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Dating in the Digital Age

New rules for romance

Even if you're new to dating after a long-term relationship, you probably know that the world of dating has changed with technology. While websites such as AARP Dating are digital, navigating them requires minimal technical skills. You won't need your kids to help you post your online profile, write emails or text, and you've been using the phone since you could talk. The challenge is to know which digital device to use, and when. Relax. It's simple.

See also: Tips for writing an online dating profile.

Advice and tips about dating and social media- a man texting on his smartphone

The world of dating has changed with technology. The challenge is to know which digital device to use, and when. — Steve Sparrow/cultura/Corbis

The rules

The first rule of digital dating is that there are no rules. But, for those over 50, wasting precious time playing dating games is shortsighted. We're too seasoned and smart to resort to the level of grade school note passing. Counting how many days between when you met someone you liked online and calling feels cumbersome and unnatural.

What's next?

Email tag wears me out. After a couple of emails, assuming there's mutual interest, a phone number exchange is appropriate. Trust is important to everyone, but in terms of safety, men have the physical advantage. In order to make a woman feel safer, I offer my phone number first. That affords a woman some measure of comfort. I have nothing to hide, so giving out my number is a no-brainer. Remember, no games.

Telephones still work best

Get on the phone and be your authentic self. That way, you won't feel the burden of living up to an image that isn't really you. Talking on the phone won't be exciting most of the time, but when it is, your heart will soar with optimism. Don't be shy about moving quickly or appearing desperate. Dating works best with integrity, and it's okay to express honest enthusiasm. If I find a woman's profile irresistible, I tell her so, and when I have, the response has always been warm. Ten minutes on the phone can tell you more than a month of emailing. Over-50 dating requires the courage to do what feels right.

Texting is tiresome

Texting and dating don't work well together, and unless you're a bored and lonely teenager, text dating is impersonal and frustrating. Hitting the correct letters on a tiny digital keypad is crazy making. But texting should be limited for other reasons. I never ask anyone out via text, and frankly, I can't imagine anyone over 50 who believes that's appropriate. Be brave, take a chance and call. A brief thank you via text after a date is okay. Just because the digital age is impersonal doesn't mean that you have to act impersonally. Texting should be used sparingly.

Facebook

While Facebook is a terrific opportunity, using it to date is risky. Having your dirty laundry aired in public is one risk. Unless you want every person on the planet to know your personal business, don't date on Facebook. And please, don't post anything on Facebook about anyone you dated. That makes you appear petty. Give a potential date your Facebook link if you want to share photos. I don't use Facebook for dating. I prefer a more personal approach.

Cyberspace is chilly

Cyberspace isn't warm and fuzzy. Talking on the phone and meeting for coffee can offer that comfort. You needn't rely exclusively on digital devices to navigate the dating world. Follow your heart, rather than the instructions that came with your digital device.

Ken Solin is an author, lecturer and blogger who writes on the topic of families, relationships, dating and more from the perspective of a 50-plus. He's been dating in the digital world since its inception.

Published November 2012

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