Choose Your Site
There are many online dating sites available, including those for all ages and those aimed at certain age groups, such as AARP’s online dating portal powered by HowAboutWe.com.
Ask friends for recommendations and read about each site online to compare missions (who they are aimed at and what criteria they use to match people), fees, as well as terms and conditions. Some sites may offer a free basic or trial profile, but may charge to search or message people.
As with anything you do online, considering your safety and security is important. Here are a few tips to follow:
- Don’t use your full name or give your phone number, workplace or address out on your profile or to people you don’t yet know well. Most sites also allow you to use member-to-member messaging so that you also don’t have to give your email address until you’re ready either. Read the site’s safety and privacy recommendations before beginning.
- Never have someone pick you up or meet you at home or workplace on your first date.
- Schedule first dates in a public place.
- Let a friend know what you’re doing, where you’re going and with whom.
Every site will have different profile options. Many involve answering some questions about yourself and the person you’re hoping to meet. Be honest without writing your whole life story or divulging too much personal information.
All profiles will involve adding a photo of yourself. Just as you would want others to do, use recent, realistic photos, and upload several. If you don’t have any recent photos, ask a friend to take some.
Once your profile is set up, you’ll be able to view possible matches, and they’ll be able to look at your profile too. Don’t be shy about making the first move if you come across a profile that intrigues you. Keep initial contact short and light to see if the other person is interested.
The Next Steps
Most of the time, a connection will start with a brief message followed by some longer messages and then perhaps emails and a phone call. How to handle the first phone call is up to you and the particular situation. Some recommend using a public phone or blocked caller identification for the first call for safety. Read up on safety concerns to make an educated decision.
There’s no hard and fast rule on when to meet in person. In general, if you’re feeling comfortable and interested after a phone call or two, it might be time to set up an in-person meeting to see if there’s a real life connection.
According to AARP, the most popular types of dates are food related, such as checking out a new restaurant. If having dinner is too much commitment for the first date, consider lunch, coffee or dessert. Volunteering together for an upcoming event is another popular option on the site.
Of course, online dating isn’t always easy. You may meet several people before you really hit it off with someone. Always be honest about wanting to meet again or not. As you meet new people and go on dates, try to have fun and enjoy trying new things, having interesting conversations and hearing new perspectives as part of the process.