Online dating is not limited to the young; in fact, individuals over the age of 60 are its fastest growing age group. But new research suggests what they value is light-years away from hot looks and tony clubs.
A dearth of data about online dating in later life prompted two Bowling Green State University gerontologists to look into the phenomenon.
In their research, Drs. Wendy K. Watson and Charlie Stelle aim to increase the quantity and improve the quality of information available about dating in later life, and in this case, online dating.
Although the research is in the early stage, Watson and Stelle are finding that older adults appear to market themselves differently on online dating sites than younger adults.
Most notable is the absence of physical appearance (looks) and status. Evidence suggests the senior population appears to be more interested in honest self-representation, compatibility and companionship rather than discussing areas such as sexual prowess and nightlife.
The researchers found traditional online coding terms used to describe younger generations seem to “miss some key elements relevant for ads placed by older adults.”
Watson and Stelle suggest online sites geared at those over 60 might want to consider adding personal characteristics such as affection, intelligence, independence, purpose and goals, religion and spirituality, political beliefs, health and status.
Interestingly, the language of seniors’ online ads was different when describing themselves and what they were looking for in a relationship. Terms such as “young at heart” and “active” were used to show physical fitness and good health.
In previous research on dating in later life, Watson and Stelle found that older women had specific expectations regarding dating.
Watson said women don’t have a need that has to be filled. “Instead their philosophy is: ‘Please don’t waste my time,’” she said.
“They are less likely to play games,” Stelle said. “They want to make a decision quickly and cut their losses, because they have learned life is too short for dating games.”
In the future, Watson and Stelle will continue their research and expand the analysis within the match.com and ourtime.com dating sites.
The experts say their findings show that the desire to find love and a companion to share life with has no expiration date.
Source: Bowling Green State University