Navigating the world of online dating can be tricky, especially for those who are new to the scene. Here are some tips to make it a little easier.
Young people are starting new relationships quickly and easily these days with Tinder and such like, but online dating is also becoming the predominant way for single older people to meet new partners. For all kinds of reasons, and in many ways, it’s a godsend for those of us in, or past, ‘middle age’. However, there are some potential pitfalls which can be easily avoided; by men of any age. As someone in his 60s who has done a fair amount of internet dating, and has heard from women friends of a similar age about some less than pleasant experiences they’ve had with men they met on line, I have a few suggestions of do’s and don’t for helping ensure the inevitable first date has the best possible chance of being a first step to a something more.
One thing to keep in mind is that the best time to seek out a new partner is not when feel that you need one, but when you’re open to that possibility as a way to enhance your already fairly happy life. Your date will pick up on this sense of your ‘flexible self sufficiency’ and They’ll respect you more for it, and will also feel reassured that you are interested in them, because of who they are… not because you’re ‘desperate’.
If you’re feeling that you ‘must’ have a relationship, to be able to feel good about yourself or to enjoy life, I believe that any encounters you do have are likely to end in tears, and strongly recommend that you look for other ways to get to a more positive state of mind before you even consider finding a new partner. Why? Because putting your needs for self esteem and emotional well being in the hands of another person would be like giving out your bank pin code. Not wise, no matter who you gave them to.
Take whatever time you need to reflect on what, if anything, you’d like to change in your life. Then start to make any changes needed to head towards becoming the kind of grounded man that most people are hoping to meet. I’m not talking years of therapy to get everything ‘sorted’. It’s about being on that journey, and knowing what direction you’re traveling in, not crossing some kind of finish line. But you have to do the work yourself. If you don’t at least like yourself, you’ll never believe that anyone else really likes you, and you’ll find it hard to like them too. See what I mean about that not being a good way to start?
Another mistake some older men make when they re–enter the dating world, is to act out with people the same way they did with those they were attracted to when they were 18. Generally this means doing and saying whatever they think will get them in bed with theperson as soon as possible. Take it from me, especially if you’ve been out of the dating scene for quite a while, the people you are going to meet have already either fallen for (and never will again), or successfully bypassed, any clever chatline or manipulative strategies you could possibly come up with, and have moved far beyond having any responsiveness to those kinds of games. If your mind is still at that level, you’re likely to humiliate yourself in a way that will be hard to recover from with them. So forget any back of the mind scheming and be as authentic and as open with them as you should be with someone you hope will become a lifelong friend, rather than a one night stand.
Having said that, you might get a quick result with a person who is damaged enough to be either taken in by you, or willing to put up with your nonsense because of their need to get ANY kind of male attention. But these are not people you should be thinking about spending time with if you want a happy life. Like you (if you followed my first advice above) they need to feel reasonably happy in themselves before getting involved with anyone else, otherwise you will just create an ‘entanglement’ together that will leave you both feeling damaged and exhausted. With that in mind, the following ‘inside information’ has been gleaned from personal experience conversations with people. Some was painful for me to hear because it sounded all too familiar, and I realized what ‘a disappointment’ I had probably been on more than one first date. People’s expectations of men on a date are often not that high, so try and at least be a ‘nice surprise’ . The good news is that you can relax! Because there’s absolutely no advantage to be gained trying to be anything other than yourself. Your strongest card will be how genuine you have the courage to be, including being brave enough to admit it if you’re feeling at all shy or nervous. This will put both you and them at ease, and show that you can be trusted, and that you are strong enough not to need to keep up a fake persona, which everyone can probably see through anyway.
Here are some suggestions on how to get off to a good start:
1. Don’t worry about being ‘attractive and interesting’. Be ‘attracted and interested’. A person will bemore interested in you if you are interested in them; not a mask they may have put on out of insecurity, but the real person underneath. The extent that you’re not trying to impress them, or have your ego massaged by them. Show them you’re bigger than that
2. Stay (relatively) sober. You’ll have to trust me on this one.
3. Don’t tell them your life story (especially any recent relationship information) unless they ask for it. Then be sparing; leave them wanting to know more. And whatever you do say, make it 100% true. Little lies have a nasty habit of catching you out later, and throwing everything else you’ve been saying into doubt.
4. Take your time before even thinking about kissing them, or anything more. Seeming over eager gives an impression of selfishness and anxiety on your part…not a very sexy combination. Never attempt anything intimate (including big kisses) on a first date. And never ‘lunge’. Let them tell you, with various signals, if and when they’re ready for closer contact; then move. And only if you are genuinely attracted, rather than thinking you should be.
Have no expectations of any first date, other than to have an interesting evening with a new person.
5. Be casual but well groomed, with nice (not flashy) clothes. Your clothes can show that you like and respect yourself. Then they will like and respect you more easily.
6. Humour is well known as being attractive to people, so don’t take yourself (or them) too seriously. But, a little self-deprecation goes a long way. Low self esteem in a man is as much of a turn off as arrogance. The ideal balance is between knowing your ‘have value’, but not overvaluing yourself relative to anyone else.
7. You are probably excellent at something, so share that information. Capability is attractive.
But modestly of course, especially if it’s actually something pretty damn impressive
8. Avoid flattery, unless it is original and sincere, i.e. no clichés about their ‘nice eyes’ etc.
They’ve heard that stuff a million times before. Tell them something you like about how they look, i.e. not that ‘They’re beautiful’, but that you like their hair/clothes/jewellery/voice/whatever. This is sincere and true. Most people over thirty have heard every compliment you can imagine a million times, so not repeating the obvious will make you more interesting.
9. Have no expectations of any first date, other than to have an interesting evening with a new person. This way you aren’t setting yourself up for any disappointment, and more importantly you will be more open to seeing and appreciating who the real person is in front of you, rather than trying to make them fit into a fantasy. Then if you really like them as they are, you know you’ve a good foundation for future developments (if they feel the same, of course).
10. If you do quickly feel a very intense attraction, or feelings of love, towards your date, be careful. It’s likely that they are imaginary projections created by some unfinished emotional business you have in your past. This can lead to intense disappointment, on both sides, when those projections inevitably fade and the real person emerges. With that in mind, those feelings can be exhilarating, like being on a fairground ride, so enjoy them while they last, but don’t confuse them with reality; and be ready for the ride to slow down and let you off. Hopefully if you’ve not let yourself be too carried away, there’ll still be enough real affection and attraction between you for things to move forward from there.
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