Debrett’s guide to online dating for the over-50s: Etiquette bible reveals its romance do’s and don’ts for the digital age (and insists you CAN kiss on the first date)


The Daily Mail reports that the online dating world can be difficult to navigate for singletons of a certain age. But etiquette bible Debrett’s has released its guide to online dating for the over-50s to make things a little easier.

From writing a winning profile to introducing a new partner to your family, experts cover the process from start to finish. Often the advice encourages silver surfers to ditch the habits they picked up in their youth in favour of a more easy-going approach – first date kisses included.

Research by Ourtime, an online dating site for people over 50, found 60 per cent of mature singletons lack the confidence to begin looking for love again while nearly a third feel out of touch with the rules modern romance.

So whether you’re new to the dating scene – or venturing out for the first time – read on to learn how to maximise your chances of finding love online…

Polish your profile

Only use recent photographs – nothing more than a year old – when creating your profile. You might think you looked better a decade ago but there is no point in trying to mislead your date if you ever hope to meet in person. Include one full-length body shot and a closer portrait. Ask a friend to take the pictures and encourage you to smile, so you look friendly and approachable. Make sure you are the only person in your photographs. An innocent friend or family member could easily be misinterpreted as a former flame. If you are fond of your pets, consider featuring them in one of your pictures. Almost a quarter of over-50s think it approves a profile picture, according to Ourtime research – and its a great way to weed out those who are not fond of animals.

Dynamic description

Your profile description should be neither overly self-deprecating nor self-promoting. While clichés about enjoying walks in the park, dinner and reading, can be tempting, instead try and be as specific as possible. It’s easier to start a conversation about ‘Ingmar Bergman films’ than ‘going to the cinema’ and can be a good shortcut to establishing whether you have shared interests.

Kate Taylor, dating expert at Ourtime, added: ‘Write your profile like you’re introducing yourself to someone at a party. You don’t need to divulge health issues, problems or your innermost thoughts – keep things upbeat.’

Finding a match – keep an open mind

When you’re presented with potential matches, try to remain open-minded. Don’t dismiss somebody because you can’t stand their outfit.

Communicate with confidence

It may have been traditional in the past for men to make the first move, but online dating is an egalitarian plane, and women can now take the initiative too. Keep your first message light-hearted and brief, and make it personal: mentioning something you particularly like about a person’s profile will show that you’re singling them out.

Don’t be creepy, though: it’s far too early for come-ons or innuendo. Kate says: ‘You might not receive an immediate reply, but don’t be discouraged – people get busy. When I was online dating, I got a new job and was too busy to check my mailbox for three weeks. ‘When I eventually did, I found a lovely message from a gorgeous man – and he’s now my husband.’

First date – do something different

Tailor the date around your shared interests. A walk in the park or visit to an exhibition that you’re both keen to see are relaxed ways to get to know each other while indulging in a shared interest. Avoid anywhere too extravagant or expensive: while you might have more disposable income now, paying triple figures for front row opera seats or a bottle of vintage champagne might make your date feel uncomfortable.

Brave the bill

In today’s dating world, whoever issued the invitation should expect to pick up the bill, but if you’re meeting for drinks you might prefer to alternate rounds. If your date insists on paying, accept graciously and promise to reciprocate next time (even if you suspect there won’t be one).

Pucker up

Forget everything you were told 30 years ago: modern romance often involves a much shorter ‘courting’ period so you are not necessarily jeopardising a serious future if you decide to throw caution to the wind when it comes to a hug, a kiss or an overnight stay. Kate added: ‘Ourtime research has shown that over50s daters become physically intimate much quicker than those in their 20s and 30s, but feel free to take things slowly and let the excitement build.’

Following-up – don’t play it cool

‘Treat them mean, keep them keen,’ might once have been the mantra to live by but a strategic delay isn’t always required – or desired – in the high-speed world of modern dating.  A friendly text message or email within 24 hours will reassure the other person that you’d like to keep the conversation going…. But don’t overdo it. You might have become accustomed to regular updates from your former spouse or partner, but aimless texts asking what that person had for lunch can come across as needy in the first few weeks of romance.

Kate added: ‘Texts are a lovely, low-key way of getting in touch, but don’t underestimate the power of a telephone call if you’ve swapped numbers. Voices actually stimulate our brains to create a feeling of attraction.’

The next step – make it exclusive

Becoming ‘exclusive’ means you both agree to take yourself off the market and not date anyone else. This is adding a level of commitment to the ‘casual dating’ that can form the first stage of a relationship. After three or more dates, you will usually have a sense of whether or not you would like to make it exclusive. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to initiate the conversation.

Consider family and friends

While it’s important to be open with your date about children and ex-spouses, take your time before you introduce family members to a new partner. Exact timing will depend on the ages of any children you have, but it’s wise to wait until you have agreed to make things exclusive before involving others.

Kate added: ‘Don’t feel embarrassed that you met your new partner online. Online dating is now the UK’s third most popular way for couples to meet.’

(Story source: Daily Mail)

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