Could online dating work for you?

Some married friends were talking recently about a single woman who was thinking about trying online dating. “Oh, I’d never do that. Online dating is full of weirdos and players. Can’t she just join a sporting club or something?” asked one of the wives.

Married friends haven’t a clue about what it is like to be on your own surrounded by mostly older, single people. Their last dating experiences were often 20 or 30 years ago and all they know about online dating are media stories about people being scammed or taken for a ride.

They don’t realise that online dating has become the way most normal single people now meet one other. The big websites now have over 2 million members – the Fairfax-owned RSVP has over a 1000 new people joining up every day, with older people now leading the recent swell in numbers. We all know people who have met their partners online and are happy to boast about it.

Melbourne writer Peter Leith (84) wasn’t the type to go out to bars or clubs. He was attracted to online dating because he felt it offered a safe, gradual approach to getting to know someone and was delighted when Gold Coast woman, Lieselotte Achilles (80), made the first approach. It took them three months of emailing, phone calls and Skype calls before they finally met. They now regularly spend weeks staying in each other’s homes, accompanied by their pet dogs who, luckily, get on just as well as their owners.

Many single people complain to me that they never meet anyone new who is eligible. A woman in her 60s told me recently about being invited to a 60th birthday party, a grand event with over 100 people attending. She put on her glad rags and went along, thrilled at the possibility of meeting some new men. “Every time I’d start chatting to a man who seemed interesting, his wife would pop up next to him. You can’t ask if someone’s single when you’ve just met. The whole business of trying to find someone who is unattached is just too humiliating,” she explained.

The miracle of online dating is that it brings together the single people who might have been wandering around at that party, or at similar social gatherings, and enables them to get to know each other, without the embarrassment of trying to chat up people who are already taken. The enormous pool of people now online includes a huge slice of humanity, from just the type of person you are dying to meet, through to people way out of your league and others you’re best to avoid.  

Yes, there are scammers online trying to get money out of prospective dates. Amazingly there are folk foolish enough to give large sums of money to people they have only just met – just as others lose their savings after investing in get-rich schemes or get ripped off by door-knocking fake charity collectors. But sensible people who tread carefully have nothing to fear from online dating.

The larger websites, such as RSVP, work hard to weed out people behaving badly on the site. I’ve been working with clients across Australia, mainly people over 50, helping them to achieve success in online dating and none of them has ever had any such issues. Yes, it can be difficult getting started – oh, the panic of staring at a blank screen trying work out how to describe yourself!  It’s not easy learning how best to approach people and handling being kicked to the curb. But that’s what I’m there for – to hold people’s hands through the teething process.

But there are amazing successes. As a born matchmaker, it always makes my day when a client tells me they’ve met someone who rocks their boat. Luckily, that happens pretty often.

Read Bettina’s bio here.

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