Lifestyle and Living

The 10 Most Common Online Dating Fears for Older Adults

Jun 2023 | By Anne Bokma

Online dating isn’t something anyone teaches you about. And if you are someone 60-plus who hasn’t dated in decades, you know the rules of the game have changed. You just might not be quite sure of the rules.

An image of an older woman surprised at her phoneUnlike in the days of your youth when you may have dated a neighbour, been set up by a friend or dated someone from a community organization or religious group you were involved with, today most couples meet via online dating. That means you are going in alone. It’s just you and your phone, and all that swiping left or right. 

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, mystified and so frustrated that you may be tempted to throw that phone across the room.

But if you do that, if you give up, you won’t get what you want, which is a relationship.  

While online dating is your best option to meet a variety of single people, it’s understandable if you have concerns. Let’s address the 10 most common dating fears and what to keep in mind as you navigate the world of digital romance.

1. I’m not going to meet anyone online: Of course, depending on how much effort you put into the process, this is always a possibility, but you’re definitely not going to meet anyone if you aren’t willing to try. It’s as simple as that.

2. I could get scammed: This is one of the more serious risks of online dating and it does happen. However, there are several key red flags to look out for that will keep you safe, including: not responding to people who live too far away, getting to the first face-to-face date as soon as possible (so that you can confirm the person is real), not becoming enamored of someone only through texts or phone calls and never (ever!) sending money to a stranger.

3. I don’t look like I used to: Sure you don’t, and that’s completely ok. No one does. We all have insecurities, and they can come to the surface at the thought of meeting someone new after so long. But with the right strategies in place and a focused approach to online dating, those insecurities can begin to melt away.

4. I’m not sure which dating site to use: Your best bet is to go where the largest pool of prospects is — the major dating sites such as Match, Tinder, eHarmony, OK Cupid and Silver Singles.

5. I’m too old: You are never too old for love (or companionship, or friendship or whatever it is you are looking for online). Plenty of people have found great partners later in life and you can too. (Check out Audrey & Jim’s story here to be inspired.)

an image of an older man and woman on a date6. I could be rejected: Sure, rejection can happen, but the trick is not getting over-invested at the outset and learning to move on quickly if rejection does happen so that you can focus on the next potential date. None of us can stay completely safe from the prospect of rejection — unless we never put ourselves out there. And if we don’t do that, we risk never meeting a great potential partner.

7. My adult children won’t approve: This is certainly a possibility, but only you can decide if you are going to live to please your children or live to please yourself.

8. I don’t want to live with anyone again: Just because you’re dating doesn’t mean you have to move in together or get married. There are plenty of older couples (and younger ones, too for that matter) who choose to maintain their independence by keeping separate residences even though they are committed to one another. Known as Living Apart Together (LAT) it’s a relationship trend that’s growing in popularity. 

9. It’s been too long since I’ve had sex: Intimacy is a wonderful aspect of life that can lay dormant for years, even decades, and still be revived.  Meeting someone you are attracted to may make you realize you are more ready for it than you thought you’d be. However, you should never feel pressured to rush into intimacy. Some people online are simply looking for companionship or friendship from a partner in their later years — and that’s perfectly ok.

10. I’ve tried online dating before and didn’t have any luck: A dating coach (especially one who has met their partner online) can help you boost your chances of meeting someone great by assisting in helping you prepare your online dating profile and help you create a dating plan that will prepare you to make the most of your online dating experience — and get more dates!

Anne Bokma is a dating coach for women over 50 based in Hamilton, Ontario. Together with her partner Amit Karia (they met on Tinder), she runs chaptertwodating.com. Check out their upcoming workshop How to Meet a Man Online for Women Over 50 on June 29.