Think it’s scary and miserable to be an older dater? Think again.
Conventional wisdom holds that dating success and enjoyment are like the contents of a milk carton, because they come with an expiration date. But recent research indicates that older daters are also the happiest daters — a surprise, no doubt, to those in their twenties who think that romance is solely for the young. As it turns out, the “young at heart” have it going on much more than anyone previously realized.
According to a study from Match.com, older singles report feeling the greatest level of happiness combined with the least amount of stress over their relationship status. So, you can relax about being single and/or dating after a certain age, because your love life down the road could be much better than you expect. Of course, that’s not to say that people in different age groups want the same things in a match; after all, everyone’s life stages are distinct, and what we want and need at 20 differs radically (for the most part) from what we want when we’re 60.
How older singles stand out online
In their recent findings presented at the Gerontological Society of America’s international conference, Bowling Green State University gerontologists Wendy K. Watson and Charlie Stelle noted that older adults appear to market themselves differently using online dating sites than younger adults do — and that’s a trend worth fostering.
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Dr. Watson and Dr. Stelle believe that the senior population appears to be more focused on honest self-representation and being compatible with their dates rather than discussing issues that might be attractive to younger daters, such as sexual prowess and nightlife. They found traditional online coding terms used to describe younger generations seem to “miss some key elements relevant for ads placed by older adults.”
As Dr. Stelle noted about these older daters, “They are less likely to play games. They want to make a decision quickly and cut their losses, because they have learned life is too short for dating games.” Knowing this, let’s cut to the chase and spotlight those elements. Here are the eight attributes that older daters should clearly incorporate and expound on in their online dating profiles and in their digital communications with prospective mates:
1. Affection. If what you are really looking for in a mate is warmth, touch, and holding hands — i.e., as much or more than other aspects of intimacy — then make sure your profile reflects this accurately. “I found I got a really strong response from women when I mentioned that affection was important and a choice that you make together,” says Maryland native Al, 63, who met his current girlfriend at a recent swing dance party. Al adds that their focus on affection has really become a shared value in this budding relationship.
2. Intelligence. “I want a smart guy with whom I can converse about current events and politics,” says Myra, 66, from Florida. “So I cut any generic mentions of long walks on the beach and instead focused on more intellectual matters [in my profile]. The quality of my interactions has gone up since I clarified what I like best.”
3. Independence. “I don’t want to be tied to the hip with a spouse anymore,” says Washington native Marie, 61. “I did that with my ex-husband and three kids. I want a man, but I also want time alone to explore, see friends on my own, and, frankly, spend time with my own thoughts. I make that clear upfront to every man with whom I speak.”
4. Your everyday life’s purpose and/or goals. “I feel the clock ticking,” says Boston resident Len, 65. “I want to go, do, and see something new every day now. I guess you could say I am driven, and I’d like someone who’s driven to do things, too. I retired from work; I didn’t retire from life. When I am on a date with a woman, I always try to find out if she feels the same.”
5. Religion and spirituality. “When I was 30, I didn’t care about how spiritual my dates were,” says JoAnn, 64, from California. “I was looking for a sexy guy who wanted to sweep me off my feet. Now I want a guy with a spiritual side who has at least some understanding and appreciation for the big-faith questions in life.”
6. Political beliefs. “It matters to me what side of the aisle my guy is on,” says Virginian Brenda, 63. “I care about the world and what happens to it much more now than I did when I was younger and more self-focused. I have grandchildren, and I want to leave the world a better place for them. I’m a staunch environmentalist and healthcare advocate, and I can’t imagine a romance with a man who spends time reciting opposite view talking points to me. I am very upfront about that.”
7. Compatibility and companionship preferences. “I can compromise on a lot,” says Californian Jane, 63. “None of us look like we’re 25 anymore. None of us have quite the energy level we once did. Everyone has some sort of baggage at this age. OK, fine, but I can’t compromise on compatibility. I need to feel a sense of ease with my dates; that’s foremost. If I don’t feel that, it doesn’t matter how attractive he is physically or what he brings to the table in other ways, it’s a deal-breaker. Unfortunately, that’s all down to chemistry. You can’t guarantee that by writing about it in your dating profile, but you know it when you feel it.”
8. Current health and activity status. “I do my level best to maintain a healthy life,” says Chicago resident Linda, 67. “I eat right, exercise and stay active so I can lead an active life. I’d like my mate to do the same, just so we can be on the same page with our activity levels. You never know what illnesses might beset someone (or what a person might have already recovered from), and I have several friends who are battling chronic illnesses now. But starting out in a new romance, it’d be nice to find a mate with relatively good health. Before I started dating my neighbor, we were walking buddies.”
When it comes to dating in your sixties (and beyond), it’s best to focus on the important elements of life that you care about most — whether it’s one of the eight listed above, or another essential attribute that you won’t compromise on in a mate.
Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit hiswebsite, follow him onTwitter, oremail him.