February 10, 2017

More People Over 50 Are Online Dating, But Some Are Hesitant

More than 100 million American adults are single at any given time. - Steve Burns/WTIU

More than 100 million American adults are single at any given time.

Steve Burns/WTIU

“If I could find you girls dates for Valentine’s Day, would we go on dates?”

That’s the question Stephanie Brown, the enrichment coordinator at Redbud Hills Retirement Community, asked to a group of residents.

“Well, you’d have to hurry,” a woman from the group responds, followed with laughs from the rest of the women.

Brown has given online dating a shot and now she’s trying to convince some of the seniors she works with to get on board.

“If they could see what I was doing, how easy it was to meet people their age by just going to our computer and looking it up, then maybe they would find love and some companionship like I have,” Brown says.

Although most of the women Brown asked seemed uninterested, a recent study shows more and more people over 50 are dating online. More than a 100 million American adults are single at any given time, and today more than a third of those singles are over 50 years of age.

OurTime.com, a site for singles over 50 and a sister site for Match.com, recently released a study. It shows that across multiple demographics, including age, the internet has become the most common way to meet a date.

Justin Garcia, a scientific advisor for Match.com and the associate director for research and education at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, says there are some surprising findings.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about people who are over 55, like maybe they just want companionship, not true. They want companionship, they want romantic partners, but they also want a sexual life,” Garcia says. “So, this idea that later in life that you might not be interested in romance and sex, and intimacy broadly, is just not true.”

Garcia also says the study shows that those over 50 on the dating market are much more sure of what they want out of relationship, compared to someone in his or her 20s.

“So, people who were 50 and over were much more likely to say they were unwilling to compromise in their romantic life… that they were much more sure of what they wanted,” Garcia says.

And 60 percent of those people said their unwillingness to compromise is a result of what they had learned from past experiences and relationships.

“The data tells us that people who are over the age of 50, 60, and 70, their dating lives are rich, and they’re less willing to compromise and for good reason,” Garcia says.

There are some challenges in someone over 50 looking for love online. For example, not having transportation or a grasp on the technology make it difficult. But it’s especially hard for some with past relationships.

“Not too long ago, I lost my husband of 75 years, and I could never find one like him,” says Katie, one of the residents.

Brown is continuing her pursuit to get at least some of the Redbud residents online, even offering to help make them profiles. She’s convinced some of her residents will change their mind.

“I think it’d be different,” says one of the Redbud residents. "I might try it, but I don’t know if he’d be ready for me.”

Garcia says he usually tells his students to ask their parents about dating and relationships, but after seeing the research he has a new tip.

“And that is, when you go home, talk to your grandparents about their dating lives and experiences,” Garcia says. “Whether you’re 18 or whether you’re 70, I think there’s a lot here we could be sharing with each other.”

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