Monday, July 28, 2014

Dating Advice to Men Over 50, 60, 70+

7/28/14: I wrote this in 2010. I'm updating it now, with a few more years of experience with dating as a senior. Here's what I said in 2010, with updates italicized in blue.

Yes, I've started online dating, and I'm actually enjoying it.

I realize that my enjoyment goes hand in hand with not having anything at stake, no big expectations. I'm not looking to replace Robert (couldn't be done even if I wanted to, which I don't) or find someone to give my life meaning and joy (my life already has meaning and joy). I want to bring more male energy into my life, meet new people, get out, have new experiences. If that results in connecting with someone wonderful, that's a big bonus.

I wrote this on a message board for women over 50 in response to one person who was scared to date:

If you think of dating as your way to learn about another person and about yourself without risking anything, it can be fun -- go for coffee or a walk or dinner with someone new, talk, see what you both enjoy discussing and doing. It's when you think of dating as auditioning a potential soul mate that it becomes fraught with anxiety, unpleasantness, and emotional danger.

First dates aren't scary to me in the least. I'm interested in learning what we do and don't have in common, and which of the divergences matter a lot. Plus, the writer in me loves hearing people's stories, and first dates are a great way to learn a huge amount in an hour, because it's expected that we share our stories.

Although I'm newly dating after almost ten years, I already have some strong opinions about online dating do's and don't's. (When did you ever know me to not have strong opinions?) Here are a few, aimed at men because that's my experience. I'm sure I'll add more as I proceed, and I encourage you to add your own. (Be constructive, not nasty, please.)

Advice for Men about Profile Photos

1. Please use a current image as your default photo. It's fine to include older photos also -- I love to see the long, bushy hair you wore in 1969!--but label them with the year, and make those secondary photos, not your main one.

2. Include at least one recently taken close-up of your face. Do. Not. Wear. Sunglasses.  I can't tell you how many profiles I skip over because the man is wearing sunglasses. I need to see your eyes. (I can't believe how many men wear sunglasses in their profile photos. Please, guys!)

3. Have a photo taken if you don't have one already. You don't need to go to a photography studio -- all your friends have digital cameras. Make your default photo just you -- no buddies on a fishing trip, no arms around a woman who might be your daughter or maybe your ex-wife, and absolutely no edited photo with the woman at your side cropped out (we can tell)!

4. Smile! Most of the profiles that men post show them either scowling or looking intently serious. I know that's because you're taking selfies and you don't want to put on your reading glasses to see the tiny screen. Ask someone else to take your photo, and smile as if you're glad to meet us.

Advice for Men about Your Profiles

1. Please give your real age and body build. If we'll eliminate you if you're older or heavier than attracts us, so be it -- that would happen once we met anyway. By the way, I'm learning that "average" build/body type means 30 pounds overweight. Is it true for women's profiles, too, guys? Just FYI, I put a lot of energy into staying fit, strong, and healthy. In my eyes, it's not superficial to seek men who take this kind of care of themselves, too.

2. I love it when men 50-70+ are looking for women their age and even older, but some of you say you're seeking to date women who are at least 10-15 years your junior. Is that simply an attraction thing? Or are you ruling out vibrant women your age for some reason I don't understand? Sometimes I write men with this question, and occasionally it leads a man to change his upper limit requirement! Mostly, though, they don't answer.

3. Describe what makes you interesting and unique. Skip the usual "I like moonlight walks on the beach," etc. -- if everyone who said this actually did it, the beaches would be crowded at nighttime, and they're not. Instead, think about the qualities and interests that will attract us and make you stand out from all the other profiles we're reading.

4. I really respect those of you who give me a courtesy of a "no thank you" if I write you first and you're not interested. I see you as polite and compassionate when you write something like "Thank you for writing, but I don't see us as a match. Best wishes...." rather than not answering at all.

Advice for Men When We Meet

1. Be yourself, be truthful, tell me about yourself -- and I'll do the same. That doesn't mean dumping details of your last health exam or therapy session, but take the opportunity to show me who you really are and what matters to you. We're too old to play the I'll-try-to-appear-to-be-who-you-want-me-to-be game.

2. Please also try to learn about me. If you do all the talking and don't ask me any questions, I don't know if it's nervousness or that you don't care who I am. As interesting as you may be, a monologue absolutely rules out a second date.

3. If we've gone out to dinner, I won't assume you'll pay because you're a man -- I'll offer to share the expense. If you prefer to pick up the check, tell me with a smile, and I'll accept with thanks. But please don't make a face, shudder, and tell me how much you hate "women's libbers" who "act like men." No kidding, someone did that recently. He's a very nice man and we had good conversation over dinner, but clearly our values and opinions don't match enough for a second date.

Please, good men, I know you're out there. How do we find you?

Since I'm a straight woman reading men's profiles, this post is slanted to my experience. Help me expand it. I'd love to hear from you about your experiences, likes and dislikes, and pet peeves about the people of any gender whom you meet (or choose not to meet) through online dating. I hope you'll comment!


  1. Joan, these are all great points, and they are also useful for women to follow, especially the three ideas about profile & photos.
    A misleading profile tells a lot about a person. The main message is one of lies and deception when people refuse to show who they are--in a situation that requires honesty if it is to benefit anyone.

    Your other point about paying for dinner is right on, too. If I was dating, I'd absolutely want to pay my share.

  2. Joan, great stuff, I agree completely. Your points apply to EVERYONE participating in online dating, I suspect.

    I think that agreeing to "spend an hour together over coffee" is a another way to take some pressure off. It puts a boundary on the time so there's no pressure if there's no chemistry.


  3. I love it! Have done it for years when looking. Some of my most treasured relationships and friendships began on line.

    My profile includes that I take pleasure in enjoying the sensual pleasures of all five senses, am a card carrying nudist, and I’m “not dead yet.” Toned down my profile a bit after a first date with a lovely lady who decided, based on my profile, that I was "too sexual" for her.

    In dating single women I have been up front about those pleasures and about 30 have asked me to take them to a naturist/nudist venue. Ladies love freedom and body acceptance too.

    What surprised me about that is that almost all the women I've met on line WANTED to be sexual on the first date. Many have even flown or driven to see me and nearly pushed me in to bed upon arrival. Two have waited until the second date.

    But the big thing the World seems to be missing about senior on line dating is that the women are VERY sexually aggressive very early. These are professional women with respectable jobs in medicine, behavioral health, education. If women are reluctant to be up front about their sexuality they gotta know that their sisters are - in a healthy adult manner.

    I appreciate all the work you do to keep the benefits of healthy sexuality in seniors from being ignored or put down.

  4. Derek, age 63December 18, 2010

    You have some very good and positive advice. But how can we (men) learn how to relax around women on a first date? What can we do to reduce the pressure we feel and hence the stiffness we exhibit?

    Most women don't understand that we are trying to be simultaneously manly men a la John Wayne and sensitive, insightful men like Woody Allen. We are trying to achieve the confusing and often conflicting image of what we think the women are looking for. Why? because it sucks to feel rejected.

    I try to unpack my expectations, fears, insecurities, frailties, etc. and instead have fun with the date like an adventure.

    I try to focus on the activity -- walking in the park, sharing a piece of decadent chocolate cake with the coffee, a glass of champagne to celebrate the potential of a man and woman coming together -- and this helps me refocus and enjoy the adventure. It takes the pressure off and provides an ice breaker, an opening that allows the conversation to flow a little easier. And it’s fun.

  5. I'm thrilled that readers are eager to comment. Please join them! If you're having trouble negotiating Google's comments section, realize that you can skip the "Google account" under "Choose an identity" and just enter your name (or name choice) after you click "Name/Url." I appreciate you adding your real age. -- Joan

  6. Here is my wrinkle: I am a 33 year old professional male. I am an attorney - specifically a prosecutor. I deal with very serious cases (e.g. murder, rape, robbery). I have turned to online dating because I prefer to date someone older. I generally do not meet these type of women in my normal social circles. I do not feel comfortable posting a picture on my profile for a dating website because I desire a certain level of privacy because of my work. That being said - I will always send a picture after a connection is made over email. However, I have found that most women don't believe that I am actually single, or that I am being disingenuous in not posting a picture. It's a real let-down.

    1. AnonymousJuly 28, 2014

      The "blank" photo is what says creepy or hiding. You could have some fun with a mask or even a bag that says "I have a kind of sensitive job - I'll send you a photo privately" That would make me laugh. Amy Webb's book tells of her (now) husband who wrote "arctic seal hunter" as his job - it got a funny conversation going.

  7. You really do need to post a photo. I get why you don't want to, but most women won't initiate an email exchange without a photo, because a faceless man is hiding something.

  8. A lack of recent photos, or lack of a bunch of good photos can be a red flag for me. An easy way to get good pics for personals profiles is to buy a disposable camera or two. Carry them around and ask friends, coworkers, even strangers - to take your picture. Then have the pictures developed onto a disc for easy transfer to your profile. You're just bound to get good pics if you have enough people take enough pics of you in varied venues.

    Its easy, fun, and productive.

  9. I agree with all of this. When I found myself single again at age 48, I thought that my life was over. But it's turned out to be ten times better than I ever hoped it might be. And all of your points also go for women. Particularly, besides having a recent picture, tell us your real age. As you say, it'll come out sooner or later, and it's better to be up-front about it. I'm 51 now, and I'm not interested in younger women. And honesty is very attractive in itself.

  10. Regarding Newbie's comment (Dec 2010) and his legitimate concern about posting a picture online because of his public status -- I had the same concern when I first started online dating. I've gotten over it.

    I'm an internationally known author in a professional executive career. What's the worst that can happen if one of my readers or colleagues or clients sees my online profile? They'll find out, among other things, that I'm single and dating, that I love Yosemite, that I want a long term relationship, and that I'm a baseball fan. I don't put anything in my profile that I would be embarrassed about anyone knowing.

    If I happen to meet someone who turns out to be more impressed with my name and fame than me, I'll learn it pretty quickly and can rule them out -- before they know enough to stalk me or anything else I'm afraid of in my more paranoid moments.

    So, Newbie, post a photo! You're ruling out all those wonderful women who, like me, want to get a hint of your face and expression before deciding to date you. I date no one who doesn't post a photo.


  11. Let's put an end to photos taken in front of the bathroom mirror..makes me think you don't have any friends who would take your photo for you.
    And the biggest thing I'd like to see is for men, and women, to use the same courtesy they would use in real life. Respond to emails, a quick, "thanks but I don't think we're a match" would work.
    I agree with your thoughts that dating can be fun and can be an opportunity to have new experiences, even when one knows the chemistry isn't there.

  12. Great advice. But you DO want men who would say something like "I hate libbers who act like men" to say just that. It's an excellent filter, as you saw.

  13. Re paying on a first date: I'm fine with paying my way although I do think there is something to be said for the man paying especially if he's suggested the restaurant (as opposed to a cup of coffee). It's part of the courtship ritual... BUT what I find annoying is when a man asks me out to a restaurant, eats twice as much as I do (orders appetizers, a drink, etc.) and then suggests that we "split" the bill and I end up subsidizing his meal. This has happened more than once!


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