Am I Too Old to Have Success in Online Dating?

Am I Too Old to Have Success in Online Dating?
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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. 21
    Jeanne

    Although I don’t believe in fibbing, I found Ellen’s post so refreshing!

    Andrew (Post #2) or any guy, what types of things do you look for in a woman’s profile that show she is offering something instead of making a list of demands?                    

  2. 22
    Christine

    I empathize with the frustration women have experienced with online dating.   I’m 33 and feel like I’m too old for it and have aged out of the system too, after seeing almost all of the men I want overlook me for women in their 20s on these sites (and no, I don’t just hold out for 10s–even the 7s and 8s will go for the 20-somethings as well).   I have occasionally considered giving up online dating when I turn 34, since I’ve heard what a nightmare it is for women in the mid-30s (and have seen for myself how the interest is declining with each passing year).   However, I might keep at it–but just not take it so personally.   Sara has the right idea to “diversify the portfolio” so to speak, with real life encounters.   I’ve had relatively more success in real life (and sometimes gotten attention from very good-looking men who I assumed were out of my league and would probably have ignored me on dating sites.   But in real life social events, they have approached me because they said how they liked that I was dancing and having fun–which is difficult to capture in a still photo and a few paragraphs).    

    I  concur  with Nathan that, unfortunately,  online dating prospects are not all equal and older women will have fewer options.   But so what?   You can’t base your whole sense of self-esteem and self-worth on what some strangers think of your photo.   I am realistic enough to know that for the vast majority of men in the online dating world, a 33 year old Asian woman is at the bottom of the desirability scale and in their eyes, I have less cache than a pretty 20-something.   However, those overall statistics and group patterns don’t bother me as much as it used to.   I don’t want or need to date all of society, but only want and need ONE person to spend my life with.   So I motivate myself by saying that like a job, it only takes one.   I’d say, just keep at it and don’t close off any medium, but just don’t take it personally at all.  

  3. 23
    Ruby

    Nathan #20
      
    Wow, I’m impressed, you’ve nailed it. I’d like to add that many of these older men that my friends and I have encountered have psychological issues that make dating them difficult. Not being over their exes – which many of them are not – is often the least of their troubles. My friends and I have encountered alcoholics, anxiety disorders, depressives, intense commitmentphobia, bipolars, anger issues etc. I’m not saying that women don’t suffer from these problems, but we are much more likely to admit it when we do need help, and to confide in our friends and seek therapy.

  4. 24
    Katelyn

    You are right Ruby, Nathan did nail it!

    Many women in their 50’s and 60’s have spent years on personal development, following the advice that if you become what it is you want to attract in a partner you will   find that. Women needed to do this work as part of the evolutionary process.   Unfortunately men weren’t doing the same thing.   I have spent almost 30 years evolving and becoming conscious, much of that alone, which I felt was necessary for me.   Now when I am looking for a partner I want someone who has done the same.   Someone who I can talk to that speaks my language, someone one who can connect on a spiritual, emotional and intellectual level.   I don’t need a partner that connects with me out of some unfulfilled need/wound.

    From my personal experience and 26 years of experience as a psychologist I don’t find that many men in their 60’s have done any self exploration, unless like Nathan said it comes as the result of a health crisis.

    I am not content to watch the grass grow, watch TV, or be a couch potato nor am I impressed by 60 year old men holding up fish in their dating profile photos, sorry! If you are trying to attract women, fish isn’t going to do it, men.
    I am looking for depth in my relationships.

    Because of this I find that I am attracted to younger (10 years or so) men because they are more likely to have been doing the personal development and studying consciousness, metaphysics, quantum physics and such, which are some of the things I am interested in.  

    With on line dating being one of the most popular forms of meeting people because of it’s accessibility many of us opt in.   Unfortunately if you think about it, it is very superficial.   People decide who someone is based on a few photos and paragraphs often based on looks and age.   It doesn’t get more superficial.   We are removed from each other just by the nature of the internet and there is no way to pick up the energy/chemistry you find in meeting in person.   How can anyone make an informed decision about who they are looking at, and how often might we overlook a special person because we make a decision based on a photo.

  5. 25
    Clare

    I am not anywhere close to 54, but I do know that how other people feel about us and perceive us has a lot, if not everything, to do with how we perceive and feel about ourselves, which I know must be so hard when you are not getting enough positive feedback.

    And yet, having faith and believing in your own wonderfulness, *despite* what is going on around you, is the only way to success. As I read in another blog, yes men can be shallow and fickle, and discriminate unfairly on age – these are NOT the right guys for you.   Don’t waste your precious energy worrying about them, even if they are in the majority.

    I have been recently amazed at how the beliefs I had about myself and how my life was inevitably going to be were holding me back. I have recently committed to having a “the sky’s the limit” approach to all my thinking, and I’ve already seen wonderful improvements, and I just FEEL so much better.

    Oh, and Evan… fantastic newsletter today! Just what I needed to read to give me that extra boost. And congratulations on the birth of your little boy 🙂

  6. 26
    Andrew

    @Jeanne:
    An online friend put this in her profile:
    Top 10 reason’s I’ll be your best girlfriend ever:
    10 — You can have poker night without complaint (I might want to play sometimes)
    9 — You can count on me to trust you without that you wouldn’t be calling me your awesome girlfriend in the first place
    8 — You will feel like a knight in shining armor from time to time
    7 — You won’t ever wonder if I am judging you
    6 — You’ll come to learn I know the difference between sexy, sassy, classy, cute, and hot — not to mention when to be which one
    5 — You experience random acts of kindness towards others including you
    4 — You’ll be surprised that I can make you think and about more than whether or not my shoes look good with my outfit, or if my butt looks fat.
    3 — You’ll hear me celebrating more than complaining, see me smiling more than frowning, and dancing/singing more than sitting silently.
    2 — You can expect if I ask you to shop with me it’s only because I’m buying something you know better than me or would want to see
    1 — You bet I know how to cure a headache
    It’s brilliant. As men are rational and logical creatures regarding dating, a woman should specifically state what she offers in terms of what a man actually wants. A list is not the stuff of romance unicorns and rainbows. But a woman must consider her audience. Logic and reason are masculine qualities and a woman must communicate to such an audience with her profile.
    Bottom line: The feminine attracts the masculine.

    1. 26.1
      shirly chwalowski

      This is a great list and I will be using it as well. I am 60 but look and feel younger. I have three kids still in which live with me. We adopted them at birth. So it will be a little harder to get a man who loves kids, but not impossible. The kids are gone doing things with their friends 90 per cent of the time. I have a lot of free time to find someone special so I don’t have to sit home alone. But this is a brillant list. Thanks so much for your help. Shirly

    2. 26.2
      Sassy

      I used a modified version of this, and it worked rather quickly. I guess the idea is that you also have to maintain mystery — as what one would get, when one meets in person. Say enough to whet the appetite, but not enough to take you out of the game. Having said that, I would much rather meet someone in person.

  7. 27
    Katelyn

    I totally agree with you Clare, there is someone out there for everyone and we can’t base our value on the feedback or lack of feedback we get, especially on line. It has nothing to do with us or our worth if someone doesn’t respond to our attempts to connect.

    I know there is a fabulous partner for me, just like there is for everyone else, and I am not willing to settle.   The more we embrace our fabulousness the more likely we are to attract a fabulous partner.   It doesn’t matter how old you are, just be real and authentic and that is what you will find coming into your life.

    I personally think it is less likely on line than it is through personal encounters.

      

  8. 28
    JB

    @Katelyn “People decide who someone is based on a few photos and paragraphs often based on looks and age”

    You forgot the real things men get disqualified for. Height, education, income, and of course job title which women rarely if ever get disqualified by men for….lol   Just sayin..

    I find it hilarious that the 30 somethings above me think that they’re too old for online dating just because the  “best” guys their own age ignore them…..lol what they don’t tell you is about the guys that DO email them that THEY ignore for any one of the reasons I’ve outlined above. I hear  this from women all the time “you should see the guys that email me” and they roll their eyes. What they don’t understand is I’m THAT guy to the 90% of women that ignore ME!!

    All I can say to the women above is try being an average guy online for a few weeks and see how much fun that ISN’T.

  9. 29
    Joe

    As far as shaving a few years off your age, think: how would you be disposed towards a man after meeting him and discovering he’d added a few inches to his height online but hadn’t mentioned this in his profile text?

    @ nathan #20: If PUA/Game theory didn’t work on women better than the “traditional” ways of wooing them, would guys use Game?    Would you say  the typical guy using those methods is really looking for commitment, or just some action?   I guess what I’m trying to ask is this: younger men may feel the need to get advice, but…women say they don’t want guys who are PUAs, yet the PUA advice does seem to work on them.   Is it therefore beneficial to women for these guys to be getting  PUA advice?

  10. 30
    Michelle

    I think Nathan is right on, thanks for your comments and pointing out the ‘problem’ isn’t on line dating, it’s men in this age range in general.   I’ve stopped on line dating, and I just got done dating a man who I met in real life and turned 60 (I’m 48).   I asked him two different times what he thought his role was in the demise of his marriage–he couldn’t answer either time, he turned it around to his wife and her issues.   Perfect example, no self reflection over the past 10+ years of being divorced.    (BTW, emotionally clueless as well).  

    I’m confident there are men out there that have done some  reflection at the very least, and are ‘normal’ enough to sustain a satisfying relationship.    

    1. 30.1
      Sparkling Emerald

      If a guy I was dating asked me such questions about my divorce I would next him. I want to leave my past in the past, and create a wonderful today and a future. I can’t very well do that if the guy I date wants to drag me back to the past.

      Believe me, I have done a lot of reflecting on my marriage and my whole love life/dating life, but that is nothing I particularly want to share with whomever I’m dating, and I wouldn’t ask such questions of them.

      Every pairing is unique and different. What went wrong between them and a past signifigant other has NOTHING to do with whatever potentional pairing could be happening now. One coach at a match making service told us don’t EVER tell a man your sad divorce story, no matter how much he prys. They WILL judge you for it. At my age (58) there is NO relationship history that can’t be looked at with a cynical jaded view. Never married ? Couldn’t make the commitment. Divorced ? Couldn’t keep the commitment. Divorced due to the spouse having an affair ? You must have neglected your spouse, or drove them to an affair. Divorced due to YOU having an affair ? You bitch. Widowed ? She will idealize her deceased spouse, and I will be forever competing with a ghost.

      This is why I have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy about relationship history. Whatever comes up organically, fine. I expect to know about any children from prior unions. There will be instances where the existence of an ex spouse will have to come up in the conversation.

      But if a date grilled me about my divorce and wanted to know what I did wrong, I would next them.

      Your question comes off as taking their painful experience and pointing the finger of blame at them.

  11. 31
    Mark

    I put my age range is 35-55.   

    Of course my pics suck so I’m not getting much traffic. 🙁
    But I’ve gotten many compliments on my profile.

    I find that the women in my age range know what they’re looking for and have their shit together.

    That’s a turn on.

    1. 31.1
      Evelyn

      May I ask why you are using pictures that suck?

  12. 32
    Mark

    P.S. Ladies – I’m 51 and have done MUCH self reflection after ea. relationship/marriage. (Been there 2x).

    I’m always trying to figure out what she did wrong!
    haha just kidding. What I did to contribute to the failure of the relationship.  

    I’m learning and always trying to improve myself because that way not only will my future partner be happier, I’ll be happier too.  

    1. 32.1
      Karen

      This is good to hear I am sure we all live and learn regardless of our gender. Once we take responsibility for our part in the past we can move on to the new! It is important not to make any gender the enemy we are all doing the best we can at the time . We need compassion for ourselves and others.🍀👍I feel hopeful as I feel better and forgive and accept the past that I can attract the type of man I want to spend time with. I am 56 and a lot wiser now and happier with who I am. I am embracing a new life and I intend to be with a lovely man who can have fun and also be emotionally and physically available to each other.

  13. 33
    Julia

    @JB as one of the young women on here-you are right that 90% of the guys are like you. You stated above that you are 53 but lie and say your are 48…then you email girls like me, early 30s and expect a response. My dad is 54, do you think dating a man your age is appropriate for a young woman like me?

    1. 33.1
      Ted W`

      Are you saying you wouldn’t date George Cloony?
      It’s funny to watch women suddenly eager to date older men when the guy is rich and famous.  

      1. 33.1.1
        Michael

        You’re right Ted.   Tom Leykis says women are attracted by three things–money, power, and fame.   If you’re rock star or movie star–you have no problem attracting the best of the litter. A pro athlete does even better.

        Everyone needs to read these books: Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb,

        Save the Males by Kathleen Parker, and Men on Strike.   Ageism affects dating so much today as does looks.   If you’re not physically attractive, you’re on the outs.

         

         

  14. 34
    Ruby

    Joe #29
    “As far as shaving a few years off your age, think: how would you be disposed towards a man after meeting him and discovering he’d added a few inches to his height online but hadn’t mentioned this in his profile text?”
      
    Shaving a few years off one’s age doesn’t alter one’s appearance. Of course, people should always use recent photos in their profiles, although many don’t.
      
    And isn’t the PU/Game theory targeted to work on younger, less experienced   women?
      

  15. 35
    Kathleen

    Joe  

    I don’t think its a big deal shaving off a few years. I spend a couple of hours a week canoeing, as well as a couple of hours each in yoga and spinning classes a week because its fun and feels good..

    Im in better shape than 90% of the guys Ive met, who were looking for younger women by 10-20 years. None of these guys have complained about my age when Ive disclosed it.   

    Most all guys I personally know are online saying they are 10 years younger to try to get younger women. Since I know many guys add to their height I make sure I emphasize up front that Im 6 feet in heels  

    Like Ellen Im going to do what I can reasonably get away with and do whats effective. I’m going to flaunt what I still have since I don’t thing most of these guys are having that much luck with their “ideal wish list”   
      

  16. 36
    Ellen

    Michelle @30: totally agree. Men would rather watch college football week after week  than spend even 10 minutes reflecting upon the demise of their marriages. lol

      
    Nathan is SPOT ON about boomer men, though I’ve met a few who were mature emotionally,  reflective. A few who were respectful and not obviously old school or condescending. However, Andrew!, I totally disagree with: “Logic and reason are masculine qualities and a woman must communicate to such an audience with her profile.” I’ve met PLENTY of illogical men, plenty.

    I want to add that I  agree with a poster who said women in this  society are expected to be merely eye candy often, even though we supposedly won some kind of sexual revolution in the ’60s and ’70s (which the Republican Party is trying to derail as we speak). It sickens me how this dated bu*lsh*t hangs on. I  mainly want to grab young women who dress like hookers and ask them why they feel the need to do this.

    I also know about Naomi Wolf and have been meaning to read her. Despite my obvious femininity I guess, I consider myself a feminist and have told several dates that I AM a feminist.    

    Also,  just because I lied about my age doesn’t mean I am a bad person or prone to dishonesty. I would rate myself as fairly scrupulously honest given my spiritual beliefs which come closest to Buddhism I guess.  I just saw the handwriting on the wall early…..

    But I have become so “conditioned” about how men view age that even six months into my current relationship I would remain mum on any physical complaints. To be honest, I  never had many aches and pains much til I turned 59 last February. Since then I’ve had a bout with arthritis in my left thumb and a recurrence of some spinal issues which seem to  have abated. For a while this summer I moved like an old woman often and that has humbled me quite a bit folks. So while I look nice, believe me, on the structural level anyway I am completely 59! lol

    But  like sexism, I think we need, as a society, to rethink age. Clearly some people, whether its a combo of genes, diet, or outlook, are aging at a slower rate than others. Cell telemeres are key also (cell division)….Also, sometimes a person’s psychic energy is just incredible and they run around like a  young adult 24/7. They have true joie de vivre.

    Finally, if you go this route- plastic surgery and diet and the gym- know that even that is not enough and you need to explore bioidentical hormones at some point (both me and my current bf use them, get our blood tested, etc.). The number of men using supplemental testosterone has exploded and  saavy women (imo) are exploring bioidentical hormones (NOT Prempro and that horse cra*) AND testosterone as a way to slow aging. Not all women can take supplemental estrogen though…..But that’s another topic  for another day.                              

  17. 37
    nathan

    “Would you say  the typical guy using those methods is really looking for commitment, or just some action?   I guess what I’m trying to ask is this: younger men may feel the need to get advice, but…women say they don’t want guys who are PUAs, yet the PUA advice does seem to work on them. ”
      
    Joe, from what I have seen, PUA seems to attract a variety of men. Some   are clearly interested in just sex. Some don’t know what they want. While others genuinely want a relationship, and use PUA, Game, and similar approaches primarily to increase their confidence.
      
    As for this discordance between women saying they dislike PUA, and yet it actually working – I don’t know. How much of the “working” is about being a man who is confident in himself, and how much of it is the actual tactics and approaches?  
      
      
      

  18. 38
    Karmic Equation

    @Nathan

    I’m not a man, but I can say that the confidence and the PUA tactics and approaches have to be complementary to the man.

    I’ve had a 29 yo brazenly lie about his wealth and skilz to try to pick me up. But I don’t think he took any PUA classes. LOL. He didn’t succeed.

    My current reformed-playah bf, I’d say, he possibly could have taken classes or maybe read up on some PUA tactics. He used lines and tactics that work for his looks and style. And he played me in stages and I let him chase me until I caught him 😉

    Anyway, I think it’s ok for men to use whatever tactics they need to approach and attract women. It’s no different than a woman dressing super sexy or wearing nice perfume to attract men. Looks and smell attract men. Words and actions attract women. Level playing field, imo.

  19. 39
    Michelle

    @Mark, see, there is hope!!   And you’re a Boomer  🙂

  20. 40
    Karmic Equation

    @Ellen

    Loved your post #8. Go get ’em girl!

    Maybe a few disagreements with your post #36.

    “I mainly want to grab young women who dress like hookers and ask them why they feel the need to do this.”

    I think this is showing your age, Ellen. LOL… Dressy hot is actually a good thing. GOOD MEN as well as bad men are attracted to hot women. If you dress like a wall flower, you may limit your pool of men to “filter” from. Read this. I really think it’s on the money. Now if the girls are ACTING like hookers as well as dressing like them, well, they hurt no one but themselves as they’re self-limiting their LTR-ness in good men’s eyes. The playahs and jerks will still be after them, but the good men will probably stay away (there was a blog post about this, but I can’t remember where I read it).

    “Despite my obvious femininity I guess, I consider myself a feminist and have told several dates that I AM a feminist.”

    Because you believe in female power, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a feminist. Do you get insulted when a man holds the door open for you? Do you insist on paying on dates? I used to think I was a feminist until I realized I like men holding doors for me and treating me like a woman. I’m far from fragile or needing a daddy-figure, but I love the *good intentions* behind chivalry. If you love chivalry, you’re not a feminist, just a woman who believes in the power of being a woman.

    Just promise me one thing, don’t be the 63 yo who tries to pick up 30 yo’s. A 63 yo woman (killer bod for her age, but her face showed her age, due to smoking) — tried to pick up my bf. She was a catch for the 55+ and over, maybe even 50+, but trying to pick up someone 30 years her junior was, how can I say, sad and icky to observe. No dignity in that.

    Keep on keeping on!

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