Recently, a close friend (73, widow of three years) confided that she\’s been eyeing a good-looking gent at the city council meeting. After she related a story of chatting briefly with a ‘man my age\’ at Good Will, and bumped into him again ‘that very same day\’, I suggested that she may be ready to begin dating. “Oh gracious no”, she replied. “I\’m too old, too busy. I\’d have to get laser treatments for these age spots and lose some weight.”

“And you\’re scared,” I responded. “But believe me, you\’re ready.” I advised her to give herself permission and consider on-line dating. “First adjust your attitude. Guys don\’t choose us because of hair color or nose size. We won\’t be contacted because we look like a movie star, or his last girl friend, or even his ‘type\’. We will be picked because we seem like a friendly gal he might want to meet. Someone who might fit into his life, want to meet him, and be impressed by what he has to offer. Someone approachable who won\’t reject him. Someone safe and sane. Why wait? It is not going to magically get easier and tomorrow you will be one day older.”

Fear may be the main obstacle to beginning any new project, but it needn\’t stop you from participating. The title of Susan Jeffer\’s 1980\’s bestseller says it all, Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway. Ninety-nine percent of success is showing up.

Boomers hesitate because the perceived obstacles seem insurmountable. Opportunities are fewer. You haven\’ t dated since high school? News flash: It\’s still awkward. Not to worry. He feels even less prepared and more scared.

ABC\’s Good Morning America had a segment recently about a 52-year-old divorcee who “faced her fear” and re-entered the dating scene via the web after years of singlehood. GMA\’s family therapist, Terry Real, suggested that she take baby steps and enlist help. The woman\’s teenage daughters helped her get on-line and write her profile.

If love was a river, would you sit on the land?” sings Alan Jackson. Feeling a void? Wishful, lonely, or bored sitting on the bank? If you\’ve been noticing those fairy tale Internet dating site TV commercials, your subconscious may be telling you something. You, too, may be ready.

Options for finding a new partner, until recently were limited to a chance encounter at play, at church, at work, at the mall, or on a blind date. Disheartened by the high failure rate of those avenues, savvy singles quickly embraced cyber-searching. On-line matchmaking suits our frantic 21st Century global lifestyle and has virtually replaced all previous channels for those seeking a mate.

Ninety-six million singles (seventy percent) in the United States are cyber-searching for a mate. And baby boomers (78,000,000 born 1946-1964, now aged 46–64 represent thirty percent of the U.S. population) are participating in droves. The fastest growing segment of on-line subscribers the past four years was over fifty. Boomers participating in cyber-dating are often widowed or divorced after 25-30 years of marriage. The divorce rate–50% for first marriages, 67% for second and 74% for third marriages—produces a continuous market for a first, second or third mates.

Boomers are staying active longer, enjoying unprecedented good health, energy and expectations for longevity. We\’ve become web savvy, using the Internet as a resource for shopping, information, entertainment and finding dates.

Twenty-first century dating is different. The Internet allows us to shop for a mate 24-hours a day in our PJs and order dates delivered to our doorstep. We\’ve experienced a paradigm shift, a fundamental change in how humans connect romantically. The stigma is gone. We all know several couples who\’ve found each other on the net. Finding a mate online has become mainstream.

Dating is dating is dating in any century. What has changed is the process leading up to the first date. The cyber-dating process is an inside out revealing. We learn all about him before actually meeting face-to-face. We connect emotionally before we connect physically. Last century\’s old-fashioned dating began on the outside. We were attracted to a person\’s shell and slowly the internal self was revealed–similar to peeling the layers of an onion.

Dating has always been part art, part science. In this very human endeavor, it is difficult not to become emotionally invested, but don\’t take any of this personally. High, high hopes raise expectations. Expectations are the Achilles heel of relationships. Think of this project as a fun way to meet people not normally in your life\’s orbit.

Stay realistic. Dating sites will not deliver a relationship-ready perfect partner, despite their blatant TV promises. But this is a multi-billion dollar business because people use it and people use it because it works. Sites don\’t differ dramatically, despite their claims to the contrary. It\’s all about the algorithm. Their pairing process will connect you with compatible people with similar interests and traits. The site you choose is a tool, a resource. You pay to use their extensive database to search for a companion fitting your needs.

Treat his profile like the one dimensional paper doll of our youth. These guys do not exist. Facts do not equal reality. His profile is a snapshot in time, reflecting how he saw himself in the moment he penned his profile. It reflects how he felt that day–desperate, distant, distressed, daring, distracted or dashing. This is not a real person. This is his self-perceived persona. Your task is to determine ASAP ‘is it real or is it Memorex?\’

No one has ever, and will never, be able to predict chemistry. Chemistry is a complicated conundrum. It\’s up to you to show up for the first date and determine whether there is any spark. Whether you are attracted or repelled. Whether you hunger for more or feel like you\’ve had enough. If both of you desire desert or a second helping, dating reverts to the old fashioned format.

SIDEBAR

You can ease yourself into the dating groove as a spectator online. But any new skill or endeavor must be practiced and learned by doing. You will not find a mate while sitting on the sideline. Love could be one click away. Step up to the plate by following these steps.

10 Steps in On-line Dating:

  • Become clear on the type of companion U seek.
    [a date, a Soul Mate, a sole mate, an intimate encounter or an activity partner]
  • Choose a site tailored to your needs.
  • Create an honest, appealing profile.
  • Use in-focus, current, flattering photos.
  • Pick a profile that piques your interest and matches your criteria.
  • Send an e-mail indicating your interest.
  • Chat on the phone after exchanging several e\’s.
  • Meet ASAP to discourage fantasizing.
  • Determine if both of you are interested in a 2nd meeting.
  • If not, pick another potential and repeat.
  • Author Linda K Miller (61), a long-time seeker and subscriber to the major Internet dating services, has had more than four hundred 1st Dates. She\’s mastered the mating dance of written words and online protocol. She\’s clicked on and off several thousand “matches” and transformed those on-paper connections to dates with men from the southern tip of Texas to the northern border of Minnesota, from California to Maryland and points in between. Ms Miller has acquired vast and varied work and personal experience. While living in Iowa, Southern California, Oregon, Washington and Mexico she worked in pink-, blue-, and white-collar jobs—union, non-union, retail, factory floor, field, office, and boardroom. She\’s been employed in manufacturing, cosmetology, and corporations. Visit Linda at her BL0G, or her website at LastFirstDate4Boomers.com