More mature singles are turning to the Internet to find love – and with good reason. While Internet dating is popular for singles of all ages and sexual orientations, it has proven even more valuable for singles who have a thin partner market.
According to 2012 research by Rosenfeld and Thomas, mature singles and singles from religious minorities are using online dating to find matches more efficiently by fine-tuning the search criteria.
Karen Katz and Allan Licht met on the dating site Plenty of Fish in 2009 when they were 54 and 56, respectively but their love story began years earlier at Cleveland Heights High School.
Karen remembers vividly, “I met Allan when I was a sophomore and he was a senior, and I had a mad crush on him.” Allan admitted he liked Karen too, but “she was so shy that I didn’t feel I could approach her.”
Years passed, and their lives took shape in different directions. The stars finally aligned years later when Allan saw Karen’s profile online, although he didn’t recognize her at first.
“All of a sudden I saw this picture, and it was the cutest picture of her. I just knew she was Jewish by the way she looked. There was something very familiar, and I just had this good feeling inside that this is the person I need to contact,” he said.
They met at Sushi Rock in Beachwood for their first date, and Allan realized who Karen was as soon as she walked in. Karen knew right away that she had found her match, “I had this I’ve been waiting for him all my life feeling.” Allan agrees, “I was looking for someone who felt like home, I needed a connection to the past.”
I asked Karen to offer advice to women over 50 who are searching for love. She said that she had been single for nine years before meeting Allan. She went on lots of dates, but none developed into serious relationships. She says, “It’s a numbers game – never give up, and try to make it fun. Even dates that were duds, I always tried to learn something from the experience. I knew I would meet someone.”
Here are the best dating sites for singles over 50. Match and eHarmony remain the dating site giants. The free dating sites Plenty of Fish and OkCupid are also popular. Niche sites that cater to senior singles include Senior Match and Our Time.
If you have your heart set on finding love the old-fashioned way, follow the lead of Ossie and Carole. Ossie, 78, and Carole, 74, have been married for a little over a year. She caught his attention when they were volunteering, and he needed a reason to talk to her.
He recalls, “I asked her if she liked butterflies, and she said ‘yes.’ I bought a butterfly pin, and I presented it to her. I just kept talking to her, and I made excuses.”
She started wearing the pin whenever she volunteered. Carole remembers, “It was just such a nice gesture, just to show him that I did really like him.” Ossie invited Carole to dinner, where she cut to the chase and asked him what his intentions were. He said that he was looking for a serious relationship, and they became a couple. Six months later they were married.
With all of these avenues to find love, singles over 50 have reason to be optimistic. A 2013 poll of more than 2,000 members of the dating site, Our Time, revealed that singles between 50 to 65 years old have the most positive outlook of any age group when it comes to finding love. Ninety-four percent of the 50+ singles who participated in the study stated that they are more confident in knowing what they want in a partner than they were in their 20s or 30s, 89 percent reported feeling more comfortable with themselves, and 87 percent reported being less willing to settle. Singles over 50 also know what they want: They are searching for partners who are financially stable, healthy and attractive.
As far as intimacy in relationships, older adults have varying expectations and desires for sex. According to a study presented at the Gerontological Society of America in 2011, about 59 percent of married individuals 65 and older who reported no sexual activity in the last 12 months said they were “very happy” with their relationships. For others, sex remains an important and meaningful means of connecting. A National Council on Aging survey reported that among people age 60 and over who have regular intercourse, 74 percent of the men and 70 percent of the women find their sex lives more satisfying than when they were in their 40s.
Finally free to create their own rules, mature singles are approaching relationships with more self-acceptance, more clarity and more optimism.
Elana Averbach is a dating coach who hopes to be just as in love with her husband-to-be at 70 as she is now. Learn how coaching can help you find romance and companionship.