I met both my husbands through online dating – the first time in my 20s, and the second time in my 40s. I’ve also worked as a Dating Coach for the UK’s largest online dating sites since 2006.

So, while I have 10 research-based tips to share with you, let’s start with the most important…

1. It’s never too late to online date

It’s never too late to online date

It’s official – according to research, your 50s are the best time to date. A study by Ourtime found that singles over 50 enjoyed dating more than singles in their 30s, and that our sexual confidence doesn’t peak until the age of 53.

There’s also never been a better time to start online dating. A survey revealed that 28% of UK marriages since 2017 were between couples who met online. Plus, it’s estimated that, in 2024, over 395 million people worldwide will be signed up to find love.

I like those odds, so let’s get you started…

2. Choose the right dating site

There are now hundreds of online dating sites in the UK, but you really have just one choice to make: sign up for a free site, or one that charges a subscription.

Free sites are tempting in this cost-of-living crisis, but if you’re serious about finding love, and your budget allows, I’d choose a subscription site. They have the best customer support and the option to report profiles that look suspicious or fake. They also attract members who are invested in the process and not just looking for a free ego boost.

It’s always free to create a profile and look at the singles in your area; the subscription fee only kicks in when you want to send messages. So it’s worth joining a few sites and committing to the one with the most attractive possibilities near you.

I wouldn’t be too swayed by sites promising really niche interests like Lonely Spaniel Owners, or Left-Handed Capricorns. They’re often just catchy titles slapped over the same big database that’s shared between many different sites.

For somewhere to start, why not try our very own Rest Less Dating platform?

3. Use the right headshot

Use the right headshot

Your photos are the most important part of your online dating profile because they’ll be what potential matches see first. Your main profile photo will be up against a huge number of other photos so it needs to be as attention-grabbing as possible.

How do we do that? It depends. To start with I’d choose photos that clearly show your face, rather than disguising them with things like hats and sunglasses. The following tips may also help…

The best dating profile photos for women

The best dating profile photos for women

Research has found that the best dating profile photo for women is colourful and shows you flirtatiously smiling into the camera.

You could try wearing a colourful top or standing against a bright backdrop. Headshots are often the most attention-grabbing – so it’s worth cropping the photo to allow your head and shoulders to fill the screen.

The best dating profile photos for men

The best dating profile photos for men

In contrast, the same research found that men’s best headshots were black and white, looking away from the camera, and wearing a Heathcliff-worthy brooding expression.

Again, crop the image so your head and shoulders fill the image. This is to make you more noticeable, but also to stop potential matches from scrutinising the background of your photo like CSI agents and/or getting distracted by the state of your carpet!

4. Use recent (preferably brand new) photos

What’s a common reason that first dates don’t lead to second dates? Often, it’s not stilted conversation or violently opposing views on Brexit – it’s unmet expectations.

Your profile should accurately portray the version of you that’ll turn up to the date. Avoid using that lovely photo of you from 2006, or even from 2020 if you look completely different now.

If you don’t have any recent photos, consider getting some new ones taken. If you can afford it, you could even book an online dating photoshoot – with Hey Saturday, for example. Selfies are fine too, although research shows that women’s selfies are slightly more successful than men’s.

It’s also good to use seasonal shots, as these can help your audience picture taking you out on a date in the near future.

5. Include one or two full-length photos

Include one or two full-length photos

Headshots may be useful as your main profile photo but it’s a good idea to include one or two full-length photos on your profile as well.

These should be photos that show your size and shape as it is today to give yourself the best chance at attracting people who find you gorgeous exactly as you are. Your profile’s job is to generate what salespeople call ‘qualified leads’. If people aren’t attracted to the real you, it’s better that they silently click away from your profile without you knowing about it, rather than mess you about later on.

6. Use an ‘ice-breaker’ photo

The third important photo is an ice-breaker – one that makes it easy for someone to start a conversation rather than just saying, “Wow, U R hot.”

The best ice-breaker pictures show you engaged in an interesting activity. This could be singing in a band; playing an instrument or a sport (the more unusual, the better); cuddling a pet (the cuter or more exotic, the better); or generally doing something out of the ordinary.

These photos are intended to show off your personality and prompt questions – for example, “OMG! How long have you owned a tarantula?” They also don’t have to be as recent as the other pictures. If you won an Olympic medal in the 90s, that’s a great ice-breaker photo, so long as your other pictures were taken this year.

My ice-breaker photo was a picture of me scooping up a stack of chips at a poker table, which sparked loads of conversations.

7. Keep your profile text brief, but alluring

Keep your profile text brief, but alluring

Online dating is all about introducing yourself to people, so it’s best to keep this in mind as you write your profile. Avoid spilling your innermost thoughts, and simply introduce yourself like you would to someone at a party. For example…

“Hi, I’m Sally. I’m a retired Marketing Consultant who shares her home with an aloof cat, a temperamental Aga, and Radio 2. At weekends I love gaming, feeling sand between my toes, dancing, or sharing a bowl of pasta. I’d love to meet a man to travel with – where’s your must-see destination, and why?”

Questions are great in a profile, especially if they’d be fun to answer. Don’t be afraid to issue a light-hearted challenge (“I’ve yet to be beaten at laserquest…”) or ask for recommendations (“I’ve just finished Gone Girl. What should I read next?”).

8. Advertise yourself as a potential partner

The best profiles create an impression of you as a fun, interesting, and loving partner. People also need to be able to picture themselves in your world.

Over 50, we’ve usually collected an arsenal of interests, hobbies, pursuits, and passions, especially if we’ve been single for a while. But too many of these can be daunting to read about in a profile. Between someone’s volunteer work, marathon training, weekend hikes, children, parents, work, and friends, we might imagine waiting weeks to just meet them for coffee.

Instead, list just a few of your interests, ideally the companionable ones. If (like me) you love hermit-friendly hobbies like reading or scrolling social media, give them a date-friendly spin. ‘Listening to music’ could become ‘Listening to live music’. ‘Reading’ could become ‘exploring quirky bookshops’. Chances are, the easier people can imagine dating you, the faster they’ll ask you out.

9. Share your profile with the type of person you’d like to attract

Share your profile with the type of person you’d like to attract

It’s a good idea to get feedback on your profile, especially from someone in your target audience, like a friendly ex or a platonic friend. I meet a lot of singles who try to hide that they’re looking for love, but I think it’s better to shout it from the rooftops! Who knows if your platonic friend has been harbouring a crush on you for years, or if your sexy colleague had no idea you were single?

It’s also a good idea to update your friends on your dates, and tell them where and when you’re meeting someone new so you can stay as safe as possible. For more online dating safety advice, check out our 10 tips for staying safe while dating online.

10. Regularly update your profile

A dating profile isn’t a static monument, it’s a living, breathing marketing tool. And just like big brands regularly update their marketing campaigns to appeal to new people, you should keep updating your profile until you’ve met your match.

Dating sites prioritise active members. The more active you are on the site, the more the site will show your profile to people, and the higher up you’ll appear in search results. Being active on the site means sending messages, browsing profiles, changing your photos, or just editing some words on your profile.

Keep adding seasonal photos or change the order of your photos so your headshot looks fresh. Mention your latest hobby or make a timely joke. I’ve even met some very assertive singles who, if they don’t like any of the suggested matches they’ve been sent, block all of them so the dating site must send them a brand-new selection.

Final thoughts…

Finding love is all about being proactive. So remember to keep making your profile the best it can be, until you meet the person who finally inspires you to cancel your membership!

If you’re yet to get started on your online dating journey why not read our beginner’s guide to online dating over 50? You can also try Rest Less Dating using the button below.

Will you be using any of these tips to create your online profile? Or do you have any additional tips of your own you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.