One of the struggles for mature adults wanting to join the dating on line crowd, are their fears of the process of online dating. Unfortunately, it is a very real fear, as there is some evidence that there is an increase in the amount of people who are taken advantage of in the boomer age range with online dating (NewsMaker June 7/11).

Some of the major fears of the graying dating crowd include being taken advantage of through misrepresentation, financial safety concerns, physical safety concerns and emotional safety concerns. The old ways of meeting people in community settings such as churches seem to be disappearing. Friends can be helpful only so many times in finding you a date. The bars have never been a suitable date pool for most people. It seems as if dating online with all its challenges is here to stay.

There are 2 choices in these challenges. One is that you can stay away from online dating or you can personally take care of the risks to an acceptable percentage for you to engage in online dating. If you decide to take on the challenges of online dating, the following may be helpful to look at.

Safety fears can be somewhat resolved by getting to know the person for a time online and then always choosing a first date spot for coffee that is well attended. In addition, make sure you have your cell phone and that someone that cares about you knows where you are. Make sure you have an exit planned (an appointment of some sort) so that if you are not comfortable, you will be able to leave quickly and without embarrassment.

Keep details such as your address, phone number and the exact location of your work private until you get to know this person over time. Do not lend money or give money to your date under any circumstances. If they ask, move on. If there is any inappropriate communications, let the site manager of your dating online program know, so that something can be done about what you have noticed or experienced.

Emotional safety includes the idea of holding each of your dates lightly. It takes some time to get to know someone (probably 6 months of dating). Recognize your strong feelings as emotional reasoning – you need to combine that with intellectual reasoning. Pay attention to your intuition and the signs of discomfort. You are searching for compatibility and may have some ideas of commitment in your future. If that is the case, you will need to be able to let go quickly when you find that the person is not who you thought they were.

This means that you need to put off being sexually active until you actually know someone, not just feel the excitement of online dating. Why? Besides other obvious reasons described elsewhere, once you have been physically intimate, there is a tendency to need to justify continuing the relationship – even if it is not working. This keeps people very stuck and can lead to some very unhappy consequences.

Finally, integrate your dates with your caring friends and family. They will be able to add to your sense of who your date actually is and how compatible this person might be to your values and lifestyle. As you minimize your risks by taking these precautions, don’t forget to enjoy the process!

© Lynda Chalmers