Looking for love? You should try online dating
THERE isn't any single answer to the age-old question of where to find true love.
As we get older we can tend to get more reticent to reach out publicly, through friends, and at social occasions, to talk about our search for love.
Going online allows you to operate almost anonymously, at least to start, so that your friends and family don't have to know you are reaching out for a new friend.
If you go online for dating, always take a moment to read the detail and think about what information you are being asked to share and with whom.
There are lots of scams out there that can catch you short, either financially or emotionally, or both. But looking for love can be fun.
There are lots of good men and women who want friendship, companionship and maybe even a long-term relationship.
Until you get yourself moving you will never find out just how much choice and how much enjoyment you can have searching for and finding a new partner.
If you are prepared to get online and start talking to potential new friends via the keyboard, there is an extensive choice of websites with many open to registration for any age and persuasion, while a handful are fully focused on the over 50s and over 60s market.
Several site names are very recognisable, such as RSVP.com and eHarmony, which are open age sites.
Then there are the age-specific sites: single60s.com.au, seekingsingles.com, sixtydating.com/Australia, Singleandmature.com (which has sub-sites for differing ages) and fiftydating.com/Australia, just to name a very few.
Whichever site you access, you need an email address.
Most sites have free registration, but having a credit card on hand becomes a necessity to progress into the detail of the site.
Take time to have a good look through a website so that you can determine if it is offering the types of contacts you want. Not all sites will cater for your interests.
Be wary; most sites are legitimate, but some are not. There are no hard and fast rules for determining which sites are not real, so start by talking with friends about ones they use and ones they avoid.
Jill*, 52, said her biggest lesson from using online dating sites was remembering to think about what kind of person you want to connect with before you choose a site.
"You need to know if you want a new friend, replace a lost partner, find a new companion, find love or just a playmate," she said.
Liking coffee seems to help, said 66-year-old Gail*: "I know quite a few people who say they meet their 'date' at The Coffee Club."
Margaret* is a young 72-year-old. She's been on RSVP.com and on eHarmony, but not on the age specific sites.
She chose to wait for people to select her profile on these sites rather than searching through for candidates.
"There was one person I met that I have actually stayed in contact with. He is still a friend as we found we had a lot in common," she said.
And, that is the crux of her search. While she said she was very active outside of her home, finding commonality with the people she met online has put her off using that service.
"It's just easier to search for friends than for partners," Margaret added.
For anyone wary of going online, there are other options.
OUT TO DINNER
To find a singles dining group near you, you need to go online. Some of the choices are A Table for Six and A Table for Eight.
The idea behind this type of meeting experience is an equal number of men and women meet for dinner at a restaurant or event.
Often there is a set menu and set price for the low-pressure experience.
Margaret tried Table for Six where small groups meet in selected restaurants to enjoy a meal together and where contact numbers are usually only shared through the dinner organiser.
"You can't beat meeting someone face to face," Margaret said.
Another way to make new friends is through old-fashioned introduction agencies, which in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria must be registered.
They still exist although most also have an online presence.
There are agencies to suit you whether you are based in the country, such as Countrydating.com.au and ruralromance.com.au, or in a major centre there are city-based ones such as Yvonne Allen.
After trying a few of the dating websites Jill said she now prefers introduction agencies.
"I think they are much more reliable, safer, than just meeting on the net," she said.
LET LIFE RUN ITS COURSE
After trying all of the above, you can of course just let life run its course.
Bob*, 65, believes it's better to meet someone without having to seeing their photo first.
"I reckon if you are not out there looking, it will just happen. Be yourself, avoid hunting and be happy within yourself and it will happen," Bob said.
If you are concerned about dating scams, use
https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/ and look for Protecting Your Identity Booklet, What Everyone Needs to Know, to find who you should contact.
(* Names have been changed)