There are certain elder topics that are difficult for this blog because I have no personal experience. I can imagine but I don't really bring anything useful to the party.
Never having been a mother, I'm not much good at considering relationships with adult children and grandchildren. So I don't. Having been divorced since 1971, I can't contribute intelligently, for example, to a conversation about losing a spouse of many decades. So I don't do that either.
But there is one, it occurred to me about a month ago, for which I could do some personal research: online dating in old age.
Before moving forward with the idea, I spoke with a young friend who has some professional experience with dating websites. She suggested which ones would best suit an oldie like me and provide some variety for my report to you.
She warned me to create a new email address; to not use my own. And to reveal only my first name. The online dating business, she said, is fraught with lies and scammers and even with users who are sincerely looking for a match, it is not uncommon for them to post stock photos.
I laughed at that. One question I'd had was about whether it would be be ethically questionable for me to sign up since I am not interested in dating, just in seeing how it goes. I stopped worrying.
The three services we chose were match.com because it is the largest and most well-known; ourtime.com because it is especially for people 50 and older (owned by match.com); and Plenty of Fish (pof.com) because it is (mostly) free.
I created my new address at a free web-based email site with a name that bears no resemblance to my own. Then I started signing up – POF and OurTime first.
It was a lengthy process. Besides the usual sign-up information we are asked for anywhere on the internet, there was personal information to add, preferences to choose from and lengthy “personality tests.” It took me way too long to figure out the last category was not required.
Of course, too, I had to write a profile of myself and a paragraph about the kind of person I was looking for. Now there's a dilemma.
I wasn't really looking for anyone and I have no idea how to describe myself that would provoke responses. Obviously, the only way to play it was to pretend that I really wanted a date but that didn't help with the profile.
Whatever the reputation of the online dating business, I decided to be completely honest except that there would be no mention of this blog. If, by chance, I met someone in person who was genuine, I would explain that part of my life when the time came. For better or worse, here is the profile I went with:
”Former television producer, journalist, internet developer now retired. Interested in good books, good food and wine, the arts, politics, good conversation who is endlessly curious about growing old. Former New Yorker who passionately wishes she were still there. Oh well – stuff happens.
"You're smart, well read, curious about life in general and whatever it is that fascinates you. You're somewhere near my age (73), not afraid of growing old and comfortable in your own skin.”
Fairly bland but after two hours of thinking and research (yes, you can find advice online about how to write a successful dating profile), I was too tired to give it more effort. I used this photo that some of you may have seen when I decided to use it on Facebook too.
By the time I finished all the setup at OurTime and POF, the afternoon was shot, my butt was tired from sitting in the desk chair so long and there is only so much, dear readers, I am willing to sacrifice for you. So I ditched the third website, match.com.
FYI, here is how pricing of the three shakes out.
POF is mostly free. There is no monthly subscription cost although you pay for such services as receiving alerts when someone reads your profile.
OurTime costs US$19.99 per month and you will be autobilled each successive month unless you remember to turn it off.
Match.com is the most expensive. It is $41.99 per month if you purchase each month singly. It becomes less expensive if you commit for three months, six month, etc. down to $20.99 per month for one year.
It didn't take long after my profiles at the two sites went live to receive my first response: “Great profile,” it read. “I'd love to hear from you.”
I was flattered until a short time later, three or four other messages arrived with exactly the same wording.
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