Even after grey divorce – after the age of 55, 65, 75, 85 – the old adage is still true: “It’s springtime, and a young (and older) man’s (and woman’s) fancy turns to ….” Our biological urge for both men and women seems to turn to courtship when it’s spring. Look around. Our fellow primates are enjoying the season unabashedly. Visit any zoo and you’ll see it. Our Circadian rhythm calls us to renewal and fresh starts in spring, after the long dark winter.
If you’re thinking of online dating after grey divorce, spring is the best time to get going. Both men and women are eager for relationships, everyone is fresh from winter’s sleep, and the number of registrants for online dating soars.
Online dating is an art of its own no matter what your age. Anyone who has walked through its doors will tell you: You must be thick skinned. Most importantly, you must be tenacious and determined that it will work for you.
For those in grey divorce who dated in the old days – when one person actually called another – this will all be new. Telephone conversations are frequently the last step. First comes connecting on the site rather anonymously. The second step is email on the site (don’t ever give out your regular email until at least the third or fourth meeting). The third step is texting. Fourth is meeting in person. The last step is regular phone conversations. Welcome to the world of the Internet. Going in with realistic expectations is key.
All the negative adjectives are true – daunting, scary, cruel, rude, frustrating, brutal. Last night I had dinner with a new dating connection, and we had an amazingly honest discussion. He had just begun online. He said, “This isn’t for the faint of heart.” He’s so right! It takes courage, fortitude, a support system, and the ability to laugh at yourself and that fool you had coffee with. Anyone who tells you online dating is a piece of cake is sugar coating it. Success rates are low. Depression is high. Rejection is everywhere.
Why in the world would you bother? The answer is: many people have met the love of their life online, especially later in life. It’s difficult to meet someone after late 50s and on, in the traditional sense. Most of us don’t want to hang out in clubs and bars, so the Internet is the new route to meeting a partner, a companion, a friend. It can happen for you, as well. That’s the whole point, despite the bumps in the road getting there.
The key to online dating after grey divorce is setting your expectations.
1. Know what you want in a partner, and stick to it.
Push the words “NEXT!” and “FORWARD” to top of your mind, and move on if this person doesn’t match. If you don’t play golf, and this person lives for golf, move on. Last week, one man wrote to me and said, “Women need protection. That’s my job. May I protect you as my little woman?” No thank you. First, I’m 5’9”, so I’m no one’s “little woman” and I don’t need protecting (whatever that means). NEXT! You will get toughened to it after a while.
2. Recognize that you’ll kiss a lot of frogs (figuratively) before you find your prince or princess.
Set this expectation firmly in your mind, and don’t forget it: This is a numbers game. It takes 25 no’s to get a yes. Like the old diamond advertisement said, “Everything worthwhile takes time.” Put a little sticky next to your computer that says that.
Think of your dating process as a giant sieve. Lots of names and possibilities go in the top, and only one comes out the bottom. You will get discouraged (everyone does – expect it), but remember, all it takes is one. Keep going. You will sift through photos of men and women whom you’d expect to see on the wall of the post office and pictures that give no clue about personal appearance. Men: stop posting pictures of your dogs or your cars. Women: stop posting pictures of your grandchildren or your cats. Find the person that appeals to you. Be picky. Send them a nice message. They may or may not respond. If they don’t, don’t take it personally.
3. Don’t take anything personally.
This is a hard one, since dating is a personal activity. Here’s what can happen: The perfect potential partners doesn’t write back. Its called “ghosting.” In the middle of a lovely chat, your “match” might hang up on you for no reason. People don’t show up for first dates, after you spent hours in nervous anticipation. What to do? Say FORWARD, laugh at the situation, and move on.
You will meet the person who has good manners, and does show up – maybe for the rest of your life. Also, be sure you’re not contributing to the bad manners online. If you’re just not feelin’ it, let the person know so he/she can move on, too. Then there’s this: All of us have experienced that empty hollow feeling when no one writes you back or flirts with you. Suggestion: try another site better suited to you, especially if you have special needs. Or, give it two more weeks, then drop off the site for a month, and get a fresh start with new photos and a new profile. As in everything else, when it rains, it pours in online dating. When it’s a drought, it’s a big drought. Don’t let it devastate you. Get off that horse for awhile. Do activities you love offline. Then, when you’re rested, and your feelings are no longer hurt, get back on.
4. Be aware of fraud, scam, and flat out lies.
People lie online – about age (plan to add two to five years to the age given), income, height, interests, health. Not everyone lies, of course, but it’s rampant, since you can easily create the person you want to be rather than who you are. Also, especially for the grey divorce crowd, scams abound. Scammers create bogus profiles and post pictures that aren’t them. They will ask for help (money). Usually, they live out of state. Never give out your email or home address online. Do not use your regular email address online – get a new one just for dating. Hold onto personal information until you know them well. A healthy prospect is always willing to wait for personal information.
Another red flag: Out-of-state people may be married or in another relationship. They’re “safe” with you. Many are looking to write you endless emails or phone calls. Often they get erotic. Hang up and say to yourself, “NEXT!”
5. Meet in person as soon as you can.
Three email exchanges – that’s all you need before you meet them. If they don’t want to meet, say bye-bye, “NEXT.” Scammers have excuses for not meeting. When you meet, be in a public place, never alone with them (coffee house is good).
6. Keep your sense of humor.
This may be the most important criteria of all. The endorphins created when you laugh will get you through. Laugh when it goes terribly wrong. Laugh with friends who’ve been through these rigors. Most of all, try not to take it so seriously that it runs your life. After all, you’re trying to find love and friendship, not misery. Here’s great advice from a magnet on my fridge: “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never fail to be amused.”
We’ve established that online dating is harsh – especially for grey divorcees who haven’t cut teeth on the Internet. The good news is that Mr. or Ms. Right really is out there in that messy bag of prospects online. Keep going.
Ready? You can do this! Let’s go. Hold your nose, grab my hand, and let’s jump in. All you have to do is believe it and stick to it and remember it’s a numbers game. What’s so hard about that?
Stay tuned for more on dating after grey divorce next month, right here. In the meantime, put on your big girl/boy boots and go kick up a profile and begin. It all starts with the first step.
Keep us posted with your comments below.