I am in my fifties and separated from my wife of 10 years.
We had a good marriage until the end, and we are still quite on good terms. She has since met another man and he’s a good bloke. I’m happy for her and she’s encouraged me to try and find someone for myself.
My friend met his partner through an online dating service but I’m nervous about joining up.
Do online romances really work out? I am keen to meet someone as it can be a bit lonely on your own.
Thank you for your letter. You sound as though you’ve managed to navigate the end of a long and meaningful relationship well. You’re ready to consider meeting someone to share a new relationship with. It is helpful to start dating again when you feel good about yourself, when you feel happy and confident.
Online dating can seem quite complicated and modern but really, we have used intermediaries to meet people throughout history — friends, family, matchmakers ‘fixed’ us up.
The difference with online dating is that they’re strangers who don’t come with the recommendation of people we trust.
It has been a while since you dated so you might feel out of practice. One of the benefits of having lived a life is that grown up people have grown into themselves, they know what they like, and they know themselves, which is great for dating.
Now that you’re ready for the possibility of meeting more people here are some suggestions.
Be honest — we tend to be attracted to people quite like ourselves, being honest about what you want and who you are means that the people you end up talking are more likely to be people things might work out with. If there’s something that is a complete ‘deal-breaker’ you can save a lot of time and effort by mentioning it upfront.
Keep an open mind. Just because someone doesn’t share your exact interests or has a hobby you know nothing about — don’t give up on them. Be open to the possibility that you might grow in new directions with someone you meet online. Personal growth is one of the indicators for a long-term relationship working.
Keep it safe. Keep the online conversations on the dating app or website so they can be monitored for any red flags (like requests for money), moderated in case someone becomes abusive, and where you have control to block or report anyone.
There are some things that you’ll never find out from online interaction alone. Things that real life provides — do you make each other laugh, do you enjoy each other’s company, do you communicate well.
It might be an idea not to draw out pre-online contact for too long — maybe keeping pre-meeting exchanges to two weeks or shorter.
When you meet up for the first time it can be a good idea to choose an activity in case you’re worried conversation will dry up. You can do something fun together with natural conversation starters and distractions.
And finally, have some fun. If it starts to feel like a chore or doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, then take a break from it or try something else.