Finding love can be tricky at any age but if you're over 50 and just getting back in the game, knowing the rules can be even more confusing. Online dating offers a great way to meet new people, but it pays to be aware. Not everyone is what they seem and some types of dating profiles are best approached with caution or avoided all together.
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See also: Dating in your 50s-plus? What NOT to ask on a first date
See also: Dating after divorce - dos and don'ts
1. The barren profile
Writing a dating profile is hard – but beware of someone who gives little or no information about themselves. The joy of dating someone over 50 is that they have lived a bit, made mistakes, and have a good understanding of who they are and what they are looking for.
A profile that contains only a short and generic description suggests that the person is either lazy or just curious and testing the water. Whether they're not open enough to share information about themselves, or not committed to online dating, they're best avoided.
A particularly attractive photo along with little personal information could mean they just want to hook up, or even that they're married and looking for a fling. There's also the slim possibility that you've come across a fake account. Members interested in using dating services in legitimate ways are generally happy to provide information about themselves.
Unfortunately there are fake accounts out there where a man or woman will befriend you and start an email or phone relationship and then – at some point down the line - ask for money. It could be cash to pay for their trip to see you, get them out of trouble with a debt collector, or an opportunity to join them in an exciting business venture.
So how do you spot a fake profile? The may be younger than you and very good looking – and once you get talking, may profess to like all the same things as you. Fake profilers steal images from the web to use on their profile, so be extra cautious if their photo is particularly polished - a man in military uniform or a model-type photo of a woman, for example.
As a general rule, you should meet someone after three to five correspondences by email. If they're not keen to meet, ask to see more photos of them and quiz them about what they like to do – you'll soon know if something doesn't add up. Remember, never send money or share your financial details with anyone online – there is NO exception to the rule.
3. All about me, me, me
At the opposite end of the scale to the barren profiler is the "me, me, me" person who starts every sentence with the word "I". Their profile goes into great detail about what they want and need (as well as a long list of what they don't want), yet they provide little indication of what they would bring to a relationship.
A well-balanced profile (and therefore person), will suggest what they are willing to contribute to a relationship and the kind of things you might do together. Takers rather than givers talk only about themselves and what they want – and will expect you to slot into their lives without thinking about your needs or wants.
4. Mr or Mrs Negative
Watch out for profiles that are full of negative words and phrases. Over-use of words like "can't, won't, don't, or wouldn't," suggest someone who has a negative outlook – and wouldn't you rather be with someone who is open to enjoying what life has to offer?
If they make statements such as, "I don't want an insecure or needy woman," or "Arrogant and over-opinionated men need not apply," look elsewhere. Anyone who makes a negative reference to their ex husband or wife or suggests they've had enough of meeting men or women or a certain "type" should also be avoided.
5. Too demanding (or not demanding enough)
Some people know exactly what they are looking for in a potential date – while others just "know once they've found it." An indication is always helpful, for example "I go to the gym three times a week and enjoy cooking healthy meals, so am interested in meeting someone who likes to take care of themselves."
However, a person who insists that you are under a certain weight or dress size, or wants you to enjoy a particular hobby is at best hard to please, and at worst, controlling.
Also beware of someone who doesn't give any indication of what they're looking for – a profile that is "open to all offers" smacks of desperation.