Sex & Relationships

Should You Give Up on Online Dating?


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A reader writes: 

As a senior woman, my online dating experience has been abysmal. I have tried it three times in all, each separated by a year or so.

The first time, I was chatting with a man online. After talking a bit about our divorces, he said, “Well, this has been nice, but can we talk dirty next time?” Um, nope. I was a bit shocked at the request. 

The second man seemed interesting, and we met for coffee, but he seemed fascinated by the whole online dating thing and viewed it as a great social experiment. He wanted to compare notes about our experiences. He didn’t seem very interested in me and the actual date, which was really disappointing. He asked me one question after another, but none of them were get-to-know-you date questions.

The third and last time I tried online dating, a guy initiated a conversation by email. It was a busy time for me, and I didn’t answer right away. Then I got a second email from him telling me I should go “whore myself out in a bar,” because that’s all I was good for. I told him that he was a pathetic excuse for a man and had no right to call me inappropriate names, and I would report him to the website’s administrator. He begged me not to, claiming this was his last chance at meeting women, and to please give him another chance. He wouldn’t leave me alone, so I pulled my profile from the site and never went back.

I’ve decided I would rather meet men through friends and acquaintances in my own town, in my own way, even if it’s much slower. I am not a gambler, and meeting men from a website is too much of a gamble for me.

Why are so few man putting themselves out there to meet women and develop relationships? —Done with Online Dating

Joan replies: 

You tried online dating three times over a period of three years. That’s not a good test! If we’re doing online dating right, we’ll contact and be contacted by dozens of people, email or message many, meet some and maybe have second dates with a handful.

From there, maybe we’ll end up in a relationship and maybe we won’t. But if we don’t try, we won’t meet anyone. If we give up after one dissatisfying date and two chats or emails with creeps, we’re not giving online dating a chance. Seriously.

I’m all in favor of meeting people through acquaintances – that’s how I met my first husband, who is still my very close friend. And meeting someone while out doing social activities that we enjoy is splendid – that’s how I met the love of my life, my second husband, who literally danced into my life by attending the line-dance class I was teaching.

But the truth is this: Online dating is where the single seniors are. It’s darned hard to meet interested singles our age any other way. Think about it: Your future partner is sitting home wondering how to meet a woman like you. What’s he going to do? Probably join a few online dating sites, post a profile and start scrolling through profiles that interest him. If you’re not there, the two of you will never connect.

Yes, there are some creeps online. I would have encouraged you to report man number three, especially when he wouldn’t leave you alone. Removing your profile and quitting the site hurt you, not him.

The creeps are a very small minority. As a widow, I’ve been online dating for a few years. I’ve met marvelous people. I’ve also met many whom I did not want to see again for one reason or another. They weren’t bad people – we simply weren’t a match. But just because we weren’t potential mates doesn’t mean the time was wasted.

I like what your second guy did. Let me guess what might have been going on for him: He made the date with you, knew quickly that it wasn’t going to work out, but he was interested in what you had to say, and he wanted to understand more about how women experience online dating. That sounds like a fine way to make the best of a date that wasn’t going to have a future.

Just because three contacts over three years didn’t work out does not mean that men don’t want relationships. They do, just as we do. Don’t give up.

I know you see online dating as a gamble, but I encourage you to view it as a game instead. You’re playing a game where you have the opportunity to view many men’s profiles as they look for love. You can contact as many or as few as you like. You can meet someone or decide not to. You make your own rules. If you eliminate the “I must meet the right man immediately or I’ve wasted my time and this whole online dating thing is bunk” notion, and instead make it an interesting social activity, you may find you’re having a good time even with the men who don’t end up being second (or third) dates. That’s what I find, and it serves me well. In fact, it’s fun. —Joan


Joan Price is the author of the new Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain! – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life”;  the award-winning self-help book “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex”; and the sexy memoir, “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.” Visit Joan’s  blog, “Naked at Our Age,” and her Facebook page.


21 responses to “Should You Give Up on Online Dating?

  1. I’m 57. Female. I’ve been online dating off and on for the last 5 years. I’ve given more than once. I tried a few paid online dating sites without much luck.

    I don’t look my age, I look and act younger. I’m attractive, I’m in shape, I dress well. I’m decently educated. I take care of myself.

    It’s not just 1 or 2 creepy men with me, it’s more like a slew of them. Men wanting JUST sex. Interested in a FWB. Married men. Couples interested in a third. Young men in their 20’s and 30’s.

    Very rarely did I ever get messaged by a decent guy. Sometimes, rarely as well, would ever get a message back after I messaged someone I thought sounded real. We’d chat a bit. A few days or so and he’d disappear. That I get a lot. Guys disappearing on me. Rejecting me. Not responding.

    A few dates that were okay. Most guys don’t even want to take me out — they just want to take me to bed. No nice dinner and drinks, just sex. Men just skip the whole taking a woman out and want to jump right into bed.

    Now I’ve just given up totatlly. After 5 years of unsuccessful online dating. I am not from this state I’m living in, I don’t have a lot of friends who can introduce me to men. I have no family here either. So I’ve been pretty much stuck with online dating.

    I don’t like giving up but the longer I try the more depressed and sad I get. I’ve spent time on myself. I spent 7-8 months on my self. I took very good care myself. I stopped all online activity. I didn’t date. It was all about me. So I’ve done all that too.

    This time I give up totally. I don’t have the energy to put up with the creepy men. The scammers out for blood. The men just wanting a hookup.

    Like I’ve said, I don’t want to give up but I have had no luck with online dating.

  2. Reading this again a few years later, I’m sorry I was so hard on you, Joan. I was frustrated and I took it out on you. I’m sorry. However, I’ve been online dating ever since, and things really haven’t improved. I have lowered my standards, I have broadened my parameters, I have chatted with many men. But still it seems the ones that I am very interested in, that I have a lot in common with, will not respond to me or contact me… And the ones that I have zero in common with and just think I’m a pretty face are all over that stuff and won’t leave me alone. I mean they’re nice people but just not in my league. And let’s face it I need to be attracted to somebody and they have to have something to offer me on the same level and caliber that I bring it to the table.

    And what I said about dating here in my little central Wisconsin town is still true. Many of them, when we meet for coffee and they think we’ve really hit it off, think that we are dating exclusively. If I wanted it to be otherwise I would have to be very explicit with my words and explain that I’m seeing other men as well – and that would be seen as slutty. Those men would definitely feel taken advantage of and would most likely not continue the relationship. And that might sound strange to you out in California but that’s really how it is here. Another thing that makes it difficult is that I write a local column and I’m somewhat of a celebrity here and that makes things a little awkward. So I have to be a little careful about how I am perceived by the public.

    You would be proud to know that I am still out there trying to online date even though it is extremely difficult. I just think a lot of men have this ideal notion that they can still get a young woman who is perfect for them. I don’t know if they look in the mirror and see what we see. But when the age range for the female they are looking for is 25 – 52 and the guy is 63 well you can believe that he’s in a lot of denial there.

    Another reason I think online dating is so difficult is because at this point in our lives we are all very set in our ways and even though we would like to find someone to share our lives with, it’s difficult to make any change at all. For example, there is a man I found online who lives in a town 20 minutes away from me. We have a lot in common, and I mean a lot more than usual. I sent him a message and asked him if he’d like to go for coffee, and he turned me down… because I am one inch taller than him, and he had an awkward experience once trying to kiss a woman who was taller than he. He doesn’t even want to meet me! I told him I thought he might forgive me being a slight bit taller than him since all the other things matched up so well, but he wasn’t convinced.

    And this is just one example of how online dating is so frustrating. I don’t think people realize that at this point in our lives we’re never going to find someone who fits all the things we want. We have to find someone who fits 80-85% of those things and let the rest go. I just need to find a guy who’s willing to do that. LOL

    Anyway I just wanted to take the time to share that and say thanks Joan.

    1. I appreciate that you wanted to check in , re-evaluate your earlier response, and update us. One inch taller is a deal-breaker? Wow, he doesn’t know what he’s missing. And you’re right that we’re all set in our ways. We want someone to fit us — we’re often not willing to compromise. The trick, I think, is to differentiate between the changes that would go against what we like about ourselves, and which ones might be growth.

      Yes, online dating is frustrating, but how else do we meet other single seniors? Good for you sticking with it!

      – Joan

      1. Yes I agree. On line dating sites have been a big disappointment for me. I’m a man that is fed up with these companies asking me 4 money just to communicate with someone. So my question is what should a gentleman do that is 62 years old and single but still looking for a single woman?

    2. I am in a different part of the country but many of your comments rang true with me in this area also! I am in a college town, a fair amount of cultural events, 100K population, and not many responses! Maybe I need to expand my acceptance level? How far do you compromise? It is much harder at my age! I guess I may be naieve as to the amount of fake profiles? I have heard that if you don’t hear a response, that may be the case. I take care of my appearance, am educated, self examined, and yet by far most contacts are only interested in the first part, not that I can hold an intelligent conversation or know who I am. Am I missing something about compatibility? LOL, might as well laugh! Oh, and most of the men who are interested in only the pictures, either don’t have any or haven’t bothered to take care of their appearance. I definitely realize we are all older and am not looking for youth just someone who shows they care to put their best foot forward.

      I am still looking, have been off for at the most 3 months at a time. I do realize that if we don’t try, absolutely nothing will happen. I am just frustrated that in 5 years, the pool rarely changes. Seems men who have taken care of their appearance, are financially and emotionally stable are either fake or looking for someone 20 years younger!

      1. Rose, I wonder if maybe your profile doesn’t present you effectively. I’ve created a 90-minutes webinar based on my popular workshop, “How the Heck Do I Date at This Age?” You might want to purchase a ticket to view the video — it will help you evaluate and improve your online dating profile and give you additional strategies. Learn more here:

  3. First of all thanks Joan

    It can be a minefield. As I swipe left and right it can get me, one, realising you haven’t had a match in quite a while! But, yes as you say, if you are happy with yourself, and love yourself, you can start to appreciate that people ‘rejecting’ you, they are actually just rejecting a short snippet of an online existence.


  4. I am 60. I’ve dated online for seven years after my divorce to an alcoholic. It was so much fun at first to realize there were many decent, attractive, successful men out there who were actually nice to me after such a bad marriage (28 yrs). I made mistakes, fell in love too quickly and learned the ropes along the way. I’ve been in a a few great relationships at least a year, two, long, but they weren’t right for different reasons. I’m now 60 and ready to give up. The last man I dated, started out really nice, then changed. I ended up getting Herpes 2 from him. He didn’t care, and I suspect he knew he had it all along. (Confirmed w blood test it was him) Now, I, being honest fear no one will want me because of that. I’m very active and finding that the older I get the harder it is to find someone who can keep up with me. I’m now dating a man who is in great shape, but 10 yrs older than me, and struggling with whether I want to get closer to him. It’s so sad. I’m really a decent, attractive, fit woman and I get the usual “I wish I knew someone because you are everything a man would want’ and men I’ve broken up with tell me the same. I want someone in my life, don’t want to live alone, but don’t want to settle just because of that and fear going solo is my future and that saddens me…….

  5. I concur with all of the comments here. Online dating is very frustrating and, increasingly expensive, since more sites are charging a fee to even send or reply to a message. I have tried a number of sites, Christian and non-Christian, over probably the past decade. I would sign up for a month to three/six months max and then take a break for a year or try another for a short time. I don’t know how many men I’ve actually met over that time period, but none have led to a long-term relationship. I know that sometimes I would meet maybe one or NONE over a month’s time.

    I agree with the male’s comment I saw here that men want to be the hunter. I find that when I send messages to men whom I find attractive and believe I would have something in common with, they either don’t reply or write a couple of emails and then fade away. After getting a lot of messages from men with whom I felt I had little in common, I made my profiles much more specific than “Christian” by saying I was looking for a committed Christian who was actively involved in a faith community/church and someone who was college degreed. It seems when you throw those two variables into the mix – college degreed AND Christian – it really narrows down the field. After awhile, you start to see a lot of the same profiles on the same sites for years. Sad…yet, as has been pointed out, where else do you meet people our age if you don’t have friends/acquaintances introducing you or through a mutual interest?

    One good thing to have come out of online dating for me is I have actually made two long-term friends. One of these friends was a woman who was widowed at 47 in 2002 and she was looking for male & female single friends. She actually sent me a message on a Christian site, we met and have become friends. I attended her wedding several years ago to a man she met online, but who turned out to be a sociopath (long story). She is now engaged to another man she met online who seems to be a decent one this time. The other friend, male, was someone I sent a message to even though I noticed he didn’t have a college education. I haven’t ever been drawn to him as more than a friend, although I think for a few years he has harbored hopes the relationship would develop into more. However, we have maintained a friendship for over six years and he is someone I can socialize with and take as an escort when needed, etc. (There has never been any physical intimacy). He also has at least one other long-term female friend that he’s known longer than I and he sees her regularly too, although they have slept together when they were in the “dating” phase. My female friends are puzzled that I can maintain a friendship and it does get a little weird sometimes, but I value his friendship. Still, I would like to find someone that I can feel passionate about and excited to see. The fact that I never married (although I had a few relationships that could have led to marriage but didn’t by my choice or other factors which caused the relationship to end), is an added “strike” against me I believe. I have had men even say they don’t want to meet someone who never married. Well, sorry this is so long. The best of luck to all of you reading this post.

  6. I too have been “doing” the online dating thing. It’s not for the thin-skinned.

    My personal experience has been that men tend to fib about their height and their fitness, which seems silly. But what I’ve most frustrating is the men who are my age (60)having an age range for potential women 20 years younger and then complaining about all the women see him as is a meal ticket…DUH!!! Or the men who actually put the requirements for what a women’s waist size could be…really?? Wow, why would any women want to be with a man that shallow?

    And the same goes for men, why would you want to be with a women who won’t date a man who is bald or a bit on the heavy side? Humans are imperfect beings and that imperfection makes us human…

    Overall I think you approach online dating with a sense of humor and the thinking that you could always meet someone interesting that may not be a potential partner but certainly a friend. It’s an adventure. Have fun with it.

    We’re not 35, we may feel like we are but we’re not…so don’t expect that from someone who is a potential partner.

    Be yourself. Be clear with what’s important to you and if the guy isn’t on the same page – move on! Find the humor in those crazy dates. I keep my gal pals totally entertained when we get together with stories from my dates…

    And yeah I have met someone! Is he perfect? No. But he’s a truly nice man; funny; fun; kind; interesting…

    1. I’ve had a guy reject me for being divorced and a grandparent. Says he wants to me at woman who is young enough to still have kids. I’m like…sure while you’re 60 years old, broke as glass, and don’t even have a house to call your own? Good luck with that!

  7. Well I’m the lady in the story. Much has been assumed in the advice I have been given here. I gave three examples of my experience online. They were not by any means the only experiences I had. I met and chatted with many men, during each time I gave online dating a try. Each of those times I was online for about 6 months or more at a time. And each time, the guys who reached out to me either just winked, which I consider a cop out, and if they did comment, they were just not my type at all. The men I wanted to meet never responded to any of my messages. It was very frustrating. I find that men do not represent themselves honestly online and don’t even bother to read profiles. They look at your photo and that’s it. Because if they did read, they would realize there is very little we have in common. And then when you do politely tell them you’re not interested, they get angry and say something rude. I don’t understand, don’t men appreciate a straightforward response? Plus, what you don’t understand is that men around here do not see dating as a game. If you start dating a man, it is assumed you are exclusive with him and that the relationship is going somewhere. If I were to treat dating like a game, or date several men at a time, it would be seen as shallow and I would be considered a tease. These men would see me as a player and not a sincere lady looking for a real relationship. They would assume I was looking primarily for sex, and treat me as such. Perhaps it is different in larger metro areas, I don’t know. But this advice does not help me. It’s generalized based on a lot of assumptions and doesn’t address my situation accurately. Sorry.

    1. LadyLovinHerLife, first, I apologize for misinterpreting what you meant when you wrote that you had tried online dating “three times in all, each separated by a year or so.” Because you gave me examples of the three disappointing men, I did not realize that you had many additional experiences. I apologize for getting that wrong.

      You’re right that it’s sometimes astonishing how someone could read our profile and what we’re looking for and think they’re right for us when they’re clearly not. I think that some just send out formula messages hoping that if they send enough out there, some will land in willing in-boxes.

      You say, ” If you start dating a man, it is assumed you are exclusive with him and that the relationship is going somewhere.” I don’t think that’s assumed at all. You can’t be expected to go from first coffee date to exclusivity — you’re *dating*, not arranging a marriage.

      The key to this is to be up front from the beginning that we plan to meet and date several people until we feel drawn to a deeper relationship with someone. At that point it will be time to discuss exclusivity — not before the first coffee has cooled off.

      We don’t know who’s out there. We’re not shallow or slutty if we want to meet several people with whom we share some common interests and see what, if anything, develops.

      I’m sorry that you didn’t find my advice more helpful, LLHL. I’m grateful to you for opening up this topic.

      I hope other readers will share their points of view and keep the conversation going. We can all learn from each other.

      — Joan

  8. I’ve done this online dating thing long enough where I would consider myself a self proclaimed expert in the field. First, you need to understand the dynamics. The men are the hunters and the women are the hunted. You don’t need to slam that comment as it’s simple evolution. What this creates is a swarm around the women. After probably well over 130 dates I would think what I have found is that for every 100 messages a woman gets a man might get 1-3. Now, look at those odds. Mr. “Whore” probably has no self esteem, or has been doing it so long that he’s frustrated (hence his “last gasp” comment. Was what he said right? Hell no! It was his immature way of showing his frustration and venting on you as you were handy. With people moving further and further away from the urban setting your face to face meeting may not always be feasible. I live 20 miles from a town of 800 and can’t see a neighbor. Face to face won’t work. So, I travel 250 miles for a date in the Seattle area or 3 hours to a date or dance class in Spokane!! It is what it is. So, will I give up on on-line dating? What is the other choice. I for one am not going to bullshit myself and say that I’m just fine being alone. If you are, there’s something wrong. We are social creatures and aren’t meant to live in solitary. Would I be with the wrong person just to be with someone? Of course not. Maybe that’s the 130 dates and I’m too picky. I don’t know. But on-line dating, in my opinion shouldn’t be looked at as a game. “Some” women do. I’ve been played for money, sex, companionship, a drive to a medical appointment, a place to stay. The same things women complain about men for. But, some of us take it seriously and do want to find love, companionship, intimacy, friendship and oh yes, sex please. Just one mans perspective.

    1. Thank you for your willingness to share your experiences — that’s so important in helping us all understand each other.

      Just one thing I’d like to make sure isn’t misunderstood: I didn’t mean “game” as in “using” someone or seeing dating as adversarial. I meant that we should lighten up and enjoy it.

      Of course finding love is a serious endeavor, but people (any gender) tend to come across as desperate if they invest every contact with “this is it or else I’m gone.”

      1. ” After probably well over 130 dates I would think what I have found is that for every 100 messages a woman gets a man might get 1-3.” That’s not true for many women over 50. And I am 64. Men assume that women are swamped with messages, maybe because men SEND millions of messages because they are used to playing the field. On one of the sites I did get a lot of message from…men 20 or even 30 years younger! They just wanted to get some sex. No, it’s not flattering to an older woman who feels objectified. So yes, I might have gotten close to a 100 messages, but how many of those were the ones to which I would have wanted to respond?

      2. I don’t know, as I haven’t seen any of them which ones were and weren’t worth return, a nice or not so nice response or a response at all. To say that “Men assume that women are swamped with messages, maybe because men send millions of messages because they are playing the field.” A pretty big stretch and assumption there! I just know that I, for one do not send objectifying messages, disrespectful messages, or disparaging messages and was not “playing the field.” I can only “assume” that the majority of other men do the same. Do men play the field? You bet! Oh wait, women do too!!! I didn’t know how true that was. In dating there is a pretty big percentage of women in their late 40’s and 50’s that I have dated who are recently divorced after a long marriage and feel the freedom and power over men and use it. For a nice dinner, date, sex whatever. Not “all” women by any means but a much higher number than I thought.

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