There's a whole new world of dating with changing rules and ways to meet. Courting isn't the same as it once was, and the avenues to get a date are as abundant as they are confusing. A popular way to find love -- or just a comfortable companion -- is through the Internet.
More and more baby boomers are turning to the Web. Gordon Scott Edwards even documents his online dating adventures in his book, "Internet Safari: Finding Love Online at 65." Another source of inspiration and advice is "The Boomer's Guide to Online Dating," by Judsen Culbreth.
But how does one get started on the path of online romance?
Finding one or two reputable dating Web sites is key to finding love. There's always Match.com or eHarmony, but more niche Web sites targeted at those in their golden years have sprung up. Dating For Seniors, 50YearsPlus.com, BabyBoomerPeopleMeet.com and Baby Boomer Dating Site are a few to try. It doesn't hurt to put a profile on more than one site, especially if the sites are free. Take advantage of free trials and expand the options.
After signing up and before checking out the profiles of other singles, time needs to be spent on your own profile. Be as informative as possible, but, according to Culbreth, keep it real, too. When answering questions about height, weight, looks, occupation and children, "be absolutely honest. You can't recover from misrepresenting yourself."
This honesty also applies to your search and what you want in a partner. One of the great things about Internet dating is searching for exactly the type of person you want. While writing truths about yourself, write about your preferences, even the obscure. It's good to be open-minded, but it's also nice to find someone who loves rocky road ice cream as much as you or who takes miniature golf to new levels.
When choosing a user name or tag line for your profile, keep in mind how it appears to others. Would you be attracted to an 85-year-old named BadBoy22? Or someone with a hidden vulgarity in his or her name? Unless this is part of your reason for online dating, think about the message that is sent in a name and profile.
Another nice aspect that Culbreth points out about Internet dating is that not every person who shows interest needs a response if the sparks aren't mutual. That's especially true if there are lots of responses from people who clearly didn't read your profile or if their interests don't match yours at all. There are plenty of fish in the Internet world, and there isn't a reason to get caught up in ones that don't fit your net. However, it is always nice and polite to respond and express a lack of interest.
Photos are also great expressions of you and others, and they reduce uncertainty. According to Online Dating Magazine, profiles with photos are viewed more often than ones without photos. Honesty helps here, too. Misrepresentation in a photo may cause a first date to be a last date. Be cautious of anyone unwilling to send a photo even after some communication and anyone who sends a photo that doesn't resemble him or herself at all.
There are other things to be careful about besides photos. New risks exist with online dating, including coming across scammers and liars. Some married people pretending to be single search for fun, and some people are just dangerous. As long as caution is used, adventures in Internet love can be safe and fun. There are some simple things you can do to make sure this happens.
Online Dating Magazine recommends guarding your anonymity. This means not placing information about where you live, a home phone number or specifics about a workplace. Wait on giving this information, and do not get picked up or dropped off at home. It's also never a good idea to give your real name on your profile or to someone you don't know well. When you go on a date, always let someone know where you'll be, and avoid secluded areas. Follow your gut. There isn't any obligation for you to continue to see someone if there's discomfort.
As long as honesty and caution are used, dating online is a fun way to meet a lot of people, no matter the age of the love seeker.