends to hang out with, I’m not a great “joiner” and I certainly didn’t want to do the aging “Lothario” propping up the bar thing!
Someone suggested the singles column in The Telegraph I was highly dubious-but faint heart never won a fair maiden-so I gave it a shot. I had a fair degree of success insofar as I met some pleasant company for dinner or drinks but no real romantic potential. However, this was quite early in the days of online dating and both that and I have come a long way since then.
Today there is a cornucopia of websites that cater for all tastes, desires and even fetishes. Straight or gay, sophisticated and successful, into uniforms or bondage there is a site out there for you. Of course, there are also sites that cater exclusively for the over 50s. Just Google your preference and up they will pop…and pop…and pop!
The current generation of dating sites use variations on the psychometric testing process to establish your characteristics and target your most suitable matches. Personally I don’t think this is as accurate as you would like it to be but that in essence should not be a deterrent. If you’re open minded who knows what could happen?
After 8 years of online dating I’ve not only had a lot of fun and some genuinely special relationships but also learnt how to maximise the options and minimise the pitfalls. What follows is a simple guide of dos and don’ts for your first profile:
Do post a recent picture or several if possible. Show yourself off to your best advantage. Ladies try the full on “glam” approach and also a more relaxed natural shot. Gentlemen go for a “suited and booted” plus a smart casual pose. Try and look as comfortable as possible and SMILE! Never forget, however shallow it may be, how you look is the initial attraction. You don’t have to be classically good-looking…different strokes etc.
Don’t post a pic taken taken 10 years ago. If you get to meet the object of your desire your cover is blown and you will immediately be seen as untrustworthy,
Don’t take a “selfie” in the bathroom mirror not only will the light be unflattering but nobody needs to see your loo.
Don’t show photos that include your children, grand children, your dog, your horse or your cat. You’ve got plenty of time to introduce them into the equation. Similarly avoid any pics showing close proximity with a member of the opposite sex these immediately invoke a reaction of “who the hell is he or she with? Is the ex still around will he or she want to beat me to a pulp or boil my bunny?”
Don’t pose topless (male or female) or in your swimwear. If you’ve got a body to die for you’ll attract every weirdo from 18 to 80 and if you haven’t the same applies.
Don’t allow photographs showing your country mansion, villa in the sun, garage full of luxury sports cars, helicopter or Louboutin shoe collection. Nobody likes a show-off and you will be harassed by all manner of gold digger. However, if that’s what you’re after be my guest.
Do be honest about yourself. 5’10” is not 6’. Size 14-16 is not a size 10-12. Middle management is not CEO and dinner lady is not high volume food distribution. Remember, your lies will find you out and if you tell “porkies” from day 1 you’ll never regain that ground.
Do try to make your profile fun and informative. A boring profile infers a boring person.
Don’t ramble on and on about hobbies, children and/or grandkids or your pets. By all means mention them, after all they are part of who you are, but 200 words on Fell Walking might just imply that nothing else matters.
Do be clear on the type of partner you are looking for. If you enjoy a quiet life in the country a gregarious city type is not going to work for you. If you enjoy jetting away on a whim someone with strong family or business commitments will lead to frustration.
Do define geographical criteria. If you have a car or are prepared to travel I would suggest a radius of no more than 50 miles from your home. You can be as precise as you like. Long distance romances can work but unless you are prepared to relocate away from friends and family they rarely end happily.
Ok! Now you have the “uber” profile what happens next?
Ladies, you are going to find your inbox flooded with messages. You are also going to find an awful lot of them will be highly inappropriate both in content and in terms of whom they are from. It’s not unusual for older women to receive memos from much younger men. If you are not interested enjoy the flattery if you are a “cougar”…result!
Gentlemen, you are not going to be inundated (unless of course you are Johnny Depp), you will more likely than not have to take the first step. When sending a memo make sure you have read their profile properly and if there is something that resonates with you make mention of it. A simple example being: “ Hi Petronella, I’ve just read your profile and noticed that you’re a big fan of Patagonian clog dancing, what a coincidence! Please do check out my profile and if you are at all interested in chatting further please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you. Algernon”. Polite, to the point and totally non-threatening.
You’ve now found someone you’re interested in and they seem interested in you how do you progress?
Initially, just swap messages. Find out a little more about each other. You will be surprised how much insight you can get from some simple written exchanges. However, you can miss nuance, humour or irony during these exchanges so my personal feelings are that as soon as you feel comfortable with each other you should progress to a phone call. I’ve always said to ladies that I will send them my number and they can call me and withhold their number if it makes them feel more secure.
If the conversation flows and both sides are keen arrange the first meeting.
Now this is a very big step! First of all expectations are high. Is this the start of something huge? Will he/she like me? What will we talk about? Supposing I hate them on sight? Secondly it is likely that she will be very nervous.
Always try and meet as close as possible to the lady’s location. Suggest somewhere very public for a light lunch or coffee. Daytimes are much less pressurised.
By the time this liaison takes place you have written dozens of messages, no doubt had several phone conversations and consequently should have plenty to talk about.
Nevertheless chemistry amongst people does exist. If you’re not feeling it (even a little bit) then it’s probably never gonna happen. If there is a the faintest of spark it is always worth meeting again when you are both a little more relaxed to see if you can fan the flames.
Remember, not every meeting will end in romance and even some that do may not last. But you are getting out there, you are meeting new people and you should be having fun. Sure, there will be disappointments, you may come across some people that have been economic with the truth, you may well be more attracted to some people than they are to you, you may have to let some people down gently because you know it’s going nowhere. The flipside is that each meeting is a new adventure and could potentially be totally life changing.
How about me, have I met Ms Right? Well no, actually, I haven’t but I have met quite a few Ms Right For Now, I have had some great experiences and I’m still confident that she is out there somewhere. Anyway, it’s too late to stop now.
As we say in the online dating game, “Good luck with your search”.