Contrary to the common belief that online dating is only for the young individuals, the new research by two Bowling Green State University professors of gerontology states that people over the age of 50 are the fastest growing demographic searching for love online. However, older generation may be looking for different qualities in their relationships than their younger peers.
Researchers Dr. Wendy K. Watson and Dr. Charlie Stelle have decided to start their study about online dating in later life due to a shortage of information about older generation and their online dating activities. Both experts dedicate their studies to older-life issues - Dr. Watson's focus is mostly on women and Dr. Stelle's is mostly on men. For the purposes of this new research the professors have joined their efforts in order to increase the quantity and improve the quality of data available about dating in later life, in this particular case, online dating.
On the very early stages of their research, the experts found that older individuals appear to market themselves differently on online dating websites when compared to their younger counterparts. For example, older adults do not focus much on the appearance and status; instead, they look for honest self-representation and compatibility and not so much just a night on the town.
Watson and Stelle found that traditional online coding terms which are usually used to describe younger individuals seem to miss some very important elements relevant for ads placed by older generation. Researchers suggest that online sites which are targeted at those aged over 50 years might want to consider adding personal characteristic features such as independence, affection, intelligence, goals and purpose, religion and spirituality, political beliefs, health and status. In addition, not available on the young generation online sites were lifestyle categories such as compatibility and companionship, which are essential for daters over 50 years of age.
It was also revealed that the language of older individuals' online ads was different when it came to describing themselves and what they were looking for in a relationship. For example, when older adults used terms such as "active" and "young at heart," they wanted to describe how physically fit they were or show good health.
In their previous research on the subject of dating in later life, professors Watson and Stelle came to the conclusion that older women had specific expectations regarding dating. According to Watson, women do not have a need that has to be fulfilled; instead they rather not have their time wasted. Women are less likely to be engaged in dating games, they usually like to make quick decisions and cut their losses, because they have learned that life is too short to play dating games," Stelle added.
Watson and Stelle plan to go on with the investigation on the matter and expand the analysis with an involvement of dating sites such as the match.com and ourtime.com. The experts also plan to carry out interviews with dating couples in order to better understand the dynamics of dating when you are 50 and beyond. The goal of the research is to demonstrate that the desire to find a companion to share life with and even find true love at an older age has no expiration date.
The initial findings of this research were presented recently during the Gerontological Society of America's international conference.