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To get the most out of on-line dating, there's some tips and advice that will help you avoid the most common mistakes and enhance your results.


The people?

We tend to be a bit starry eyed when we sign up to dating sites, assuming everyone is like us – looking for a partner. It's not quite that simple:
    Some people have no partner because they are impossible to live with.
    A few might be single career minded, have changed their minds and are now looking for a relationship.
    Some people have no partner because of circumstances, a death, divorce etc.
    Some people are in relationships that are open ended and both partners have outside relationships.
    Then you have others who are cheating. Their partner has no idea and they are not looking for a long term relationship, regardless of what they may say.

Times have changed

At some time in our partnership everyone has thought that being single was better but believe me, it's not. That image of the care free bachelor is a myth. The “care free” quickly becomes “lonely” when the door is closed and the lights go out. That care free bravado is a cover for the need to find distractions to take our mind off the fact we have no-one who cares.

This is especially true for anyone who has come from a relationship. Today once the kids have grown up, many couples are re-evaluating their relationships, deciding to split up and seek greener pastures. Even in a generation where people were not computer iliterate, the majority of Internet daters are in their middle to late years. It's quite common for people in their 60s to be seeking a partner through the Internet.

Red line sketch showing couple hugging

Don't be fooled into thinking they are seeking only platonic relationships either. Sex doesn't stop at 60! They have discovered the importance of communicating in the bedroom and these people are often more adventurous than the younger set. They are well aware the clock is ticking and there's things they want to cross off their bucket list – things they never got to try in a boring marriage. This mature set came from an age where sex was for creating babies and a wife's obligation to please her husband, now they know better. Sex is for fun too - both of us! You please me and I'll please you, if not, it isn't happening a second time.

That poses a whole different set of problems. What will he or she think when they see my wrinkles, grey body hair, stretch marks etc. ?

Being seen naked is a common fear. So too, is knowing when to move the relationship up to intimacy. We are haunted by the old social taboos – too soon and we are slutty but if we hold off too long, they'll go elsewhere because these days they are seeing more than one person. On the other hand, the clock's ticking and I don't have time to waste.

Personally, I believe, never on the first date but second or third is fine, if the spark is there. Just be aware that it might take a few more before that spark happens. When it does, enjoy. Just remember, here's one of the few times in life you'll get a second chance. You have the chance now to do all the things you fantasized about, so don't waste it! Have an adventure.

The truth is, it's a mixed bag but there are some genuine people out there. You just need to be aware that there are some who should be avoided. Keep this in mind and be cautious on line. So how do we sort out the genuine ones from the rest?

That's where we use the messaging phase to our advantage:

Messaging

There is no hard and fast rule but there are some precautions:
    Over time the ones who are fake, will become apparent through their comments if you keep exchanging messages. Therefore don't be too hasty arranging the first meeting. Message each other for a while before arranging to meet. If they are genuinely interested in you, they will wait – after all they too are looking to see if you are genuine too.
    Look out for hints of aggression or a lack of respect in their responses. When we spoke to other online dating site members, about bad meetings, a common comment was that after the meeting when they looked back over their messages, there were hints of the problem that they failed to notice. Be honest. It's better to lose them now, than to think you have a great relationship and then get dumped because you weren't like you claimed to be. No-one is perfect – if they were, they wouldn't be on a dating site, they'd be happily married.
    Women especially, are super conscious about their body image and age. They often feel compelled to conceal their size and knock a few years off their age. Get real ladies! The average woman today is not a size 8 and what you see in magazines is not what most men want. Be honest when it comes to figure and age, It's better the other person meets you with a lower expectation and you are better than they expected, than to disappoint them because you weren't as good as you said.

Texting

    Texting or SMS, is an important next step. You are trusting them with your phone number and dropping your guard a little bit more. It's safer giving out a mobile phone number than your home phone number which can be easily traced. At this stage do not send photos, that comes later. This is not the time for sexting either. Why would they want extra photos so soon? Do they not trust you?

Phoning

After a couple of weeks of exchanging messages, move on to phone calling.
    Do they call you as often as you call them?
    Can they talk every time you call (if not is it because their partner is there too?).

The meeting

After a few phone calls we can advance to the meeting. Some important points to consider:
    Choose a public place – people behave better in public and if it goes bad you can yell for help.
    You want somewhere where you can have a conversation, not too noisy. Ideally a coffee bar near a park or beach is good.
    After coffee you can go for a stroll if things work out. Its a chance for some light contact like holding hands or even a cuddle.
    When you meet a kiss on the cheek is acceptable but not on the lips, it's a little too forward, so early in the relationship.
    If you drive there, don't park the car in sight of the meeting place.
    Don't make it an expensive event, you don't want them to feel in debt or that you have to pay them something. Some men feel that if they shout you a meal, it gives them the right to expect sex in return.
    Avoid conversations about your ex partner. They will quickly degenerate into negative comments and a shopping list of do's and dont's. You're supposed to be attentive to your new partner and have moved on, not still thinking about the old one.

10 tips for mature dating

  1. Be resourceful – a lot of water has passed under the bridge since you last dated. The “old faithful” meeting places have changed. You'll find more dogmatic and bigoted people at church functions and alcoholics (or closet ones) at bars. Workmates as partners can be complicated and falling out with someone you slept with at a local club can be socially disasterous. The Internet is probably a better option. There's also groups who focus on meeting people. You can find these by searching your local community on the Internet. They are often run by councils, clubs or through the Internet. Times have changed so get with the times.
  2. Get real – you are not the hot babe or macho man you used to be and your Mr Perfect won't be either. Set your sights realistically. At 50 you won't find a lot of men with a six pack or women with twenty year old perky breasts. People are more likely to have full or partial detures. Unless of course your partner is a lot younger, then the chances are, the relationship won't last and you'll be under constant stress to hide those extra years. Set your sights for someone in your own age range and you'll have a lot more in common to talk about.
  3. Begin small – your ideal partner is not out there; but an aquaintance, who will become a friend, who could become your ideal partner and see if it leads to something better and bigger. While the old rule of “no sex on the first date” still applies, don't be too prudish either.
  4. Clean out the closet – we all are lonely, otherwise we wouldn't be dating. Your ex is just that – The ex. They do not belong in the conversation today. Talking about your ex and your children can lead to a boring conversation. Get up to date with current affairs before hand. You should have some idea of their interests before you meet, so do a little research so you can ask intelligent questions and understand their answers. You don't have to have identical interests but you should know enough to converse about them.
  5. Dress up – this is a special occasion so dress up for it and show them this is not just another coffee chat with a stranger. It will motivate you and improve your own self confidence. Puting on your best clothes will help you feel like the “old me” again.
  6. The place matters – chose a place that is safe but also creates a talking point to start the conversation off. Don't choose a place too noisy to hold a conversation in. By a beach or a nice park is good. If it goes well you can go for a stroll together. It creates a comfortable chance for first physical contact – holding hands, maybe a cuddle. You shop locally so date locally too. There's nothing worse than the perfect partner in the next state or too far away to visit whenever you want to.
  7. Time is important – do not arrange a first meeting for an evening. It's tempting to assume someone will invite their partner home afterwards. Don't be late either; they are already fearful, they don't need the added fear of being stood up. If you do get held up, call them and let them know before they panic and leave. Which raises another important point - get their contact number before you meet and make sure you have brought your phone, fully charged.
  8. Avoid alcohol – obviously don't get drunk but be aware that nervousness will make you reach for your glass more often than usual and what sort of impression does that create? If alcohol is at your first metting, are you saying that it is going to be at every meeting? Is it because you can't leave it alone? It raises too many questions, so leave it out. Women don't like kissing a man smelling of alcohol either.
  9. Get with the times – dating today has changed. The days of just seeing one person have long gone. Today people will meet several dates, so don't expect exclusivity. That will come later as they see you are the best of their bunch. Meanwhile do likewise. Keep in mind if it gets intimate, who else are you sleeping with, when you are sleeping with them. Take precautions because there is an increase in STIs in the older age group.
  10. Intimacy doesn't look at age – many people dating for the second (or third or …) time have an aversion to taking off their clothes and being seen naked. By the time you get to taking your clothes off, neither of you will care what the other looks like. Chances are you will both be so excited at reaching this level in a relationship, that you will overlook a few wrinkles, grey hairs and stretch marks. Get over it and enjoy it.

Scraggy cat moaning about early starts.

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