Gray Date: Rules of the Game for Older Daters

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – If you’re 50 and over, the chances that you will find yourself back on the dating scene are real. Relationships end for all sorts of reasons, but they are no reason to swear off finding another partner forever. And that means one thing: dating.

“Everything has changed in the dating world since most of us were last in it,” says Joan Price, author of Naked at our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex. “How we meet people, who approaches whom. Most people our age are going by the old rules and we don’t really know what those rules are.”

Sometimes those rules can mean the difference between a safe and an unsafe experience. Many people over 40 who suddenly find themselves back on the dating scene are lonely and not used to being alone, which may make them more vulnerable, says Anne Beckley Coleman, author of Matchless: Searching for Love Online. She says you need to be mentally prepared to make a lot of friends, but be cautious as well.

She tells the story of a friend who was swindled out of an expensive dinner. “She met a guy online and when she met him in person for dinner, he ordered expensive wine and a lobster dinner,” says Coleman. “He got up to make a phone call and never came back, leaving her with the bill.”

It’s a new dating world out there, so MainStreet put together a 10-point guide to help anyone returning to the dating scene after a long hiatus get up to speed on the rules of the game.

1. Online dating. “We live in a world where communities are not small and you can’t rely on someone to introduce you to someone the way they did a generation ago,” says Coleman. She cautions people who go into online dating to take it with a grain of salt. “Have fun with it, but if you get rejected, don’t take it personally,” she says.

2. Building an online profile. Another tip from Coleman is that since you want honesty in someone else’s profile, be honest in your own profile descriptions. “You want to find someone who can handle you for who you are, if you’re overweight, don’t kid yourself into thinking that your fabulous personality will overcome,” says Coleman.

Price, the senior intimacy expert, gives some tips such as not wearing sunglasses in your main profile picture “It looks like you’re hiding something,” says Price. She also advises providing more than a headshot in the profile photo and in addition to not lying about your weight, don’t lie about your age. “If you’re 58 and you find someone online who doesn’t want anyone over 55, don’t you want to know that? If you meet, it will come out,” says Price.

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