Getting back into the world of dating, perhaps after being widowed or divorced, can be incredibly daunting for people in their 40's and beyond who grew up with meeting people out in a pub, club or maybe through the "lonely hearts" columns in the newspapers.
Before you young 'uns scoff, remember that the internet was not a thing when we were in our teens and twenties and our phones were only mobile as far as we could stretch the cable attaching it to the wall.
I met the boyfriend I lived with before meeting my husband via an ad in the local newspaper that I worked for. There was no photo, just a string of acronyms like GSOH (good sense of humour) or NSA (no strings attached).
In many ways dating online can make life easier and certainly allows you to search with very specific criteria. Those 20 or so newspaper ads have been replaced by literally thousands of profiles which you can swipe through at your leisure.
There are rather more acronyms to get your head round though so before you dive into online dating maybe check out this definitive list of dating acronyms.
The one big benefit of using online dating sites when you are older is that you don't have to stand in a club worrying that you are wearing the wrong outfit and feeling as old as the hills. You don't have to try hard to catch the eye of that person in the pub/supermarket/park and hope your flirting skills are still up to scratch. You can set up a profile quickly and easily and start browsing for future friends or life partners within minutes.
You might be interested in dating younger people and thanks to the filter system you know that that younger guy or gal you fancy is happy to approached by an older date. Or vice versa.
Online date site profiles generally give you more information than you'd have got in the old days of shouting at each other across a crowded bar. As an older singleton you might not be keen to date someone who wants or has children or it might be that you have children and would like to meet someone who would welcome them, or maybe even has children of their own and is looking to create one big happy blended family.
You can pick a site which caters for your interest whether that's one exclusively for those who are older dating online, or for people with disabilities or dating sites for the BDSM community.
It might be that you are just looking for companionship or friendship or maybe you are content to live alone but would like someone for consensual "no strings attached" bedroom fun occasionally.
Whatever your age the world is literally your oyster (although you can narrow down the geographical location of potential dates) and all that is required is a willingness to put yourself out there and a phone, computer or tablet with internet access.
Obviously take sensible safety precautions and take anything you read in a profile with a pinch of salt as there are sadly people out there who would take advantage of vulnerable people, especially those who might not be as tech-savvy as the younger generation. Or maybe they are just "gilding the lily" a little and that slim entrepreneur is actually a bloke who sells rip-off watches from the back of a van and has developed a beer belly since the photo was taken.
On that note, don't be tempted to filter away your wrinkles or photoshop yourself slimmer. There will be someone out there who likes you just as you are. And I'd advise not making your criteria too specific and only filter out absolute no-no's.
One tall friend of mine who is fond of wearing heels won't date men under a certain height for instance. Another who doesn't drive will only consider people who live very locally. Fair enough. But remember the more restrictions you insist on, the smaller the pool of potential dates becomes.
Don't be put off by horror stories. Two of my best friends who are both attractive and interesting people met online and have gone on to have a beautiful family and a lovely life together.
If you find someone you like the look and sound of and have chatted online via a message service or text for a while maybe consider a phone call or even better, a video chat to check out what they look like and if there's any spark when you can speak face to face, albeit remotely.
If that goes well and you arrange to meet, as I've said before, let someone know where and when you are going out, and arrange a safety call or text from a friend or relative to check you are OK.
It's never too late to find love or friendship and since pretty much everything else from supermarket shopping to theatre performances are online nowadays there is really no stigma in finding a date on the internet too.