Matchmaker or Mouse: Two Options for Boomer Singles
By Melissa Conroy
According to the U.S. census, a surprising 102 million people 18 years or older were unmarried in 2011 and make up 44 percent of the adult population. Growing numbers of people choose to live single while increasing numbers of people cohabit or have alternate relationship arrangements. Divorce and death also have their effects on marriage rates as well. All in all, this adds up to a significant percentage of U.S. adults who are not currently in a romantic relationship as defined by the traditional institution of marriage.
Many people are perfectly happy flying solo. However, the desire for love and affection is a core part of human nature, and today’s lonely singles have two tried-and-true options for actively searching for that special someone: Internet dating and matchmaking.
Internet dating is one of the most popular venues for people searching for a romantic partner. The stigma of online dating has long passed, and today you can find a wide variety of sites that will connect you with potential love interests. A staggering 40 million people in this country have tried online dating at least once, and the online dating industry pulls in over a billion in annual revenue.
When looking for an online dating site, you may gravitate towards a large, well-established site such as www.Eharmony.com (20 million users) or www.Match.com (15 million users). These larger sites offer a wide variety of people to choose from and often include users from several countries. These sites typically use sophisticated algorithms and other helpful tools to find good matches, factoring in information such as your smoking preference, hobbies and religious views to help you narrow down your search to ideal matches.
There is also a growing number of “niche” dating sites which cater to a specific user group such as the newly established www.DatingaWidower.us which connects widows and widowers looking for new love. Other niche sites include www.Fitness-Singles.com which is a site for athletically-minded singles or www.OurTime.com which is for users 50 and older. Niche sites usually have a smaller member pool and less sophisticated search criteria and user interface. While you may not find as many options on a niche site, you will probably have a more select pool of people and can avoid getting overwhelmed with options.
However, those who venture into the world of online dating need to be aware of some potential pitfalls. One good piece of advice is to avoid free dating sites because they are more likely populated by scam artists, married folks looking for a fling and spam bots. There are some exceptions: www.PlentyofFish.com is both free and one of the most popular dating sites on the Internet. As a rule of thumb, though, you are far better off sticking with a paying site.
Honest representation is another factor of online dating: People can and do lie extravagantly about their income, share pictures of themselves when they were 10 years younger and forty pounds lighter, or fail to disclose that they are still legally married. Men are most likely to lie about their height and income, while women are apt to change their weight and age. Sadly, dating sites are not innocent of blame either: Even the most reputable sites have been known to create fake profiles to lure in paying customers. Other dating sites have been cited for stealing photographs off the Internet to use for fake profiles, and more than one happily paired-up person has been shocked to discover that their picture is featured on a dating site profile.
Safety is also a concern with online dating. If you do decide to pursue it, you should take safety precautions such as meeting your date in a public place, being cautious of revealing personal information too soon and watching for anyone trying to coax you out of money. Aside from personal danger, an estimated one in 10 dating profiles is a fake created as part of a con. Scam artists spend a great deal of time wooing people online and many a hopeful online dater has established a “relationship” with a scam artist, only to end up broke and broken-hearted at the end.
A final issue to consider with online dating is that it can take quite a bit of time. You’ll likely send out a lot of emails, follow up on a lot of leads and have a succession of dates before you find someone who is right for you. Lest you have forgotten, dating is not an easy process, and some people spend years on online dating sites without finding that special someone.
In a modern twist on an old classic, matchmaking is a second option for today’s single. While the practice of matchmaking has long existed, today’s singles can take advantage of professional matchmakers and companies such as It’s Just Lunch and Master Matchmaker to find ideal partners. Professional matchmaking is a growing business; In fact, the Professional Matchmaking Association was established in 2003 to globally link professional matchmakers in many countries.
Unlike online dating, matchmaking companies work with a small pool of individuals (a matchmaker may have as few as 10 clients at one time) to find the best match for their clients. Your matchmaker will get to know you personally and ask detailed questions about what you are looking for in a potential partner. This allows your matchmaker to select people that you are most likely to connect well with and ensures that you will have good dates with interesting individuals.
Matchmakers are typically selective of their clients and run background checks and interviews to ensure that they have quality, honest people as clients. This means less worry that your date won’t look like their picture or secretly harbors a plan to stab you with a salad fork and steal your SSN. Also, the quality of individuals who turn to matchmaking tends to be fairly high so you are likely to be matched with well-educated, intellectual and responsible people.
Matchmaking is much less work than online dating, namely because your matchmaker takes on the responsibility of finding dates for you. Matchmakers also typically arrange dates, so all you have to do is show up at the right place at the right time. If you are a busy individual who can’t commit several hours a week to online dating, matchmaking can take a tremendous burden from you, allowing you to enjoy dating without having to log so many hours on the task.
One drawback of matchmaking is it is not cheap; signing up for a matchmaking service will usually drain your wallet of several hundred dollars or more. Also, there are no guarantees on love, so you could sink thousands of dollars into a matchmaking agency only to find yourself still single after a year or two. However, if you are serious about finding someone, it can pay to put yourself in the hands of a professional. True love is worth more than gold, and signing on with a matchmaker could be a great investment in your romantic future.
If you are ready to put your single days behind you, it’s time to get proactive about finding that special someone. Your true love may be scrolling through the search results of a dating site or talking with a matchmaker at this very moment. Whether it’s through a high-tech dating algorithm or the expert pairing of a professional matchmaker, you can find love. Take a chance and start searching!
Melissa has spent a considerable amount of time looking for love online and is now in the custody of a professional matchmaker. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org