10 tips for successful online dating as a senior

Beverley Hadgraft exclusively interviews Elisabeth Shaw, CEO of Relationships Australia for Australian Seniors.

Life can have any twists and turns, and sometimes you never know what is just around the corner. Dating as an older person might seem like a challenge but actually, it can be a highly exciting time to be a single senior, with all the digital apps and programs now designed to make meeting people safer, easier, and more fun. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules, but there are a few general guidelines to be aware of to get yourself in the dating pool, even if you have not done it for years…or even decades! Here are some things to consider:

1. Accept the process

Feeling awkward about online dating? Think of it as a digital version of a matchmaker, says Elisabeth Shaw, CEO of Relationships Australia NSW. She suggests starting with something like an app for making friends and joining like minded groups, which is more about social interaction than finding a partner, such as the Meetup app . For instance, if you like bushwalking, it will connect you with people to go hiking with.

2. Recruit a cheer squad

It could be younger family members or a friend, but it does help to find someone who can take your photo and help you write a profile. Plus, it is nice to have someone to share the anticipation and celebrate the success if you meet someone new.

3. Zoom in

If you think you have met someone you click with, you do not have to immediately meet face-to-face. Do a Zoom call or FaceTime first so you at least know what they look like and can sense if there is a spark. Doing this can also save awkwardness on that first date. Even talking on the phone first will give you confidence and break the ice.

4. Paint a picture

Sometimes, instead of writing a profile about yourself, it can help to detail the life you would like with a partner. Be clear about what you want and be honest about who you are. “Deception is never a good basis for a relationship,” advises Elisabeth.

5. Tell your family

“Let them know that you’re lonely and would like to re-partner so they’re aware you’re giving it some thought,” says Elisabeth.

6. Take time out

Annie Gurton, 72, is a Sydney-based Imago therapy couples counsellor and psychotherapist. She spent several years on a dating website before meeting now-husband Peter, 77. She advises the search for love can be an emotional roller-coaster. “So give yourself an occasional break and recognise it can take a long time to meet someone.”

7. List your non-negotiables

Annie also has advice for older daters. “What you’re looking for in later life will be different to what you wanted when younger. We have different life experiences and well-formed different tastes,” she says. Most importantly, be clear about what you want. Do you enjoy your own home and friends, so only want a part-time relationship, or are you looking for marriage and intimacy?

8. Enjoy your age

A major barrier to dating is a fear of judgement about our changed bodies but, says Annie, “There’s attraction in wrinkles – they show life experience. “We can lose libido and that is an issue, but honesty in a relationship is important, so discuss how you’re feeling and your levels of desire.” Of course, see your GP if you have any major concerns.

9. Consider your personal safety

The Australian Government has a resource called the eSafety Commissioner, and the website has a great resource all about safety when meeting someone you have been chatting to online . The site is geared towards women, but the advice given is relevant to all. One piece of advice is to ensure you meet in a public place, and always let someone you trust know who you’re with and what you’re doing. Another suggestion is to save and store your app conversation, so you have evidence of any contact with the other person to help you identify them if you ever find yourself needing to make a complaint.

10. Be confident!

It’s important to “back yourself” when you start to date again. Remember that everyone has their quirks, everyone has their flaws, faults and strengths as well. Don’t head into the dating world thinking that everyone is perfect; remember to give people a chance, and to be open to meeting friends and acquaintances too. Try to be open-minded and remember that you are a special, unique person who has lots to offer. You never know what luck you might have!

Dating in the modern world

The Australian Seniors Modern Dating Survey had some very eye-opening findings on dating as an older Australian.

  • 98% are honest about their age on their dating profile
  • 84% say a sense of humour is the most important trait in a potential partner
  • 55% prefer to use online dating apps with free membership
  • 47% look for online dating sites that are easy to use.

Life’s Booming: Dare to Date is a podcast hosted by the ABC’s James Valentine


This is general information only. You should seek professional advice specific to your circumstances.