I am the champion of abandoning New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve ever stepped into a gym in early January, there is a good chance that you’ve seen me or one of the many other middle-aged dudes with dad bods who listed fitness as their #1 goal for the new year. But I am a committed non-resolver, capable of successfully hitting goals only when they have nothing to do with a new year. A field I do have a lot of experience in is online dating. For many years, before joining Chapter to help better the way Americans transition into retirement, I worked for various online dating sites and apps.

Finding a significant other ranks almost as high as fitness on the list of most common resolutions. Online dating sites experience such a spike in traffic at the beginning of the year that the industry has dubbed the first Sunday of the year “Dating Sunday.” This December, we at Chapter decided to learn more about how America’s seniors approach setting goals for a new year.

We surveyed 1,079 Americans over the age of 65. Predictably, 82% of respondents told us that they are not currently dating, but this still leaves millions of single seniors nationwide who will soon join online dating communities to find a partner. It’s normal for anyone to be apprehensive about dating online—especially if one is somewhat wary of technology—so we thought it would be useful to share the top 6 online dating tips for seniors.

1. Choose the right dating site

There are thousands of sites out there. Stick to the bigger ones: match.com and Zoosk tend to have the most seniors. I would avoid apps like Tinder, which tend to attract a younger crowd.

2. Spend time creating a good online dating profile

We all tend to be lazy when writing our bios, but this step is crucial to help potential matches develop a first impression. Upload plenty of pictures of yourself, but make sure your lighting is good. Don’t just snap a selfie of yourself on the couch or in front of the computer. In fact, the more your pictures say about your life, the more likely you are to pique someone’s interest. 

34% of seniors currently dating are looking for good company, so show off a little! Pictures of you with your family, on your last trip, or enjoying a sunny day at the park are great ways to show who you are. And do write how you like to spend your time—the more opportunities you give potential matches to notice something you have in common, the more likely it is that you will find a connection.

3. Don’t be afraid to share your real age

It’s incredibly common for people to lie about their age on dating apps. Since so many people do it, many will expect you to, as well. I won’t judge you if you do, but when dating, honesty is the best policy, and you should be proud of your age! When Ronald Reagan (the oldest man to ever serve as president at the time) was asked about his age during a presidential debate, he responded with the famous lines, “I want you to know that I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience.” Bring this same attitude to your online dating experience and you’ll be just fine.

4. Watch out for red flags

A sad reality of online dating is the number of scammers that frequent these communities. These are typically criminals outside of the US who impersonate someone and ultimately find ways of asking for money. It is fairly easy to avoid scams once you know what to look out for. I have three recommendations for you:

  1. Remember that if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

  2. Read this guide on How To Spot And Avoid Scammers On Dating Apps.

  3. Never ever send anyone money (even if they sent you money first).

5. Think about your first move

Bob Dylan famously concluded that, The Times They Are A-Changin'. While many gender norms have evolved, one thing that hasn’t changed much is the expectation that men make the first move (unless you’re on Bumble, which is known for flipping the switch on first moves). On the majority of dating sites, men typically send the first message. Regardless of who makes the first move, here are some dos and don'ts.

  • Don’t use a corny pickup line. Trust me—they don’t work.

  • Say something that warrants a response. A simple hello won’t work. You need to give people a reason to reply to you. Commenting on something you’ve noticed in their profile typically works well: “I like that scarf you’re wearing in your picture, where did you buy it?”

  • You could also try asking something fun, like “If you could travel back in time, where would you go?” or something more personal, like “What would you do differently if you thought nobody would judge you?”

6. Don’t chat forever

It’s important to build a little bit of rapport while chatting online, but endless online conversations defeat the purpose. Do some recon during the conversation, try to get a sense of what your match would enjoy doing on a first date, then suggest a date. Dinner, minigolf, bowling, a cooking class—these are all great first date ideas!

Dating is both exciting and challenging at any age, but with your life experience, you’re much more likely to know what you want out of life and dating than a 20-something who’s still trying to figure out who they are. Be honest about who you are and what you’re looking for, spark up a conversation, and take a plunge! Not every date will be a success, but with 10 million people over 65 looking for love (and many more who are younger), there are plenty of fish in the sea!

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