Single Baby Boomers and Online Dating

Single Baby Boomers, Are You Using Online Dating?

If you’re a 60-year-old Baby Boomer you’re in the fasted growing group of online daters.  Does that surprise you as you sit alone in your chair surfing the web and wondering if the pet who wants your undivided attention is the only companion you’ll have for the rest of your life?  I know that some of you really don’t feel that way.  You’re probably watching the show you want to watch on T.V. and eating the leftovers from the party you brought home, because you don’t have to cook for anyone.  However, if you would like someone to snuggle with you on the couch while you watch your favorite show, you may be ready to go online, write a scintillating bio and peruse the people who could be your potential friend, lover, companion, or partner.  Don’t worry, you’re not too old and wrinkled.  There are success stories out there or at least that’s what you hear from Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder and chairman of eHarmony.  Doesn’t he look sincere and believable?  Well, some studies do support his claims.

Following up on their New Year’s Resolutions, Boomers join Online dating sites at higher numbers in January.  “Tis the Season for Online Dating & Romance”, by Rick Nauert Ph.D. on http://psychcentral.com/ , cites findings by Justin Garcia, Ph.D., a scientific advisor for a major online dating site and a faculty member at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute and Department of Gender Studies, that reported  mid-December through mid-February is the peak period for online dating.  His information came from a survey of 1,000 Match.com clients, in which 82% reported that the holidays make them feel more romantic than other times of the year.  Match.com sees a 25 to 30% increase in new members registering.  Therefore, members are ‘Holidating’ so they have someone with whom to spend the holidays.  In the same study, a quarter of respondents reported experiencing a break-up during the holiday season.  If you take into account that this is a study done by the “scientific advisor” for a major money making dating site, the findings may not be totally scientific and more of an ad to get people to join during the extended party and gift giving holidays.  No matter how romantic all of the commercials and love stories seem on T.V., is it worth the risk of a break-up when your new partner is no longer feeling the romance the holidays bring.  You’ll have to decide if you want to roll the dice and hope that you’re in the percentage whose relationship lasts after the spell of the holidays is over.  If you’re a gambler, the odds may be in your favor that now is the time to sign up for the dating scene.

In “Who Uses Internet Dating?”, writer John M. Grohol, Psy.D., discusses the finding from researchers M. Kim, K. Kwon,  and M. Lee who gathered data from 3,345 men and women aged 19 to 89 from the U.S..  Using standardized questionnaires and psychological measures, they found that people who are more “sociable are more likely to use Internet dating services than are those who are less sociable.  “This finding challenges the stereotypical profiling of Internet daters as being just lonely and socially anxious people.”

If you take this study and plug in the information from Bowling Green State University gerontologists,  Drs. Wendy K. Watson and Charlie Stelle , you could come to the conclusion that Boomers and older adults who use online dating are more confident and self-reliant.  Watson said women don’t have a need that has to be filled. “Instead their philosophy is: ‘Please don’t waste my time,’”.  “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.”  They also write their bios using terms like ‘young at heart’ and ‘active’ to show that they’re healthy and physically fit.  Writer Rick Nauert Ph.D., in this blog post  “ No Age Limit for Online Dating, But Different Values” said that Watson and Stelle’s 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.”

Want a magic formula?  Read “The Magic Formula for Online Dating Success?”, by Janice Wood on PsychCentral.com.  She reported that researchers at the University of Iowa claim they may have found the secret to finding the right mate online.  Pairing people according to their past interests and who they’ve contacted in the past, rather than on whom they say they’re interested in, seems to have the best results.   Kang Zhao, an assistant professor of management sciences in the Tippie College of Business, and doctoral student Xi Wang, used a person’s contact history to recommend partners. They developed a logarithm similar to the model Netflix uses to recommend movies to users by tracking their viewing history.  Using data provided by a popular online dating site, the researchers looked at 475,000 initial contacts involving 47,000 users in two U.S. cities over 196 days.  About 28,000 of the users were men and 19,000 women.  The researchers reported that men made 80% of the initial contacts.  According to Zhao, the data showed that only about 25% of those initial contacts were reciprocated.  To improve that rate they developed a model that combines two factors to recommend contacts.  They hypothesized that a user’s tastes determined by the types of people he or she has contacted and the attractiveness/unattractiveness determined by how many of those contacts are returned and how many aren’t. The combination of taste and attractiveness may do a better job of predicting successful connections than relying on information that users enter into their profiles.

If you think actual chemistry may help you find romantic chemistry, then you may want to try DNA testing, which is apparently the new frontier in creating a successful match.  In “Blinded by Science in the Online Dating Game” Alina Tugend reported in “The New York Times” that Genepartner.com will send you a kit to swab inside your cheek. You send it back to the company, based in Switzerland, and get a GenePartner ID.  After receiving the results of your DNA sample, you can, for an extra fee, search for your genetic soul mate on Genepartner.com.  Using both systems together with every match query ensures the best possible overall compatibility or so they claim.

The GenePartner project, as the company says on its website, was inspired by a study in which female volunteers smelled T-shirts worn by men for three consecutive days and then rated them for attractiveness.  Researchers found that women preferred the T-shirts from men who had certain genes that were most different from their own.  I guess this would support the old adage that opposites attract.  The company further claims that biological compatibility ensures good chemistry and higher chances of a successful long-term relationship.  Although this sounds somewhat science based, in my opinion, it seems like a great way to prey on lonely people.

I conducted some interesting, but unscientific interviews with friends and found that the married couples often have friends who found and married mates they met on dating sites.  There were a few exceptions, but they usually stress the success stories.  I think they want me to think there’s still hope.  On the other hand, single Baby Boomers often had disappointing experiences that leave them so discouraged that they just give up.  They don’t feel that it’s worth the feelings of rejection that come when someone disappears after emailing them several times or after their first date.  The outdated profile photos and misleading bios are also a deterrent.  Since I’m a woman, I admit that my interviews were mainly with other women.  Personally, I found it was easier to find healthy, financially secure men in my 50’s than it is now.  I passed on a number men I met online who may have been wonderful partners, because the timing wasn’t right or the ‘spark’ just wasn’t there.  My mother says that older men want a ‘nurse and a purse’ and a lot of women don’t want to provide either one.  Men tend to marry more quickly after a spouse’s death or a divorce.  Women seem to err on the side of caution.  Of course, there’s the fact that women live longer than men, so the dating pool is a bit shallower for female Baby Boomer

When all is said and done, it comes down to deciding if you want to make the effort of going through the exciting misery of dating.  You may look at it as an exhilarating adventure and enjoy the hunt.  It depends on your point of view, so if you’re one of the” sociable” Baby Boomers that one of the studies reported are more likely to date online, then a potential partner may be waiting at his or her computer for a flirt or message.  For me, at this moment, my cat’s keeping me warm.  However, life is constantly changing and I’m always ready for another adventure and he may come around the corner and surprise me.

Continue your adventure!

Linda Lea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference: Who Uses Internet Dating?”  writer John M. Grohol, Psy.D., discusses how researchers  M. Kim, K. Kwon,  and M. Lee (2009). Psychological Characteristics of Internet Dating Service Users: The Effect of Self-Esteem, Involvement, and Sociability on the Use of Internet Dating Services. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(4). DOI: 10.1089=cpb.2008.0296.

“ Blinded by Science in the Online Dating Game” Alina Tugend reported in The New York Times”  Shortcuts

By ALINA TUGEND JULY 17, 2009

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