It might have been a while but don’t be daunted – online dating is not as scary as it’s cracked up to be
Here are my five top rules for dating with dignity:
1. Get over the stigma
Don’t think of it as online dating – you’re only really meeting online and the dating part comes later. The problem is that, for our generation, the term online dating became synonymous with desperation. But that’s all changed and the stigma is long gone. There are now thousands of specialized sites where you can be specific and targeted about who you want to meet. Why not try DatingOver50s, a site which caters for the High50 generation? Just look at it like a shop window – in reality it’s a safe place, without the pressure to commit, where you can browse and find like-minded people, one of whom you may find attractive and end up with. Just have fun. And the best part? You can walk away from your failures without anyone knowing and try, try and try again.
2. No loo selfies and an interesting profile
You need a photo but be sensible. Don’t think you can get away with a selfie taken with a view of the bathroom behind you. Make sure you are smiling and make an effort – you don’t need to cover yourself in slap but do have clean hair and pay attention to what you’re wearing. And boys, please keep your shirts on and don’t ever wear your exercise kit. Take it from me, cycling shorts and Lycra are a definite no – there are specialist sites for those.
Answer the profile questions honestly. When listing your interests, likes and dislikes, try and cut out the chaff and think about what you like doing that makes you different. The clearer you are from the start about defining yourself and what you’re looking for, the bigger your chances of meeting someone with whom you have something in common.
3. Arrange to meet or risk a messaging cul-de-sac
Don’t wait too long to arrange a meeting. If you get into too long a period of messaging, you can be lulled into thinking you know someone better than you do. By our age, most of us can sound good on paper so it’s easy to deceive.
Arrange to meet, even if only for coffee or a quick drink as a half hour face-to-face meeting is a far better way of getting to know someone than weeks of email exchanges.
Daisy Buchanan, author of dating guide Meeting Your Match agrees: “It’s always better to meet an online date sooner rather than later – it’s too easy to message endlessly, and you need to find out whether you have chemistry off-screen before you rush down a flirty emoticon rabbit hole that could last for weeks or months.
Try not to message for more than two weeks, and if you’re nervous, you could always speak on the phone first. It feels a bit more intimate.”
4. Where to go for your first date
Find somewhere you wouldn’t mind being stood up – just in case. Make sure it’s somewhere quite busy (though not too crowded or noisy at our age) with a lively atmosphere. You don’t want to meet in a gloomy, empty dive and feel everyone’s listening into your conversation. If it’s during the day, find a nice coffee shop. If it’s after work, choose a bar rather than a restaurant in case you want to beat a hasty retreat. Gastro pubs are great but otherwise, at our age, avoid ordinary pubs or risk looking as if you can’t be bothered or are trying too hard to be casual.
5. Who pays?
Always a tricky one but a date should not stray into gender politics. At our age, we like good manners and a degree of respect. While I expect to pay my way, I am always delighted when a man offers as it suggests old-fashioned courtesy. If I think we’ll see each other again, I might let him pay and then suggest I pay the next time. If I know I’m unlikely to go for a second date, I might suggest splitting the bill.
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