Am I Too Old to Have Success in Online Dating?

Am I Too Old to Have Success in Online Dating?Hi Evan,

I feel like I am “aging out” of online dating. I’ve noticed after my last birthday (I turned 54 in June) that the response I get on match.com has dropped to almost nothing. It’s as though moving from the early 50s to the mid 50s is some kind of death-knell for a dating life. I initiate contact with men in an age-range of about 3 years younger up to about 8 years older than myself. The potential matches that the site sends me are age appropriate for me, but when I look at the age-range that those men desire, (usually 35-50) I often move past them, knowing I can’t compete with women in their desired range, even though many of those men are as much as 5-8 years older than me! In other words, Match.com knowingly sends me matches that are probably not realistic for me to pursue. When I have emailed some of those guys, I never hear back. I’m guessing they check out my profile, see my age, and probably read no further. Even if I am within their desired range, I still don’t get much of a response. I assume the reason for this is they can get younger women to respond to them, so why would they go for me when they have a chance with the 45 year-old version of me? If their first wife was their age, like a college sweetheart or whatever, they probably feel entitled to a newer model, so to speak. Our culture encourages this. It’s frustrating, not to mention depressing and more than a little humiliating. It’s the built-in folly of online sites: you are only defined by your age, in bold type right next to your user name.

I am a youthful, fit and free-spirited woman and to be honest, I’m not ready for the retired 65-70+ year old guys. I don’t mean those men any disrespect, I just want to date a guy closer to my age so that I have a longer future with him, and I don’t feel that I should have to apologize for that. I have taken your and others’ advice about profile writing, and I have great photos, so I feel confident that the problem is not in how I present myself. I am disinclined to lie about my age. It always comes out eventually and I’d hate to have to explain myself then. I’m not ashamed of my age and hiding it seems phony. When I meet men in person in my daily life, I get a better response because they see the whole me, hear my voice, get a sense of what I’m like, all before they know how old I am, meaning I can be defined by other qualities. It’s difficult to meet large numbers of men that way, but I’m starting to feel like my chance of making a non age-biased connection with a guy is only out in the real world. And the real-world opportunities can be few and far between. Any insight? –Sara

Dear Sara,

Older men have more options than older women (online and in real life) because they can usually date somewhat younger.

I can’t disagree with anything you’ve observed about online dating and age. I can only disagree with your ultimate conclusion.

So here are the facts:

Older men have more options than older women (online and in real life) because they can usually date somewhat younger.

Older men have a huge blind spot when it comes to age. They refuse to even consider women their own age, even if she’s fit and attractive. Worse, they’re hypocritical about it, because they don’t understand why the vast majority of younger women won’t go for them.

And yet, the fastest growing segment for online dating is the 50+ market. More unhappy couples are getting divorced when the kids leave the house. More people work from home. More people spend 10 hours a day at the office. More people have computers and are aware of someone who found love online.

We also know that dating online does not mean that you’re not dating men you meet in real life. Which is why this is not an either/or choice. If you meet a guy through friends, at the market, at a concert, great. Having a profile on Match.com isn’t going to keep you from doing that.

Most people who say they’ve taken my advice have only taken a few pieces of my advice. Which is like saying you’re going on a diet by cutting out sugar, but continuing to eat large portions of fried foods.

Now that we’ve established that online dating is a smart and necessary long-term strategy for women over 50, the question becomes, “What can you do better?”

You think you’re doing everything you can possibly do. And you may be trying your best, but you’re not truly maximizing your potential.

In all likelihood, despite your efforts, I’m betting your profile can be better, your photos can be better, your responses to men could be better, your initial emails to men could be better, and your choices in men could be better.

Are you using Reverse Match? Are you using Daily Matches? Are you adding men to your favorites list? Are you putting in a half hour a day? Are you initiating contact with at least one man a day who states that he’s open to women your age?

I don’t know the answer, but most people who say they’ve taken my advice have only taken a few pieces of my advice.

Which is like saying you’re going on a diet by cutting out sugar, but continuing to eat large portions of fried foods.

My recommendation – if you haven’t done it already – is to go through every word in Finding the One Online. It’s 7 hours/180 pages of advice that takes you through the entire process of online dating chronologically. I’m betting you can find TWENTY things you can do differently to get different results.

But don’t kid yourself.

You can’t change men.
You can’t change online dating.
You don’t have to quit online dating to meet men in real life.

All you can do is change your mindset and approach to the dating process and let the chips fall where they may.

And since I’ve helped a LOT of women over 50, I have to believe that all you can do is keep on keeping on, instead of embracing the idea that NO women over the age of 50 find partners online.

It just ain’t true.

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Comments:

  1. 91
    Christine

    I can see where Susan is coming from.  I think we’ve all had those moments of being jaded about online dating.  I know I certainly have!  However, I try to keep in mind that it’s not a popularity contest.  It’s true that us older ladies won’t get the “majority vote” of men on a given online dating site.  But then again, none of us really needs a ton of suitors, just one right person.  It’s still worth it to keep an oar in just in case–just don’t make it your life or hinge your sense of self-worth on it either. 

    I’m gradually coming to peace with the fact that I’ll find my Mr. Right late in life.  There are some advantages to marrying late too.  Even the people I know who met and married young (and are still happily married) faced some really tough challenges in their relationships.  More often than not, they were less financially stable since they just graduated from school and hadn’t been in the workforce as long.  It was very stressful for them trying to support a family in those circumstances.  They often haven’t developed their personalities as much either, to really know their likes and dislikes (not to say that character is ever engraved in stone, but older people do tend to be more stabilized in their character, after having more life experience to learn about themselves).  I also know people who married young, but then grew apart after they developed and changed in different directions.  So I’m trying to look on the bright side of finding someone late in life. Now I won’t get to have a big wedding ceremony like the 20-something brides (and know my fertility will likely decline–but, that wouldn’t break my heart.  While I absolutely love being an aunt, I have to admit I have mixed feelings about motherhood anyway so that wouldn’t crush me).  However, finding someone later doesn’t have to be the end of the world and can be rewarding in its own way.  I know plenty of older couples in their 30s and they don’t seem any less happy than the ones who married young, so I look to them for inspiration. 

      

       

      

  2. 92
    Katarina

    @ Stan 76.
    The desired height range is not arbitrary.  You missed that i did meet the man even though he was shorter than what I listed.  
    You see I am thinking of the possible future:  Short man/tall woman = awkward doggie style and … I am thinking of a 2 digit number…. :D

    And just for good measure, I don’t list income, ethnicity, religious, build, etc.. preferences.  

    Good luck in your search ! 

  3. 93
    Lady K

    @ Andrew #26 –
    Love it!!!  Brills.  Changing my profile NOW!. 
    I’m adding my own twist but will keep #1 on the list the same. 

  4. 94
    Susan61

    @Karmic Equation. #90
    This is a good example of why internet dating is problematic.  You have made a blanket judgmental statement about me, a human being you have never met, based on two postings on an internet board.  A quite negative, and bordering on mean, judgement I might add.  Ask my many friends, both male and female, if I am “generally unpleasant to be around” or if I am a “B*tch”.  Ask my neighbors.  Ask my letter carrier who brings me fresh tomatoes.  Ask my co-workers.  Ask my very large, loving family.  Oh wait…you’ve never MET them.  And you’ve never met ME.  
     
    Ask them if I’m negative….about online dating?  Well, yeah, sometimes I am negative about it.  With good reason!  People online are judged based on writing style, photos and things like age, height.  If one had met a person in real life one’s impression would be entirely different.  The online world is inherently not capable of full human expression, both verbally and non-verbally hence, it’s profound limitations.  And yes, it can be a great thing.  My sister married a man she met online.  As I mentioned, many of my friends are dating men they met online.  I don’t like the idea of posting photos and the lack of privacy, as I mentioned.  It just doesn’t sit well with me, especially as I get older.  So sue me.  I’m old school and life has increasingly become less personal with everyone sitting at home communicating on computers (myself included.)
     
    So because I decide to post a somewhat negatively slanted opinion of online dating for an over 50 year old woman, you feel the need to judge so harshly?  I guess that is your right, as a complete stranger, to make this judgment..if you wish…but I don’t think it will add well to your full “karmic equation.”
     
    By the way, thanks…I did read that book.  I agree it is an excellent read and I have recommended it to other women.  :-)
     
    P.S. Sorry to disappoint, but men don’t run from me.  I’m just picky and haven’t met the right one.  Cheers!
     

  5. 95
    Wendy

    Susan61 #94 makes a good point about online dating vs. in person: “People online are judged based on writing style, photos and things like age, height.  If one had met a person in real life one’s impression would be entirely different.”

    I met the man I’ve been dating for over a year now in “the real world”. After a few weeks together, he told me he’d hit me up online a couple of months before (we were both on Match at the time) but I never responded. I didn’t even vaguely remember him, so he pulled up his profile, and…oh yeah. HIM. The old guy with kids who was obviously a player based on the photo of him hugging two hotties that he’d posted. In real life he turned out to be only two years older than me, his “kids” turned out to be one adult daughter who’d just moved back home briefly after college, and the two hotties were his daughter and her BFF. Was I ever WRONG! It’s a funny story now, but I could have missed meeting a great man if I’d left it up to my impression of his online presence.

    I hope this guy’s “the one” and that I never have to do the online dating thing again, or any kind of dating {{shudder}} for that matter, but if I do, I will be way more forgiving of a man’s profile and much more likely to meet him if he asks me for a date!

  6. 96
    JB

    Yeah Wendy #95 - that’s happened to me at least 5 times over the years. I meet(walk up to) a woman out at a bar or singles event that I had emailed online and been ignored by and I get their number and a date with them within a half an hour. Then when I’m on the date with them I show them that I had already emailed them however long ago and that they ignored me. For the most part they say they “didn’t remember seeing my email”….LOL Sure, I don’t doubt it among the 100 they might of gotten that week.

    I’ve said it many times when I’m perusing profiles online. If you put me in a room with these women I would have half of them dancing with me, chatting with me, and offering their number but online you just get lost in the statistical checkbox delusional expectation shuffle. It’s a lot more difficult to ignore someone that approaches you at a dance than on Match where they don’t even give it a thought.

  7. 97
    Christine

    Wendy@95, haha…that really is a funny story.  I hope you didn’t ask who the bimbos were in the photo with him.  ;-) (just kidding)

    It really is easy to get lost in the shuffle online, so I’m trying to learn not to take it so personally.  I remember at this one particular Halloween party, I was stunned when one of the best-looking guys there came up to me and asked me to dance, even with younger and hotter girls around (and wearing much sexier outfits than the one I had on).  He’s the type of guy who usually ignores me online.  I think it’s because I was smiling, dancing and having a good time, while those other girls were just standing there doing their “haughty hottie” poses. 

    In the online world, youth and beauty are the only qualities that really count, because those are the only ones that are readily apparent from a computer screen.  So us older women need to just focus the majority of our efforts in the real world.

  8. 98
    Morris

    This is my first comment on this site. I have really enjoyed reading many of the articles and comments. What I don’t understand is bashing men based on preferences. Women have them to you know.

    What I think the real issue is is that women don’t know how to handle dating like men do. For decades women just had to post a profile and watch as messages came rolling in. As they get older the number(or quality) decreases. Well guess what? Men rarely get messages to begin with. We’re expected to write thoughtful personalized messages just to get a response. Imagine having to take the time to message a dozen women. Just to get a few replies. Just to get a single date.

    In this day and age I just can’t sympathize. For the people talking about lying. As long as you are ok with others lying I guess it will be a good match. I don’t see how a good lasting relationship could come from it though. Otherwise women-up and start messaging men in masses. Market yourself and expect to message dozens of men for a couple of dates. Welcome to dating equality.

  9. 99
    Kathleen

    Older women like myself didn’t have online dating when we were young so I can’t imagine the overwhelming deluge of messages they watch rolling in.
     
    I have success with witty one liners tailored to the guy. I prefer that from guys too.

    I can relate to Wendys comment. Ive been out in public a few times and approached by guys who greeted  me with my online user name……Now thats embarrassing … Think Im overexposed LOL
     

  10. 100
    Veronica

    I did some online dating ten years ago and grew a two year relationship out of that experience. Now, I’m in my mid 50s and a licensed marriage and family therapist. And I’m still alone. I haven’t focused on this aspect of my life near as much as I have focused on surviving the recession as a private practice therapist and raising my two kids. When it comes to online dating sites, I have observed all the same challenges detailed here. In addition, I feel I can’t post photos, as I really don’t want clients seeing me online. Worse yet, would be accidentally connecting with a client or former client through a dating site.

  11. 101
    Karmic Equation

    @ Susan61 from #89

    “At 46 I then met the last man (in real life) who I thought was “the One” and was soundly dumped, because at only two years younger than he, I did not satisfy the desired 7-20 years younger age requirement.”

    I’m sorry to have to burst your bubble, Susan, but if a man really likes you, a 2-yr age difference doesn’t mean squat. He was using that as an excuse to end the relationship. Possibly did this because he felt you could go off on him and he wanted to avoid a scene.

    My current BF is 13 yrs my jr. MaryMary’s bf is also a lot younger than her. Both have proposed. Using age to disqualify a woman as LTR material AFTER DATING her is a smokescreen.

    @ Susan61 from #94

    “This is a good example of why internet dating is problematic. You have made a blanket judgmental statement about me, a human being you have never met, based on two postings on an internet board.”

    From your posts #89

    “Thanks for your thoughtful and positive response, Kathleen. I appreciate your upbeat yet condescending post.”

    “P.S.  It’s “lose”, not “loose”.”

    Pot calling the kettle black, wouldn’t you say? Without knowing Kathleen, who was trying to be helpful, you labeled her post condescending and felt the need to correct her spelling. Why? B*tchy if you ask me.

    “P.S. Sorry to disappoint, but men don’t run from me. I’m just picky and haven’t met the right one.”

    I was a miserable teenager. I didn’t like people much. One of my defense mechanisms was to reject people as friends before they had a chance to reject me.

    Your “pickiness” is probably YOUR defense mechanism. Reject men before they can reject you. Because deep down, you know they may reject you. So why not do a pre-emptive rejection and feel falsely empowered?

    I agree that “The online world is inherently not capable of full human expression, both verbally and non-verbally hence, it’s profound limitations.” (Very well put, btw) — But you are in denial about your b*tchiness.

    I stand by what I originally wrote, you need to adjust your attitude if you want to find a man to love you. Put more conscious thought into your postings; if you want to come across as nice and positive, use nice and positive words. If that is a struggle, guess what? Your default setting isn’t nice or positive. And you should ask yourself if you do this on dates, too. I’m sorry if I sound mean. Just calling it like I see it.

  12. 102
    Christine

    Well, I wonder if online dating is that feasible for any older woman in her 30s such as myself.  On one hand, I’m too old for the mainstream dating sites such as match.com–but on the other, I’m still too young for the “mature” or “senior” dating niche sites that are available as well (which start at 40).  After years of trying, I think online dating works best for the 20-somethings, but I might get back on to one site just in case there is any man out there willing to give a 30-something a chance.  I wish that my 30-something peers would just give me a chance but, rather than railing against the rules of the game I’ve learned to just adapt to them.  I’m still trying to decide whether to hold out for a 30-something, or settle for an old man in his late 30s or early 40s.  Theoretically I would prefer a man around my own age, to have common life experiences and references.  However, I’m trying to be more openminded and think that perhaps I can still be happy with an older man, even if that’s not what I thought my happy ending would look like. 

       

       

        

  13. 103
    Karmic Equation

    @Christine 102
     
    I have two colleagues that I know of who married their Match.com dates. One is in her late 30′s. The other was in her 60′s.
     
    You can find someone there I’m sure, particularly if you’re photogenic :) — Alas, while I’m attractive in person, I have the way I look in pictures. I don’t lack for male attention live. And I’m sure if I dated online, that would be an ego-killer for me!
     
    Good luck. Don’t give up hope. I think you should try it.

  14. 104
    marymary

    Thanks for the shout out karmic but he hasn’t proposed yet! It,s what we are aiming at and he has mentioned it, but we haven’t been dating long enough.
    i don’t think age is such a big barrier. If all twenty five year olds are finding it so easy to get married, then there wouldn’t be any older singles. I also think it,s less uncommon for men to date and even marry older women. want the ones who want you and while I certainly made eyes at men older than me, it was the boyfriend who was interested.
    as for common life references I was such a late developer and we were both brought up in Christian homes so that is a non issue. Do people really spend that much time talking about pop music?

  15. 105
    Christine

    Karmic Equation @ 103, thanks for the encouragement!  I guess I’m just frustrated and burned out but I think I’ll eventually find it within myself to try again–because I also don’t see an alternative (if there was an alternative to dating, I’d use it).  I just have to learn to stop taking it so personally and stop letting it kill my confidence so much.  I used to think of myself as a relatively young and attractive person but online dating killed a lot of my self-esteem, when I repeatedly kept seeing the guys I liked going for younger women.  Well, I’m trying not to let that affect me so much and to feel valuable independent of what some strangers think of me (which they really are). Alas, how I look in photos tends to be hit or miss!  (however, once in a while when I hit the right angle(s) I can clean up decently in photos!) 

    I felt better after looking at New York Times wedding announcements and seeing women in their thirties and beyond somehow still getting married to men around their age.  Maybe there are men out there who actually want to marry their peers (but most of them just aren’t online).  There were twenty something brides too but, I noticed most of them were getting married to men in THEIR twenties as well.  That made me think that perhaps all the talk about women in their twenties snapping up the good older men might be overstated–or else you would think that there would be more marriages between the older men in their thirties and young women in their twenties.  Not that the New York Times may necessarily be a representative sample, but it made me think that perhaps there is a chance for me.

  16. 106
    OCmusicman

    @JB #28:  Thank you for what I felt to be the most insightful post in the conversation…albeit from the male perspective.
    Four years ago I had some experience on that well-known dating website with the personality profiles and “29 dimensions of compatibility.”  I was 49 at the time, and set my age parameters as 44 to 54.  I have a master’s degree, two jobs, work out daily, own my own home, and I worked very hard on creating a good, well-written profile (with good pictures and valuable assistance regarding content from both my sister and a female colleague at work).  The final result?  I was rejected or ignored by approximately 900 women.  I suspect that my fatal flaw was my height, at an honest 5-foot-7.
    It’s amazing how women feel so comfortable rejecting men for circumstances out of their control (like height) but complain vehemently when men do the same (for age).  Given that my height is a drawback for many, I have tried to compensate by being open-minded in my dating choices.  Unfortunately, I have not found these efforts to be reciprocated…and in fact, sometimes I’m not even given the opportunity to be open-minded, as I am rejected first.  At this point, I am preparing myself mentally to be single for the “duration.”
    I find myself wondering about the age range in which some of the shallowness just might lessen a bit.  Remember ladies…as with height, choosing a younger age is “just a preference.” 

    1. 106.1
      JoJOe

      Ok, Thumbalina. When your heart is full of joy you’re nine feet tall.
      Sooooooooo.. it’s in your head, not in your height. You’re not short in stature you’re short in esteem. Think tall, live tall.
      Don’t think women are rejecting you for your height, you’re already taller than 80% if them. Nah, it’s in something you say or do.
      I suggest you watch Jerry Lewis “The Nutty Professor”
      or here
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX_qNnc2_FM
      Remember, it’s all in the act or should I say, who you think you are.

  17. 107
    Lucy

    Great advice and I notice that Sara, like the men, is also applying an age restriction, in that she won’t look at men older than herself. 
    In the end, we have to have faith and keep going, being sure to show what makes us unique and then the right man will see it wasn’t about age in the first place.  
    The same could be said for the reverse.  Age disappears when the right one comes along.  Online dating just makes it a little trickier, it’s something to be aware of, but not defeated by.  It’s a computer system, we just have to be clever but always (in my view) truthful.  

  18. 108
    coocookie

    I do think there’s somewhat of an obsession with age here — it shows if one feels it necessary to lie about one’s age in an online profile. I wouldn’t do that, and I would change my mind about a man who would and also think less of a woman who did. Why can’t people embrace their age? Even if they actually “don’t” look it (very subjective lol), they “are” their true age. Why would anyone want to attract someone to a false you? What a basis for a beginning — I don’t do that and I have enough men responding to my profile, although probably not as much as when I was a decade or two younger (I’m in my late 50′s). But that’s okay — I was young and hot and yes men were attracted to me for all the wrong reasons and it was exhausting and often hurtful, to be frank. Right now, at 59, I’m communicating with a man 49 online, simply because he likes me and must find me attractive (no I’m not rich haha) but yes I am attractive FOR MY AGE. I don’t claim to “look so much younger” “act so much younger,” blah blah blah which sounds insecure to me and pathetic. I can’t believe how many men post that! It’s a turn-off. Ridiculous imo. Embrace your age and be yourself and attract someone to the real you! Imagine that lol. If you post recent photos, others can see the real you and decide for themselves if they are attracted to you.

  19. 109
    mike

    I have to chuckle at the ladies complaining about how shallow the guys are and how they have issues because they want to date younger women. OkCupid has done a lot of research on dating and it’s turned out it’s the girls with the highest expectations, not the men. Of the women , they considered 80% of the men on the site as “Unattractive” and would not date a guy under 6′ even if they were 5’2″. Just this one requirement alone narrows the man market down to 14.5%  ( the percentage of men in the United States are six feet tall or greater) When you take into account the percentages of men who are otherwise unatractive, too old, too young, Gay or already married in this 14.5 % it’s probably down to only 5% of the male population are deemed worthy.

  20. 110
    Gary Snyder

    The dating pool shrinks for women over 50 – men don’t live as long. Furthermore, women loose more of one of their two major powers they enjoy in their youth: beauty. This is really just common sense. It’s not rocket science!

  21. 111
    Michael

    Wow.  Same old . same old , men bad , women good , now I remember why I prefer to stay single and alone.   

  22. 112
    Malcolm

    When on a dating site, I make sure to check for Women who address this age issue by listing theirs as . . . “99″.
    There’s something about that attitude . . . that I sort of like.

  23. 113
    hazel

    At 59 single female time is not just running out, its already ran out! Sod it jyst get yourself a cat instead. Animals are innocent and can give and receive love uncondtionally. They are loyal and make good companions. Unlike some of the 59 years old men ive met on online dating. Some expect miracles from a female tgeir own age and i can’t tolerate their boring conversation. If i was younger i may have had a higher tolerance threshold but now i only need to listen for 10inutes and i can but wonder how their ex wives/partners ever put up with them for so long. Cats are usually much better looking whilst also being closer to natureand are things of great beauty..forget it guys, the cat and i intend to have awonderful life together albeit well into our old age!!

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