Disappointment, clearly, is almost unavoidable. Our survey found that among those reluctant to try online dating, 21 percent of women and 9 percent of men said it was because they knew someone who had a bad experience. Veteran online daters become adept at realizing when a match is going nowhere. When Marc Riolo, a retired 67-year-old in Washington State, started online dating in his late 50s, “a lot of the women seemed to be shopping for a husband, just sizing me up,” he says. “I felt like I was being interviewed for the position of husband.”
It’s no wonder you often hear that people will do a few months of online dating, grow frustrated, then take a break for a few months. But persistence paid off for Riolo: He’s been dating a woman he met on Yahoo Personals for the past 9 years.
“She didn’t have an agenda; we both just wanted someone to do things with,” he says. They live separately but spend about half of the week together. “Our friends say we have the perfect relationship.”
Vince Manfredi, 61, who is divorced and works in marketing in San Diego, found that deception is all too common. “I went on a few dates with someone who claimed to be a professor,” he recalls. Where that person taught and what subject kept changing. “Finally I pressed it and found out it wasn’t truthful, and that bummed me out.”
Edwards has sensed a pattern of untruthfulness. “Baby boomers are most likely to lie about age,” she says, “while Gen Xers are most likely to fib about their income.”
Manfredi wishes the sites would offer verified information about users. But that runs counter to another user concern: privacy. Among those singles in our survey who hadn’t tried online dating, one in 10 said they’d like to give it a shot but had concerns, describing themselves as private people (50 percent), and worried about data and information security (48 percent) and scams (46 percent).
How to Protect Your Privacy
Weigel points to real-life concerns, like the data breach in 2015 of the extramarital affair site Ashley Madison, which revealed user details including email addresses. “Or I think of professor friends on Tinder who are afraid they’ll see their students,” she says. Most sites offer common-sense tips on how to protect yourself, including not sharing personal contact information right away and going on first dates in public places. And if someone asks for money, don’t send it. The FBI says Americans lost more than $82 million to online dating fraud in the last six months of 2014.
“They’re made for meeting people,” says Christian Rudder, a co-founder of OkCupid. “They should be called online introductions, not online dating.”
Success in online dating requires a realistic idea of what the sites can offer and the patience to go on lots of coffee dates
When Caploe got back into the dating game, she tried to keep the whole endeavor fun. “It wasn’t, ‘Now I need a man to make my life complete.’ Some people look at online dating as a second job. That was definitely not me.” Her first-date strategy was to pretend it was just a business meeting, “which made it easy to go and just see what happened.”
There was the time a man messaged her on JDate and she responded that she couldn’t get together because she was having lower back pain, “which is a total baby megafuckbook boomer problem,” she says now, with a laugh. When they eventually met in person, she thought he was 10 times more attractive than in his photos. “We went to a gallery. We hung around in Central Park and he bought me an ice cream,” she says. “And that was it.” Today, 15 months later, they’re still going strong.