Are you ready for online dating?

When a long term marriage or relationship ends, it can be tempting to rush out and find someone new to fill the gap in your life, but although loneliness can be tough on the newly single, jumping into a rebound relationship is always a mistake. So how can you tell if the time is right to start dating again?

The over 50s are the fastest growing demographic of online daters. Divorce rates are on the up and more and more people are taking the decision to walk away from their partner in the hope of finding happiness elsewhere. But not everyone is ready for love again, so rather than waste your time and that of other people, you need to evaluate whether you are ready for a new relationship.

Are you lonely? It is not uncommon for people who have been recently divorced to suddenly realise their circle of friends has vastly diminished. When you are a couple, most of your friends are likely to be other couples, so when the relationship breaks down, friends take sides and you can expect to lose many of them in the ensuing chaos. The end result of this process is the feeling that you are suddenly a social pariah and nobody invites you anywhere.

If this sounds familiar, don’t let loneliness drive you into the world of online dating in a desperate bid to meet someone, anyone, new. Take time to get used to your own company because learning the art of being happy on your own is essential for the success of future relationships.

People who are comfortable in their own skin make for better partners. They are less needy and do not require constant validation of their self worth from others. Being alone might feel strange in the early days, but taking the time to enjoy your own company will pay dividends. Obviously spending weeks alone without human company is not sensible, but do not be afraid of the prospect of a weekend at home, alone. Fill your time with useful pursuits: gardening, reading, walking, or whatever else makes you happy.

Once you feel comfortable alone, start expanding your social circle and make new friends. Become involved in community events or find others with similar interests—potential dates will find you more attractive when you are a well-rounded person with lots of hobbies and an interesting life to talk about. Then, when you judge the time has come to find someone new, embrace this new chapter in your life and sign up for online dating. You will have the opportunity to meet interesting new people and even if the chemistry isn’t there, you may find some become good friends.

The Next Step After Chatting Online

So, you’ve done the easy part. You’ve made an online profile and initiated contact or had someone contact you. Everything has been pretty easy so far, but now you’re wondering where you go from here. Should you make a date to meet somewhere? Invite them over for dinner? What exactly should you do after you’ve been chatting online for a while?

The first step after chatting is to talk to the person on the phone. You’ve already established that have some common ground, now you want to talk to them and get more of a feel for their personality. Only so much of a person’s personality can come out in chat and email forms. Once you get them on the phone, you’ll get a better feel for who they are and whether you want to go out with them or not. Calling them and talking to them on the phone also gives you clues to the type of person they are. If they’re reluctant to give out their phone number, you have to ask yourself, why? If they only ask you to call between certain hours, you have to wonder, why? If they talk on the phone in hushed tones, again, you need to be wondering what are they are hiding

After you’ve had a few successful conversations, it’s time to take it to the next level and go on a date. Now, don’t let the words “date” bother you. It’s just the natural progression of things. Make it easy on yourself. Choose something you would want to do with any good friend. Plan to meet in public for a potentially short date, that could go longer if the both of you choose to. But, if it doesn’t go as planned, you have an exit strategy and can go on your way.

The best piece of advice, when progressing in an online relationship, is not to waste too much time in the chatting stage. While the fun part is definitely getting to know one someone, you can’t truly get to know them online. They can pretend to be so many things they’re not. Instead, move on to the phone and then to a meeting, in relatively short order, to avoid wasting your time and theirs.

Dating For Singles Over the Age of 50

Some singles over the age of 50 are very apprehensive when it comes to dating. Many have spent years as part of a couple, and they’re unsure about how to even act on a date with someone whom they don’t know well. Meeting and getting to know new people need not be stressful, though. With the right attitude, dating after the age of 50 can actually be quite a lot of fun rather than the grim, joyless ordeal that some make it out to be.

Most single people over 50 are no longer responsible for very young children, which automatically makes the process of dating much less complicated for them. Careers are usually well-established at that stage of life, and many people are quite simply just more comfortable in their own skin because they’ve had time to learn who they really are. Pressure to settle down and begin raising a family is also no longer an issue.

Those who are nervous about taking the plunge into the dating pool are constantly advised that they should just relax and be themselves. This is true, but it’s also something that is much easier to say than it is to actually do. One good way to take the pressure off is to find a fun activity for a first date that allows the participants to focus on something other than one another. Doing something fun together will help people to relax, and it will give them something to talk about while enjoying coffee or a cocktail after the activity is finished. Psychologically, it’s easier for a bond to develop between two people if they are engaged in an activity that is of interest to them both.

Confidence can sometimes be a stumbling block for those re-entering the dating scene after a long absence. Dating is just like most other activities, though, in that a person’s comfort level with it rises significantly as they become familiar with it. Initial confidence can be increased by paying attention to dress, grooming and general overall health.

Those experienced with dating while over the age of 50 agree that it’s a great way to explore new things and get to know new people.

Tips on Dating for Women over 50

Regardless of chronological age, every woman harbors a sixteen-year-old girl under her skin. The search for that hero on the white horse is eternal, whether we’re six or 106, and even when we think we have found him, the secret wondering about what-might-have-been never dies.

But if you’re a fifty-plus woman, it behooves you to keep that teenager under control. Yes, you’re older and wiser now, but you’re also more vulnerable. You don’t have the confidence of perky youth, you have very likely been hurt by death or divorce, and you feel like a stranger in the strange land of dating in the 21st century. Where you used to find men at school, church or the workplace, today you find them on the Internet. At this point in your life, your biggest challenge is self-definition. Leave the flirting, giggling and texting to the kids and capitalize on your mature sophistication. You’re smart enough to follow the safety guidelines for meeting someone new: coffee or lunch in a public place, armed with probing questions and a basic knowledge of male behavior.

Your very first physical contact should be a handshake. You’ll be amazed at how much you can both convey and learn through this simple gesture. Always be the first to extend a hand to save him the embarrassment of deciding whether or not to reach out first. True gentlemen know that grabbing for a woman’s hand is not proper behavior, so initiating contact will show him you are not a shrinking violet and are willing to be friends. Extend your hand, palm down, and carefully note his reaction.

If he bows, grasps your hand and presses it to his lips, he’s either European or was raised by a Victorian mother. In either case, you can infer that he’s smooth, thinks of himself as a lady’s man and may not be entirely trustworthy. Enjoy his company, but be wary.

If you’re met with a sweaty palm or by the limp grab of a couple of your fingers, you can be sure he’s more afraid of you than you are of him. Knowing you are the more confident gives you a great advantage in setting the tone, allowing you to conduct the rest of the conversation on your terms. Putting him at ease with a warm smile will almost guarantee honest answers to your questions. He’s probably a wimp, but he might be just nervous, so give him a chance to impress you.

If he grasps your hand firmly, with most of the pressure coming from his ring finger, he’s either a salesman or a politician. He’s filled with confidence and may even be a bit condescending. It will take a lot of strength to keep the conversation on track, but he may be a worthwhile sparring partner, if your taste runs to the “man’s man” personality.

The two-handed shake, coupled with penetrating eye-contact and a little stroke on the back of your hand is a signal to don your running shoes and head for the hills. That’s a man with just one thing on his mind, and it isn’t a lasting relationship.