Online dating isn't just a young person's game: Here's how to navigate it later in life

There’s never been a better time to date online [Photo: Pexels]
There’s never been a better time to date online [Photo: Pexels]

There are few decades in which the world of dating has changed so dramatically.

While at the beginning of the 2010s, dating using the internet was still relatively unusual, thanks to dating apps and social media’s takeover in the years following it’s never been more normal.

Only – not unlike the face-to-face dating world – there is certainly a bit of etiquette to follow, and seemingly a minefield of mistakes one could make while trying to navigate it.

According to dating website for the over 50s, Ourtime, and etiquette experts Debrett’s, here’s how to launch into the world of online dating for 50+ rookies.

How to make the perfect profile

According to Ourtime’s research of more than 1,000 over 50s, over half (56%) would use a profile photo that’s up to 10 years old because they’re unsure how to take a flattering selfie (26%), believe themselves to have looked more attractive when they’re younger (32%) or don’t think their appearance has changed (40%).

However, photographs shouldn’t be more than a year old – otherwise you’re just misleading your date.

When it comes to your profile bio, if you’re struggling with what to put down, it’s best to write it as if you’re introducing yourself to someone at a party – keep things light, and don’t immediately throw them in at the deep end with details on your innermost thoughts or health issues.

People expect you to text them after a date within a day or so [Photo: Pexels]
People expect you to text them after a date within a day or so [Photo: Pexels]


Apparently almost half (48%) of women admit they feel too nervous to make contact with an online match first.

Luckily, it’s more than acceptable for a woman to take initiative nowadays too.

Whether you’re a man or woman, just keep your first message light, brief, and personal without being creepy.

The date itself

If you’re nervous about a first meeting, you’re not alone – two fifths (40%) of over 50s are too.

If you’re not sure when to take things to the next level and ask them out on a date, apparently a good point is the five-message mark.

For the date itself, it’s good to tailor it around a shared interest such as a museum or gallery. Don’t opt for something too extravagant that might make your date feel awkward.

And when it comes to making your first move, don’t feel too hesitant if the time feels right and they seem to feel the same as you do – apparently almost a third (29%) of over 50s would sleep with someone on the third date or before.

In contrast, just one in ten 18-24 year olds would, according to Ourtime’s survey of more than 2,000 adults over 18.

Don’t be afraid to make the first move [Photo: Pexels]The follow up

Thankfully – also unlike the younger generation, presumably – a huge 96% of over 50s claim they wouldn’t dream of considering ghosting a date.

But while over half of over 50s (58%) wouldn’t message the day after a date even if they’re interested, modern etiquette now asks for a little more haste.

A strategic delay isn’t necessary, and a friendly text within 24 hours of your date is quite standard.

If you don’t see you and your date taking things further, be honest, and simply say you’d rather remain friends.

What next?

After a few dates, you should have a sense of whether or not you’d like to make it exclusive.

If you don’t feel you would like to see them again, don’t give up – there are apparently more than one million single over 50s in the UK looking to meet someone new.

That seems like pretty good odds.

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