Getting back in the dating scene when you're newly single is a challenging proposition. It's tough enough to handle the sadness you feel when a long-term relationship ends. Your feelings still raw, you struggle to pull yourself together and delve back into the cold and scary world of the singles scene. Going out to look for a new partner just seems too intimidating or impractical. Inevitably, you arrive at the decision to explore online dating sites which present the opportunity to re-enter the scene gradually rather than taking the full plunge.
The anonymity and ease of online sites attracts singles of all ages. However, their sheer size and diversity can also be overwhelming, especially for the newly single. The challenge for singles over 50 is complicated by the fact that we live in a society that devalues age. Fifty may be the new 30, but to the single set, it may feel like a very old 60. You can easily become demoralized as you peer through the thousands of profiles and photos on even just one online site.
As you prepare to take that first step, you need to convince yourself that you should not be ashamed of your age. We are all so conditioned by the images we see in the media of the young and the beautiful that we become convinced that there's no way anyone will want to look twice at us. However, if you start off convinced that old is ugly, you'll set yourself up for sure failure. People who successfully adapt to the aging process don't let these stereotypical views of midlife and older adults penetrate their sense of identity. They don't go out of their way to look older than their age, but they don't go to tremendous lengths to disguise it either. Accepting your appearance, including the little wrinkles and bulges that accumulate over time, allows you to feel better about yourself in general. That inner sense of confidence will give you a different kind of attractiveness than that of the 20-something, one that appeals to the other people who themselves feel good about their age.
There's another very practical reason to accept your age as it is. People who lie about their age, or about anything else, put themselves at risk of disappointment and heartbreak when the truth inevitably comes out. What's worse, if you lie online, the wary will figure out quickly that you're misrepresenting yourself. With age comes greater experience in judging people, and the people who judge you will know that the numbers just don't add up when they read your profile. If you want to find someone who will enter into an honest and open relationship, you need to be honest and open about yourself.
Let's assume that you're willing to work on accepting your age. Now you can move onto phase two, where you narrow down your search. Rather than go for the generic online sites, find one that more closely matches your own values, priorities, and life experiences. You'll feel less overwhelmed and you'll also gain confidence in your likelihood of finding a match.
Next comes the job of constructing your own profile. You can make this easier by making a list of the profiles you like and contrasting them with the ones you really detest. What is it that appeals to you about the ones you like? Are you attracted to the people who show a wry sense of humor, perhaps matched by a twinkle in their eye? Or do you feel that the whole enterprise demands greater gravitas, and so you think it's silly that people make self-deprecating jokes about themselves? Don't copy these profiles, but use them to inspire the style you adopt for yourself.
You might be wondering whether to invest in a profile-matching service. Research on the quality of these matching services shows that they have an uneven track record. In fact, they're not that much better than the old-fashioned method of face-to-face meetings. The online data these sites collect are only as good as the data entered by prospective partners, who may lie, or engage in wishful distortions about themselves. Either way, you're getting information that is wrong at worst or heavily filtered at best.
You'll soon be ready to move on to real meetings. It's actually better to arrange these meetings sooner rather than later. If you engage in too much online chatting, you won't know whether you'll feel the offline chemistry. It will also be harder for you to break off a relationship that wasn't going to go anywhere if you've started to form emotional bonds over email.
If all this seems like too much too soon, then step back and take it at your own pace. One of the great things about getting older is that you learn to avoid making rash decisions. When you put this experience-based wisdom to work for you, that perfect partner will be more likely to come your way.
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