An increasing number of people are looking online for new relationships, especially those over 50. We all know that starting to date can be difficult at any age, but if you’ve recently left a long-term relationship, it can be daunting.

If you want to build a relationship at your own pace or simply make friends and enhance your social life, you may enjoy online dating.

There are a large number of online dating sites. Some are aimed at specific age groups, but most cater for all ages and for a wide range of potential relationships, from friendship to marriage.

Online dating works in a similar way to the social networking sites. Most sites offer a free sign-up and allow you to search. However, there’s often a subscription fee for full membership, which will entitle you to reply to messages and access extra services.

While there have been some scarey stories about meeting dangerous people via the internet, as long as you exercise common sense online dating can be fun. See our How to stay safe online guide for sensible advice.

You’ll need:

  • a computer with an internet connection
  • an email account.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to join an internet dating site

Step 1: Choose an established internet dating site. We have chosen Friends Reunited Dating, a dating company that’s been around for some years.

Step 2: Go to

Friends reunited dating home page

Step 3: You will see a box that is headed ‘Create your free profile’.

Create your free profile window

Step 4: You can sign up using your Facebook log in details, but for this example we are signing up with email. First, select your gender by clicking on the icons representing man or woman next to 'I am'. 

Step 5: Then, complete your date of birth using the drop down lists, and your email address, password and city or postcode.  

Date of birth

Step 6: Cllck Start NOW!

Step 7: You will be sent an email to confirm your registration:

Email confirmation

Step 8: Go to your email inbox and you should have received an email from Friends Reunited Dating, with a link to click through to confirm your registration. Click Activate my account.

Activate my account button

Step 9: A new window will now open, and you will be shown a 'describe yourself' page. Here, you can choose a screenname (which will be displayed to other members of the Friends Reunited Dating site), choose your gender and your preferred partner's gender, a subject-line to describe yourself and a box for typing a message that will be sent to your '10 best matches' if you tick the box below to give your permission to do this. When you have completed this form, you can click save and continue or skip.

Describe yourself page.

Step 10: Next you will be taken to the Email notification page, where you can tick the box next to each form of email communication that you would like to receive from the site. Click skip if you would like to do this later Save and continue to save your options and go to the next screen. 

Step 11: Now you can upload a profile picture. Click Upload to choose a picture that you have saved on your desktop. There are other methods by which you can upload images too. When you have finished, click Save and continue or skip if you would like to do this later.  

Upload your photo button

Step 12: You’re nearly there now! The next screen allows you to tell potential matches about yourself. Using the drop-down menus, select hair colour, marital status, religion and more to help build up an accurate picture. Again, when you have finished, click Save and continue or skip if you would like to do this later.  

More personal details

Step 13: You have now finished completing the sign up information and can start to search for potential matches. At this stage, you will have joined as a free member. To upgrade your account at any time, click the Subscribe now button in the top right of the site.

Subscribe now button

Step 14: You will now be at the member home, here you can see who is currently online and matches your requirements. You can also access your profile to make changes and see your suggested matches. 

Member home page

If you scroll down, you will see (and can amend) your current search criteria and access any messages that you have been sent. 

Messages and Activity

Debbie Brixey is a Digital Unite tutor based in south London.