Online Dating Advice for Seniors

Navigating online dating websites and matchmaking services
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Illustration by Victoria Marcelino

Hollywood star Sharon Stone’s Bumble account was blocked by the dating app last year because everyone assumed her profile had to be a fake. Though the 62-year-old blonde bombshell was let back into the hive after she proved she was the real deal, experienced online daters know there are plenty still out there who truly are too good to be true.

“Eighty percent of the men I see online misrepresent themselves in one way or another. Some do it intentionally and others do it because they are blind to themselves. They have no idea who they are,” says Lesley Palmiter, 72, a voiceover artist who has been on Match and other sites over the past dozen years.

“It is to the point where I’ve met many men who have put different profiles on different sites, and some go so far as to have different profiles even on the same site. They say they’re separated or divorced when they’re married. They also lie about their age, their height and/or their weight. They use old profile pictures from 20 years ago so they’re unrecognizable if you do meet. I’m often told by men that women do the same.”

Then when the time comes for that first coffee date or glass of wine, it’s immediately obvious that the person who claimed to be 5’10 is only 5’3. From the get-go, he or she has been marked as disingenuous and untrustworthy. So why do romance seekers do it?

“It’s simple. When there is nothing invested, there is nothing to lose. They treat it as easy come, easy go. Swipe right, swipe left. They want something for nothing,” explains professional matchmaker Elaine Saunders, the owner of Dynamic Introductions in Nashua, whose verified and extensive client roster is mostly in the 50-plus range. “The person who walks through my door is willing to make a time investment, a financial investment, an emotional investment and a spiritual investment. There is accountability. There is no accountability on the internet. That makes all the difference. My clients come to me to avoid the internet.”

Online senior dating can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially with the myriad of sites. To help, SeniorLiving.org conducted a study of the 10 most popular age-specific sites and determined that Our Time, with 1.5 million members as of October 2019, is superior overall; Silver Singles offers the best pricing starting at just $25 per month; and Senior Match is tops for active seniors. For anyone looking to connect with a partner who practices a specific faith, Christian Mingle or JDate (for Jewish people) are good resources. Plenty of Fish is free, but because of that users have to sort through plenty of scammers and fake profiles, and the other drawback is that it’s not age-limited.

“I’ve tried Match, Plenty of Fish and Our Time. It’s a lot of work. It’s like a part-time job. You’ve got to work it. Timing is everything,” says Dr. Pierre Angier, 60, a primary care physician from Wolfeboro. “My goal with online dating, and I’ve told women this right up front, is to make a friend. If it turns out to be more than that, wonderful. That takes all the pressure off. A lot of people go into this thinking that on the first date they’re going to get a diamond or get lucky. I’m all for going slow.”

The COVID-19 virus pandemic has forced people to slam on the brakes. They’re still searching and flirting online and then meeting in person, it’s just done another way now.

“When this pandemic started, I asked myself how I can capitalize on this, so I changed my profile. Now it says ‘Seeking a friend for the end of the world. Looking for a partner to make the most of life, since it might be short,’” laughs Angier. “I have gone on some dates since COVID-19 started, but in keeping with social distancing, I went with a lady for a walk on Rye Beach before they closed it. I took a bike ride with another lady and had another date to go for a neighborhood walk at the appropriate distance. It’s very different, but in a way it’s good because you avoid that awkward end-of-date question as to whether you give a kiss or shake hands. Now we don’t even do that,” says Angier. “In all of this, you have to go very slowly, and you can get to know someone better before you dive headlong into a relationship. It’s almost like an old-time, old-fashioned courtship. That’s not all bad but it does present some challenges.”

Despite the new hurdles, the old do’s and don’ts for creating an enticing online profile still apply.

“Use current and sincere pictures that convey who you think you are. Keep it light. Keep it aspirational. Keep it on the positive. Keep it open,” says Palmiter. “In their profiles, too many men say about the woman they seek, ‘She has to be this. She must do that. She will do that. She should act this way.’ That is a total turnoff. State what you’re looking for in a partnership and say what it is you can offer in return,” she says.

When it comes to dating pointers, Saunders can help, particularly for the recently widowed or divorced, people who have been out of the scene and are out of practice.

“Coaching my clients on how to date is part of the services I offer,” says Saunders. “A lot of people are confused about what to do, about what they’re doing right or what they’re doing wrong or if they should fish or cut bait with someone,” she says, adding that she only accepts clients who are stable, sincere, and relationship-seeking, whether that entails marriage or companionship.

There is rarely a standard charge for a matchmaking service as it is a private contract between individuals, but on average, the cost can range from $250 for the basics to in excess of $5,000 for VIP services. For those who have found love and marriage this way, it’s a small price to pay.

So what keeps Palmiter on the online sites with monthly charges, searching there for The One?

“I’m an optimist,” she says. “You’re never too old to find happiness. You’re never too old to fall in love.”

Categories: Seniors

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