By Marilynne Rudick
Have you been thinking about using online dating sites to find a perfect match? If so, you’re not alone. You’ll join the 14% 0f unattached adults 45 to 54, the 10% of those 55 to 64 (but only 5% of those 65 and older) who are currently using these sites. (MetaFacts survey of online daters).
If you don’t use an online dating site, chances are you feel there’s a stigma attached to looking for love online. That’s sooo Twentieth Century. Looking for love without looking for it online, says Wired Magazine, is like “skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because the right books are found only by accident. Serendipity is the hallmark of inefficient markets, and the marketplace of love, like it or not, is becoming more efficient.”
And if efficiency isn’t enough, consider the practical. “Many people over 50 are strapped for time, and that includes going out to places where they could potentially meet someone,” says relationship coach Marsha Dean Walker. “You also have the opportunity to interview (not interrogate) through a veil of relative anonymity.”
“Internet dating expands your universe,” explains over 50 psychotherapist Judith Strull. She recommends online dating to her single patients. “It’s not like people are in college anymore. There’s not a lot of opportunity to meet new people. Online dating maximizes chances of finding a relationship in a relatively safe way, while also having fun. It also allows for initial screening of potential meetings, cutting down on both the time and awkwardness.”
“One of my male patients,” says Strull, “makes a 45-minute commitment to have a cup of coffee. He finds it much more tolerable than meeting on a blind date. Another patient says, ‘Women over 50 all want to go out for sushi. It gets expensive. I have some disposable income and have had some funny and some great experiences.’ He now buys sushi dinners only for his wife–whom he met on Jdate.”
Almost convinced, but a little intimidated? With dozens of online sites, all with slightly different twists on online dating, how do you sort them out and find the site that’s a perfect match for you? Dating Site Reviews offers a good place to start. It provides brief descriptions of the unique features of each site as well as users’ reviews and ratings. It neatly categorizes the multitude of sites: million plus members, religious, ethnic, over 50, gay and lesbian, professional or wealthy.
Dating Site Reviews also lets you know the subscriber fees upfront. Most sites, I discovered, bury their subscription fees. You typically have to sign up for a free trial and complete their preference form before you get information on fees. By then, you’ve already invested considerable time, so you’re likely to sign up.
It’s a good idea to take advantage of the free trial most sites offer. Do a sample search. If you turn up some intriguing possibilities, it’s probably a good bet.
Ready to take the plunge? Here’s a sampler of sites to get you started:
Various Dating Sites
- Match.com claims over 15 million members with over 20,000 singles joining every day. With these statistics, you’re almost guaranteed to meet your match. In fact, you’re guaranteed! If you purchase a six-month membership at Match.com and you don’t meet anyone special, Match.com will add an additional six months to your membership at no additional cost.
- eHarmony–another behemoth site–touts its comprehensive Relationship Questionnaire, based on “29 Dimensions® of Compatibility” as the key to its success.
- JDate is one of the premier Jewish singles communities on the Internet with more than 600,000 active members worldwide. Most JDate members are in major metropolitan areas, including New York, L.A., Miami and Chicago.
- ChristianMingle.com aims to be the premier online community for singles looking to date, make meaningful connections and marry within the Christian faith.
- LavaLife, with over 15 million members, boast a large contingent of Canadian singles. LavaLife Prime is specifically for singles 45 and older.
- SeniorPeopleMeet is the largest dating site in North America specifically for over 5os seeking romance as well as long term relationships, friends and travel companions.
- OKCupid is a free membership, advertiser-supported internet dating site. To ensure a successful match, OKCupid matches people based on answers to an ongoing series of questions: How do you feel about garage sales and flea markets? What kind of movies do you like? Would you attend an event that you otherwise had no interest in (for example, a work party or an athletic event) in order to support your partner?
- PlentyofFish is the largest free dating site in the world with the majority of their members found in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Due to it’s cost there is little support, plenty of advertising and an increased potential to run into more scam artists than on other sites. Still with 145 million monthly visitors you may be able to get past the site’s flaws to find true love.
I’ve been married for 36 years. I have no first-hand experience with Internet dating. So, I did the second-best thing and asked over 50s who have used Internet dating for their advice and tips. Coming soon: how to find the perfect match, prepare for first dates, and use Internet dating safely. Read sometimes inspiring, sometimes discouraging and often humorous tales of finding love online.
About the Author: Marilynne Rudick writes about web tools and technologies in her WebOver50 blog. She believes the web is wasted on the young, and her blog explains web apps– social networking, blogging, YouTube, and the treasure trove of new web tools—for people like herself: an over50 history major.