It’s Valentine’s Day, which means love is in the air for many seniors. Of course, a lot of older people have been in long-term relationships spanning numerous decades, but as the years march on, many seniors find themselves alone — be it single, divorced, or widowed — and looking for love and/or companionship. But senior dating and relationships in the 2020s may not be quite what you’d expect.
Online dating has grown in popularity among all age groups in recent years, including among seniors. In fact, Pew Research from 2022 found that among Americans age 50 to 64, one out of five (20 percent) have used an online dating site or app. For those age 65 and up, 13 percent have tried online dating. There are even dating websites and apps designed specifically for older people like Howaboutwe.com and OurTime.
While you might be a bit surprised by how high those usage numbers are, they are even more noteworthy when compared to Pew’s data from 2013. In that year, just 6 percent of those age 50 to 64 had tried online dating, and a mere 3 percent of those 65 and up had. So, in just a decade’s time, the use of online dating has increased among seniors three- to four-fold.
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A word of caution: One of the undesirable results of the rise in online dating is the increase in online dating scams — something that adults of any age should be aware of when connecting online. Often referred to as “catfishing,” these online scammers will pretend to be someone they are not, usually with the goal of enticing their victim to send them money — either cash or gift cards.
A cautionary story out of Georgia last week highlighted how these criminal Casanovas operate: typically targeting older women who are recently divorced or widowed and convincing them to send them anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands. If you are using an online dating website or app, always operate with a healthy amount of skepticism, particularly if your new connection refuses to talk on the phone or video chat.
>> Related: Seniors and Sex: A Significant Quality of Life Issue
Tried and true ways to find love
For those who aren’t quite on board with online dating, the more traditional means of meeting that someone special will never go out of style. Options like meeting a prospective partner through hobbies or volunteering, at religious gatherings, or though friends have been successful for centuries!
Living in a senior living community, such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or life plan community), also can make it easier to meet someone with shared interests who is at a similar place in life. Some communities even facilitate such meetings, hosting happy hours, dances, and other programs designed to get single seniors socializing with each other.
>> Related: Dating and Intimacy in Retirement Communities
There was an eye-opening article in the San Clemente Times a few weeks ago about dating after 50. It highlighted a common refrain from those who are single during their retirement years. While many seniors crave the companionship of a relationship, they have other priorities for their time like grandkids, friends, hobbies, or volunteerism. As a result, they don’t want the time commitment that comes with a full-time relationship.
It is a rather intriguing phenomenon. In a lot of these instances, the seniors might be widows or divorcees who have learned that living alone can have its perks. They are not willing to devote their life and perhaps more importantly, their time, to another person. Thus, casual dating relationships, where you see one another a few times a week, may be growing increasingly popular among some retirees.
>> Related: Single Seniors May Pay the Price When it Comes to Retirement Savings
Later-in-life partnerships and marriage
While some people are only looking for a part-time relationship as they grow older, later-in-life partnerships and marriages are still thriving among seniors. When you find “the one,” you want to hang onto them, no matter your age!
Such unions can offer seniors not only companionship but also support and assistance as they grow older and perhaps begin to need help with certain activities of daily living. In addition, marriage conveys numerous tax breaks as well as other financial and legal protections and benefits.
On the other hand, it’s important to consider the less positive legal and financial ramifications that can come with marriage or living together, particularly if the relationship goes sour. Consider talking with your attorney and accountant about how to protect your rights and your assets. This article from Kiplinger also provides some helpful insights and guidance on this topic.
>> Related: The Unexpected Cost of Divorce in Retirement
The state of senior dating and relationships
Whether you opt for the modern convenience of online dating, or prefer more traditional routes to meeting new people, it’s never too late to look for and find love. And seniors today have more options than ever for finding companionship or even meeting “the one.”
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