Dating in the over 50 set…


The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague.
Bill Cosby
US comedian & television actor (1937 – )


If you aren’t like my ex, and you don’t marry the first person who is willing to speak to you in a romantic way, life in the over 50 dating circle becomes a repeated experience in advertising copy. I’ve tried to learn what I can from the brilliant Terry O’Reilly in “The age of persuasion” on CBC about the right sort of advertising to do on various dating sites, but I think Bill Cosby has it right.

I haven’t had a lot of luck with my current advertising strategy.

My problem is that I am swayed by people who can write. If you can put together a good sentence with few spelling errors and with at least a hint at education, I tend to err on the wanting to meet you side.  This is fine, and I’ve met all sorts of people with interesting backgrounds this way, most of whom were unemployed and so had the time to craft perfect sentences. Many of them were highly educated and underemployed – lovely people all, but all just not quite right. And while I don’t hold poverty against anyone, I do like to have a friend who can at least hold his own in the costs of a relationship. I’m not expensive to entertain.

A friend of mine once told me that he felt that everyone on dating sites was broken somehow, and in many cases this is true. I’ve heard the tales of “my wife went crazy” a few too many times to believe that this is true, and I’ve come to wonder what happened on the husband side of things to make the wife “go crazy”. I can’t help but draw on my own marital experience and know that there are faults on both sides in any relationship that splits.  The more dramatic the split, the more the faults exist on both sides. Yes, there is mental illness.  But there are also dysfunctional relationships that accelerate the process.

Then there are the people on dating sites who are in their 50’s and have never married or had children. Why not? Why do they want to now? I immediately think of Criminal Minds episodes of loners who shop for women to kill. Scary. Either that or they are lying and are in fact, still married.  Perhaps they are cannibals. Perhaps they have disagreeable habits. All I know is that I am already getting set in my solo ways after just 5 years alone, so I can’t imagine how someone with a lifetime on their own would adjust to the presence of another.  They probably have stuffed ducks in their living rooms, or entire collections of Star Wars figurines, or such an extensive porn collection that they are under supervision by the RCMP. Or a lengthy criminal record.

My ex found his sweetie in the personal column of the New York Review of Books. The ads there are quite bizarre.  Women write novellas (expensive, at 5 bucks a word).  Men state they are alive. It’s like Craig’s List personals – women want relationships.  Men want sex. My favourites are the men’s ads that say “Hey, I’m in town for the night – if you want to come and meet me for sex I’m at such and such hotel, Room whatever.” Do these even work??? I can’t imagine a woman hanging around at her computer, looking over Craig’s list and saying to herself, “well, gee, that fellow looks interesting…”, splashing herself with perfume and dashing off to the hotel…

I think a lot of the men are on dating sites because they are too cheap to pay for prostitutes.

I’m caught in a quandary. I can hardly go sloping through bars to meet men. First of all, I don’t like bars.  Pubs, yes, but even then, being alone there leads to the wrong idea. Most classes and groups and whatever are filled with women. Most volunteer things are filled with women. It’s not as easy to meet men as you get older. The online way seems the best way to get to know people a bit before you meet them, to do at least some prior sorting, to find people with similar interests.

But I need to fine tune my advertising.  Something I’m doing isn’t quite right. As I said, I’ve met a lot of interesting people, and had wonderful relationships with a couple. I don’t ask for much, but I seem to be missing the mark.

I even signed up for that E-H service. Told them all I wanted was a non-smoker, with education, in Canada.  They could find no match for me in all of Canada.  The only person they could find who matched my exacting requirements was a truck driver in Texas. Who smoked. Talk about your ego destroyer.

So back to the other services, with a better ad, based on Bill Cosby’s sentiments. I’ll just hint, and go for the vague. Maybe I’ll experiment, and go with one ad that includes my educational background (considerable) and such stuff – and another that says the usual banal “walks on the beach” line, and see which one gets the most responses….maybe the men have something here, and brevity is the soul of success.

I’ll let you know.