People who find themselves single later in life may start to wonder, "How do people even meet these days?" Perhaps you are newly single and considering dating again. Maybe your local pool of eligible singles has run dry. Or it's very possible that the attempts to meet your match in bars or at social gatherings just aren't going the way you would have hoped. Whatever the reason is that you find yourself still single, making the decision to sign up for a dating app can be daunting.
Swiping could seem impersonal. Profiles with limited text may seem shallow. Meeting up with a relative stranger for drinks at a local dive bar may make you uneasy. The downsides don't change the facts: Dating apps have exploded in popularity, and there's no longer stigma in saying, "We met online." If you are planning on dipping your toe in the online dating pool, here is how to navigate all your options.
Realize now is the right time
Dating apps are not just for "young people." There are apps and sites out there for everyone. According to Pew Research, 13 percent of people ages 45 to 54 and 12 percent of people ages 55 to 64 who were surveyed said they've used dating sites and mobile dating applications.
Pick a site or app that caters to the age range you are looking for
It will take a little work, but it will pay off to research and know the demographic that your chosen app caters to. If you don't want to date someone who is older than 50 years old and a certain app is specifically for the 50-and-over crowd, you should know that in advance. Read up on a site or app's "about" page to see if they have the type of connection you are looking for.
Use the settings to your advantage
You may not be looking for an age-specific app and want to stick with the larger, more general dating pool. Many apps will allow you to filter potential matches based on profile data so that you are only getting shown potential partners that you will click with. You can set preferences in your settings for everything from age and height to location so that you are only matching with people who have qualities you are looking for.
Set your relationship goals and stick to them
If you are looking for a serious relationship, make sure you are choosing the appropriate site and swiping for the right situations. You will find that some sites are for casual partnerships and friendships, and others have a more serious tone. If you are looking for a life partner, make it clear on your profile and find yourself on the right site for it.
Know the app's rules
Do women have to message the men? Can anyone message first? Do you both have to like each other's profiles before any messages can be sent? Understand how the app functions so that you don't get discouraged. If you aren't comfortable with the rules or limitations, then find a different site or app. There is one out there that will work for you to find a new romance.
Use good pictures
Like it or not, profiles on dating apps and sites are going to require pictures. Choose complimentary photos but also remain true to yourself. A silly-faced selfie could show your fun side, but it's not always flattering. Ask a friend to take a nice picture to help you put your best foot forward.
Consider a mini makeover
Looking good leads to feeling good. Treat yourself to a fresh haircut or pick up a shirt that makes you feel confident before you have your profile photo shoot. That confidence will radiate through in your photos.
Avoid group photos
Avoid group photos on your dating app profile. You don't want to confuse potential dates about which person in the group you are. Similarly, you might want to include a far-away shot of you with a famous landmark to communicate your love of traveling, but long-distance photos don't show your face well.
Make sure your picture looks like you
The plan is to eventually meet these people in real life, right? Editing a photo to a point where it doesn't look like you or using a photo that is old will come across as false advertising. Make the visuals on the profile an honest reflection of your appearance.
Write an honest profile
It's not just your appearance that you need to be honest with. Don't fake your age, your height, your preferences, your favorite movies or your opinions because you think it will get you more attention. Let your profile reflect your true self, not what you think others are looking for.
What to do if your matches aren't what you expected
You may soon discover that the potential matches popping up for you aren't exactly what you were expecting. Go back to your trusty settings to make sure your preferences stuck, or add a few more. It will feel weird to be brutally honest about what you're looking for in your future partner to a machine, but it will pay off in your new batch of matches.
How to know if you should switch sites
So you changed your settings, you were upfront about what you were looking for and your matches still aren't improving. No need to keep pouring your time into a platform that just doesn't work for you. Be open to moving over to a different site or app. After all, all the hard work like choosing your photos and writing your profile is already done.
Put thought into your messages
A message to someone should be honest but lighthearted. Remember that you aren't proposing marriage, you're just asking to meet up for a coffee, so keep it casual. An option is to poll your friends and talk about the type of messages that would catch their attention.
Know that it's OK to not be interested
If you receive a message from someone, it doesn't mean you have to go on a date. While it might be good to try new things and go a little out of your comfort zone, don't feel obligated to accept a date from every person. When you know, you'll know.
Patience is key
You might not find a lot of matches right away, and that is OK. Online dating might not yield instant success, but even just getting used to putting yourself out there is going to help you grow into it over time.
Try to be a bold app user
One thing to remember is that dating apps take the guesswork out of whether or not someone is looking to date. If this person is putting themselves out there in this setting, then they are interested to some degree. That takes some of the traditional stress out of sending a message, so go for it.
Be careful with your information
Be careful of what personal information you are giving away on dating apps and websites to avoid being scammed. Never give out your address or your place of work over an app or dating site.
Consider using more than one
Who says you can only use one dating site at a time? Try out a few, even simultaneously. Maybe you'll find matches more your speed on one over the other, or maybe you will just enjoy one experience better. Once you've found a new sweetheart, here are some ideas of where to head on a romantic adventure with them.
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Update your photos. Refine your profile. Take the quizzes and answer available questionnaires. Be active and engaged on your profile to help you pinpoint what you are looking for.