Dating Over 40: Why Online Dating is NOT the Same as Catalog Shopping

Last night I gave a talk at Dr. Ellen Mahony’s office in Westport, CT. Not one of my traditional venues, but certainly a great place to meet women over 40! Dr. Ellen is just a doll, so if you are interested in getting a little somethin’ somethin’ done, check her out.

Anyway, I was talking about Internet Dating: 10 Myths vs. Reality.  What’s the number one myth? That finding a man online is like catalog shopping! Yes, you know exactly what I mean and you may have fallen victim to this thinking. It’s understandable, so don’t feel bad if it has happened to you.

When you visit sites like – there are literally millions of profiles to view. Some people (especially regarding men’s behavior)  refer to this as “Candy Store Mentality.” So many flavors to choose from! But we women have our own problem mentality which I call “Catalog Shopping.”

Let me give you an example. Say you’re shopping online looking at Coldwater Creek or Chicos, Lands End or It’s easy to buy clothing or housewares from these sites. You click through the pages looking at tons of photos and reading descriptions…searching for just what you want.

On sites like match or yahoo personals, you use this same methodology, looking at photos of men, to find what you want right? You read lots profiles to determine if the male options meet your expectations and needs.

Problem is – finding a man isn’t really like buying housewares or clothing. A man is much more like a big ticket item – similar to a car. It’s true!

Think about it this way. When you shop for a car, do you limit yourself to collecting all your data online? Of course not! You may do your research first via the Internet, but then you go out to actually see the car.  You sit in the vehicle to feel if its comfortable and drive it to see how it handles.

Well same things goes for a man! You can’t tell completely if he might be a good fit or how he handles via the web. An in-person inspection is required. That’s exactly why your Catalog Shopping mentality severely limits the number of men you meet and your dating success.

Just like with a car, you need a personal experience with the man to decide how good of a prospect he is. I know, you have very little time and don’t want to waste any on obviously mad matches which is the reason you make these snap judgments.

But what about the fence sitters? The men you aren’t sure about, so you pass over them. More often than not, the good men are these guys who you eliminate  for a variety of superficial reasons:

  • Poor spelling
  • Bad photo
  • Boring profile
  • Wrong college

These are not great reasons to pass on someone and they dramatically limit your prospects. Countless dating coaching clients(especially over 40)  tell me they just abhor spelling errors and simply can’t tolerate it. If you can’t tolerate spelling problems, you probably can’t tolerate men – because there’s a whole lot more to a relationship than that.  Please come back to earth and get real.

Consider this advice – Stop deleting and start giving these men a chance.  Being discerning is important, but hyper-selectivity is an obstacle to finding love.  The easiest thing you can do is say “No.”  But, it takes courage and vision to give more guys a chance. And the reward?  A  far greater shot of meeting the right man for you.

Think about trading up from being a “Catalog Shopper” to a “Tire Kicker.”  You’ll meet a heck of a lot more men – which is truly the key to finding the love you want.

Single for too long, Ronnie wanted to find love. She put her skills from personal development and her spiritual path to work, dating 30 men in 15 months to meet her adorable husband Paul. Discovering the keys to manifesting and midlife dating, she founded It’s Never Too Late to help smart, successful women find love or live an empowered and magical life. Ronnie Ann Ryan, MBA, CCC, is a Certified Coach who has helped 1,000s of midlife women with her Love & Magical Life Coach services. She’s the host of the Breathe Love & Magic podcast and has been featured on NBC, ABC, & Fox News, NPR, BBC, eHarmony,, and Connecticut Magazine among others. Also, Ronnie is the author of 6 books which are available on Amazon.

7 thoughts on “Dating Over 40: Why Online Dating is NOT the Same as Catalog Shopping”

  1. I think there is a difference between grammatical errors in a ‘quick email’ vs a profile.

    A profile is something you (presumably) spent some time writing. It’s how you present yourself to the online world. If you can take the time to proofread your resume, why not your online profile? Isn’t finding the right relationship just as (if not more) important than finding the right job?

    And I think you can make inferences about the intellectual prowess of someone that consistently mistakes ‘their’ for ‘there’ and ‘no’ for ‘know’. At the very least, you can infer that they either don’t know or don’t care about the type of message it sends, in general not just in dating, when their grammar is lacking. I’m all for choosing partners based on the characteristics that count, but I don’t think that women that pay attention to these issues when dating online are being unreasonable.

    • Well Jen – you can use whatever criteria you want to select your potential suitors. Certainly your prerogative. But I do think requiring “good editor” as a quality in a man limits your options. Many men just don’t look at the profile thing the same way women do. It’s just a simple fact.

  2. Just have to say my guy is a rocket scientist (not making that up!) and spelling is not his forte. I couldn’t be happier with him, though, and he dazzles me constantly.

    My brother is a highly successful engineer who travels the world constantly. His spelling would embarrass a 3rd grader.

    My doctor is a brillant man who saved my life and controls millions of dollars worth of research funding. His emails look like someone who fell asleep while text messaging.

    So you’d pass up a rocket scientist, a world class engineer and a brilliant medical researcher over some spelling?

    Believe me, I love good language skills–so I’m the one who practices those while my guy fixes my tire with a twig and an old hairpin. You are really boxing yourself in.

    • Anne – wow – who could say it better? Passing up a rocket scientist – that is perfection!!Thanks for sharing

  3. Great article Ronnie. Although, I am a ‘get rid of him if he can’t spell!’ girl…. Intelligence is important to me. Spelling errors, typos, I understand, but not knowing the difference between to, too, and two or Know and No or their and they’re?
    I do agree I need to get out more and test drive a few before chucking them aside for boring emails like “tell me about you”… substance! I’m looking for substance.

    Off to search and test drive~
    Kelly Ann

    • Hi Kelly,
      Shocking as this may seem, even choosing the wrong word in a quick email is not a sign of intelligence. It’s a sign of bad editing skills – something I know a lot about. I bet good editing skills is not one the qualities on your list of things you want in a man.

      Give the guys a bigger break than that – you could meet an intelligent man with good mathematical skills and a heart of gold, who can’t spell to save his life. And you could be really happy together.

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