Online dating sites are experiencing a rapid growth in older adults. This is why there have been several senior-oriented websites like DatingOver60s, Senior Friend Finder and Senior Dating.
RSVP, an Australian dating site claims that 22% of its members are over 50 years old. The oldest registered member is 91. This phenomenon is rapidly growing. A 2011 global survey of 25,000 cohabiting and married people revealed that 37% had met their partner through the internet.
Why 60-plus daters go online
Swinburne University recently researched older Australians’ relationship and dating habits aged 60 to 92. People who met their partners online through Senior dating agency did so because there was not enough space and opportunities for them to connect with like-minded people and they were no longer able to participate in the club and pub scene.
Naomi, 61, said:
There are few places where someone my age can meet other people. It’s not cool to be old and desperately insecure.
It is difficult for older adults, aside from the fact that there are not many available partners in their friendship or social groups, to find out who is available. It doesn’t matter if someone is single, widowed, or divorced. This does not necessarily mean that they are interested dating.
It is easy to see why they are online. For the most part, older adults have been married or cohabited for a long time. They fear embarrassment if they do it wrong. This worry is alleviated by online dating.
Online dating can be a great option for older adults because it is anonymous, safe, and easy. It also provides structure to an otherwise chaotic process.
As Neil, 71, said:
The net was the best way to meet like-minded people my age. It also allows you to find common interests/locations and view a photo. You won’t find this anywhere else. It works, and it works well.
Online dating sites make it easy to create profiles and view other profiles. You can also send “stamps” or “kisses” and respond with emails. Chatting online or over the phone is another option. It removes the stress associated with meeting new people.
Take it at your own pace
Over many months, many older adults start to meet with multiple potential partners. Others find that the online dating experience is relatively short as they make a connection almost immediately.
Neil had used dating sites for seven years, and had made contact with around 200 women. He describes the evolution of his relationships:
Only one third of the 200 reached regular communication via phone calls, emails and email. About half made it to the coffee meeting stage. This leaves 33 RSVP coffee meeting. About one in five of these coffee meetings resulted in a romantic relationship. This may seem like a poor outcome, but six to seven romantic relationships in six to seven years is a very positive outcome for me.
You won’t find anything better than the internet. You have to be persistent and optimistic. But from my perspective, I’ve had seven happy years and made many wonderful friends along the way.
Neil enjoyed the organized approach to meeting people online, and that there were many potential partners interested in him.
Elaine’s online presence, however, was short-lived. Elaine, now 61, found a partner quickly.
The third man I contacted responded to my message and suggested meeting for coffee. I said I would like to get to know him better by email. After exchanging three emails each, we met up for coffee.
This study found that older adults met their partners offline within a short period. They were often sexually intimate with each other within four weeks. This was for some the first time they had ever met face-to–face. Many felt a sense of urgency, which prompted them to meet up as soon as possible.
George, a 69-year-old, said that the best thing about online dating was the speed with which relationships can be quickly advanced to real life experiences. After meeting his online partner, he was able to start dating again for the first time after the death of his wife.
Lachlan, 63 described a similar scenario. He said that he and his partner were shocked at how quickly their relationship developed.
The pace was intense and fast, leaving us both with panic wobbles.
Escape from the Stereotypes
Many stereotypes are applied to older adults, describing them as non-sexual or “past it.” Older adults believed these stereotypes until they could find love and intimate relationships. Many were surprised at how sexually and thrilling their new relationships were.
Although not all relationships work out, online dating allows you to find and connect with people who are interested in your situation. Online dating was a way for older adults first to make romantic connections and then facilitate ongoing sexual relationships offline if desired.