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.

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  1. 81

    Congratulations on the arrival of you new bundle of joy.
    Here’s to your family and may you and your wife be getting some rest in between feedings and changings and taking time with your daughter. 😀

  2. 82

    To Kathleen in 78.
    Good to hear the small change resulted in some results. I think your profile gets “stale” so changing user name, profile and photos helps. And even doing a brand new profile helps bring you to the top as a new user. Good things to think of as you online date.

  3. 83

    @Miskwa…not all fat people marry/date other fat people b/c not all thin people prefer thin people.   Spending time sociazling in real life shows you how often a lot of people like what they like (lid for every pot and all of that).   

    Kind of like sometimes ugly winds up with pretty, old winds up with young, rich winds up with poor, and uneducated winds up with educated.   You have to cast a wide net to find the person who thinks that what you are is just right.

    Dating is not so much about likes pairing up with likes in such a superficial way.

    And yes, a LOT of heavy men will list only “slender” or “athletic” just like some of those athletic guys ask for full-figured, curvy, or more.   

    Some, not all.   The nice thing about people listing their preferences (which is also sometimes the most annoying thing) is that you learn not to ASSUME anything about what something will like just b/c of what race, age, size, education, or income level they are.     

  4. 84

    9/28/12 – I stumbled across this site – in search of understanding why the guy I met on-line – same age as me – 66 – who indicated interest in me – spent lunch time and walk in the park after time – in a basic monologue. Generally I try to give guys some ‘slack’ on first dates – nerves can make one present uncharacteristically. SO I will keep the 2nd date we have planned for tomorrow evening and see how that goes. Very little eye contact – nerves too?  
    But as I read over many of the above postings I appreciated Nathan’s perspective and Andrew & especially Katelyn’s which I most resonated with. I did date a guy from church who is actually older by 9 years but alive – so alive but alas his heart is closed so we are simply friends.   But due to life crises he did a lot of inner work and it shows!   Not sure what PUA’s are though. Thanks you all for sharing!

  5. 85
    Flower White

    Congratulations to Evan and his wife on the birth of their son!

    I have nothing to add to this convo as I’m on a vacation from dating.

  6. 86

    Just a random thought I’m going to throw out is that when people on online  dating sites  are doing searches inevitably the results will show people  in their own age range as well as younger and the eyes of both men and women will gravitate towards the younger and create the illusion that those people are attainable when most of the time they’re not. In the 50+ age range a lot of men and women aren’t or are a lot less attracted to their own age so they email “down”(younger). It just is what it is from my observation. I get emails from women 8-9 yrs older than me every day who I’m sure aren’t emailing or returning emails from guys their own age who may be interested in them.

    No matter what your search parameters are on Match for example they always throw in extra results that are OUTSIDE those parameters to A.) Give you more results and B.) Widen the scope of what you think you want or be interested in.

  7. 87

    I am 51 and have avoided online dating for the last few years because I abhor the lack of privacy.   In order to get responses, you must plaster several photographs of yourself to the entire world and sell yourself (embarrassing, I’m decidedly old school) to an audience of strangers.   I have experienced my ex’s best friend (male) following me around as I tried various dating sites, and taunting me with “oh, it’s you again”.   So yes, each time he wrote, I knew he was telling my ex (who unceremoniously dumped me) that “oh, yeah, I saw her on match….Okcupid..or whatever.”   This did not feel good.   At all.
    Yet, now I have three female friends – 45, 47 and 53 – who have met their current boyfriends on line.   Heck, I met my ex-ex online but I broke up with him 5 years ago (and actually should have ended things after 6 months…).   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.   But let’s not rehash bygones.
    So in the last couple of weeks I have considered tiptoeing back into the online dating world, much to my chagrin.   At 51, I feel like I have no game.   I have considered being “49” because it seems like 50 is the death knell for women (unless you want to date 60’s – early 70’s men which I don’t – sorry) but I realize this could backfire.   Yet, my ex blithely billed himself as 6 years younger than his REAL age, and was advertising for women AT LEAST 7 years younger than his REAL age.
    Still, I would be embarrassed to be on that first date with a guy and surprise, we are actually hitting it off!   He asks me what year I graduated from high school and then, I have to spill the truth – I AM FIFTY ONE YEARS OLD.   Ugh.   Nope, I just can’t lie.
    So, maybe I’ll try online dating for a free trial or something.   And when the octogenarians start responding from their rocking chairs, I’ll get a good laugh and think of my poor friend Bob who dropped dead three weeks ago from a heart attack at 50.   And I’ll just go back to “smelling the roses” and enjoying life as a single, celibate, 51 year old woman.  

  8. 88

    Susan 61  

    It doesn’t sound like online dating is for you since your outlook is so negative. But if you eventually realize you have nothing to loose you could have a photographer take some fantastic shots you are proud of and have a good buddy help you write a confident and POSITIVE profile.  

    If you are seeking a top job you have to look your best at the interview and sell yourself to strangers. I have a photo on Linked in that strangers can see.   

    My ex who just turned 60 was on match looking for a 30-45 year old …Who cares!



  9. 89

    Thanks for your thoughtful and positive response, Kathleen.   I appreciate your upbeat yet condescending post.   Yet, it’s OK.   I’ve done online dating off and on for about 20 years now so I know of what I speak.   I’ve written amazing unique profiles and gone on many blind online dates.   Seeking a job is NOT the same as online dating.   I AM allowed, am I not, at this point in my life, to have an opinion about online dating that is not unfailingly positive?  
    Most people with Linked In profiles who are looking for a job do not have photos and you have to admit, it is a tad different from online dating.   My outlook is realistic, pragmatic, perhaps bordering on negative and I’m sorry if that is the tone I conveyed.   Best to you!   P.S.   It’s “lose”, not “loose”.  

  10. 90
    Karmic Equation

    @Susan61 #89
    Men don’t going to run from you because you are older than their desired age range, but rather because you’re negative and generally unpleasant to be around. One can glean this from your writing style and the words you choose to express yourself. You probably think you’re showing self-assurance, but it comes across as b*tchy instead. If you really want to find a good man, or even any man, never mind a good one, consider adjusting the attitude. I actually think you may get a lot out of the book, Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov. There’s a difference between being a bitch as she defines it and the b*tchy that you’re demonstrating. Being a bitch doesn’t mean being bitchy.

  11. 91

    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.  




  12. 92

    @ 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…. 😀

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

    Good luck in your search !  

    1. 92.1


      RE: no. 92 How, oh how, did I ever miss this one! LMAO! My dear, I will give you an A+ for effort, for coming up with that one, but as a man   (5’9″ tall) who had a 16 year marriage with a woman who is 5’11″+, (yes, barefooted) ,   I can say from extensive experience that your comment about the   supposed “awkwardness” of both sexual positions with a taller woman/shorter man is ludicrous, and utterly false! One would have to be built rather unconventionally   (or not know what he/she was trying to do) for either of the activities you mention to be so “awkward” as you insist! We never had any difficulty with either! I might add that I’ve had, in my lifetime,   three other intimate female partners taller than me (same positions, same result), so I think it safe to say the marital experience was not some unique circumstance.

      Thanks for the amusement (I’m STILL laughing!). Now run along and find some other (hopefully legitimate) excuse for your height preference (although I’m not sure why you feel you need one; it’s really quite ok for you to prefer taller men, without having to justify it.) 🙂

    2. 92.2

      Katarina: sounds to me like you lack imagination in the sex dept. My ex was 5’3″ and I’m 5’7″ and we had a very satisfying time in the sack…and other locations. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  13. 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.  

  14. 94

    @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!

  15. 95

    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!

  16. 96

    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.

  17. 97

    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.

  18. 98

    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.

  19. 99

    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

  20. 100

    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.

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