"This is silly," Iris thought as she glanced at herself in the mirror. "I'm bright, still attractive, and I've kept my figure, so why should I be nervous just because I'm going to have a conversation with a man?"

It had been two years since her husband died, after 35 years of marriage, and Iris realized that she missed the companionship of a man. Now she felt ready for the comfort and security of a caring relationship. So, with a last glance at her watch, Iris headed over to her computer. Her "date" was on the Internet, with a man she had met at a matchmaking website.

Sounds like things have changed. Not really. The Internet is one new way to help you meet people like yourself. Let's hear from some more people on how they meet people later in life.

In the Flesh

Do not want to meet your prospective date online? How about an activities club, where the focus is social activities and sporting events? Or a dinner club, where six or eight single people meet for a nice dinner and conversation once a month? Maybe you would feel more comfortable at a church or synagogue singles night. Or maybe it is time to enlist the help of your friends, who probably know some terrific single people you have not yet met.

Dating is just as nerve wracking now as it always has been. After many years of marriage, you may feel that you are out of the loop or that the rules have changed. They may have a bit, but the best advice has stayed the same, just be yourself. If you want to meet someone face to face, there are still plenty of opportunities.

Once you meet someone you would like to know better, arrange a date for something you both like to do. If you enjoy being outdoors, arrange a nature walk. If you enjoy quiet chat, arrange to meet at a museum coffee shop. Try avoiding movies as a first date because there is not much chance of having a conversation.

Some Dating Advice

You may wonder about what has changed in the dating world. Who should pay the next time? Is it okay for you to call him? How soon is too soon to invite your new friend to your home for an intimate dinner? How can you let him know you are interested without seeming too forward? And how do you let her know that you find her irresistibly attractive?

The truth is, there are never perfect answers to these questions, so just go with what feels right to you.

Here are a few simple suggestions:

  • It is probably better to avoid the subjects of money or politics on a first date, until you know more about your companion's situation.
  • Men—Do not opt for more than a chaste good night kiss on the first date, and do walk your date to her door.
  • Ladies—If you have enjoyed yourself, call him and tell him.

On the 'Net

According to Iris, who lives in an upper-middle class community in Southern California, "...the Net is how the world is meeting." She says almost all of her single girlfriends use the Internet as a resource for meeting men.

Rich of Boston adds a caveat. "It's really just an anonymous 'singles club.' People on the Internet can hide behind that anonymity. They can be whoever they want to be. If you feel that something just isn't right, then go with your hunch. Don't get caught up in the fantasy life of the person you're chatting with."

Tips for Safe Internet Dating

Concerned about the safety of online dating? A veteran Internet suitor shares his tips at Datesafely.com. George has played the online dating game and shares the following advice:

  • Begin anonymously—First of all, get an anonymous online account. Do not post your real name anywhere online. Many times, personal information can be easily accessed.
  • Take your time—Take time to get to know your new friend. Chat about favorite books, movies you love, or places you have been.
  • Pay attention to details—When you progress to talking on the phone, pay attention to make sure that everything seems to fit. Does what you hear in the background follow what you were told?
  • When it comes time to actually meet, use your head—Avoid relying on your date for transportation. Take your own car or hail a cab. Meet in a neutral place, and always let a friend know where you are going and what time you expect to be home. Arrange for a definite place to meet inside wherever you are going.

One Man's Approach

Jim, a 51-year old, divorced professional claims to have a two-pronged approach to meeting women. One is to go to places where women tend to congregate and outnumber men, such as dances or dance classes.

Jim's second approach to meeting women is on the Internet. He claims to have received 285 replies from women across the country as a result of submitting his profile to a matchmaking website. Jim also recognizes that he does not really want to date a woman who is a custodial parent because he does not want to assume the responsibility for bringing up children.

When used right, the Internet can be an ideal place to meet people. It offers you the opportunity to get to know someone before meeting them face to face. Just make sure it does not keep you from meeting someone. Ultimately, dating is about you leaving your home and meeting other people.

Looking for Companionship and Fun?

Regardless of how you decide to meet new people, one thing is clear: a growing population of people in their fifties and a high divorce rate have created a sizeable pool of unattached single adults over the age of 50. And regardless of gender, there are two main reasons why they are seeking dating relationships, for companionship and fun.