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View the full list 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 Dating Over60s, Senior Friend Finder and Senior Dating.
Australian dating website RSVP claims that adults aged 50-plus make up 22% of its membership and the oldest registered member is 91 years old.
In terms of how big this phenomenon is becoming, a 2011 worldwide survey of 25,000 married or cohabiting people found that 37% of those aged 60 years-plus had met their partners through the internet.
Recent research conducted at Swinburne University investigated the dating and relationship practices of older Australian adults aged between 60 and 92.
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.
Lorraine, 65, remarked: 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. Older adults who have, for the most part, been married or cohabited long-term, fear the embarrassment of getting it wrong. For many older adults, online dating is easy, relatively safe, anonymous and provides a structured approach to what is typically an unstructured process. The setting up of profiles, viewing others’ profiles and photographs, sending “kisses” or “stamps”, responding with emails, chatting online or by phone and in due course meeting in real life, is a process organised and regularised by the online dating websites. Many older adults initiate meetings with numerous prospective partners over many months.
As Neil, 71, said: I recognised the net as the most practical way to connect with like-minded people of a similar age plus the ability to match for common interests/locality and see a photo. 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 200 women.
He describes how his relationships unfolded: Of those 200, only one third progressed to regular communication, phone calls and emails, and of those 66 about half got to the coffee meeting stage. Out of those coffee meetings, usually only about one out of five developed into a romantic relationship.