Alternative to Online Dating

What’s social networking, and can it help you find a hot date?’s relationship expert explains.

By Sherry Amatenstein, LMSW

Q. I’m 46 and newly back on the market. I’ve tried Internet dating and dislike making snap decisions about whether or not I might find someone attractive. Lately I’ve heard the term "social networking" bandied about. I feel like a tech dinosaur, but can you explain what it is and if it can help me find a great date? — BarbaraA. Think of social networking not as a stepchild of online dating, but a kissing cousin. Dating sites, of course, work by matching your profile with those of potential romantic partners. Social networking, rather than being dating-centric, focuses on community. Members forge personal and professional contacts based on common interests and goals. There is ample opportunity to virtually engage in topics ranging from political preferences to tastes in food, wine, child-rearing, the works. The result: You receive a more rounded picture of a man than cyberdating provides before deciding to pursue an offline connection.The most popular social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook, are typically and erroneously viewed as the province of the slacker generation. Cliff Lerner, CEO of Snap Interactive, a provider of social networking applications, says, "The 35-and-older crowd are the fastest growing demographic to jump aboard this bandwagon." On Facebook, for instance, you would sign in, and then click on applications like "Meet New People" and "Are You Interested?" which allow you to zero in on the types of people you are seeking.Even better, social networking sites for the boomer set are mushrooming. Janet Hedges, a 52-year-old user of, an online gathering place for the 50 plus, explains, "I burnt out on online dating. Here I joined groups centered on photography, music, cooking…I got to know a lot of people, and one turned into a romantic interest."Wendy Borow-Johnson, an executive at, another social network vying for our demographic, suggests thoroughly exploring and participating in all channels of the site, from the dating area to the blogs and forums.You’re a social networking butterfly and cupid remains elusive? No worries! Aliza Sherman, author of Streetwise Ecommerce, points out, "You can get actual e-mail introductions to nice guys instead of tapping into the great unknown, and a thumbs up or down from people you know, like, and trust about prospective dates that are on your friends’ friends lists."The more you reach out, the more likely you are to find the one whom you want to be social with forever.Check out these online social Do you have a tough question about dating or relationships?E-mail Sherry at and your question might be featured in an upcoming column.E-mail Sherry About Sherry AmatensteinSherry Amatenstein, LMSW, is the author of Love Lessons from Bad Breakups and Q&A Dating Book. She runs dating seminars around the country and does private coaching — not to help singles marry in 60 days, but to uncover their blocks. She has given relationship advice on the Early Show, Regis, Inside Edition, CBS News, VH1, BBC, and many other programs. Her philosophy is that the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself.Schedule a one-on-one coaching session with Sherry Buy Love Lessons from Bad Breakups Buy The Q&A Dating Book Originally published on, February 2008.

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