The older woman's guide to internet datingFrom a 60-year-old who braved this emotional minefield, some essential Dos and Don'ts
Looking for love: Sue Shephard, 60, has been single for ten years
Over 60 and looking for love Then your perfect partner may be just a click away.
Internet dating is growing in popularity. According to research, about 3.5 million people in the UK meet their partners online — and it’s not just the preserve of the young.
A recent survey showed that more people over 60 than ever are logging on to find love.
‘Baby boomers make up a large proportion of our clientele,’ says Charlotte Cory, founder of ffifty.com, a dating website for those looking for love in the second part of their life.
‘They might be people who have got divorced later in life or women who feel determined to make the most of the years ahead of them after the children have flown the nest.
'We all want to have a healthy, intimate relationship — that doesn’t stop when you’re 60.’
Former model and air stewardess Sue Shephard, 60, has been single for ten years since she divorced in 2002.
Sue lives in Bolton and runs a property portfolio and cleaning business. She has two daughters, aged 24 and 26, and has been on several internet dates to find a partner.
Here, she gives her Dos and Don’ts guide to Dating for the Silver Surfer…
DON'T assume eligible men of our age are plentiful
One of the first dates I went on was with Paul, who turned out to be the best man I’ve met so far. He was funny, charming and we got on well.
But because he was the first date, I was a bit cocky and thought: ‘This is simple. I’m going to meet lots of men like this.’ So I never called him back.
I could have kicked myself because it rapidly went downhill from there.
There simply aren’t many half-decent men out there. I don’t know why, but my friends and I suspect that most older men don’t come out of a relationship unless there is another woman waiting in the wings. Or they pick up someone very quickly in a bar or club.
When I split up with my husband, he picked up the first woman he got chatting to in the pub and it’s been happy ever after for him. It’s just not that easy for women.
DON'T behave like a lovestruck teenager
As an empty-nester, I’m very lonely at times. I have a great social life and lots of friends but I’d really like to share that with someone special. So if someone gives you a tiny bit of attention, it doesn’t matter what age you are, you still get that ‘high’ we all remember from our younger days.
I made a very stupid mistake when I first started internet dating. I’d seen David’s profile online and we’d exchanged a few emails. He sounded perfectly pleasant so we met up for a date in Manchester. It was fun. We even had a bit of a passionate kiss afterwards.
'I was shocked when he got really abusive and nasty. He clearly expected me to invite him into my bed'
Later, he texted me to say: ‘When can I sample your culinary skills’ So I invited him around to my house for dinner. Thankfully, my sensible daughter said: ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit soon, Mum’
She was right. Who knew what this man was really like I’d only been on one date for an hour. So I texted him to say: ‘I know you’re coming from a long way away so can I arrange the spare room for you tonight or would you prefer a local B&B’
I was shocked when he got really abusive and nasty. He clearly expected me to invite him into my bed. His last text said: ‘You’re more stupid than I thought you were.’ And he was right. It was a really stupid thing to do, so now I’m much more careful.
DO be brave when it comes to the bedroom
When you’ve come out of a long-term relationship, your confidence can hit rock bottom. For 17 years my sex life wasn’t up to much, so it was nerve-racking when I first got into bed with someone else. But you have to be brave.
Silver surfer: Sue has learnt who to avoid and how to be safe while internet dating
The first man I slept with after my husband was someone I met through a tennis club. I was giving him some advice on property at his house and he asked: ‘So when are we going to have sex’ My first instinct was to say: ‘How dare you!’ But actually, I rather fancied him. I knew I didn’t want a long-term relationship with him — he wasn’t my type — but I did find him attractive, so we booked a proper date.
It was funny because when we did go to bed, I told him I was shy, so I got undressed while he wasn’t in the room. But then I had no idea how to wait for him. Sheet draped over my body Leg hanging out of the bed I was so out of practice, but we had a great time and it boosted my confidence.
We’re still good friends. So if you do meet a man you fancy and trust and he invites you to share his bed, take a leap of faith.
DON'T trust anyone's photograph
Everyone who posts their picture online will have used one from at least ten or 15 years ago. And, yes, I’m guilty of it, too. I’ve turned up to several dates where I’ve walked into a restaurant, seen the man I’m supposed to be meeting, but he looks more like his father.
DO realise some men will never settle down
The older the man is, the more likely he is to have baggage. I met a lovely man who I fell for, but it turned out his wife had taken him for lots of money in their divorce.
He was very bitter about it, and I can’t see him settling down with a woman again because he doesn’t trust them. It’s a real shame.
DON'T write about log fires
'”Looking for fun” doesn't mean trips to the seaside. It means they're looking for sex'
I’m sure there must be men out there who think that log fires, red wine and walking along a beach are totally irresistible but nearly everyone of my age writes an online profile like this. Be original. Write something different, such as: ‘I love climbing mountains!’
It’s impossible to judge a person’s character by their profile, but at least make yours stand out from the crowd.
DON'T let your friends interfere
One plus side of internet dating is your friends needn’t get involved in your love life, because that’s a recipe for disaster. Recently a friend said: ‘Sue! I’ve got the perfect guy for you — but he’s not quite ready yet.’ When I asked why not, she said: ‘Well, his wife’s not quite dead yet.’
There are other friends who won’t invite you to dinner parties because you’re single. One said: ‘I would invite you Sue, but a single woman spoils the numbers’.
She’s on her own now, so I hope she’s eating her words.
Don't be fooled: If an internet date seems too good to be true… he probably is (posed by model)
DO be wary of the super-attractive
Many of the very good-looking men online simply aren’t available.
Either they don’t exist — and I can only assume websites put their photos on there to lure in single women — or these men are using a fake photograph.
Often, I’ve seen a guy’s photo and thought: ‘Wow!’ But when you email them, you get a message back saying: ‘This man is not available.’ Or you get an email, but as soon as you ask for something like a phone number you never hear back. Or they are married.
One friend met a gorgeous man online who said he was a TV presenter. They seemed to get on well via email, but whenever it came to meeting up, there was always a problem. He was bogus. Probably had a wife and kids.
DO be aware 'fun' means something else entirely
If you see the words ‘looking for fun’, this doesn’t mean trips to the seaside. It means they’re looking for sex.
That’s fine — if you’re into that sort of thing. Some women I know go on these sites for the same reason men do, but that’s not my style. I’m looking for someone to share dates and go to dinner parties with. I don’t even want to live with them necessarily. I’m too independent.
DO dress smartly
On a date I dress casually but elegantly. I don’t have my cleavage hanging out or show too much leg.
Most of the men I’ve met have dressed smartly — that’s probably an age thing. Sadly, once men hit the 60 mark, they tend to go downhill a bit looks-wise. But then, I have too in the past five years. You can’t let it put you off leading a full life, though. So make the best of yourself.
DO try to become au fait with technology
I’m dreadful at uploading my photo on to websites. My kids do it for me. So sign yourself up to a course learning how to use your computer properly. You never know, you may even meet a man!