Messenger Older adults are the fastest-growing demographic on online dating websites, so much so that there has been a recent proliferation of sites catering specifically for the senior market, such as DatingOver60s , SeniorFriendFinder and Senior Dating.
Why plus daters go online Recent research conducted at Swinburne University investigated the dating and relationship practices of older Australian adults aged between 60 and Those who had met their partners through dating websites went online because they felt there were very limited places and opportunities to meet like-minded others and because they no longer took part in the pub and club scene.
None of the places I frequent seem to have single males in my age group. There is really no other place that someone my age can meet people. It is not cool to be old and desperate. Apart from a dearth of available partners in their social or friendship groups, it is hard for older adults to work out who is actually available. Just because someone is single, widowed or divorced, that does not mean they are interested in dating. Online it is clear why they are there.
Older adults who have, for the most part, been married or cohabited long-term, fear the embarrassment of getting it wrong. Online dating alleviates that worry. For many older adults, online dating is easy, relatively safe, anonymous and provides a structured approach to what is typically an unstructured process.
As Neil, 71, said: Where else can you do that? It works and it works well for me. It takes away the stress of meeting someone new. Taking it at their own pace Many older adults initiate meetings with numerous prospective partners over many months. For others, the online dating experience is comparatively brief as they find a connection with someone almost immediately. Neil had been using dating websites for seven years and had established contact with about women. He describes how his relationships unfolded: Of those , only one third progressed to regular communication, phone calls and emails, and of those 66 about half got to the coffee meeting stage.
So that gets down to 33 RSVP coffee meetings. Out of those coffee meetings, usually only about one out of five developed into a romantic relationship. Now this may sound like rather poor odds, but from my point of view six or seven romantic relationships over six or seven years at my age is an extremely positive outcome.
Obviously one has to be persistent and incredibly optimistic, but from my point of view I have had seven happy years, made some wonderful and permanent friends and lost nothing along the way. Where else can I get anything like that except on the internet?
Neil liked the structured approach to meeting people he found online and he liked that there were numerous potential partners who might be interested in him. Elaine, 61, quickly found a compatible partner: We exchanged about three emails apiece and then we met for coffee.
The older adults in this study met their dating partners offline in a very short space of time and they usually became sexually intimate with them within four weeks. For some this occurred the first time they met face-to-face.
Many described a sense of urgency that compelled them to meet up as quickly as possible. He was dating for the first time since the death of his wife and met his new partner offline within four days of meeting online. Lachlan, 63, described a similar situation. He and his partner were stunned at the outset by how quickly their relationship developed, he said.
Fast and intense, the speed left both of us having panic wobbles … Both of us were stunned by the pace and both found it overwhelming at various times in the first few weeks. Older adults believed the stereotypes themselves, until they found themselves involved in loving, intimate relationships.
Many expressed surprise at just how sexual and exciting their new relationships were. Using the internet to find partners provided opportunities for its expression. I like having that view of myself. While not all relationships worked out, online dating provided a simple and easy way to locate and connect with interested and available people. The internet thus acted as a means for older adults first to initiate romantic connections and then to facilitate their offline formation into ongoing sexual relationships if they desired.