If you’re not online dating, you’re not dating. Period.

I meet and work with people all the time who want to “get back into dating,” but don’t know how. I ask, “Have you put your profile up online?”

“Um, no.” Why? I’d guess that 80 percent of the time, they blame their age. No matter what age they are. Online dating can be really fun, especially if you check out these 55 Really Good Dares to play with your date!

You’re Not Too Old

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Even this guy could get a date if he wanted to.

If you think online dating is just “what the kids are doing nowadays,” you’re 100 percent wrong. The New York Times reported in 2011 that people 55 years and older are flocking to online dating sites in droves, more than any other age group, up 39 percent from the three previous years. Scores of niche dating sites have cropped up— SilverSingles, SeniorPeopleMeet, OurTime. I promise you, you don’t have to brush up against frat boys in your search for a decent date.

(Though I will say it’s odd that 2 of the 3 I just mentioned feature women riding men piggy back. I don’t know what the means, but I will be giving it some thought.)

Stop shrinking your life

I know a woman in her late 60s who has just decided she doesn’t want to travel abroad anymore. Period! That’s it! What next? She shouldn’t leave the state? Her town? Her house? Her comfort zone is rapidly shrinking around her for no good reason except that she’s starting to give up and close in on herself. Now, you don’t have to fly to Dubai to feel young, certainly, but why would you self impose limits that don’t need to be there?

You have years ahead of you. A passion and curiosity about the world. And, hello, an active and thriving libido that shouldn’t be put in cold storage. Just because you didn’t grow up with a thing doesn’t mean you’re just not supposed to use it. Otherwise there’d be a lot of people without refrigerators, central heating, or televisions.

My guess is that you wouldn’t use the age excuse for ANYthing else that has to do with getting something you want online. You wouldn’t say, “Oh no, I can’t possibly buy those shoes on Zappos. Women my age? We go to the mall.”

You wouldn’t be afraid to read on a Kindle for fear someone would call you out on it (“Margaret. Really? Don’t you think you’re a little old for e-ink?”).

The real fact is, if you’re being honest, you don’t really think you ‘can’t’ use online dating. It’s that not using it is a great excuse to stay single and wonder where all the cowboys have gone. It’s a hell of a lot easier to complain than it is to do something to create change, to put yourself at risk of rejection or disappointment, which I think you should more of. And what you risk is bigger than being hurt (again, which yes, could happen), but of not living the way you want, or meeting someone you might like a whole lot.

You’ve lived long enough to know that you can survive most things, and have. You’re going to let an imaginary idea about your age dictate what you will and won’t do?

Young people fear online dating, too

Plenty of women in their 20s—mere babes!—resist online dating as well, for reasons that are just as imaginary, and yes, also have to do with their age.

Take Ivy, an incredibly funny and sharp 22-year-old I know who told me she isn’t seeing anyone at all and would love to. But she believes she shouldn’t “have” to use online dating.

Shouldn’t have to? You’d think I was telling her to start wearing Depends to save a trip to the bathroom or install one of those chairs that zips you up the stairs.

That’s like saying I shouldn’t have to have a bank account because I’ve got a perfectly good mattress for keeping my money in.

Ivy DID grow up in the internet age, and is quite comfortable using it for any and everything. I asked her, “Do you not post your resume on LinkedIn or job sites because you should just be able to meet potential employers on the street?” Of course not. You do both. Online dating, as with everything else we do to connect outside of being in front of someone, is a tool, a resource, and another powerful way to do what you want to do: Meet someone.

Ivy believes since she’s young and lives in a big city, she should just, I don’t know, stumble into attractive, available guys at every turn. But live in New York for a few weeks and you’ll see that isn’t as easy as it seems.

I told her that she doesn’t have to think of it as “giving in” to online dating, but as a supplement to what she’s doing to meet people already. Think of it as a way to gain momentum around dating and meet LOTS of people, instead of just hoping to meet The One everywhere she goes (talk about pressure).

>Your self-consciousness is what’s dated

People regarded online dating with considerable suspicion…in 1995. With good reason. No one knew what it meant. Now we do. And if you want to date yourself, hanging onto that suspicion is a good way to do it.

Beware, too, the “principles” you stand on around online dating, which are as much a joke as “age” as a reason. Consider Louise, a woman in her 50s who told me she refused to date online because “of all the lying.”

The lying? Wha? Have you MET a real-life human? I credit the internet with a lot of things, but being the secret lair of liars isn’t one of them. Someone is either a liar or he isn’t, and I guarantee they’re as likely to be at a bar as they are online.

You’re not too young to date online. You’re not too old to use it. (And you’re not too fat, either.) Stop blaming the technology—or this fear that only creepy stalkers and predators await you.

The sooner you stop using your age as an excuse, the sooner you can stop using excuses altogether. Because if you haven’t noticed, they’re doing you no favors. They don’t help you live a better life; they keep you stuck in the one you’re in.

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