Lifestyle and Living
Jul 2022 | By Anne Bokma and Amit Karia
Being in a happy and healthy relationship is one of life’s greatest joys. And yet, as we get older it can be challenging to meet the right person. Many people 55+ who are looking for lasting love (or maybe just their next fling) are wary about venturing into the online world. Here are 6 common myths about online dating that might be holding you back from meeting the person of your dreams.
Not true. Online dating has become the most popular way couples meet today. Where once friends and family played matchmaker, now it’s the algorithms on dating sites that determine your match. Research by Stanford psychologist Michael Stenfeld, an expert in dating and the internet, found that almost 40 percent of heterosexual couples report meeting their partner online, compared to 22 percent in 2009. “People trust dating technology more and more and the stigma of meeting online seems to have worn off,” he says.
People over 60 are the fastest-growing demographic in online dating. Consider Canadians Jim Adams, a retired professor, and Audrey Coutts, a retired insurance broker, who met on the dating app Silver Singles and got married last year when they were 78 and 79, respectively. Their story was featured in People magazine.
Tinder swindlers. Catfishing. Romance scams. Yes, it’s wise to be cautious. But while it’s true that there are unethical people on dating sites who try to take advantage of lonely hearts (in 2020 and 2021 there were almost 3,500 Canadian cases of romance scams which defrauded victims of more than $90 million dollars, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre), don’t allow a few bad apples to ruin a potential crop of promising suitors.
The key is to spot red flags early on. These include: a romantic interest who looks like a movie star or model in their photo, quickly asks to get off the dating website to communicate by email or text, lavishes you with flattery, constantly makes excuses for why they can’t meet in person (i.e., they are working on an oil rig) or —huge warning bells here—asks you for money (usually because of an “emergency” situation). Regardless of how tempting they might seem, don’t engage. Block them and move on to someone who is willing to meet in person. Then at least you’ll know they’re real.
Don’t wait until you’ve achieved some notion of your future perfect self. The reality is, you are getting older and love — or companionship or friendship or whatever it is you are looking for — could be waiting for you. By all means, continue to work on being the best version of yourself that you can be. But don’t let excuses and/or insecurity hold you back. Go as you are.
Your skill set may be rusty but trust us, you’ll know what to do when you meet someone you like. Keep the first date simple and short — coffee in a café or, better yet, a walk in a public place so you’ll at least feel good about getting some exercise if the date doesn’t work out. Talk to friends about their experiences with online dating or take a dating workshop to prepare yourself for the online world.
We hope these tips will boost your confidence about venturing online. In future columns we’ll tackle topics such as how to select the dating site that’s right for you, what it takes to prepare a great online profile, how to get to the first date, what to do once you get there, and more.
In the meantime, enjoy this delightful 2011 ten-minute film titled Friend Request Pending starring Oscar winner Judi Dench as an older woman who tries online dating for the first time.
Anne Bokma and Amit Karia are Canadian dating coaches who run online dating workshops for women and men over 50 at chaptertwodating.com. After their long-term marriages ended, they both experimented with online dating for about two years before finding each other on Tinder.