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Online Dating: 2 Ways Boomers Break the Rules


Looking for love after 50 can be a tricky endeavor, as many of the traditional ways to meet people – weddings, college, unmarried friends – have dried up.  As a result, many boomers are turning to online dating to find a mate, as I reported in a story for SmartMoney.com this week. In fact, the number of people over 50 joining online dating sites has grown at twice the rate of other age groups, and baby boomers now represent roughly one out of every five online daters.

What’s particularly interesting about this trend is how these boomers are using online dating sites differently than their younger peers.  In particular, experts I spoke to noted the following:

1. Marriage is out. Marriage often isn’t the goal for online daters over 50. “They want long-term relationships but they’re less interested in marriage than younger members,” says Dr. Gail Saltz, OurTime.com’s relationship expert. She thinks this is due to the fact that they’re not looking to have children and because recent economic conditions have made them wary of marriage, which would link their finances with someone elses’.

2. Women are bolder. Older women who are online dating are more likely to initiate contact with a potential partner than are younger women, says Dr. Gian Gonzaga, senior director of research and development for eHarmony.com.  “This is probably because they’ve already gone through relationships, so they’re more secure.”

All in all: “The traditional roles break down a bit more in this age group,” Gonzaga says.

Still, tradition isn’t dead.  For one, men shouldn’t sit around and wait for the ladies to message them, as most women over 50 still prefer that men do the first ask, says Saltz.  And neither sex should assume that marriage is off the table; it’s just that marriage is often not as big of a priority for boomers as it is for those in child-bearing years, experts say.  To learn more about online dating and how to save money using these sites, click here.

Readers, have you tried online dating?  What was your experience like?


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    • Nowadays, people are finding love in the most unexpected places. I’m the community manager of http://www.Winster.com, a social networking site popular among boomers and seniors seeking companionship and social interaction through games. I’ve noticed a similar trend within our community. I’ve observed romantic relationships spark through online games. Sounds impractical at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense because they already have something in common – they enjoy playing online games. Not only that, but they are in similar stages of life and can chat and share experiences with each other while playing games. Virtual face-to-face interactions have the ability to create the power of presence, making it easier for people to meet potential partners online.

      Last year, I discovered an extraordinary story from a Massachusetts couple in their 50′s – Brian and Vicki. These players hadn’t heard from each other in over 40 years, but ended up reuniting on our site by chance (or perhaps fate?). They didn’t realize that they had originally met in the 4th grade until after a few sessions of playing in the same room together. After chatting about where they grew up, they realized that they were from the same town. The light bulb went off and they both just happened to be single. They started dating and are now engaged to be married on September 10, 2011. It’s never too late to find love!

About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.