Pairing Up: Trying Out New Dating Options
Pairing Up: Trying Out New Dating Options
September 22, 2021
After all these many months of sitting at home, often in a solitary state, many of us are not only ready to get out and socialize again but perhaps even ready to put our toe in the water of dating. We already know that social engagement is incredibly valuable for keeping our brains– and bodies- healthy and functioning. Who could blame you, then, especially after so many months of isolation, if you also want to throw a little romance or at least companionship into the mix (provided everyone is vaccinated and careful!). Research data shows that older adults were already trying out online and smartphone dating apps before the pandemic, and other surveys show that older adults are now hungry for some good adult conversation and hoping to find a dating match that can provide that kind of intellectual stimulation. So if you’re ready to take the plunge, there are dating opportunities waiting for you.
US News and World Report recently printed an article listing the 12 Best Senior Dating Websites to Find Love in 2021. The post breaks down what to expect from each site concerning costs, features specially designed for older adults, and other available perks. While those may be easy and enticing, there are other posts warning that it’s easy to be taken advantage of using one of these sites. So you need to learn the safety protocols for engaging in online dating apps. For example, a recent article in Forbes gives you the rundown about what may be asked of you when you sign up: you may be given an extensive questionnaire (depending on the site) and asked to create a profile. But you are also forewarned to make sure you join a reputable site, beware of giving out unnecessary personal information, tell friends and family you are doing this (so they can help you spot a scam) and if you proceed to the point of meeting your online match in person, make sure you always do so in a public space. MarketWatch also offers some useful tips, including vetting the app to make sure it serves people in your geographic location and age group, and be attuned to the language used by your counterpart, to make sure they are divulging personal info rather than just spewing platitudes. And get to know the person a bit through the app before resorting to the next step of a phone call or video chat.
And speaking of scams: AARP recently profiled the many scams perpetrated against older adults on the dating app Match.com. As the article headline reminds you, getting scammed on a dating website can leave you broke as well as brokenhearted. The Federal Trade Commission reports that last year alone, unsuspecting seniors lost $304 million from dating website scams. Their advice? If you suspect a scam, immediately end all contact with the person you’ve been in touch with, and never send any money to someone you’ve only met online. The fraudulent stories of businesses gone sour or wallets stolen or illnesses arising are boundless, and it’s easy for you to fall for a scam while being sweet-talked by a stranger. So just say no and end the “relationship.” And if you’re ever asked to leave the app and communicate outside of the app? Be suspicious and be careful.
In fact, many if not most seniors would prefer to meet that certain someone outside of a smartphone setting. For example, in a survey by Silver Singles, only 16% of respondents said they wanted to use a mobile app as their way to meet a match. Most preferred to be set up by a family member or friend, meet through a mutual hobby or connect organically and randomly through daily activities. And a deeply reported story on NPR recently provided excellent advice for those of you nervous about entering the dating world at a later stage in life. It’s natural to be afraid and anxious, especially because dating at an older age often involves blending separate families and interests, very different from when you dated as a younger person. Their advice? Before you create any profile, think long and hard about what you’re really looking for in a match: What kind of person will make you happy at this stage in your life, or what kind of interaction do you want with a new romantic interest? A recent story in Time reports that many older couples have figured out how to have a rewarding relationship as older adults by choosing not to marry, maintaining separate financial arrangements, and creating a partnership that involves much more equality and fewer gender-stereotyping roles than they had as younger individuals. Many of the most successful of these relationships even involve living apart and consciously choosing not to marry but to come together when it works for each partner.
Finally, to give you the happy ending many of you may be hoping for, click here to read the story of 70-year-old antique dealer Deb Thea who created a rich and engaging solo life for herself, only to finally find the romantic partner she desired at age 70. As the saying goes, never say never!