I always find that September is a time of renewal. With the changing of the seasons, comes a shift to cooler weather and autumn routines. A big transition I had last September was meeting my new boyfriend E. It was a year ago that I hit send on my first online flirt after my long-term relationship ended in spring 2021. It was hard to put myself out there again.
Online dating over 50
While I’ve had a relatively good experience (for the most part) with online dating, for some it can be very scary to take the initial step, especially when you find yourself single at this age. That’s why when the PR team for 33000Dates.com founder Andrea McGinty reached out to me, I was curious to talk to her. I thought Andrea might have some helpful online dating tips to share for single, widowed and divorced women over 50.
Meet Andrea McGinty, founder of 33000Dates.com
Andrea McGinty is the founder of It’s Just Lunch a former dating service (which she sold) and 33000Dates.com where she now helps singles navigate online dating. In the 2020s, she believes the best way to meet people is through online dating using a professional dating coach. In fact, Andrea specializes in working with single clients in their 50s-70s.
Without further adieu, I’m going to turn things over to Andrea. Here are excerpts from our chat:
Tell me about your background. Why did you become a dating coach?
Andrea: “Graduating from college in the mid 80’s armed with an accounting degree, never in a million years would I have imagined such a wild career path from my business major. But as they say, when one door closes another opens. In my 20’s, a few weeks before my wedding, my fiancée changed his mind and called it off. After tears and a bit of drama came my friends fixing me up on dates. I quickly discovered their only criteria for a blind date was that you were both single. As I thought more about this, and the many friends I had set up on dates in both high school and college, I knew there had to be a better way to meet.
Remember, now we are in 1990—the internet is new, there is no online dating, so what’s a single girl to do? I thought, what if there was a place you could go, similar to an executive recruiter, only to tell them all about your personal life and they did the work for you. A headhunter for your personal life. My ahhha moment was born, wait, I’m good at this, I love fixing friends up, I should do this! Hence, It’s Just Lunch was born in 1991 in Chicago. Over the next 12 years I built the company into more than 110 locations worldwide, with many happy clients, relationships, marriages and It’s Just Lunch babies, as I called them.
Finally, with IJL and the advent of internet dating, I saw the stigma of dating being eradicated. Hurray! No more embarrassment over using a dating site or service.
But I also saw the writing on the wall — internet dating was gaining in popularity and when two private equity companies approached me to sell the company, I did. Because I knew exactly what I wanted to do next—help singles in their 40’s to 70’s navigate online dating. People were overwhelmed with the number of sites and choices. I knew just how to help and I was back to basics and what I loved — the individual one-on-one dating coaching with clients.”
What do you find is different about dating for females over 50?
Andrea: “Most are either divorced or widowed.
The most common factor for woman over 50 is that they grew up without online dating. They went to college, perhaps grad school, married, raised children and found at age 50 or 60 they were divorced or widowed. Of course, many of their friends are married still and they can feel excluded from these social groups when a marriage ends.
And how do you meet people? Your married friends know…you guessed it, married friends! But here’s the great news — there are 128 million singles in the US. And women at this age need to know what women in their 20’s and 30’s know — it’s fine and socially acceptable to use a quality dating site. The biggest obstacle for my 50’s and 60’s women is overcoming this mental hurdle — done right, you can meet the second love of your life.”
You started It’s Just Lunch many years ago before online dating. How has dating changed?
Andrea: “Dating is now so inclusive — regardless of age, religion, ethnicity, etc. Not only are there over 1400 online dating sites/apps (yes, leading to mass confusion and why many people choose a dating coach to lead them through this dating jungle), but also national and local matchmaking services, search firms charging $20,000 to over $100,000 (yes), meet up groups for people with like interests (generally free), and singles groups at churches and temples. So much to choose from.
If we were back in the 90’s, I’m sorry to say, the odds of a divorced, widowed woman 50+ finding love again were dismal. Not anymore. The chance of finding love or a relationship for this age group is just as strong as for a 30-year-old. Happy, encouraging changes.”
There are so many dating websites and apps. Are there any you like more than others for the over 50 age group?
Andrea: “You’re right — there’s over 1400 dating apps/sites with over 50% appropriate for the over 50 crowd. I choose dating sites for my clients on a very individualized basis, taking into account geographics, demographics, ratio of men to women on each given site and what they are looking for — Is it a long-term relationship? Marriage? Travel partner? All of these factors come into play.
For example, Bumble skews heavily female so it’s a good choice for my male clients as a dating coach. On the East Coast, Coffee Meets Bagel is strong in some areas—not so much on the West Coast. So, care must be put into the dating site choices or much discouragement and exhaustion results.”
What advice would you give to women going online for the first time after a divorce or being widowed or a break-up?
Andrea: “Absolutely. According to Pew Research, in 2021, 1 of 3 marriages happened online. Here are some tips:
– Attitude is everything. Going into online dating with a sense of adventure (and of course, a case of nerves) is the way to go.
– Don’t listen to well-meaning friends. Many will be married and have no idea on the benefits of online dating, and your naysaying single friends, well, they are single for a reason.
– If it fits your budget, hire a dating coach to navigate the waters of dating. They can help you write your profile, recommend the correct site, help with photo selection and crafting messages that get replies from the type of men you’d like to meet.
– Go for it. After 4-5 first dates in the first month, your confidence will soar. It’s like getting back on a bike. Your conversation skills will skyrocket and fear of meeting new people in this new way will dissipate.
– Still not sure? Take this Dating Quiz. It may help you make up your mind.”
Any other dating tips?
Andrea: “Your love life will only be as happy as you are. Many people deal with big life changing issues with some therapy—if you haven’t, I strongly encourage it if you feel you could benefit. Yes, divorce and death are not pleasurable events, but I see second relationships/second marriages happen every month.
Go out on dates and skip long phone calls with potential dates. The only way you’ll know if there is chemistry is by a face-to-face meeting. And, the stigma of online dating in our 50 plus years is gone. It’s safe—after all, your first date will be a lunch or a glass of wine at a safe venue, not a camping trip in the Rockies! Keep it light, fun, after all a first date is nothing more than an audition to see if you’d like a second date with him—not marriage.”
Thanks Andrea for sharing your wisdom and tips about online dating over 50. And to all my newbies out there good luck and LMK how it goes.