After a two-hour phone conversation was followed up by a dinner date brimming with "instant chemistry," she decided to sleep with him. While this is no reason to let skittishness take hold, Patricia offers this advice: Take your time. When the streamers fell and the cheering subsided, 40-year-old Audrey Wineglass Foster stood amongst her friends and family as the unexpected guest of honor at her own birthday party. She hugged everyone who celebrated her special day.The women he meets on Craigslist, he says, are more "adventurous" and "younger in spirit because they are there to begin with." Fearless, Not Foolish Allen advises single grandparents to get as much information about the people they're meeting as possible, including first and last names, home and cell phone numbers.

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Over at Match.com, new membership numbers are skyrocketing in the 50-plus category — which shows a 300 percent jump from year 2000.

This rapid-fire growth may be attributed to the overall increase in the number of 50-plus singles over the past three decades: Twenty-nine percent of adults ages 45-59 are now single compared to 19 percent in 1980, reports the Census Bureau.

"Don't get into a car with someone you met online until you have enough information. Personals, Match, and most recently joined Eons.com, a community website for the 50-plus crowd.

And, if you feel uncomfortable in any way about being with this person, just excuse yourself and leave." While Prime Singles screens profiles for offensive language and inappropriate nudity prior to publishing, it does not perform background checks. Patricia likes Eons for its friendship-oriented feel.

The two e-mailed back and forth and before long were chatting nightly on the phone.

One thing led to the next, and the two met face to face.

She's received at least 1,200 responses from men on Blackpeoplemeet.com, and the numbers keep climbing.

Sure, Janice admits to being skeptical and not wanting to "take a chance" when her friend first suggested she get hip to online dating.

"He knew I went to college in Astoria, Ore., which is just a across the river," says Donna.

"He said, 'I want to meet you in Astoria — a place where you have good memories.' And I thought, 'Oh man, he knows all the right things to say.'" Donna and Rod later moved in together.

At 54, she herself is on the prowl and catching prey at Match. "I think single people need to meet other singles in as many ways as possible, whether it's on Match or e Harmony.com, through a matchmaker or events." As grandparents retire and move to communities far away from their established social networks, says Allen, online dating can give them the chance to make new connections close by.