My name is Sue. I’m 61, I’ve been in a happy and committed relationship for the last 3 years, and I met my partner through an online dating site. I know I’m one of the lucky ones, but I also know I I got where I am by being serious about about online dating, rather than treating it as just something exciting and short term. Everyone deserves to find someone special to share their life with, and these are my tips for how to find the one. (Please note, this isn’t advice about keeping safe – you need to do your own homework on that.)
Work, not play
Online dating is hard work. It takes time to set up a profile, time to answer enquiries, and time to get to know someone (one survey I read said, on average, it takes up to 2 months, 5 dates and 16 contacts before you find someone you’re happy to go out with regularly). Treat your online dating like work rather than play. If you do, you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll have more stickability. In the end, I met my partner in 7 weeks, and after just 1 date with someone else.
Don’t repeat past mistakes
Everyone has made mistakes in previous relationships, but that’s no reason to keep repeating them. Before I signed up to online dating, I actually paid for a session with a relationship counsellor. She helped me identify what I did and didn’t want in a new relationship, and it was the best thing I ever did. Before you go online dating, talk to a professional or someone who knows you well, so you don’t fall into the same unhelpful patterns of behaviour you’ve experienced before.
Honesty is the best policy
Everyone knows you can lie in your online profile – but if you do meet the right person, they’ll find out eventually, and dishonesty isn’t a great way to start a relationship. A profile requires some basic personal details, but I stressed my personality rather than my physical appearance (not that I wasn’t happy with the way I looked). I also stressed honesty and kindness, and I made sure to list details I wouldn’t compromise on (I’m a Christian, and although I didn’t necessarily require a partner to share my beliefs, at the very least, I wanted them to respect them). Save yourself heartache, and be honest from the start.
Rome wasn’t built in a day – it takes time to get to know someone. I was almost going to say ‘no’ to a third date with the man who’s now my partner, but he was keen, and I thought it was only fair on him to give it one more chance to work – and the rest, of course, is history! Be patient, think about how long it takes to make even platonic friendships, and don’t give up too soon.
One step at a time
A lot can be learnt about another person through messaging, and then through phone calls. My partner and I communicated for 4 weeks this way before we met, face to face, online, and then went on our first date. In that time you can fall in love, but you can also decide the other person isn’t for you – in which case, you’ve saved yourself the awkwardness of meeting in person.
He’s not dating your family
We all want our family (especially our adult kids) to like our new partner as much as we do – but that’s unlikely to happen, and we shouldn’t expect it. I made the decision to introduce my partner to my family only after we’d started dating regularly. That way, I didn’t have to contend with what might be negative comments while I was still getting to know someone. Unless you have an exceptional relationship with you family, choose a close friend to discuss your dating with, and save family introductions until a little further down the track.
Online dating really can work, but if it’s going to, it takes commitment. I think finding that special person is worth what it takes!