The Guy Side: Starting Online Dating at 40

The Guy Side: Starting Online Dating at 40

Recently, Dawn announced she had returned to the dating pool and started writing about her experience with the world of online dating. At the same time, she asked to see if she had any friends who wanted to write about the topic from the male perspective. This was an incredibly wise move on her part – not because it gave me the opportunity to write for her, but because the male side of online dating is so vastly different from the female experience.

Before I talk about those differences, however, allow me to share a little about myself. Unlike Dawn, I somehow missed out on the dating experience before my 40s. From about the age of 18, I was involved in one long-term relationship after another (one of the dating websites refers to this as “serial monogamy” – who would have thought that being committed would also have a stigma!), leading to four major relationships with no real dating period between them. Because of this, the experience of dating as a whole is relatively new to me, let alone doing it online.

After I recovered from the breakup of my last relationship (which took a couple of months), I decided to give dating a try. I had hoped to try it without resorting to online services, at first asking out a couple of old friends from Facebook who I knew were single. As it turns out, that was a good way to dip my toe in the dating pool. I was still nervous, but at least they were people I knew. None of them went in the right direction though, so I dove headfirst into online dating. That was ten months ago, and the difference in the male/female experience is noticeable from the start.

The Guy Side: Starting Online Dating at 40

Online Dating At 40: The Male Experience

I really found Dawn’s opening experience really interesting. After a few days she considered one of her profiles “a complete bust” because “I got contacted like 3 times total.” Meanwhile, her more successful profile got her messages from 40 different guys and 144 “Meet Me” requests, which means the person is interested, either because they liked what she had to say or, more likely, they found her picture appealing. On a side note, I’m still a bit shocked at how many women admit that they are probably just playing “hot or not” rather than taking time to actually check out a profile. Then again, I don’t recall getting a message from any of those women, so I guess I qualify as “not hot,” not that I think I have much of a problem with their estimation of that.

So how is the male experience different? Well, by her criteria, all of my profiles would be a bust. See, guys don’t get inundated by messages like women do. From my conversations, women commonly find their inboxes filled within a short period of time, ranging from a day to a week. Guys only get a smattering of infrequent messages, usually in response to one they’ve sent rather than someone else initiating the conversation. Thus, it’s a vastly different game based on gender.

Why is this? I have no idea, although I have a few theories. I suspect it lies somewhere buried in traditional gender roles, where guys are expected to do the “asking out”. I read that, on average, guys can expect one response for every ten messages sent, and maybe a date out of every ten responses. This could easily lead to a quantity over quality approach, where guys just send messages to anything with a pulse in hopes something sticks. It also doesn’t help that some guys are still hell-bent on sending pictures of their shortcomings, zoomed in to make them look more impressive, as if that’s automatically going to light the fires of passion. Of course, women then have to sort through all the drivel in hopes of finding a match that actually interests them, and there you see the result: women being caught in a hurricane of messages while men look at their inboxes like Charlie Brown on Valentine’s Day.

The Guy Side: Starting Online Dating at 40

It’s been almost a year since I started my foray into online dating, and I’ve certainly accumulated some experiences to share and stories to tell, just not at the rate Dawn is probably going to get them. I look forward to sharing some of these tales in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear why you think the ratio of messages between men and women is so off. Traditional values? Flooding of messages? Levels of desperation? Sound off in the comments below!

About Rafe Telsch

Rafe Telsch is a former teacher and on-again/ off-again blogger who is just trying to find a new path in life. He is a fan of cinema, video games, books, and good stories in just about any medium. He has completed NaNoWriMo twice and hopes one of these days that will amount to a completed, polished novel. His companions are his eight-year-old son and a small dog, although there is room for another in this adventure of life.


  1. I met my husband online, but in the process came along some dooseys. I always found that most men are dishonest online, so it’s disappointing.

  2. I think this whole online dating thing is so interesting! I met my husband the old fashioned way…at a summer camp we both worked at. I think that traditional gender roles probably do play a large part in online dating. I look forward to hearing more of your experience! It is great to hear a male perspective!

  3. Lori Geurin says:

    This is interesting to me…I’ve been married to my husband since I was 20 and never experienced online dating. I think you’re probably on to something with the traditional gender roles playing a part.

  4. Online dating can be great for some people yet you always have to be careful. I do know people who have met their significant other or spouse online.

  5. I could not imagine diving into the world of online dating now. Especially with the rise of the “catfish” and people blasting other online, it is a frightening world to me. I wish you luck though! I know some people who have met their other half online so there is hope

  6. I’m married and I didn’t meet my husband online, but this is basically a gender study, which I find fascinating. I would think the ratios have to have something to do with traditional roles, but most people are so much bolder online than in person it’s really interesting that women would still be shy about it!

    • Rafe Telsch says:

      The idea that “people are so much bolder online” is a topic of research for me. I wrote/am writing my graduate thesis on that concept, so it’s definitely something you’ll see me hit upon in my writing. I don’t think I am that way though.

  7. I’ve always said I’d never take to online dating. That was until my dad, aged 76 at the time. Looking at his experience, and the fact that we love the woman he met and married, I would totally sign up, if I ever needed too. I’m currently happily married. 🙂

  8. I have no experience with online dating at all. But I can understand what you’re saying. We somehow still have that mindset that as women, we have to wait for the men to make the first move, and that’s probably why you have less messages. It was really nice reading from a guy’s point of view though.

  9. I can imagine it would be really daunting to get back into the dating world but with online dating these days it is great to be able to access others who are likeminded. If you approach someone at a bar or anywhere else there’s no telling what their personal situation is and that can be even more daunting. I imagine you meet a bunch of not so great people online but I’ve heard many wonderful success stories from online dating!

  10. The online dating world is interesting. Though I have a strong love for the online world, I feel that online dating can be intimidating. I could be wrong…

  11. I never experienced dating during the time of internet dating. It makes me glad that I don’t have to date again because it would be totally overwhelming.

  12. It’s really interesting to read a guy’s take on dating because all I usually read about is a woman’s experience. I’ve never tried dating or finding a date online before. I can imagine the struggle that both sexes go through though. Dating is hard!

  13. Shoshana Sue says:

    This has been useful to read from a male perspective especially for me who once swore by online dating. I dare say men and women are not honest when it comes to online dating. And aside from that, our expectations of the kind of partner we want to meet online is far from reality, thus I noted that it was the same people over and over who had profiles for years on the online dating sites. We are spoiled for choice online I guess and it is difficult to pick one and settle. That said I have bowed out of the online dating not because I have met someone, but only to save myself from the bottomless pit that online dating really is.

  14. All I can say is, I spend most of my time with my husband, face to face, and so I would want to spend all of my “getting to know you” time face to face. That’s where you build the relationship.

  15. I have to say I do think it is the traditional gender roles that prevents many woman from sending out messages. Perhaps the younger generations don’t adhere to this but as someone over 40, I kind of still do, to some extent. I have written guys online in the past and really never got much out of it so that could be another reason. Online dating isn’t easy on either side, that is one thing I think both genders can agree on.

  16. Oh gosh, I think I would be absolutely terrible at dating if I had to start at this point in life. I listen to friends tell their stories and the drama they deal with and it sounds so different than what I remember. But ofcourse, the last time I was on the dating scene there were no apps and online sites for dating.

    • Dawn McAlexander says:

      I know. I thought I would be smarter at 40 and dating would be easier. But really I am just older and it’s more tiring, lol.

  17. Thank you for your guest post on Dawn’s blog! It was so interesting to hear what online dating over 40 is like for a guy.

  18. I loved your post. I met my husband on a dating site and we would talk about the differences between online dating for women versus men. As far as dating goes, I think we as women have an easier time choosing our options than the guys necessarily do. Great job on the guest post!

  19. I try to speak positively about online dating because there are so many stigmas associated to it. I have several friends who are so frustrated with traditional dating and I wonder if maybe they’ll have better luck with on-line dating. If not, maybe they’ll give it a try and go back to traditional dating with a more open mind!? Best wishes to you!

  20. What a fun post! It’s always interesting to hear from the male side of things! The meme really made me laugh ahah

  21. Online dating is a norm today and basically, have no age limit at all but you can never be too careful as there are plenty of scammers and people who are looking for someone to deceive. But it’s nice hearing stories from people where they met their loved ones online, how nice.

  22. This is such an interesting comparison! Although it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a difference between genders. Online dating seems very popular and a great way to meet new people.

  23. It was interesting to hear about online dating from a male perspective but I can agree with you that it is a pain in the ass. Still hopefully the women that do contact you must be interested in your profile you would hope!

  24. Very interesting and appreciated perspective. Like you, I have never had a real dating time in my life. Now I’ve been married 12 years and the internet is so drastically different, online dating sounds terrifying. But I will say my college education is justice and psychology focused so I spent a good five years studying the minds of serial killers. With that background I’m confident I would dismiss everyone that contacted me. Let’s hope I just stay married instead. 🙂

    • Dawn McAlexander says:

      Yeah, I have a degree in Psychology and focused a good bit of that on Criminology and Sociology. It won’t help in the online dating world. Lol.

  25. What an interesting perspective. I’ve never had any personal experience with online dating—or with being a male—so lots of great insight all around. 🙂