Dear Savvy Senior: Can you recommend some good online dating apps or sites for retirees? I’m a 66-year-old widow and would like to find a new friend to spend time with, but don’t know where to turn. — Cautious Carol
Dear Carol: Whether you’re interested in dating again or just looking for a friend to spend time with, online dating sites and apps have become an easy and convenient way for older adults to meet new single people without ever having to leave home.
And to make things even easier, most sites today use matchmaking algorithms that factor in your interests and preferences so they can steer you to matches that are best suited for you.
Here are some other tips to help you get started.
>> Choose a site: There are dozens of different matchmaking websites and apps available today, so choosing can be a bit confusing. While many sites offer free trials or watered-down free content, finding out the price can be difficult until you register and provide some information. In general, viewing complete profiles and messaging potential dates will require a monthly fee, which can range anywhere from $10 to $40.
Some top mainstream sites/apps that are popular among older adults are eHarmony.com, Match.com and OKCupid.com. If you’re interested in more age- specific sites, some great options are OurTime.com or SilverSingles.com.
Or if you have a specific kind of person you’d like to meet, there are dozens of niche sites like EliteSingles.com for educated professionals, ChristianMingle.com for Christian singles, BLK-app.com for black singles, JSwipeApp.com for Jewish singles and Facebook.com/dating for people who love Facebook.
>> Create a profile: When you join a matchmaking site, you’ll need to create a personality profile that reflects who you are, including recent photos, hobbies, interests, favorite activities and more. If you need some help, sites like ProfileHelper.com can write one for you for a fee.
>> Practice caution: When you register with a site, you remain anonymous. No one gets access to your personal contact information until you decide to give it out, so be prudent to whom you give it. Before meeting, you should chat on the phone or video chat a few times, and when you do meet in person for the first time, meet in a public place or bring along a friend. And if someone asks for money or your financial information, don’t give it out. Online dating/sweetheart scams are rampant, so be cautious.
>> Be skeptical: In an effort to get more responses, many people will exaggerate or even lie in their profiles, or post pictures that are 10 years old or 20 pounds lighter. So don’t believe everything you see or read.
>> Make an effort: A lot of times, people — especially women — sit back and let others come to them. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. When you find someone you like, send a short note that says, “I really enjoyed your profile. I think we have some things in common.” Keep it simple.
>> Don’t get discouraged: If you don’t get a response from someone, don’t let it bother you. Just move on. There are many others who will be interested in you, and it takes only one person to make online dating worthwhile.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.
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