Sue Malta does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Melbourne provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation AU.
Australian dating website RSVP claims that adults aged 50-plus make up 22% of its membership and the oldest registered member is 91 years old.
In terms of how big this phenomenon is becoming, a 2011 worldwide survey of 25,000 married or cohabiting people found that 37% of those aged 60 years-plus had met their partners through the internet.
Elaine, 61, quickly found a compatible partner: The third man I’d contacted replied to my message … I replied that I’d like to email him a bit to learn more about him.
We exchanged about three emails apiece and then we met for coffee.
Neil liked the structured approach to meeting people he found online and he liked that there were numerous potential partners who might be interested in him.
In contrast, Elaine’s online presence was relatively short-lived.
Where else can I get anything like that except on the internet?
He was dating for the first time since the death of his wife and met his new partner offline within four days of meeting online. He and his partner were stunned at the outset by how quickly their relationship developed, he said.
Numerous stereotypes apply to older adults as non-sexual beings or, as one participant put it, “past it”.
Despite the interest among many older adults, opportunities to develop salubrious (and sexy) relationships may diminish in later life, particularly as retirement, relocation, death, and disability shrink the size of, and access to, social networks.
To compensate, many adults have turned to social networking and, increasingly, online dating to satisfy needs for companionship, intimacy, and sexuality (de Vries 1996; Fox, 2004; Wright & Query, 2004).