6 Steps of authentic online dating after 40

6 Steps of Authentic Online Dating

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With all the dating sites and dating apps you’d think the process of online dating would’ve reached some breakthroughs at this point. But many of us, active and willing participants, are still spending our weekends alone, online, trying to figure out why we’re online and not offline with a real potential partner.

The six steps of authentic online dating. 1. Spark. 2. Communicate honestly. 3. Meet. 4. Listen more for their desires. 5. Seek compatibility out of the bedroom first. 6. Allow the fire of passion to consume you both as time runs on and you desire each other more and more.

Do you ever wonder how REAL people’s dating profiles are? We all do. Have you been on a hello date only to find the person’s photos were of a much younger and more vibrant model? Sure, we all want to put our best foot forward, and make younger and prettier partners desire us, but if we’re all doing that, if we’re all being inauthentic… Well, that’s part of the problem.

Let’s examine some of the most common themes in online dating profiles and what the stereotype says about our miscommunication.

IT’S ALWAYS A PARTY WEEKEND: A glass of something in every happy picture of yourself. Yes, so you like to drink. I remember a woman who listed getting a good drink as one of her skills. Well, if we all spent as much time drinking as we show in our dating profiles… Well, we might be needing to examine some of our priorities. Here’s a hint: I don’t need to see you with a glass of wine, or margarita in every single photograph. If that is truly what you are looking for, a drinking buddy, we’re not going to be very compatible. So let’s get real. Do you drink? Fine. Do you need to prove it to me by showing a lot of pictures of yourself drinking? No. It gives me the impression that I’m going to have to wine and dine you every night, forever. Is that what you’re saying? I don’t think so. I think you’re trying to show yourself in a fun (party) environment, and laughing with friends. For me personally, even one wine photo is a buzzkill, but I’m a bit more sensitive than most.

LOVES TO TRAVEL: Sure. Don’t we all? And all those exotic places you show yourself in alone. Yes, I’d like to be standing beside you. But I don’t want to be the next ghostly arm of a man that’s been edited out of your fantastic getaway vacation pictures. Okay, so you like to travel. As we enter the next chapter of our lives, perhaps travel is a priority of yours. Let’s have that discussion. Of course, if that’s the lifestyle you’re looking for, and a partner with the means to afford being beside you, put it out there. But saying you love to travel, is a bit like saying you like long walks on the beach.

SO FIT AND EXCITING IT HURTS: I get it, I do the same thing. I want you to know I’m fit and I put in a bit of time to stay that way. And I am looking for a partner to DO things with, but let’s not get out of hand. When every other shot is you zip lining, running a marathon, and lifting weights, I get the idea that we’re going to be spending a lot of time on the go. And if that’s you 24/7 I suppose you should put it out there. But adrenaline junky may not be your most romantic characteristic. So, show a bit of your ambition. If you want a running partner or a tennis partner, show it. But don’t scare off your potential mates by looking like you’ve never moved on from your high school athletics clique. We’re in our midlives now, let’s find things to do together. Again, if it’s your lifestyle, show it. If it’s more ambition that reality, perhaps temper the superhero antics.

UBER-FLEXIBLE TO THE EXTREME: Loves dressing to the nines and running the town as well as cozying up on the couch for a glass of wine and a Netflix binge. That may describe us all and therefore describes nothing unique about yourself.

It’s hard to be honest. And perhaps in presenting the best part of ourselves we are stretching the optics a bit. So, we’re on show and we’re selling ourselves as uber-fit, traveling, alcoholics. I suppose it’s one of the ways we swipe left more often than right.

In the haystack of online dating, it is simply about following a simple process.


  1. Find a spark in a photo, profile, or lifestyle compatibility.
  2. Express an interest and common lifestyle choices. Give a compliment.
  3. Exchange some texts. Don’t ask for a phone number or give yours too soon. It looks like you’re trying to hook up. Are you trying to hook up?
  4. If things look promising, a phone call can establish a connection in a new way. Are they listening to you? Are they responding appropriately? Are they laughing on the phone as often as they are in their photographs?
  5. Meet over coffee or wine. But let the other person choose. For me, alcohol is optional, so coffee is fine. Sometimes alcohol can be more adventurous as well as misleading.
  6. Is there an easy move towards “what’s next?” If you both feel it, you will both sort of be asking about planning another encounter. If you’re not feeling it, be honest. Don’t say, “I can’t wait to do it again,” if it was not a fit for you. If it was a fit, say so and wait for the join.
  7. And then slow the roll. Perhaps men are more interested in sex at this age. Perhaps women are not as comfortable talking about sex. But, I believe if you jump into sexual chemistry too soon you may be short-circuiting some of the necessary compatibility exploration. If you bring in hot sex too soon, you might find yourself chemically and sexually attached before you’ve even figured out if this person is a relationship fit. I’ve been in several hot and heavy relationships that turned out not to be long-term relationship partners. Did I waste time? Is my goal good sex or a good relationship? Okay, don’t answer that. Of course, it’s both, but sex without a relationship does not last very long. Even if the sex is the best you’ve ever had. You simply cannot spend your entire relationship in bed.

Some of the problems with online dating is our inability to be authentic about who we are and what we are looking for. We’re too busy trying to oversell ourselves and find better and cuter partners. But is that what you want? Or do you want a lasting relationship that is built on solid communication, respect, and mutual goals and lifestyle choices? Sure, we want it all. But I promise you, a relationship based on a solid foundation of trust and realism is better than a hot sexual relationship that burns itself up in the lack of genuine compatibility.

I’ve gone for sex too early in relationships. I’m tempted every time to go there again. Yes, sex feels good. And I miss sex very much when I’m single. BUT… I’m looking for a life companion not a concubine. As I venture out on my hello dates these days I’m more conscious of allowing my partner to express their hopes and desires before I rush in with my flowery, overly romantic, vision of what we could be.

And just recently, I was on a second date with a woman, when she asked if I’d be interested in getting her honest feedback on how things were going. “Of course,” I said, “I’m excited to hear.”

“Okay,” she said. “I thought things were going okay for a while but I felt like you lost interest. Like you don’t like me very much. Or you are ready to pass.”

I was surprised by the feedback. And as we talked about the “us” in the room it became clear that we were both interested in what a relationship might look like. And somehow I had given the wrong signal. As we chatted more, I revealed that I was more curious than on-fire. I was talking and learning what I was feeling as I tried to explain where I was with the relationship aspect of this new potential partner.

Several things I learned in this exchange.

  1. I was looking for something to spark in her, to give me the signal that the attraction was mutual.
  2. I was very happy she was able to express herself so clearly. And articulate what in particular was causing her to misread my communications.
  3. When I asked for how she was feeling and she said a few inciteful and kind things about me, I noticed my immediate arousal. In some ways, that’s what men are looking for, just a hint of their desirability. We’re the same as women in that way, a compliment can create a big warm fuzzy feeling.
  4. While I was being more mindful of my type-a personality, I was in no way trying to communicate my disinterest. What I hoped I was doing was listening deeply for her nuanced feedback.
  5. I was able to talk about my tendency to build a romantic relationship completely on my passion and desire, without waiting to listen if the feelings and ambitions were mutual.
  6. There is something deeper than sexual chemistry that is required for a lasting relationship. To keep us off the dating sites 2 – 3 months, or even years from now, we’ve got to build better relationships. And seek compatibility in all our aspects of life.

What I am looking for is the fire and enthusiasm to go both ways. And if that means I hold back a bit, reserve some of my sensual guile, then I’m able and willing to do that. In fact, I’m cultivating my desire for something bigger than I’ve ever experienced. If I’m willing to wait for the other person to show up, be present, and tell me what they want in a relationship, perhaps we will be better poised for a future together.

Sure, I’d love the fire to burn all my constructs and ideas to the ground. But I’m willing to keep the enthusiastic ember in my pocket a bit longer to see if this particular partner is wanting the same things. And more particularly, that what they are wanting is ME and not the dating profile projection of who I’d like you to believe I am.

At the moment, I’m not patient. I’m hungry. But I know my relationship desires are better served by keeping some of my sexual desires unfulfilled, for the time being. I’m confident that THEN when things light up, when she ignites from passion that is rooted in compatibility, when we’ve had a chance to become friends (and I’m dreading this as I type it, because I really do want to rush back into the fulfillment of my more carnal desires) we can become lovers and both catch fire. That’s the hope. That’s the ambition. And anything less is not 100%.

Always Love,

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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