Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives — and they are both online dating at the same time.
“I’m a novice at it,” admits Maggie, a 60-something nurse who lives in Brooklyn. “I am retired and my kids are grown and I’m just looking for companionship.”
“My mom has great standards,” adds Frank, 28.
"I believe in destiny,” Maggie says. “Older people come with lots of baggage and it takes a little faith to jump in. I come with my heart open, I am a people person, I'm giving it a try, but it has to come with prospects who are worth my time."
As Maggie points out, online dating for the older generation comes with its own set of challenges. A new study by the dating site AYI.comnotes that Brooklyn in particular is a particularly tough market for singles over 40, with users only being contacted 7.3 percent of the time. Conversely, singles in that age group living in Manhattan have an 8.9 percent chance of being contacted by a potential partner.
“Having a lower number of overall contacts is not necessarily a bad thing,” says Virginia Roberts, an online dating coach who also blogs about dating at TheHeartographer.com. She notes that older daters will probably have a much higher response rate if they choose a site that’s geared toward their age range.
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“Older daters tend to have a more formal style of communication,” notes Roberts. “It’s important to spend some time writing both your profile and any messages that you send out in a very fun voice.”
She stresses that “fun” doesn’t mean immature. “They don’t have to conceal their age,” she continues. “They should just have a ‘joie de vivre.’”
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Looking for examples of how to write a fun message? Look no further than Facebook. “You might have a daughter on Facebook,” she notes. “That breezy tone that reads very informally is what you should be going for.”
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While it may not be unusual to have several single adults in a family at the same time, that doesn’t mean that things won’t get awkward.
“I think the most important thing is to know when to back down,” says Roberts. “You might want your mom to find a nice, steady guy. But your 70-something mom, quite frankly, may just want casual sex because she grew up at a time when that wasn’t done.”
Examples like this, says Roberts, is why setting boundaries is important. “You should step away before it becomes uncomfortable,” she says.
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.