So you find yourself on your own and you’ve decided to be proactive in a search for some company of a romantic sort. Good for you.
Now the truth is that according to a YouGov survey, most of us find love through work (18%), through friends (18%), while out and about (15%) or ‘other’ (11%). Despite it sometimes seeming that ‘everyone’ is finding love online, only 13% find love through a dating app or online. With that in mind, it’s still worth a go but before you leap into the world of online dating, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your search.
1.Don’t rush into it
If you have just split it’s sometimes better to take a breath, take some time for yourself, re-evaluate and think about what you need before jumping into online dating. This is probably more important if it’s a longterm relationship that has finished. Online dating can be funny, sad, frustrating, soul destroying and confidence sapping at a time when you might be feeling vulnerable. While it can be successful, unless you are very lucky it can take a while to find someone wonderful and can be quite hard work so you do need to be in the right place emotionally to cope with the journey. One of my friends approached it as a job!
2. Think carefully about what you wish for in a partner
While it’s not helpful to have a rigid set of wishes, there is no point pairing up with a sky diving enthusiast from Scotland if you are scared of heights/never going to give it a try and won’t travel outside London. Clearly some people they have different limits like wanting a non smoker, or non drinker, same religion etc. while it can be exciting to meet someone out of your parameters and make an interesting relationship its worth considering what you want just to help narrow down the possibilities.
3. Your profile – more ‘why’ than ‘what’
Some sites will guide you with specific questions while others leave it up to you to write your own profile bio which can be daunting. You may want to get suggestions from a friend; hopefully they will be able to let you know what makes you so you! You should also ask them to proofread your profile as typos and grammar mistakes are a turn off according to an EliteSingles survey which revealed that this was ‘the most despised trait’ on an online dating profile. Talk about your hobbies, ambitions and dreams as well as things you have done and why you enjoyed those things, or not, as this often gives a better insight into who you are.
It’s a personal choice but while it’s normal to mention that you have kids, it’s safer not to include photos or too many details.
Profile Writing Tipsfrom ‘The World’s Leading Relationship Coach’ and author of ‘Get the Guy’, Matthew Hussey
- Don’t resort to long lists: ‘I’m friendly, open outgoing, fun, adventurous…’
- ‘Why’ tells him more than ‘what’ – show who you are through you stories and opinions
- Don’t be preachy: ie no rants, or deal breakers: ‘Not interested in anyone who drives a mini-van’.
- Don’t be the everything girl: by trying to appeal to all men, you appeal to no one. Choose your audience and be honest about your likes and dislikes.
- Do brag about yourself, but indirectly: ‘My friends would say…’
- Do include the type of guy you’re looking for (or gal for that matter).
4. Get photos that do you justice
Photos are important so try put several up that show your interests as well as what you look like. Obviously smiling happy photos are best. Make sure you include some with you alone so it’s obvious which one you are. It is often confusing if there are too many group pictures. Don’t use photos that are too old as it just causes issues later. People will reasonably assume you have posted a current photo unless you state otherwise.
I have seen advice that wearing red makes you appear more attractive to men! I am not sure but why not give it a try!
There are companies that will give you a makeover, do your hair and makeup and take professional photos of you. This may be a fun thing to do with a friend to help boost your confidence at a time you may be struggling a bit. A date I went out with for a few months gave me a session as a present ( I don’t think he was hinting that I was a troglodyte) but when I put those photos up online I definitely got more hits.
A recommended resource is Colour Me Beautiful who offer online colour and makeup consultations. It is amazing what a difference wearing your ‘right’ colours can make.
And if you’re still using Cosmo makeup tips from your teens, search YouTube where you will find hundreds of videos on makeup tips for older faces. 🙂
5.Look at different dating sites and apps
There are loads of different sites for all interests and demographics although many smaller sites in fact use the same backend database, or are owned by the same group, so you end up seeing the same people on different sites.
Ask your friends what worked for them. I found for example that the Telegraph and Guardian dating sites were very London centric which may not suit you geographically.
Some are free for the basic package but they often want you to sign up for a paid package to get extra information or features. Others have you paying from the beginning so it all can get very expensive.
Be careful of what you are committing to and read cancellation policies very carefully. Many sites will auto-renew whether you are using the site or not, and/or require cancellation according to their terms to get refunds or an actual cancellation, eg. within the cooling off period, or at least 7 days before the end of the subscription period. Many of the low Trust Pilot scores mentioned below appear to be from people who have been caught out with charges, auto renewals and slow or no refunds.
Sadly also, just because you are paying for a service, you still get con artists. The sites try to weed these out, but it can be hard to verify that people are genuine.
A short intro to some of the more popular sites/apps
A well-established dating / matchmaking site linked to Our Time and Affiny. Gets a respectable 3.6/5 on Trust Pilot with 41% of users rating the service excellent while 22% rated it bad. Most complaints were to do with cancellations. Detailed profiles and a powerful search function. Free to join and browse but if you want to start connecting, you’ll need a subscription. £19.99/month for a 3-month plan. Scores 3.6/5 on Trust Pilot. – Learn More
Caters for a more mature audience with over 85% of members aged 30+. The site also claims members hold an above-average education, and judging by the subscription fee, those with a reasonable income. Take note of the cancellation policy – you must cancel 7 days before the end of your subscription period. The free basic membership allows you to take and receive an evaluation of their personality test, test basic site features, and receive partner suggestions but you’ll only see blurry photos and not be able to message. If you want to take action you’ll need a subscription with 3-, 6- and 12-month options available. £44.95/month for a 3-month plan. Scores 1.2/5 on Trust Pilot. – Learn More
Designed for those over 50 and sister site to EliteSingles. The company provides matches based on a 25-minute psychologist-backed personality test you complete on signing up. There are complaints from users that many of these matches are quite some distance away so perhaps this is best for people living in larger population centres. There is a free membership option to try out the site, but with limited options. The site offers 3-, 6- and 12-month options available. £44.95/month for a 3-month plan. Scores 1.6/5 on Trust Pilot. – Learn More
One of the first senior dating sites, founded by the same folk who started Match.com. Also linked to Affiny. Described as mature dating for like-minded singles over 50. Also offers singles activities such as outings, workshops and meals. Special features include Blendr which shows you 100 profiles a day which you can either favourite, or not. Offers a free membership with limited access. 1-, 3- and 6-month subscriptions with extra charges for things like browsing incognito. £24.99/month for a 3-month plan. Scores 1.3/5 on Trust Pilot. – Learn More
The app (desktop and mobile versions) that started the fashion for swiping and has/had a reputation as a hookup app. Your free profile includes up to 9 photos and a free bio so the emphasis is on the way you look for sure! The age profile of Tinder is apparently tending towards the under 35s. With the free account you can swipe up to a 100 times a day and message. The Plus, Gold and Platinum upgrades give you more power such as unlimited ad-free swipes, a boost that makes your profile the top profile in your area for about 30 minutes and other bonuses. Tinder Plus is about £2.50/month for a 6 month subscription. Scores 1.4/5 on Trust Pilot. – Learn More
Lumen has become part of Bumble. Bumble is the site where women make the first move – and clearly a man who joins Bumble is the kind of guy who doesn’t mind if a woman does make the first move.
While Lumen was for singles over 50, Bumble is for all ages but filters will help you find the right connections. Photos are important with less focus on your personality – as with some other sites. As was the case with Lumen, Bumble is recognised for its excellent privacy and safety features. If there is a match (both parties like each other) then the woman makes the first move within 24 hours, and the guy has 24 hours to respond. Many complaints that this is unrealistic time frame, but you can pay to increase that window of opportunity.
Offers video chat. Free to use, with limitations. Has 1 week and 1-, 3- and 6-month packages for Bumble Boost. £29.99/ 3months (ie just less than £10/month). Also Bumble Premium packages with more options at about £66.99 for a three month membership. Scores 1.8/5 on Trust Pilot. – Learn More
One of the best-rated lesbian dating and chat apps (no desktop version). Swipe and if you get a match – ie you both like each other – then you can chat. Seems to be fewer complaints of fake accounts than other similar apps. There is a free membership option but Premium Membership allows you to see the history of your likes so you can change your mind, see who liked you so you can get in touch and other benefits. The site offers 1-, 3- and 6-month Premium Membership options. £39.99/3 months (ie £13.33/month). Scores 1.8/5 on Trust Pilot. – Learn More
A UK and Ireland based niche dating website and app for those who love the country, regardless of whether you live in the country or just wish you did. There is no specific age group and ages are reportedly widely spread. Sign up requests a decent amount of information about yourself for a full profile including information about your appearance, lifestyle and background. Once registered you can search using filters, but if you want to message anyone you need to get yourself a paid subscription. Includes a ‘Success Stories’ blog. The site offers 1-, 3-, 6- and 12-month subscription options. £15.00/month for a 3 month subscription. Only 3 reviews on Trust Pilot (which is probably a good sign) – Learn More
Claims to be one of the UK’s largest online dating sites yet the distribution of those users appears to be patchy which is probably why it only gets 1.2/5 on Trustpilot with 29% of users finding the service ‘Excellent’ with happy tales of finding love, and 58% complaining about the lack of compatible matches, and the refund policy. The app boasts a ‘Compatibility Quiz’ to help you find that perfect match but users complain about being billed £65 for this, even if you cancel your paid subscription in the 2 week ‘cooling off’ period. If you don’t cancel in that time you are charged £130 for it. Free membership gives you no option to reply to messages, and greyed out photos. Subscription plans: £18.95 /month for a 3 month plan. Scores 1.2/5 on Trust Pilot. – Learn More
6. Messaging vs meeting up
I found it better to meet up relatively quickly because someone who seems witty and funny on messaging is sometimes not in real life. Or, simply, when you meet there is no spark or wish to see them again. In ordinary times this can be as simple as a meet up in a coffee shop; in Covid-times you’re looking at walk – in a public place of course. Or a video chat – a new functionality that many sites/apps are adding to keep romance going in times of Covid.
7. Meeting up etiquette
When you meet make sure it is in a public place, with lots of people around. As mentioned before, it’s best to meet up for just a coffee or drink so that you can get away quickly and easily if you need to. Make sure that you tell someone where you are going and who you are meeting. It’s good to make sure you have their surname and a telephone number that you leave with a friend. It also can be useful to get a friend to ring you in the first meeting and check everything is ok. If you need to you can also use this as a cue to leave, for example, your friend has had a crisis, locked themselves out, etc.
8. What next?
If that person is not for you it’s best to let them know quickly, generally the best time is after you have left the meeting. If you want to meet up again it’s also good to let them know as soon as possible, after. It is awkward if you do want to meet again and they don’t, or vice versa, so easier to do this by message than have that awkwardness in the pub car park!
Good luck, try and have fun.
Don’t take it all too seriously.
Author: Karen Farrant, with input from Katie McGregor, Love Life over 40