Online dating in middle-age, or the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

Finding myself recently single again, I began to look a more seriously at the pop up ads in my Yahoo mail that had been telling me for months there were “dozens of single men in my area looking to meet me.” While I’m not ready for a serious relationship my daughters convinced me that I owed it to my fellow middle-aged single ladies to explore this avenue and write about it. So, in the interest of science, I recently signed up with an online dating service. Once you start mentioning this to your friends, those who might have been reluctant to share previously that they’d done the same, start fessing up! If nothing else it was totally worth the stories and laughs we’ve shared.

There even seems to be quite a few happy endings. Several friends shared with me that people they know had found their present husbands or wives there. One friend has been happily meeting people and going out on all kinds of dates for months. Another friend shared that he had met his second wife online. Although they are no longer married they have a beautiful daughter together. You’ve got to count that as a success!

So I dove in. The first part of the process is to fill out the profile information and reduce years of wisdom and experience to a couple measurable categories. Things like eye color, hair color, religion, education, politics and hobbies were then sorted and matched with those dozens of eligible men in my area. My problem with this process is that all categories seem to hold equal weight. While finding a partner who also enjoys gardening would be lovely, if we have opposing political and spiritual views, I don’t see it working. In fact, the program originally sent me so many conservative men that I added a disclaimer to my bio that said “If you are conservative, I am probably not the lady for you, no hard feelings.” Whether you enjoy the same music, or if we both have dogs, cannot hold the same level of importance as political and spiritual beliefs. Whether or not you believe in civil rights for all, or religious freedom for all, matters to me! It’s who I am.

So far, I’ve haven’t gone out on any actual dates but I’ve had some interesting online conversations, a few laughs and several WTF moments. In the interest of being honest, when chatting with someone online I have been very upfront about the fact that I write a blog for a local paper and will write about this experience . . . (hear crickets chirping) . . . so on more than one occasion some gentleman I have been chatting with has suddenly vanished. I am not unfamiliar with this scenario. Years ago, much younger and newly divorced, I went out dancing occasionally with a friend. Whenever an interested man struck up a conversation the question that would inevitably come up was always “how many children do you have.” I had four, all still very young. No sooner had I gotten the word four out than a puff of smoke would appear and said man would have vanished into thin air, gone, poof, just like magic. This was one of the reasons I would eventually fall for their stepfather. When he heard how many children I had his response was “cool” and then I looked around and he was still sitting there! Dating me is clearly not going to be for the faint of heart, so we might as well eliminate the squeamish right off the bat!

Another great thing I’ve discovered about the world today is I don’t have to wait until after several dates to find out what my friends think. In fact, this week, when swayed by a pair of lovely brown eyes, I posted a particular scenario on Facebook while simultaneously chatting with the said brown-eyed man. Since I have the best friends in the world, and since they are all online 24/7, I immediately had 25 responses from my committee telling me to stop talking to the lying jerk at once, advice which I took! (I later found out that said lying jerk is still married and yet maintains a profile on an online dating site. Seriously buddy, when you have a face that is easily recognized by half the city because of your business skip the online dating service when trying to cheat on your wife!).

So, while I am sure that most of the men online have the best of intentions (yes, let’s just go with that until proven otherwise) there are a few out there that I feel the need to warn my fellow single ladies about. (Hint, if you are a single middle-aged man reading this, here is your opportunity to take a look at your own profile and bump it up a notch).

First of all, I am concerned for the ladies who live in Milford, now before you send me a hundred emails telling me that Milford is a lovely place let me explain. There seems to be a disproportionately large number of single men looking to meet ladies in Milford, much more than the surrounding towns. I’m just a little worried about what happened to the ladies in Milford. Did they leave of their own accord? Are they all safe? Are they still married to these men and simply unawares? I’m not accusing anyone of anything, I just want my sisters in Milford to keep their eyes open in case something fishy is going on!

Ladies, I also want to share a few other things I found rather disturbing. If a gentleman has a user name such as “horny4you” my guess is he is not actually a gentleman. The same goes for a man who has the number 69 in his username. That is just bad manners. Grown men who are still using nicknames they got in high school worry me. All Bubbas, Buddys, Big Eds and Big Jims need not apply. Also, someone who calls himself “lonelylarry” is probably not going to be a whole lot of fun, I’m just saying.

Then there are their bios. Now call me picky but I’m eliminating anyone who can’t spell or types in all caps. Sorry, it’s just not going to work out between us. The same goes for men who mention the size of any body part, in their intro. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of certain male body parts, but it is not appropriate in an opening conversation! The most disturbing first line of a bio was this one. “I’m honest and trustworthy and not violent at all.” This is where the “block profile” button comes in handy. Lastly, if you mention Jesus on your profile I find that rather disturbing as well. Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Jesus, he and I are cool, I just don’t think he wants to be involved in your online dating!

Then there are the pictures. I really had to think about the ones I wanted to share. Of course, they have to be recent, flattering, and shouldn’t contain your children or other people. I really loved the guy who photo-shopped giant smiley faces over the other people in his. He gets points for creativity! If you don’t have a good photo, please do not take one in front of your bathroom mirror with your phone. Also, shirtless photos – gentlemen really, there are very few of you who can pull this off. (I was rather grateful for the few who could!). If you have any doubts as to whether this shot would be good or bad publicity for you don’t use it. This could send an otherwise good profile downhill very quickly.

So while I have yet to meet anyone that I anticipate a lasting relationship with, I am not willing to give up hope entirely. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know what happens. In the meantime, if anyone knows the real identity of a certain 53-year-old, Italian, local man, with a pair of chocolate-brown eyes, a sly smile and a Yankees cap, remind him he hasn’t been on his profile in a long time and he might be missing some of us newer ladies who have only recently joined . . . . just saying.


Karen Foley

About Karen Foley

Karen Foley, has successfully been writing her blog for the BDN since May 2011. By successful, she means a few people read it, and she has not been sued, stalked or fired since starting it.