Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas into Discoveries – The Online Dating Game

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Here, a look at how more boomers are turning to dating websites – and how to get started if you’re new to the online dating game.

Q   I’ve been divorced for five years and, at age 54, I’m really not looking forward to being alone for the rest of my life. I went through some pretty rough years and a lot of grief, but I’m ready to give love another try – I think. My friends and family have been encouraging me to try the online dating thing, but I’m not sure about that. It feels so contrived and I admit I’m really quite terrified by the prospect. Should I be?

—Joanne, Toronto

A   No, you shouldn’t. People 50 and older are the fastest growing demographic to use dating websites and make up an estimated 20 per cent of all users. Online dating is “the new normal,” according to London, Ont.-based clinical psychologist and author Dr. Guy Grenier, who insists, “It’s a great thing, and resisting it is a poor choice.”

While most people over 50 Dr. Grenier sees in his practice “initially look askew” at online dating, they’ve also learned through friends, articles and TV that online dating can have fantastic results. And he sees those results “constantly.”

A study of more than 11,000 people by an independent market research firm and the dating website found that one in six marriages in 2009 were between people who met through an online dating site. But it’s understandable that the older you are, the scarier it can feel jumping into the fray.

“A lot of people over 50 are uncomfortable with online dating because it’s a modality they’re not used to and they don’t tend to be part of the tech-savvy youth culture,” says Dr. Grenier. “But learning to use it is really an advantage, and it’s a very gentle transition to dating since the user controls how fast or slow they want to go – plus you can always pull the plug if you want.”

So the first step you might consider is simply to go online and see what’s available. Log onto different dating websites and get a feel for how they work and what they cost, if anything. There are all kinds of them, including specialty dating sites for people who, for example, love dogs, ride horses or are gay.

Bottom-line advice? Be brave, get out there and start dating again.

 Send Diane a brief description of your dilemma, along with your first name and where you live, to [email protected]

A professional journalist for more than 25 years, Diane Sewell has written for some of the top newspapers and magazines in Canada and is a baby boomer herself. Her new blog “Boomerangst, Turning Dilemmas into Discoveries” is interactive with readers and focuses on life issues – like aging, dating, second marriages, sex, death, family and fashion. Diane will use her expertise to find the right expert to help solve your predicament, unearthing kernels of truth and quickly getting to the heart of the issue.