Online dating at a certain age. Need some help.
March 5, 2016 6:08 AM   Subscribe

I am one of those professional women of a certain age who never married and who hasn't been on a date since my 20s. I have decided to give it a try. And I have no idea what I am doing.

My dating site of choice is JDate, and the friend who is helping me with this has told me not to use my real birth month and day for security reasons. She also said it was usual to knock 3 or 4 years off my age (I am in my mid-50s) because everybody does this, and it makes the numbers come out. Is this right?

What else should I know about setting things up for safety/security reasons that don't come off as red flags? I'm creating a separate email account, but what do I do about giving out a cell phone number? I can't imagine meeting someone for coffee (that's the standard first meeting, yes?) without giving contact info in case someone's late/lost and needs to call or text.

And really, I could plenty of advice of how to online date, specifically on JDate as a mid-50s straight woman. As they say so often on this site, can you explain it to me like I am 5?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I would not knock a day of my age. "Everybody does it" is a terrible reason to lie and I think starts things off on a bad note.

Be yourself!
posted by ReluctantViking at 6:11 AM on March 5, 2016 [29 favorites]

I don't act differently with guys from the Internet than I would with guys I met through a friend of a friend at a party but didn't know much about. Which is to say, I don't lie to them about myself, and I give them my cell number.

I also prefer to 1. make first dates happen pretty soon after first contact, rather than dragging things out online, but also 2. keep first dates very casual and not open ended - a couple drinks or a coffee, and tell them ahead of time when you'll have to leave.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:18 AM on March 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you're concerned about giving out the phone number, you might try getting a free phone number from Google voice and have it set to pass text messages and calls to your regular phone. That way you can easily change it later.
posted by exogenous at 6:24 AM on March 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Set up a Google voice number to give out to potential dates. It makes screening (and if necessary ) blocking easy.

Good luck!
posted by vespabelle at 6:26 AM on March 5, 2016

1. Don't lie about your age. Potential suitors should be comfortable from the onset about dating a woman your age (it's particularly annoying to be contacted or to have to meet someone who is not in your desired age range, when you've been explicit about that)

2. Buy a disposable cell phone which you only use for that purpose

3 Throwaway email address, which it seems you already have

4. Don't play games. Be upfront about your needs and wants

Welcome to the dating world :-)
posted by Kwadeng at 6:34 AM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding/thirding the advice about a Google voice number and being honest about your age.

I've also found (dating again in my 40s) you're going to have to talk about your romanic past pretty early on. Maybe I've just been weirdly open (and dating people similarly-oriented) -- but "at our certain age," everyone has a past.

I wound up talking about ex-hubands/ex-wives, etc. on first dates pretty often. I know that goes against most conventional advice (I think) but it happens. Just be prepared for that and how you want to talk about it - or decline to talk about it.
posted by pantarei70 at 6:45 AM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I personally don't give out contact information until I've met someone in person, unless I've been chatting with them a lot. It's less messy to be able to delete someone on the site than to have to block them from other forms of contact, plus I find it annoying to have to keep track of multiple accounts (while keeping some of them carefully separated from my real-world identity). Meeting people works the same way it did before everyone got cell phones; you both actually show up when and where you agreed... and if your date has trouble with that,that's useful information to have about them!

(Getting burner phones or accounts is a fine way to handle it too, it's just not for me.)

I like to set up first dates so that I have an excuse to end it shortly if I'm not into it. Coffee is fine, especially if you have a plausible "out" ("I have a meeting in 20 minutes!") My standard is an Indian buffet on my lunch hour from work. I have getting back to work as an excuse to escape (even though my job is flexible enough that if I'm enjoying myself I can spend a while) and I don't have to wait either for my food or the bill.
posted by metasarah at 6:47 AM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Re: the advice above to do the first date quickly rather than drag things out online, I'd disagree. The first date will be mostly about visual reaction. If that's your primary metric, then, yes, cut to that ASAP. But if you converse online first, it's easier to get a better sense of who someone is (and vice versa), i.e. without the weird inhibitions which crop up on first dates. Intimacy comes easier via email

OTOH that may not be a good thing, if visual impact on first date is negative for one or the other person. That hurts more after a bit of intimacy has built up. Also, I'd urge you very strongly not to be flirty or romantic until you've met in person. Visuals aside, full chemistry can't be determined without in-person meeting, so attraction before then is most likely projection. And, going the other way, anyone who comes at you hard before having met you is commoditizing. So some email conversation prior to date would be useful, as well, to filter those (unless you seek commoditization, which is cool if that's your thing).

Another good filter: at the date, order at least a bit of food. Sit facing kitchen. When server approaches with food, start talking to the guy, with eye contact. When food's set down in front of him, he'll have an impulse to rudely tear into the food (humans are animals beneath the hood, and an animal won't voluntarily defer feeding). He'll either be unable to resist impulse to stop listening to you and start eating, or he'll vibrate with ambivalence, or he'll release his breath, put the food out of his mind, and listen to you comfortably until you finish what you were saying. This is a great test of character.
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:15 AM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Re: age - there are people who lie about their age in online dating. These people are typically not people you want to date - and discovering that you'd lied about this on your profile will drive people off that you DO want to date - because you lied. (Varying day/month for security isn't a bad idea though.)

Standard first meetings: coffee, lunch, things along those lines - always somewhere public. Meet them there - not outside your work, and with your own transportation.

And having an excuse to cut things short (as mentioned above) can be very handy.
posted by Ashlyth at 8:42 AM on March 5, 2016

Nobody has mentioned this, but if you're genuinely worried about identity theft, etc. you can still put a fake birthday in without lying about your age: just change the month and day and keep the year the same.
posted by Ndwright at 10:11 AM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Here are two things to remember when internet-dating:

The goal of dating, I think, is to find someone who likes you for who you really are. So if someone is going to write you off because they see you are, say, 55 instead of 51, then you don't actually want to date that person, because they're not the right one for you.

It's possible to have amazing pen-pal chemistry with someone and absolutely no chemistry at all with them in real life.

Also, when writing a profile, I think it's better to talk about the positive things you like and are looking for, rather than the negative things you don't like or are trying to avoid in a partner. So, for example, put: "I really enjoy going on hikes and would love to find a partner who enjoys hiking too," instead of: "No couch potatoes."
posted by colfax at 12:56 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

The reason to lie about your age is because many people have an age range set for their searches. Even if you are *just* outside that age range, a person who otherwise might have been a great match will never even get a chance to see your profile.

I've lied about my age before, but I always came clean right away, explained why I did it, and told the respondent I will understand if they bow out. I never once had someone stop communicating after that disclosure.

With all that said, you should only do this if you do in fact feel youthful, and have interests and abilities that aren't all stereotypical for your age, since you will be at the very top of some people's ranges. And you should only fudge by a year or two. The best way/time to do this is to leave your age ending in a 9 even though you've already entered another decade, or leave it at 4 even though you've turned, say 55, because so many people have their age ranges end in either a 0 or 5.

I understand the impulse towards total honesty, but at your age, dating is war (sorry) and you need every advantage you can get.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 2:21 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Personally, lying about your age is a red flag.
posted by rhizome at 3:14 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's possible to have amazing pen-pal chemistry with someone and absolutely no chemistry at all with them in real life.

Same goes for phone contact. Friend married a LDR with few visits but LOTS of phone contact. Turns out the chemistry, and the personality, was not what they thought. YMMV.
posted by GeeEmm at 6:34 PM on March 5, 2016

She also said it was usual to knock 3 or 4 years off my age (I am in my mid-50s) because everybody does this

I would never date someone who did this. And you will be found out.
posted by John Cohen at 8:55 PM on March 5, 2016

I'm inclined to be honest about age. I also think it's possible some people might set the search filter to some default or arbitrary number, and miss out on someone they'd otherwise like (or use their real age and be missed, obviously). Googled for general opinion/comments - no idea about this blog, anyway - many there thought lying was just awful on principle, some had more grey-area views. One person said they'd done what mysterious stranger's done, or dated someone who had: [whoever] set their age a year or two down (I guess to the 9 or 4) for the filter, but indicated their actual age in their profile, or in the first communication.

I don't know, it doesn't seem dumb to me? Sort of along the lines of blinding unconsciously biased HR people by concealing ethnic names on resumes, maybe? Probably hard to finesse in the profile. But that way, someone who's making unthinking exclusions (but is sort of open) would at least actually see the profile, pics, etc. If they took a hard line, no loss; if they understood and didn't care, maybe that'd be a useful filter of its own. (It obviously hasn't been a problem for mysterious stranger.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:08 PM on March 5, 2016

I'm glad everyone is on the don't lie about your age bandwagon. It was making me uncomfortable. I won't mark everyone who said this as best answer, but I am picking metasarah's comment because of the other information about how to communicate initially and what to set up on the first date.
posted by AMyNameIs at 5:16 AM on March 6, 2016

Solid advice above. I'd also brace yourself for how weird internet dating is. I've met an amazing past girlfriend through internet dating, so it's not all bad. But I find it's MUCH better to meet people in real life through some sort of shared hobby, social group, activity, etc. For whatever reason, the facade of online dating makes a lot of people act like jerks and do things (like flaking on you, stop talking to you for no reason, being non-committal when setting up a date, etc) they would NEVER do if you met them in real life through friends. My advice is to take it with a grain of salt, don't expect much, and then be pleasantly surprised if/when you do meet someone who's not a total ass.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 4:27 PM on March 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

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