Older Generations Prove Dating Gets Better With Age
The United Nations reports that one of the most significant issues for society in the 21st century is the growth and proportion of our aging population. In 2017, there was 962 million people aged 60 and over, making up 13 percent of the worldwide population. That number is expected to double by 2050. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that older generations are starting to make up more of the dating population as well.
They’re turning to online dating apps and websites as well as finding love through communities and social engagements. And what better way to socialize than join a retirement community or participate in AARP activities? The options for this older sector of singles are continuing to grow, proving that love is just like a fine wine: “It only gets better with age.”
The Oldest Couple to Wed
In 2015, George Kirby and Doreen Luckie (pictured) from Eastbourne, England, became the world's oldest couple to get married. The couple had lived together for 27 years and had 15 grandchildren between them when they decided to marry at ages 103 (Kirby) and 91 (Luckie). Even though Kirby has since passed, he was quoted saying, “I definitely don't feel my age. Doreen keeps me young."
Although Kirby did propose in order to make their union official, he told the U.K.’s Daily Mail, "I didn't get down on one knee because I don't think I would have been able to get back up."
Dating Into the Later Years
Kirby and Luckie are just one of many examples of people making romantic gestures later in life because, while it may sound obvious, love and romance are lifelong desires and pursuits for men and women. With almost half of Americans over the age of 65 reporting being divorced, separated or widowed, there's a growing number of older people looking to date.
An article, titled “Dating is More Fun as You Get Older,” from Britain’s Maturity Dating website, revealed that both men and women over 50 believe they are more romantic now than in their younger years. Of those who had started dating again in their later years, 63 percent claim dating is better later in life.
Love Reduces Pain
While dating may be better in the later years, researchers have also found that love and affection can improve the immune system. Every 10-second kiss is a transfer of 80 million bacteria between partners, which boosts immune function. Couples who kissed nine or more times a day had similar oral microbiomes so that both partners can fight off harmful microbes they may encounter in their environment.
Feelings of love can reduce sensitivity to pain, much like opioid pain relievers, thanks to the impact it has on the brain. For those older people who haven't met their romantic partner yet, just meditating on love can slow the aging process. Even people who focus on being loving and kind toward others have been shown to have longer telomeres, the segments of DNA that regulate aging.
In Australia, the Oldest Adult Seeking Love Online Is 91
Research shows that many older adults have started to brave the world of online dating. The Pew Research Center reported that the share of American 55- to 64-year-olds who use online dating doubled from 6 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2015. That's compared to 27 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds who reported having done so in 2015, up from 10 percent in 2013.
Similarly, a 2011 global survey of 25,000 married couples or those living together discovered that 37 percent of people aged 60 and over had met their partners online. Swinburne University in Victoria, Australia, found that older adults (aged 60 and over) are the fastest growing demographic using online dating sites. And Australian dating site, RSVP, reports adults over 50 account for 22 percent of its membership, with the oldest registered member aged 91.
Looking at Online Dating as an Opportunity
The Swinburne University research found that Australian adults aged 60 to 92 had used dating and relationship sites and apps because they felt restricted by the opportunities to meet people in their daily lives.
Online dating sites, dedicated for singles over 50 years of age, help solve that problem. OurTime.com is a popular one in the U.S. and Canada, while in Australia, SilverSingles dominates the market. The site advises new users to fill out a personality questionnaire, which covers hobbies, beliefs, values and "quirks." From that point, the site sends potential matches. One essential piece of advice: Post a good profile picture that captures you "looking at ease, natural and cheery."
An App for That
Of course, a lot of the dating sites, including OurTime and SilverSingles, also have apps. And the bigger dating apps, like OkCupid, eHarmony and Plenty of Fish, offer dating options for people of all ages.
With more than 2.3 million singles over 50 years of age in Australia, a dating app called Lumen, dedicated specifically to people 50 years and older, has been rapidly adopted by single Australians. Originated in the U.K., the app boasts 300,000 users worldwide.
Taking the First Step
Of course, dating at an older age can be especially difficult to take that first step. That’s why SilverSingles suggests that older adults write their dating profile when they're feeling happy.
Since dating can be fraught and being single isn't all sunshine and roses, waiting to be in the right frame of mind to see dating at 50-plus as a new adventure is advisable to ensure the profile attracts attention and matches.
Older Adults Don't Need To Limit Themselves
Pepper Schwartz, a love and relationship expert for AARP, told U.S. News that seniors seeking romance shouldn't limit themselves to dating people the same age either.
Rather, both men and women should make their own rules and consider dating those both older and younger if that's something they're comfortable doing.
It's a Date, Not a Medical Appointment
Older adults have a tendency to treat first dates as a health check-in or a job interview rather than genuinely getting to know their date, warns Schwartz. With a potentially long list of previous relationships and health ailments, this may seem an easy topic to raise, but it can derail any romance from the get go.
"When you're going out on your first date, make it about your future and not your past," advises Christina Pesoli, the author of “Break Free From the Divortex.”
Always Look on the Bright Side
The same Swinburne University researchers had several real-life stories of older people finding success in online dating. Neil, 71, (whose last name wasn’t shared for privacy purposes) told Swinburne researchers that he'd used dating websites for seven years and contacted around 200 women. Of all of them, only a third led to regular communication via phone and email, and then only 33 of the 200 resulted in coffee meetings.
"Out of those coffee meetings, usually only about one out of five developed into a romantic relationship,” he said. “Now, this may sound like rather poor odds, but from my point of view, six or seven romantic relationships over six or seven years at my age is an extremely positive outcome.
“Obviously, one has to be persistent and incredibly optimistic, but from my point of view, I have had seven happy years, made some wonderful and permanent friends, and lost nothing along the way. Where else can I get anything like that except on the internet?"
Love and Marriage in a Nursing Home
Of course, there are other older couples who have taken the more traditional route: finding love in a nursing home. Robert Holler and Doris Ladner met at Woodland Village Nursing Center in Mississippi when Robert was 84 and Doris, 89. The couple was smitten and, in April 2017, became the first residents to marry on site at the nursing home. Robert brings Doris coffee every morning, and the two are regularly seen around Woodland Village holding hands.
"While many perceive nursing homes as end-of-life care, Ladner and Holler were able to find joy and love in each other's company and spend the rest of their lives together," Woodland administrator, Holly Ford said to “Good Housekeeping.”
Love at First Meal
When Jimmy Nutt and Susie Yani (pictured) were introduced by Resident Ambassador Doris Evans at The Continental in Austin, Texas, they soon became enamored. Nutt once served in the Navy during the Korean War, while Yani and her brother developed their father's property and also dedicated 10 years to building her own home from teakwood and marble.
Both residents of Sunshine Retirement Village, the couple became fond of each other after just a few shared meals — providing yet another example that love has no age limits.
The Newest, Oldest Newylweds
In September, another couple took over George Kirby and Doreen Luckie’s spot as Britain’s oldest newlyweds. A bit younger than Kirby and Luckie, Rob Cave, 91, and 92-year-old Margaret James got married in front of 150 family and friends. The two met as neighbors and bonded by consoling each other after the deaths of their individual spouses.
Needless to say, Cave and James will surely not be the last to take over the oldest-newlywed reigns, and as time goes on, couples will continue to stretch the timeline for how late in life one can find wedded bliss. Now, that’s romantic.