WINCHESTER – Mariette Chase, 53, of Winchester, and Angela Hughes, 53, of Cross Junction, met online when Hughes decided to relocate to the Winchester area from Las Vegas, Nevada to be closer to her son. Chase, a realtor with Century 21, helped Hughes not only find a new home but the two became fast friends and remained in touch. Today the two women joke that finding friendship online was easier than love.
“Dating is like catch and release,” Chase said. “Catch the good ones and release the bad. “
With the prospect of growing old alone, many individuals 50 and over ultimately start to actively date in hopes of meeting a suitable companion after divorce or loss in their lives. While the idea can feel impossible and at times discouraging, both women agreed that there is still hope for love.
“The thing is when you end up talking to someone online, then on the phone and then you finally meet for coffee or dinner, quite often you find yourself disappointed,” Chase said. “Dating at our age is extremely challenging. It seems like finding love is almost impossible because we’ve set our expectations too high. But we know one thing: we won’t settle.”
After the death of her husband, Chase said she decided to rejoin the dating pool in hopes of finding a companion to spend her free time with. Hughes joined after her divorce because “why not.” Both said in three years neither have found love but have learned some valuable dating advice and even made a few friends along the way.
Popular dating sites for individuals over 50 include OurTime, Match.com, eHarmoney, Plenty of Fish and Zoosk.
“It really comes down to what you’re looking for,” Chase said. “Some sites are geared more towards real relationships while others are prone to hook-ups.”
They said dating in Winchester is difficult because there are no places for them to go and mingle with individuals their age. Chase said they were forced to join the over 40 million Americans who participate in online dating because there was no other way to meet singles.
“Our hope was, and I think still is, to meet a man in our everyday professionals,” Chase said. “Ideally, that makes more sense, but the problem is most of my friends are married. So I ultimately become the third wheel. Which is awkward and unpleasant in itself.”
Hughes added: “I always wanted to meet a man at the grocery store. And he’d ask me how to use those melons. And we’d hit it right off. There’s that old saying about meeting your partner at the laundry mat. Thing is, I have a nice washer and dryer so that wouldn’t work for me.”
Chase said during her duration she’s used both free and paid dating sites, finding that neither one or the other is better for finding companionship. Hughes said she wouldn’t pay for love, noting why should she have to pay for something that she knows she deserves.
“Everyone wants to find someone nice that they can spend time with. That’s human nature,” she said.
Both women agreed on one thing: their dating experiences have introduced them to some interesting characters along the way. Humorous stories included feet smelling, Stage 1 clingers, and dramatic age differences.
As working professionals, the women said they don’t have the time or the interest in babysitting grown men.
“You’d be surprised by how many men our age who don’t have their lives together,” Hughes said. “I understand that hard times happen, people get divorced and have to move in with a friend. But it’s not supposed to be a permanent fix. It all comes down to motivation.”
Hughes said her dating experience had allowed her to realize what a different perspective she has on life now than when she was in her 20s.
“As you go through life you learn what’s important to you, what you like and don’t like,” she said. “Women tend to be more accurate, as where men don’t really change much. Guys seem to want to be with you all the time. I think as a single woman, we’re more independent. Which allows us to better understand what we want and need.”
Hughes said she’s searching for a financially stable man, who can carry on a conversation, but not dominate it and likes to enjoy new activities. Chase said her companion must love dogs.
“Dating isn’t hard,” Chase said. “Like everyone else we’re just looking for love and companionship. We just have a little more patience and perseverance than we did in our 20s. If you don’t get yourself out there, you’ll never know what there is. And you’re likely to miss out on finding love.”
Hughes added: “The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Just look at us. Enjoying ourselves and having a laugh.”
Tips from the women
- Take the time to write a decent online profile. The more upfront and specific, the better.
- Skip the high school photos and post an up-to-date photo that portrays who you are.
- Think before posting and responding because of that first response and carry a lot of weight through the initial conversation.
- Proceed with caution because dating sites are popular targets for scammers. Be on the lookout for accounts that look suspicious.
- Be honest and don’t portray yourself as someone you aren’t.
- Start with coffee, not dinner. Spend time getting to know one another before spending money.
- Share your phone number only when you feel confident.