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Boomers go online to rejoin dating scene

By Craig Clough, Staff writer
Published On: May 16 2011 02:55:16 PM CDT
Updated On: May 21 2012 02:55:16 PM CDT
Computer dating, internet, mouses

Laura Nubuck/SXC

Rebecca was shocked when her husband of 20 years told her one day that he no longer wanted to be married.

Suddenly single at the age of 47 and having not been out on a date since the first Reagan administration, Rebecca says it took her 18 months to finally get back into the dating pool.

Rebecca, who asked not to use her last name, said she had some bad dates with colleagues and was set up a few times by friends. Frustrated, like millions of other baby boomers her age, she finally went online and found a whole new world. She now has been on so many dates that she has chronicled her adventures on her blog, DatingGoddess.com.

On her blog, Rebecca keeps both her name and the names of her dates anonymous. She started by giving each man a name based on a flavor of ice cream.

"I had been at Baskin Robbins for 20 years, and I had had vanilla, and I loved vanilla, and there was nothing against vanilla, but it was time to taste some new flavors," said Rebecca. "And I went about discovering different types of men and went out on at least coffee dates with them, and I would give them Baskin Robbins flavor names to describe their personalities."

She has now met so many men and been on so many dates online that she ran out of 31 flavors a long time ago. She counts 91 dates with different men since her divorce.

"The Internet really makes it easy, which is a pro and con," said Rebecca. "The pro is, yes, you get a lot of variety of people and you can sort the ones that have the criteria you are looking for. The bad news is that people put themselves in the dating pool who would never be dating otherwise."

Online Opportunity -- And Problems

Dozens of Web sites cater to singles older than 40, such as MatureSinglesOnly.com, BabyBoomerPeopleMeet.com, SilverSingles.com and PrimeSingles.net.

But baby boomers entering online dating worlds need to be very careful, some experts say.

"Anybody can pose as anybody online," said Stephany Alexander, author of the book "Sex, Lies and the Internet" and founder of WomanSavers.com, a Web site where women rate their dates and warn others about abusers. "You can make up fictitious stories about yourself. You could pretend to be a doctor and create a fake e-mail address And then you can lure people in, not only to con them out of money. You could be a pedophile that approaches single mothers for access to her children. The list goes on and on."

Despite the dangers, more and more single baby boomers are discovering online dating. According to a study by the Online Publishers Association, baby boomers are the fastest-growing segment of online daters. The convenience seems to be the biggest reason.

"The Internet is one of the most popular ways to meet people at this point because it allows you to reach a broader range of people than you would otherwise," said Alexander.

Rebecca said that she did not feel it was appropriate for her to date business associates and clients that she met on her job, so the Internet became the best way for her to get into the game.

"I've dipped my little Baskin Robbins spoon into many different flavors on at      least a coffee date and learned a lot in the process," said Rebecca. "And I've gotten to experience a whole lot of people that I never would have gotten to experience just coming across in my daily life."

Proper Screening

From all of her dates, Rebecca recommended properly screening and vetting dates before meeting them in person or going on a dinner date.

"This gentleman is flirting with me (online) right now and he wants to take me out this weekend, and I said, 'Let's have a phone conversation first.' Because I've learned that people can be just charming in e-mails or short written things, but they are full of expletives or can't put together a full sentence in person," she said.

Protecting your identity at first is also important.

"Obviously, you don't give out any personal information about yourself, such as your real first and last name. You don't give out any information about your children, if you have children," said Alexander. "You don't post your address or your telephone number or an e-mail address that you can't easily get rid of."

Once properly vetted, Rebecca recommends going slow on a series of dates.

"I'm not willing to have a coffee date with someone until we've had at least one or two phone conversations … And I'm not willing to go on a dinner date and essentially give up a whole evening until I've had at least a coffee date," said Rebecca.  "And some people you can know within the first 10 minutes that you're not a match. I almost never, with a rare exception, will accept a dinner as a first date. Even a lunch is a little iffy."