When I was 7 years old, my grandmother moved to Florida to live in The Villages, an over-55 retirement community. Between the warm weather, golf courses, town squares, and a huge homogeneous circle of possible friends, it was her Heaven on Earth. She made more friends there than at any other place she lived.
Last summer, she decided to move back to Pennsylvania to live closer to family. Although moving out of The Villages was the right decision for her, it will undoubtedly involve some changes in her recent lifestyle as she is leaving behind people whose companionship was already cultivated. She will have to readjust to a life with a limited number of people her age and a declining number of potential companions.
She may not be looking for a close companionship right now, but when or if that time comes, she won’t have as many opportunities to meet people her age. Unless you live in a retirement community like my grandmother once did, you may run into the same situation when seeking company your age.
Family support is always welcomed and appreciated, but it is limited and may lack certain aspects of the type of relationship you’re seeking. You may want someone who can empathize with your experiences and understand the ups and downs that come along in the later chapters of one’s life.
The type of relationship you’re looking for can be hard to come by in your day-to-day activities, but that doesn’t mean you should throw in your towel. Take charge of your life and your happiness. How, you ask? Let me suggest a little something called Online Dating.
It sounds silly, I know. How can you possibly begin a meaningful relationship on the internet? You may be surprised how easy and useful it is and the number of success stories that come from it, including my dad and stepmom.
Online dating provides a convenient outlet for people to connect with others who are seeking similar opportunities in their lives. Think of it as a digital clubhouse where you go to mingle with your peers to make new friends, exchange new ideas, discuss family and acquaintances, or maybe something more. Who wouldn’t want that?
You’re not alone. It can be frightening to put yourself out there to the public for the first time. However, some features of online dating websites might help to ease your skeptical nerves a little bit.
Many online dating websites allow you to keep your profile “invisible.” You have the power to scroll through other people’s profiles, but not the other way around. Although your profile is still set up and active, you’re the only one who can see it. You won’t appear in other people’s matches and searches if you don’t want to be.
Some sites allow you to join for free with limited privileges. Set up your profile and browse your potential suitors at no cost, getting a feel for the website in order to see if it is right for you. If you like the site and want to begin messaging people, that’s when you’re asked to pay a minimum fee – in the neighborhood of $20 per month – in order to contact people through messaging.
Just as you’re paying to interact with others through the site, so is everyone else! Most everyone on an online dating site is genuinely interested in finding someone. People who are just playing around on the internet will not likely invest money to do so!
Some of the most popular online dating websites are Match.com, SeniorMatch, and OurTime. The first step is creating a profile, which includes filling out basic information such as your gender, height, ethnicity, religion, location, and hobbies. You can also include a picture and a mini biography. Your profile doesn’t have to reveal your most personal thoughts or private information. You don’t even have to list your real name! Simply writing a few things about yourself and the kind of person or relationship you are looking for will suffice. Most sites will ask you the parameters of someone that you may be interested in getting to know.
Once your profile is created, the site will match you with people who have similar likes and dislikes and fit your preferences. You can narrow the criteria by which you want the site to base the decisions. For example, perhaps you only want someone within a 30-mile radius of your zipcode and between the ages of 65 and 75. You are also able to conduct your own search by flipping through other people’s profiles and reading their bios to get a sense of who they are and what they like.
If you see a profile of someone you want to learn more about, you can message them online to begin a conversation. If all goes well, the next step could be something as non-threatening as simply meeting for a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks.
Someone may also come across your profile and send you a message. Once you check out their profile and form an impression, you can decide if you want to respond and pursue the conversation.
As people age and experience new aspects of their life, such as friends passing away or children becoming independent, their desire for healthy companionship grows. In fact, a study done by Harvard found that people actually live longer when they have close relationships with others. Sometimes all you need is someone to share life’s moments with, both good and bad.
Whether you’re lonely, widowed, or just interested in gaining companionship, online dating connects you to people who are in the same boat as you are. So grab a paddle and start your journey up the river, checking out the different scenery.
Don’t forget to make a stop to Submit Your Story with us, we want to hear all about your ride up the river of online dating!
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