Let's face it; by the time you're 50-something, you know what you like and want in a partner, and barhopping or clubbing probably isn't the right way to meet that special someone. If you find yourself looking for love, you definitely don't want to do it in all the wrong places.
Sometimes a person goes through a divorce or suffers the loss of a longtime partner late in life. Suddenly, the person left behind is facing a solitary life, and the idea of re-entering the dating scene is daunting at best. And if that person was happy in the previous relationship, the solitude could feel almost unnatural. Well-meaning friends try to fix the now eligible bachelor/bachelorette up with another eligible friend, but often those attempts fall flat.
"Online dating is a great way to meet several people at once," says "The Love Doctor," Terri Orbuch.
Nowadays many seniors are making connections on online dating sites geared for the baby boomer generation. According to Nielsen Media Research, the number of seniors using the Internet in general increased to 17.5 million in November 2009, up from 11.3 million users in November 2004. The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 42 percent of people who are 65 or older regularly access the Internet.
According to comScore, the number of online dating site users who are 50 or older has grown twice as rapidly as the rest of the age groups. Seniors have realistic expectations about relationships and tend to look forward to their futures instead of dwelling on their pasts. They also have a clear idea of what their interests are and are more comfortable finding someone with similar interests to date.
If you have decided to try online dating, thoroughly research the different online dating sites. Read their policies, and make sure you feel comfortable with them. Though there are many ways to meet others online, most legitimate dating sites have built-in securities for their members. Consider opening a separate email to use, one that has an aura of anonymity and could easily be dropped if the need were to arise. Some online dating sites are run much more smoothly than others. Some even have a screening process that will help make finding a special someone a little more attainable. If you do join a site and have a bad experience, contact the site's owners immediately to see what they will do to enforce their rules. If you are not happy with their "solution," find another site.
Orbuch cautions, "You need to be honest without revealing information that jeopardizes your security." Don't list your home address. Be a little vague by listing a region instead of a city or town. Give out your cellphone number rather than your home number, which can be traced back to you and your location more easily.
"Go online and chat with a person for at least a week before meeting face to face," Orbuch says. She also recommends moving from online chatting to a few phone conversations (using your cellphone) before actually meeting the person face to face. You should feel safe meeting the person before you make those arrangements.
SeniorDating.org published a list of dating sites for seniors that meet its staff's "standards in trust, quality and safety." Topping the list is SeniorPeopleMeet.com, which is the third-largest dating site, behind Match.com and eHarmony, and caters to a demographic of 50-plus singles. SeniorPeopleMeet.com's membership has grown by more than 400 percent since 2009.
"Senior singles seeking a mature dating experience must visit this site," tout the site's advertisements.
Its parent organization, IAC, launched Match.com in 1995. "Match.com is a pioneer in online dating and personals and is credited with taking the category mainstream," the company says.
Other top-ranking sites named by SeniorDating.org include SeniorMatch.com, Date.com and Senior FriendFinder. According to census data, there are 16.2 million unmarried Americans who are 65 or older.
"With age comes wisdom," says Kelly Saracino, the director of public relations for Quality Life Management. "People date for the same reasons at any age -- friendship, companionship, love and physical attraction."