Dating online at can be frustrating for a 50-something woman

betty ming liu Relationships 45 Comments

In the past decade since my divorce, I’ve used from time to time. I just spent $75.09 to join up for the next three months. And even though I know the game, I have a lot of new questions. They stem from my frustrations in being a 50-something woman.

Some background: Two nights ago, I posted my profile in hopes of meeting a guy my age. Since then, 166 people viewed my profile 250 times, 18 men emailed me and another 24 “winked” — which means they’re interested but won’t initiate more.

What I’ve seen so far has me wondering….

  • Why don’t most of the 50-something guys want women their age? Most of my male peers state that they’re seeking women who are 33 to 45.
  • Why do 50-somethings who describe themselves as “athletic and toned” post pictures of themselves shirtless? Do they really think that this is is a sign of confidence?
  • One potential suitor (real estate developer! 54! loves travel and skiing!) described himself as a “great catch.” He began his email to me with “hi vetty.” Am I really supposed to respond to that????
  • In scrolling through the hundreds of profiles, I spotted one where a 50-ish guy noted, “I like to work out at the GIM.” Did I really read that???
  • Why so many photos of older dudes on racing bikes or posing with sports cars? Eeeeewww.

<Sigh.>  So here’s the real issue. I’M TURNING 54 SOON. And I’m feeling my age.

It used to be that by now on Match, my profile would result in hundreds of views and dozens of emails. The irony is that most people think that I’m in my early 40s. I’ll bet that if I had lied about my age — instead of honestly writing that I’m 53 — my stats would be much higher.

But I have to keep reminding myself that this is not about the numbers.

All I need is one good man. He must be honest and have a sense of humor, reasonably healthy and not on any major medications. Is this asking too much?

P.S. — I might be grouchy because I’m paying for Match. If you’re interested in online dating but don’t want to bear the cost either financially or emotionally, I recommend the free site Read about my experience HERE.

Update — Oct. 14, 2013: This is probably my most popular online dating rant. But I’ve been tempted to take it down because so much has changed since I wrote it. For starters, I’m meeting many more men my age. And everyone has the good sense to keep their clothes on in their profile photos. Quite honestly, I think maybe things are different because I’ve changed. Less shrill now. More sure of what I want. Not so angry at the world. Not so lonely anymore either.  :)


Comments 45

  1. Pingback: From a Reader: Dating Over 50 | Living Alone After Divorce

  2. Betty – As a guy in his late 30s and someone who just met somone special on Match, I might be in a different demographic than you are but I had the same frustrations as you with Match until I finally met someone great. I think the key is to look at Match and other online sites as a time saver and a way that you might be able to meet someone geographically who you wouldnt normally be able to (i.e.- you live in the burbs, and maybe you want to meet someone in the city but arent there enough to feel you are socially covering your bases). Also, I think it is important to put up the same red flags that you would if you were at a party or in any social situation. I found that there are soooo many strange people online!!! I can tell you though, you are a total catch – beatiful, intelligent, talented, happy with life, and have a great perspective – do not settle for somoen who you dont feel suits you!! Also, you should email the “good prospect” who accidentally called you “vetty” back! The V is next to the B on the keyboard! Make a joke about it – it would be a good icebreaker!

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      david, congratulations on making a great match connection. i do know how exciting that is because…it just happened for me too! it’s not the guy i wrote about in this post but the next guy i dated. since i’ve vowed to not write about my dating life, i won’t say more! but i wish you tons of good energy and love with your new lady. :-)

      i really like your advice, delivered in such a sensible way. thanks for the encouragement. as for the guy who wrote to me as “hi vetty,” i can’t deal with that. it’s my red flag. i care about writing and any man who doesn’t proof-read in making contact with me is not the guy for me. but maybe i should write and share that with him because he emailed me a second time. that takes a certain amount of guts and i need to support that. so thanks for the inspiration!

  3. I’m definitely forwarding this to my mom and my aunt–they’re both beautiful women in their fifties who have their fair shares of online dating frustration. Apparently it’s easy to be deceived by a photo that obscures a receding hairline. But if it’s any consolation, men in their twenties aren’t much fun either. A full head of hair doesn’t matter much when it’s shoved up your own butt.

  4. Good luck to you Betty! I completely understand as I went through this 2 years ago and I am so hesitant to go back to online dating sites….
    I guess I will eventually…I just need some more time.
    All of my responses were from much older [and much shorter men] (I am tall,..can’t they read?). Also, like you, I told the truth about my age. (Lesson learned….I think most people lie; and I hate starting a relationship by lying…but just wondering….does ANYONE tell the truth on a dating site?)
    I did eventually meet someone though, and after a “rocky” start (He posted an old photo, and the first date was not the best), …we did date for about 8 months, but after 8 months, it wasn’t working out after all.
    Overall, I have the same frustrations that you do. I am in my fifties and most men our age want younger women, or else they post dated pictures of themselves at a younger age. I also received responses that were very poorly written and I would not date someone who clearly was not that intelligent. And I received many responses from retired men and I am still working *very happily” and I have no plans to retire – not for a very long time. I would not be interested in having a relationship with someone who was home all day doing nothing, and I know that it just wouldn’t work out. The man I did date for 8 months was semi retired and that was one of our big problems: his lack of understanding of my work hours.

  5. Post

    oh, rona. sigh. thank you for sharing all this. yeah, dealing with the older guys is dealing with my own mortality. most of them just haven’t aged well. and many of the ones that are still highly-functional want — as you point out — younger women.

    in september, i met a really great guy. he wasn’t anything i expected. in fact, he was everything i have rejected for years. here’s my post about how i’m now dating a chinese-american engineer. there’s hope!

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    just ran into a girlfriend who is getting divorced. she says forget about match. she’s using and met a nice guy, much nicer than the random hordes on match.

    also, some updates for those of us who are ending marriages: match and chemistry will take you if you’re only separated. but eharmony will only take you if you’re divorced.

    my friend also just bought a book called “the rules for online dating.”

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  11. Hi Betty, this is wonderfully refreshing.

    I am 58. I am in the biz of making women look younger. On a whim I signed up for Chemistry for a month. Funny me; I posted that I was 42. I never took it seriously or expected to get any responses – Match and POF are mob scenes and nothing ever happens on Brainiac.

    Backfire- I got asked out by a high level lawyer and felt obliged to be honest. We’ll see what happens. Futurewise, I can always renew under a new name with something close to my real age.

    However I would be lying (again) if i said that my real world is not changing too. Since getting hoardes of responses from bald, goateed men with surly looks and Harleys, I got attitude. There’s a swing in my axle. I’m getting hit on, including by men in their late 30’s. I never imagined 58 could be like this, and quite frankly, I am both and loving it and grateful to have the health and the happiness to pull it off.

    Am I going to wave my age before my name, like they do on dating sites? Hell no – that will stay a mystery, along with Stonehenge and life on Mars.

    More key learnings from the Pinch:

    1. Never respond to a wink or a He Wants To Meet You or a His Favorite. They think you take a nice picture, but if they are interested, they will send an email.

    2. Lose profiles from men with no pictures, or are “separated”. You could end up mowing someone else’s lawn.

    3. If he’s pictured hugging his kid(s), chihuahua, Chevy Vega, or his grow op, you will rank second, and will be expected to assist in their care.

    And while we are at it, why do men think it’s cool that they cook? I just know who they hope will do the dishes. eeewwwwwww………….;0

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  12. Lots of interesting and funny comments! I guess I will have to be careful with my spelling/Typos. Now I am thinking back to the rather lengthy comment I made earlier. Excuse my lack of keyboard skills, ‘Dammit Jim I am the mathematician not the linguist!’. I never had any luck with online dating. I am not sure what, if anything, I should write about myself. I could write about my personality quite accurately according to a Meyers-Briggs type test, which is perhaps a good indicator of who you may be compatible with and why. I am an ENTJ. I recommend taking the test or the much shorter Kersey temperament type sorter. Have your kids take it too. It will give you a lot of insight into your relationships. As an iNtuitive-Thinker (NT) I have collected degrees in Mathematics, Psychology and have extensive training in electronics
    I did an online date once with a woman who was a police detective once. That was an uncomfortable date. The whole time I had this paranoid feeling that the government was checking up on me again.
    I was in Cryptology in the Navy and spent a lot of time on submarines.
    There is a conversation stopper! Your first day they tell you that “if you go into this line of work you can never tell your wife, mother or your girlfriend about your work”. What they don’t tell you is that there is over a 95% divorce rate. I didn’t date much when I was in the navy. There are no women on submarines. My closest relationship with a woman was with another cryptologist who as luck had was a lesbian.
    After I left the Navy a had some Normal jobs that people can identify with such as High School math Teacher and Engineering. But then there are other jobs that we don’t talk about.
    I guess this gits into an issue that is one of the differences between men and women, at least classically. A man’s life is compartmentalized and a woman’s tends to be holistic. I am not really sure if that is the case with the “modern woman”. What do you do in a case such as mine? I have lots of hobbies. I am an expert at many things, SCUBA diving (Divemaster), snow skiing, mountain climbing, winter camping, boating, boating and have a couple of jeeps.
    However, interestingly enough, I fell like the guy in Sneekers which Robert Redford’s Character describes as “Oh great, the worlds most boring human”. Can any one tell me why I feel this way?

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  13. Betty,
    Sorry for going on and on about nothing. When I have been awake for a couple of days things get kind of jumbled up. When a person is exposed to chronic stress it can permanently alter their body chemistry. In my case, my military service resulted in PTSD and bipolar disorder. I am a disabled Vet and go to therapy every Friday at the VA.. I also serve on the Advisory Board for the hospital.
    Some of the comments listed here made me feel bad. I see many of these comments as cheap shots.

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      no need to apologize, brian! i think your comments are very interesting. and quite frankly, i am a mess when i miss even one night of sleep. also glad to hear that you’re getting therapy. (i swear by therapy too.) as a vet, you have paid such a high price to protect the rest of us — thank you for your service.

      i hope you’ll always feel that this blog is a place where you can chat. i don’t censor readers — as long as they speak from personal experiences and aren’t making general obnoxious statements about others. here’s a link to a post that you might like. i created this one for people to share their stories and invite you to write as much as you want there; see how it feels to let loose and not be judged. :)

      here’s the link:

  14. Thanks! I read your link and wrote a rather lengthy note there (Again). I did finally get to sleep. I slept most of Saturday. I dreamed in four-dimensions… wow that was different! I had been reading about Topology the night before, look up Homeomorphism on Wikipedia and there is a cool animation. (showing how a tea cup can morph into a doughnut)
    I would like to address your questions about 50-something males. With respect to the first question it may be wanting better looking women( to make them look/feel younger) or may be Biology. The facts of life (spoken in a Blade runner tone) once a woman reaches menopause she cannot have children. Men can have children at a much older age, so if a man wants to find a woman and have a family with her he is forced by biology to look for a younger woman.
    The shirt-less-harry-moobs-biker types who don’t care about about spelling is a life-style that obviously doesn’t appeal to you. That’s fine. In a monogamous society you only get to keep one. They are just making it easy for you!
    The longest I have been awake was five days. I was awake four days and went to the Navy hospital and told them I couldn’t sleep. They said well you can’t give you any drugs because it will go in your medical record and they may say you are “drug seeking” so just run around the base and you’ll get tired. After making 27 laps around the perimeter of the base I went back and told I still wasn’t tired!
    I had a lot of fun in the Navy. Since we were in Intel we wore civilian clothes, stayed in hotels and drove rental cars. We could wear any official Ball cap so long as it was not our own command. We worked in small groups and basically answered to no one. All of the people in our command were very good people. They told me that the average cost of a background check cost the government over $125,000. If I died in the line of duty my name would be engraved in the NSA/CSS memorial wall ( )
    and one day they may even tell my story.
    I am not sure about dating my self. Who would want to go out with me?

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