If your stories about dating include anecdotes about ice cream shops and drive-in movies, chances are it's been awhile.
And chances are the stories don't involve the computer.
But today logging into the computer to find love is highly accepted and just as popular as using the computer to find a childhood friend on Facebook.
Where do I look?
While there are many local, national or international sites devoted to dating, IAC, the company behind Match.com and other dating sites, launched a new site in May -- OurTime.com.
Josh Meyers, CEO of IAC's People Media, says other sites such as the company's SeniorPeopleMeet.com saw a 400 percent growth in the past two years and OurTime.com aims to bring everyone in the 50 and older age group under one site.
"We saw a fervor for something just for them," he says of older adults.Surveys of the age group indicated they wanted to be able to associate with other mature adults.
"They wanted to jump into a community of like-minded folks," he says.
Meyer says they have more experiences in life and are more deliberate in their approach in dating.
"They know what they want," he says. "They stay longer on the site, are more deliberate in their approach and take their time."
How do I get started?
While it helps to have the focus narrowed to a target age group, decades off the market can make anyone's dating skills rusty and plenty has changed.
Dr. Gail Saltz, a relationship psychiatrist and expert working with OurTime.com, says on other dating sites there is a mix of ages and past relationships.
In the 50 and older age group many are divorced or widowed, this is not their first relationship and many have grown children, she says. Surveys done by OurTime.com show that for many in this age category there are also fewer personal life stressors.
"They're looking for companionship and fun," Saltz says. "Someone to share an enjoyable period of life with. These are not old people. They have many years to come and want someone to spend time with."
But, Saltz says dipping a toe into the dating pool does not come without its own stress.
"There is all kinds of nervousness -- 'How will I appear?' 'How will I stack up?' Never mind the sexual arena of 'It's been a long time' or 'Things don't work like they used to', " Saltz says.Online dating sites can actually help with the transition onto the dating scene.
"You're in the privacy of your own home. You go at your own pace," she says.
As a community, adults over 50 can already feel disconnected, which is why social networking has grown in popularity.
Saltz says it can show that relationships built online are not as overwhelming or as intimidating as feared.
Putting your best foot forward
For someone who was in a long-term relationship stepping back into the dating scene can provide an opportunity to "reinvent" themselves a bit like the new kid at school. But, Saltz warns it is important to be honest, not just in how you present yourself, but also to avoid glaring omissions.
"If you have to undo something you did that's a problem," she says.
She says it is expected among older adults that there may have been a past relationship or relationships that were long term. The difference, Saltz says, is between time spent talking about the past and time spent saying how much one misses their ex.
"Put yourself in their shoes," she says. "If you feel compelled to go on about someone else in great length you may not be ready (for dating) yet. Usually if someone is coming online they're ready to give this a try."
Saltz advises people to be flexible and non-judgmental and suggests the following:
• While it helps to know what you are looking for, a menu of demands such as how tall someone has to be could screen out someone who would otherwise be a good match.
• Use a recent photo of yourself doing something you enjoy.
• "Be specific. People say 'I love to laugh.' Everyone loves to laugh that doesn't say anything. What makes you laugh?"
• Paint a picture of who you are.
"They're not looking for the exciting opposites attract," Saltz says. "They're looking for someone like them. They're looking for someone who will fit into their life without a struggle."
Saltz says for those out of the dating loop it is important to consider safety. Whether the date is established online or through friends she advises that the first several dates be in a public place. She also suggests keeping an eye on your bags, not to leave a drink unattended and not to drink too much out of nervousness to the point you might lose control of a situation.
Not entirely unexpected
Combining the older adults into one site allowed OurTime.com to launch with a million active members with about 5,000 new users per day sending 300,000 communications per day, Meyers says.
This robust community helps deliver on the promise to match people not just on a national level, but a local scale where they can build relationship, he says. The site is aimed at catering to the needs of the demographic.
"This generation is redefining what it means to be over 50," Meyers says. "We know they're out there and we're building it just for them."
Saltz says OurTime.com's research shows that many in the older adult age group are not necessarily looking for marriage.
"They're seeking long term relationships and companionship, but not necessarily marriage," she says.
While today's dating scene may seem a long way from the old rules of courtship -- not everything has changed.
Women 50 and older -- 94 percent of them -- still want men to make the first move and ask for that first date.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun