Over 50 And Online?

Avoid these 5 common slip-ups when creating your profile, searching for dates, and more—then get ready to enjoy all that Internet dating has to offer!

By Evan Marc Katz

h, those were the days: In the past, you probably met a lot of your love interests through friends, parties, bars, or church. Sparks would fly instantaneously. You could ask a friend standing next to you for a second opinion. And while love connections do still happen this way, today’s reality may be quite different for you. Maybe most of your friends are married. Maybe you wouldn’t talk to a stranger at a bar if you were triple dog-dared to. And so, for many people over 50, online dating has become an increasingly attractive method for meeting people. Yet all too often, hopeful daters of this age make missteps that lower their odds of success. If you’re wondering if you’re one of them, check this list of common misdeeds below—and heed these smart solutions.

Mistake #1: Posting photos from many, many years ago
Sure, you may have a little more gray, a little less hair, and a couple more pounds
It may be tempting to post a photo from years ago. But that’s tantamount to false advertising.
than you did a few years ago. Don’t sweat it. Everyone else does, too. And while it may be tempting to post that swimsuit shot from your first marriage in 1992, I’m here to say it’s tantamount to false advertising. It might get you on a first date, but it could sabotage your chances of getting a second one. So get yourself a recent photo of yourself that you like, and take pride in how you look right now. That way, when you show up, your date will tell you that you look just like your picture!

Mistake #2: Calling yourself “young for my age”
If you are, in fact, youthful and vigorous, congratulations. You are in good company: 100% of the 50+ people I’ve ever talked to described themselves as “young for their age.” And since your M.O. online should be to stand out from the crowd, know that using this phrase won’t do you any good. Instead, when writing your profile, consider the old writer’s edict, “Show, don’t tell.” In other words, if you are truly active, you should be able to come up with a couple of stories that illustrate it. For example, “Three miles around the lake every morning, ashtanga twice a week after work, and the occasional stint at second base in my company softball league ensures that I’m as fit as I was twenty years ago.”

Mistake #3: Limiting your search criteria too much
Don’t fall into the trap that so many mature first-time online daters do: age discrimination. There’s nothing wrong with looking for someone with a youthful spirit, but you’d be surprised at the various packages in which that can come. If you’re a 56-year-old man, beware of simply searching for women 35-45. You’re instantly ruling out
You need to clarify your desires and act accordingly.
the possibility that someone closer to your age will be a suitable match. Similarly, a 56-year-old woman might search for men 55-60 because it’s a nice round range. But what about 54-year-olds? Or 61-year-olds? There’s nothing that says your soul mate should be within a five- or ten- year range, so when setting your search criteria, go both as high and as low as you can go. After all, you can’t go out with someone if you never see their profile in the first place.

Mistake #4: Getting frustrated
Online dating is a completely different process with an entirely new set of rules. Better to take the time to learn them than get frustrated at the nature of the beast, as so many people in the 50+ demographic do. See, the frustrating part is also the great part: Because of its vast database, is essentially the world’s biggest shopping mall for singles. That means that everyone with whom you’re corresponding is also probably corresponding with a half dozen other people simultaneously. With so much choice, it becomes that much harder to focus on one person. It may be a far cry from your more one-person-at-a-time past, but don’t get too upset when your dates come and go. Trust that when you have a true connection, you’ll both be wise enough to acknowledge it and act.

Mistake #5: Being unclear about your goals
You’re mature, you’re busy, and you don’t want to waste your time. Join the crowd. In order to get the most out of online dating, you need to clarify your desires and act accordingly. Want to get married? Then exit situations with a partner who is just getting over a divorce and is in no position to settle down. Looking for a dining companion? You can find one here, but you should respect that some people are seeking something more serious. And dating leading to sex? Nothing wrong with owning up to that as a goal. But if it’s the only thing you desire, you shouldn’t be wasting a marriage-minded person’s time. Now, there’s no need to advertise your goals in your profile — after all, that’s a bit heavy for your lively essay — but you just need to act with integrity once it becomes clear you and your date are on different tracks so you can both find someone more suitable. That way, everyone involved will be on track to find the right person—and that much faster.

Online dating coach Evan Marc Katz is the founder of profile writing service and the author of the new book Why You’re Still Single: Things Your Friends Would Tell You If You Promised Not to Get Mad. Reach him directly at
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