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 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, 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?


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 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.

Join our conversation (231 Comments).
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  1. 61

    Not upset that people think they look younger.   Just think it’s interesting the abundance of people who think they don’t look their age.   I just think we had an idea that our current age looked older when we were younger.   Rarely is anyone saying I look my age (with a recent exception) or worse than my age.  
    I don’t think lying about a few years is an awful crime, I just don’t like it or agree with it.   I realized a recent date was lying by a few years (because I can do math when he talked about things that didn’t add up).   It just was awkward.   If you think you look great for your age or your maturity doesn’t add up then put that in your profile.   If I think you look great and read that somewhere maybe I would take it into consideration, better that doubting all the other claims you make on your date.

  2. 62

    If you want to see “upset” then visit the post about curvy women.   There are men who get super angry about women using the term curvy when they feel the people in question have no right to.   

    I personally don’t know why they care about that, but one thing is subjective and one thing is a fact.   Ask men of different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, and races to describe curvy and you will get a LOT of different answers.   Yet the men posting on that article are full of rage.

    I don’t know how lying advances anyone’s cause.   At least not in any sustainable way.    I’ve seen men who lie about their age in their summary, then explain the lie in their profile.   I’ve seen men who do the same things about marital status or education.   It   might make you turn up in more searches but you are taking the chance that people won’t appreciate the lie.   And sorry, it’s internet dating so people do treat it like a Costco for humans and will be really picky about certain things b/c there is the illusion of an endless supply.

    The whole issue of “looking your age” is like so many other things.   Stereotypes.   But again, the men saying that to you aren’t your age and they probably think they still look 40.   That doesn’t mean you don’t look great.   It just means that it’s a very inaccurate way to describe people.   Why not say, you look nice/pretty.   It kind of doesn’t matter unless they need a woman to bear children for them.   

    And perhaps it’s easier for you to take it as a compliment but I’ve gotten the same kind of “comments” as it pertains of women of my race, and in that context it is is disgusting, so maybe that’s why it turns me off in general.   What my mom and her sister’s looked/look like in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s is not what their mom looked like.   But let’s see, they had more money, way fewer children, and easier lives in general.   I still think they LOOK their age.   They just look their age the way that people do in the 21st century.   And it’s totally true that 50-60 years ago, women their age looked entirely different.   Most 60 year old women don’t look like Grandma Moses, even if they don’t have botox, dyed hair, plastic surgery, and clothes from H&M.   

    I see a lot of women that I’d say are very attractive but don’t look young to my 30 something eyes.   That’s all I’m saying.   

    And it becomes comical b/c of how many people on this blog and on dating sites insist that they are the magical unicorn who has defied Father Time.   I just can’t imagine every saying that.   It sounds so silly. So if you’ve been lurking here long enough that’s why you’d have to know that every time I read it, I roll my eyes.   My college alumni magazine used to have singles ads, and all of these older women would describe themselves as Susan Sarandon, Sharon Stone,   or Raquel Welch lookalikes.    One man from their “era” finally wrote this hilarious letter asking where all of these pin-up girls were when he was in college, b/c he didn’t see anyone who looked like they were going to turn into any of those women.   

  3. 63

    Katelyn #53- yes, it’s true- too many older people feel they look/act younger than their age. Most are in denial, it’s true, but like you said, what’s so wrong with thinking you are the exception? Maybe it will bolster your self esteem. I would caution men from putting it on their profile ’cause I’ve met too many who clearly weren’t young looking for their age.  It reeks of slight desperation. I never put it on mine, but let my photos do the talking….

    Before dating, btw, I always readily offered up my age to anyone (wasn’t coy like so many). At work though I didn’t tell too many ’cause, again, in most workplaces you just ARENT respected for your age usually. However, turning 40 or 50 was no big deal to me also. To this day I am very proud of my age, oh so glad I was raised in the  sixties/seventies when times were simpler….  

    PS What happened to you at that event where men in their early 50s thought you were a peer happens to me all the time.  Has happened  for a good many years  also. I am not one of those in denial but I know my days are numbered…..just so glad I found my bf when I did (and here’s a shout out to Evan for giving me the psychological tools to let my bf “chase me til I caught him”). Now I can drop the pretense! lol     btw, lately my bf and I trade war stories about back/hip pains. I used to kick like a Rockette though! 🙁    


  4. 64

    #54 Fiona
    Very sorry to hear about your ex, but take heart- being 37 does *not* mean getting married and having kids is impossible. Try not to get down about it.

    I totally get why you didn’t leave your boyfriend after you found out his age- I have actually been in the same situation. But now, especially depending on how the truth of his age came to light, I wouldn’t stay. Why? Because of what his lying to me tells me about him.

    If he *knew* i wouldn’t want to date him if he was X age, so he told me he was X-2, then what he’s saying is that his desire (to date me) trumps my desire (to not date someone who is X). How is that cool? And who died and made him God? He doesn’t have to agree with my desire, but that doesn’t mean he gets to   disrespect it. In a relationship I doubt my boyfriend will always agree with the reason I do/don’t want to do something- so if he doesn’t is  he then entitled to lie to get his way? I don’t want to be with someone that thinks they are. And maybe he shouldn’t be with someone whose opinions and thought process he has so little respect for anyway…

    On the surface it seems like such a small thing, but to me it speaks volumes about what kind of person he is. And that’s not to be ignored.

  5. 65

    Nathan, I blame the “lying” for what happened more than the age but I nevertheless would not have dated a 25 year old at that time because I would have seen 8 years as too big a difference and a 25 year old as too high risk for me at 33. He admitted that he sensed that which is why he lied in the first place. I am not going to lie to anyone about my age – the difference between 35 and 37 is that the 37 year old is under more pressure.

    Karmic Equation, you are right – in hindsight it all started with a lie and I should have walked away when the first lie was exposed. At the time I thought it was just a little white lie. Really I should have seen him then for what he was – someone who lies to get what he wants.  

  6. 66

    But back to the original topic. Isn’t the answer, no, you are never TOO old but just like anything else, you won’t get as many views precisely b/c so many people have on blinders when it comes to their peers.

    I personally don’t profiles that are a)full of bragging or b)full of demands.   I’ve noticed that a lot of the people that think they are extra special feel comfortable getting kind of nasty about who they expect to contact them and who had better not dare.

    I might prefer different things but I don’t see how it would make me appealing to anyone to say “and if you are some old man who wants a woman under 40, you’d better not contact me b/c I have a dad.”   Or, “If you contact me, you’d better look 10 years younger than you are b/c I know I do and I work out 7x a week.”   How is either of those things attractive?   

    I mean, I will still READ the profile of someone who might not have the handful of things I consider to be REALLY important.   I’m not going to go off saying “who does he think he is” except when I get vulgar messages, and even then, it’s not a reason to turn my profile into a big rant.


  7. 67

    Jennifer you are totally right. I have learned my lesson. Honesty and integrity are essential qualities whether on-line or in real life.

  8. 68

    Another lie I see a lot is the “doesn’t have kids” things then they describe how they can’t live without their children. I’m not sure if women also do this but I see a lot of men in their late 30s who do.

  9. 69

    [email protected], you hit the nail on the head that people can have blinders on, so you don’t get as many views.   People will like what they like, no matter what.   I’ve learned to recognize that that challenge will exist but also not take it too personally either.  

    Mia, if you don’t mind my asking, how  old are you?   I thought you said before you’re in your 20s.   I used to think the same thing, until I reached my 30s and  I experienced it for myself.   Right or wrong, many men really do deem women less desirable at 30+ regardless of their packaging or how they look (mostly because they assume that older women will strangle them into marriage and kids from date 1, or assume more baggage).   However, I have found it’s mostly an online thing, when they have 20-something women at their fingertips (or at least, have the perception that they do).     It really is different when, in person, you  lead off with different characteristics and don’t lead off with your “numbers” as you do with online dating.   So I’d still suggest that women  30+ not give up their online  dating subscriptions, but just not rely on it too much either.

  10. 70

    @christine great view and advice.   After a recent guy I dated poof’d and then lowered his age bracket it definitely was hard to see.   But you are right online is one option and people in real life rarely care.

  11. 71

    It’s definitely harder to find a quality partner the older you get. I’m 50, and am told by some men that I am attractive and have a bubbly personality. Being African American helps as I am aging well.   As far a meeting that special someone goes, I have moved away from online dating in favor of meeting men the old fashioned way—in person.   No one special has caught my eye, or I theirs, but I am enjoying living the single life and engaging in fun activities that uplift me and bring me joy. If I meet someone in the process, that would be icing on the cake. If not, I will keep on living life to the fullest and doing things that make me happy.

    1. 71.1

      Yes,   I agree we African   American women do age well but weight is an issue for the women and for the men they overweight, extremely poor health and ill prepared for retirement.   What a nice surprise to date some White males not pickup any racism.   As you mentioned most of the White males also said “We Whites age poorly when compared to African Americans. What Ive noticed is they’re mainly Jewish as well.

      Im 60   but noticed   that nobody is talking about many of the   men NOT being being able to preform sexually or their impotent!   Most of the men are overweight with poor health but want a slim Sexy woman of any age!

      I also meet men who are IMPOTENT yet want a very attractive GF without investing in her yet they want alot as a casual friend, so I leave them alone.

  12. 72
    Evan Marc Katz

    Thanks to the two of you (Claire #25 and Henriette #49) who congratulated me on the birth of my son.

  13. 73

    I am 45 and my age range is 40 – 50.   Next year the range will bump up a year.   If I received a note from you and saw that your range is 35-55, no matter how great your profile is, I would ignore it.   You being 51 and looking at 35, creeps me out.   Please don’t take offense.   Now if your range was about 45 – 55, I would have no problem with that.   And if you wrote a thoughtful note, citing you know you are out of my listed range, I would write back.   One of the men I am seeing   did just that, and he is 52! BUT, his age range was reasonable!
    On another note, I have ignored countless men because they list an age range that is below their own age.   For example, he’s 50 and looking for 33-45. No thank you. If you can’t deal with your own age group, then there are some issues.
    Secondly, on the lying discussion.. a lie, is a lie, is a lie.
    I had dinner with a man that listed his height as 5’8″ – I am 5’7″ – I gave him a chance as I listed I was looking for   a minimum of 5’9″.     I showed up in heels, and i was quite a bit taller.   Sat down, had dinner.   I was not feeling it with this guy, but was very polite and kind just the same.   But as he walked me to my car, I took off my shoes, because i had a previous ankle injury and my foot was hurting. WOW, I was still taller than him.   I may have encouraged a second date, but after still towering over him, and him looking UP at me… no way.   Wasted my time.   Not that short men are not attractive… (both of my LTRs were my height) – it was the lying that I found unattractive.  
    I will say that online dating has been a lot of fun so far…   but it has only been 7 weeks 🙂

  14. 74

    Fiona, if your ex had a pattern of lying to get what he wanted, then I can understand why the initial age lie was so upsetting. Because what started with a lie was always defined by lies. But if that was really his only major lie, and there were a lot of other factors that led to the end of the relationship, then I struggle to see how you can blame the demise on him initially saying he was 2 years older.
    I actually agree with you that dating a 25 year old in your mid30s is a risk. I’ve had a few opportunities to do so over the past few years: one I turned down, and the other one didn’t go anywhere, in large part because she “acted her age,” wanting to enjoy the dating scene so to speak. At the same time, when I am doing online dating I have a wide age range in both directions because I know there are people who don’t “fit” the story of their age group. One of the main reasons why the OP is frustrated, and why you see others here admitting to age shaving, is that the majority of people online don’t have the kind of wide filters I’m employing.
    I get the sense that you’re blaming his desire for a career change on being a flighty 20 something, which doesn’t really doesn’t fly in the modern world anymore. People shift careers an average of 6-7 times across their lifespan now, including many people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who were supposedly settled but wake up one day to wanting something different, or to being laid off and forced into something different.
    I’m a person who believes in the spirit of the law, rather than the letter. Intention is very important to me, as is the context. No matter how you slice it, the beginning stages of dating are full of unsaid information, attempts to paint oneself in as good of light as possible, and mistaken perceptions. An honest person with integrity is one who recognizes this, and does his or her best to aim towards being as truthful as possible, given the circumstances. What does that mean in terms of age and online dating? I’ll be honest; I don’t know for sure. All I know is that I can understand why – given the context of online dating and how it operates – people might choose to shave a couple years off their age. And I tend to think that in the bigger scale of lies and how they impact a relationship, the 51 year old who says he’s 49 for example, really is doing something quite minor.

  15. 75

    A very timely post; I will turn 52 in a week and have just bailed outta my last dating site after being contacted by a string of 6 uneducated, minimally employed, and unhealthy guys that apparently did not read or cannot read my profile. Unlike many here that have replied, I am completely honest about age, height, and weight and have current photos. I   look for fit educated guys that are older (up to 75) than I. I am not much into popular culture nor have I any interest in raising kids as are many younger or even equal aged guys. Maturity is good. I figure we women outlive men anyway. There was a lot of comment about what we women have to offer; I can tell you that if you mention being affectionate, caring, have a stable household and income, it gets mis understood as you being available for casual sex or that you are OK with someone who is looking for a meal ticket. In a small town such as this, it is very easy for  someone to find out who I am and where I live and work;  was cyber-stalked once by a guy from eHarmony that I had never even contacted-really scary. However, I have no choice but to look on line as there  are zero healthy options in men here anywhere near my age or older. I have been told my colleagues to “settle” for someone unhealthy and/or uneducated that I have zero attraction for because “I am not getting any younger”. Been there; done that; does not work. Let me add that according to others I am indeed much younger looking than my 52 years (I dont think so) and have made it a priority to remain very fit and healthy. Nathan is very right, many boomer guys are looking for June Cleaver and Bridget Bardot wrapped in one even though they themselves are falling apart. A local  guy thought I should clean his sloppy house, cook for him (I have a larger house and run a small farm and work full time) even though he is retired. I cannot leave my job right now nor do I want to spend the rest of my life alone. Very saddening and frustrating. I agree, Evan should do a post on dating site dishonesty and include not only age but  other stuff such as financial situation,   height and weight and having serious health issues. Last winter, I met with  four on line guys that lied about one or more of the last  four things as though I  wasn’t going to notice. Dishonesty is dishonesty and does not make for a good first impression. I don’t get it; there are plenty of heavier women out there for guys that are heavy, plenty of shorter women out there for guys who are short, plenty of sedentary women for guys that are not active; why lie?!

  16. 76

    You believe a man has got issues for refusing to date within his age range, yet you see nothing wrong in setting the minimum requirement of your online choice men at 5 9″

    It’s amazing how lots of women point out the blinders men have as regards to women’s age but fail to perceive theirs when it comes to men’s height and income. Nice sentiments ladies.

    1. 76.1

      I noticed no one mentions one key fact. After 50 and esp. after 60 you will be dealing with the survivors of life. I got colon cancer at 56. I had to retire early. It cost me a huge amt. of money.   I was lucky to get my pension, but I lost out on 5 plus years of full salary.   I’ve seen eight women I once knew under 60 die from cancer.   Folks it’s always later than you think.   The older you are the more likely you will get a life changing illness. The best date and marriage prospects I had in my entire life were in high school.   I finished in 74, and I didn’t know that at the time.   I never met anyone after 25 I would marry. I’m 61 now, and   as they say–the good ones go first.   I had my chance decades ago, didn’t take it, and now I live with regrets.   If you wait too long, you will lose.   If you are under 55, you still have time to find decent partners. After that it’s really dicey.

  17. 77

    A friend of mine who is 57 knocks 3 years off her age on-line, to 54. She recently met a man who stated that he was divorced. At their first meeting, she let him know her real age. He responded by telling her that he was not divorced, but separated, and recently so. He actually seemed pleased, and responded that they were now “even.” My friend’s being 3 years older has no bearing on her ability to conduct a relationship, but a man’s marital status greatly affects his readiness for a relationship, not to mention the fact that he lied about something so important. Not all lies are equivalent.
    I’ve met plenty of major liars online, men who knocked 15 years off their age and had 15 year old photos to match, men who lied about their marital status, men who claimed to want LTRs and marriage, but really didn’t. Some things, like an extreme lie about age or height, are evident right away, but sometimes the most insidious lies are not always detected right away.

  18. 78

    Rather than contemplating slashing my wrists Ive been ruminating on what Evan had said about making something better.   

    Last night I changed my username and subtitle to something more mysterious, more creative, even more unique to me, and a bit “darker”.

    Today so far Ive received new contact of 7 winks and 4 messages on Match, and 9 new contact messages on POF and one phone call from today.

    Thats more than my norm by 6pm. I appreciate Evans encouragement not to give up.  

    Thanks Evan!

  19. 79

    @miskwa 75.   “I don’t get it; there are plenty of heavier women out there for guys that are heavy, plenty of shorter women out there for guys who are short, plenty of sedentary women for guys that are not active; why lie?!”   Because the heavier guys think they deserve — and have the impression that they will actually get! — Gisele Bundchen; shorter guys think that they deserve — and have the impression that they’ll actually get! — Susan Anton.   And sedentary men think that they deserve — and have the impression they will actually get! — the entire Olympic volleyball team.  
    And, folks, Evan & his lovely wife just had his second (and, probably last) child!   If you think about it, he’s really been a surrogate dad to all of us, here: doling out sound advice; cheering us on through disappointments; helping us navigate the Wild West of the online dating world.   He’d be the first one to congratulate any one of us who found true love, got married or left an abusive relationship.   Don’t you think a few more of us could express some joy for *his* momentous life event?

  20. 80

    Henriette: I was going to shout out “CONGRATS” earlier this week  but got momentarily distracted.

    Feel bad about it.

    So here’s my attempt to make amends: CONGRATS EVAN ON YOUR SON!!!       

    Much happiness to you both. Mazeltov!  !   

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