Yes, Online Dating Works For Seniors: 18 Tips For Success
People can sometimes assume that dating sites and dating apps are exclusively for young people. In reality, people of all ages can benefit from the convenience of dating apps—including seniors.
If you're new to the world of online dating, here are some of the top online dating tips for seniors to keep in mind.
Does online dating work for seniors?
Online dating can be an effective, streamlined way for seniors to meet potential partners, and many people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and above have found love online. According to one 2020 report from the Pew Research Center, around 16% of people over 50 in America have used a dating site or app, and one in 10 U.S. adults have been in a committed relationship or married someone they met online.
"Mature daters often find that online dating increases their pool of potential daters," Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Date Smart, tells mbg. "And for those who are working from home or retired, online dating and dating apps can replace the pool of possible candidates who may have naturally been encountered in the workplace."
She also adds that single seniors often know exactly what type of partner and relationship they're looking for, and dating apps can help easily filter out partners who aren't a fit and funnel in more well-suited candidates.
The biggest barrier to online dating as a senior is often simply getting used to the technology and the digital culture around dating apps and sites. "Not being digital natives, many mature daters are wary of online dating and dating apps simply because they are not comfortable with engaging with people they've not met organically," Manly adds. While it's a fair concern, it's helpful to remember that dating sites are just the connection point—once you exchange a few messages, you're encouraged to move to meeting up in real life to get that organic get-to-know-you process.
And if the tech itself is a pain point, Manly recommends asking a tech-savvy friend or your adult kids to help you choose a site, set up your profile, and sort through candidates. "Once the fear factor is reduced, many mature daters find that they actually find the process achievable—if not enjoyable."
Best dating sites for over 50.
We have a full guide to the best dating sites for seniors, but here are a few of our favorite picks:
One of the oldest and most reputable dating sites around, eharmony is often lauded as one of the best dating apps for seniors. "It has a proven history of success, and they consistently improve their site and are well known for helping couples reach long-term relationships," couples' therapist Kyle Zrenchik, Ph.D., LMFT, ACS, previously told mbg.
When you first sign up, eharmony will take you through a lengthy questionnaire to learn about your personality, lifestyle, and relationship preferences so that it can show only the most relevant potential matches to you. It's a great option for those who know exactly what they're looking for and want to connect with similarly intentional people. (We have a full eharmony review if you want to learn more.)
OurTime is a dating app made specifically for people over 50 to connect with each other. While the interface is not as glitzy as some of the other more mainstream dating apps, OurTime is effective at what it claims to do: help seniors make new romantic connections. "I have had friends, family, and clients use it with success. My uncle met his long-term partner on OurTime, and a former client also met his partner on OurTime," certified sex therapist Heather Shannon, LCPC, CST, previously told mbg.
Find your match today with eHarmony. Free to join.
Yes, Tinder can be a great dating app even for the older crowd. People in their 50s, 60s, and 70s all use Tinder, and it's actually a great option for seniors because it's free and easy to set up compared to the more "serious" dating apps. If you're a beginner to online dating, Tinder can be a great place to start dipping your toes in the water. While the app does have a reputation for more casual dating, many people have found their lifelong partners on Tinder.
Top online dating tips for seniors.
Ready to dive in? Online dating does have its own culture around it, including unspoken norms, expectations, and rituals people typically use as they meet and get to know each other. To succeed on dating apps, keep these top online dating rules in mind:
Create an authentic profile.
When making your profile, showcase who you are and be upfront about what you're looking for from online dating. "Create an authentic profile that represents who you are as a person, the qualities you are seeking in a partner, and the type of relationship you ultimately want (e.g., marriage, short-term dating, etc.)," Manly recommends. "An inauthentic profile may deter potential partners or, on the other hand, attract partners who aren't a good fit."
Don't lie about your age.
It may seem like a small fib, but lying about your age sets up any relationship you form on a foundation of dishonesty. When this person finds out your real age—and they will, eventually—it can feel like a massive betrayal of trust.
This also includes using up-to-date photos. "Take care that your photos represent you as you are now; avoid using photos taken more than two years ago," says Manly.
Take some good photos.
Speaking of photos, take some good ones if you don't have any already! "Make sure that your profile pictures represent you in a positive, upbeat way," Manly recommends. "No matter your age, a warm and smiling face is always inviting."
A few good rules of thumb are to take photos that are clear and high-quality (not blurry), without a lot of background clutter or other focal points (cats, children, etc.), she adds. You should be the focus of these photos.
Don't be afraid to send out introductory messages to people you're interested in. This applies to people of all genders, too. In the world of dating apps, being assertive and engaged is the name of the game. When people are sifting through so many profiles, the people who stick out are the ones who go out of their way to start up conversations, respond in a timely fashion, and generally make you feel special.
Meet in person sooner rather than later.
"Although it's important to connect via messaging or phone until you feel comfortable, don't delay an in-person meeting for too long; what feels like a great connection online doesn't always translate into a great real-life fit," Manly says.
Just like good old-fashioned courtship from the days of yore, online dating takes time. It takes time to get your profile to a place that feels thorough and authentic, it takes time to get in the swing of online dating culture, and it takes time to find someone who you're interested in getting to know who's also interested in getting to know you. Not every interaction you have on a dating site or app will blow your socks off, and you're not going to feel sparks on every first date.
"Be patient and persevere," Manly says. "It's natural to find online dating a bit daunting, but there's a great deal of truth in the old axiom that you sometimes need to (metaphorically) kiss a lot of toads to find the right partner."
Enjoy the process.
You'll get the most out of your dating experience if you go in with an open mind and a light heart. There's so much joy, excitement, and curiosity to be had in getting to know an intriguing stranger and gallivanting about town for dates. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself (or anyone you meet), and enjoy the process. Even when you encounter people who are not the right fit, gracefully let them go, keep your head up, and keep it moving.
How to stay safe when online dating as a senior.
Practicing online dating safety is vital for everyone but especially for seniors, who may be more likely to be targeted by scammers and frauds. While online dating scams can take many forms, one of the most common is someone matching with you with a very desirable profile, enthusiastically connecting with you, and then asking you for money in some way or form.
"Although some issues can be detected by staying aware, there are dating charlatans who are so practiced that it's difficult to detect their toxic ways early on," Manly notes. "If you get scammed, know that it's not your fault. Use the experience to improve your dating savviness."
Here are a few safety measures to adopt while online dating:
Never transfer money to someone you haven't met in person.
Many online dating scams involve getting you to send money to a person you think you're developing a romantic connection with. For example, a person you've been talking to from a dating site or app suddenly says they're having a financial emergency and asks if you can help them out by wiring them some money, putting money on a gift card, or sending some cash through Venmo or PayPal. Don't fall for it. If anyone asks you for money before you've even met in person, it's likely a scam.
Protect your personal and financial information.
Never share any personal information that can be used to access your finances or identity, such as your:
- Banking information
- Credit card information
- Social Security number
- Work or home address
- Last name
- Phone number
Yes, it's recommended to keep even your phone number private until you've met the person in real life or at least had a video call to confirm that they are who the say are. Until then, keep communication on the dating app or site where you originally connected.
Screen your matches carefully.
When you match with a new person on a dating site, Manly recommends screening their profile and messages very carefully. According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers will often say they're currently traveling abroad or otherwise have a job that prevents them from meeting up with you in person, such as working on an oil rig, being in the military, or working for an international organization. They may also use disjointed language, answer questions vaguely, or have profiles on various dating sites under different names.
"Pay close attention to details that don't match up," Manly adds. "Don't hesitate to report any suspected fraud; customer service staff are generally very helpful and supportive, as they want to protect consumers."
Set up a video call or meetup early.
Try to meet up in person or at least hop on a video call sooner rather than later after matching with someone on a dating app. This way, you can make sure the photos match up to the person you're meeting in real life. If a person keeps avoiding meeting up with you in person and refuses video calls, that's a red flag.
Be wary of love bombing.
Love bombing is when someone starts to becoming way too romantic and affectionate with you way too soon. This is usually done to make you feel closer to them and make you more likely to acquiesce when they make requests for money or private information. Be wary if someone seems overly attached to you before they've even had a chance to meet you in person.
Meet up in public places.
You'll also want to keep safety in mind on any dates you go on from a dating app, but especially first dates. Manly recommends picking a public place such as a coffee shop, as these are generally safe and have other people in the vicinity.
Designate a safety buddy.
Manly recommends leaning on a trusted friend or family member who can help you vet profiles and people objectively. When you're going on a date, let this person know who you're meeting, when, and where, so they can keep tabs on you and make sure you get home safe.
What is the best dating site for over 60?
What is the best free dating site for seniors?
Among the free dating app options, Tinder and Hinge are two of the best because they're very popular and have huge numbers of people using them. More users means more chances of finding a great match.
Is online dating safe for seniors?
No matter your age, it’s important to adopt thoughtful safety measures when online dating (or doing anything on the internet, frankly). Seniors in particular can be more targeted for scams because scammers assume they're less tech-savvy, so it's important to exercise caution and scrutiny when using any dating sites. Never reveal any sensitive or financial information to anyone via an app, never transfer money, and always meet up in public places for dates.
Online dating works for people of all ages, including seniors. They can be an excellent way of widening your dating pool, especially if you don't have many opportunities to meet new people in your day-to-day life.
"It's natural to want to meet a partner organically, but our social groups are often far more disconnected than they were even 25 years ago," says Manly. "And although you might hear complaints or a few horror stories about online dating, there are plenty of successful matches that began in the online world."
Exercise thoughtful online dating safety measures, be yourself, and be patient. You never know who you'll meet.
Kelly Gonsalves is a multi-certified sex educator and relationship coach helping people figure out how to create dating and sex lives that actually feel good — more open, more optimistic, and more pleasurable. In addition to working with individuals in her private practice, Kelly serves as the Sex & Relationships Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and she’s been trained and certified by leading sex and relationship institutions such as The Gottman Institute and Everyone Deserves Sex Ed, among others. Her work has been featured at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
With her warm, playful approach to coaching and facilitation, Kelly creates refreshingly candid spaces for processing and healing challenges around dating, sexuality, identity, body image, and relationships. She’s particularly enthusiastic about helping softhearted women get re-energized around the dating experience and find joy in the process of connecting with others. She believes relationships should be easy—and that, with room for self-reflection and the right toolkit, they can be.
You can stay in the loop about her latest programs, gatherings, and other projects through her newsletter: kellygonsalves.com/newsletter