Not for the faint-hearted

Ok, so online dating isn’t easy. For everyone who successfully finds a good match, there are many others who put their toes in the water and then quickly withdraw when it all gets too difficult. You need a thick skin to cope with rejection and the rudeness this anonymous business seems to bring out in some people.

A 60-something Canberra man told me recently about driving to Sydney for a cup of coffee with a prospective date he’d met online. It turned out she was 12 years older than she had claimed to be. How appalling to exploit a man in this way.

Yet the choice for most people is not between online dating and dating in the real world. It’s between online dating and no dating – they simply never meet eligible singles in their normal lives. So it’s worth plunging in and learning how to handle this tricky business, because it may be the only game in town.    

 It does, however, require a real time commitment, that thick skin mentioned before and clever strategies. First of all you need to choose an appropriate site. Although there are now some new dating websites catering specifically to the over 50s, most of these are too small to give you a good chance of making the right match. This is particularly true if you are seeking better-educated partners, in this case you’re much better off with the really big sites, such as RSVP, which is now attracting huge numbers of older people. Stay away from sites matching people on personality questionnaires such as eHarmony, a process which rarely works well.

Here are some other tips:

  • You must have really flattering but natural, current photos. Get someone with a digital camera to take a bunch of shots in a few different outfits and use only the very best of them. It’s your worst not your best shot which will determine whether people contact you.  
  • Think about whom you are trying to attract. Very few women respond well to photos of a man holding up dead fish, sitting astride a huge motorbike or wearing funny hats or too few clothes. Women should resist trotting the ‘girls’ out or showing themselves glassy-eyed and clutching a wine glass – unless all they are after is a roll in the hay.
  • It helps to have a lively, interesting profile, particularly if you are an older woman facing a competitive market. The challenge is to find out what’s special about you – everyone has something which can help them stand out from the crowd. Next month I’ll explain how I help my clients find that special something.
  • Cast a wide net. Don’t be too fussy when specifying the characteristics you seek Include minimum deal-breakers – long shopping lists limit your chances.
  • Include information which may increase your attractiveness i.e. you should mention regular exercise and the fact that your children don’t live at home.
  • Be truthful – there is no point fudging what you put on your profile. The truth will emerge eventually and risks ruining your chance of a relationship.
  • Women need to be proactive, approaching men not just waiting to be noticed.

Above all, don’t give up too easily. Often people opt out after the first few knock-backs. Don’t get turned off just because your date turned out to be many kilos heavier than she claimed. Or he came on too strong making it clear he expected you to put out. Yes, there are creeps online but most people are genuine and looking for a mate. You won’t find them unless you are optimistic and persistent instead of cynical and jaded. If it was a job search and you needed employment, you wouldn’t let a few lousy interviews put you off.

Read Bettina’s bio here.

Written by Bettina Arndt