Dating has long been explained as something solely for young singles. Old people don’t date, young people do. Because they still have to. Before getting married or settling down into a comfortable, long-term relationship, people between the ages of 15-25 look towards dating to find their perfect match. Since the 90’s, this group has broadened to also include those in their 30’s still looking for love, as exemplified by series like Friends and Seinfeld – but the stigma for senior-dating still remains. Often, dating for seniors has been viewed as either not equal to the young dating game, or as an abode for ‘’sad’’ seniors, who have lost their partner through illness or divorce. Needless to say, none of these descriptions are true – as a closer look at dating demographics will show. Dating for seniors is not only a natural development within many countries. It’s also a positive one.
It’s demographics, stupid!
Let’s look at some facts first. Western countries like the United Kingdom, and most other European nations, have finished their demographic transition decades ago. In plain English that means they have transitioned from populations with a large youth bulge and only a small percentage of seniors, to ‘’aged’’ countries, which feature a growing number of people over the age of 60. In Italy, for example, more than 22% of the population was over 65 in 2020, and this figure is expected to rise steeply in the years to come. Similar numbers, though perhaps not as sharp, can be found in many other European countries, like Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, and of course the United Kingdom. Leaving other issues aside, this demographic change already means countries have more seniors than they had 20 or 30 years ago. That a rising number of the ‘’dating’’ population is therefore senior, should not come as a surprise. It reflects the demographic changes in most European countries. People still want love, no matter their age.
A Golden Marriage
In the 1950’s and 60’, most men and women who re-entered the ‘’dating’’ market were widowers or widows. They had lost their husband or wife, and either needed someone to support their family financially (usually in the wife’s case) or someone to take care of the household (usually a demand made by men). As most marriages were ‘’for life’’, and divorce was uncommon due to strict religious attitudes, other reasons to start ‘’dating’’ were typically frowned upon and consequently quite rare. Only since the 1970’s has this pattern started to shift, accelerating only further in the past two decades. Most marriages are no longer for life, and the rate of divorce has risen steeply. People want relationships to be healthy and ‘’fun’’ – if they are not, they end. This alone has increased the pool of potential ‘’dates’’ entering the love-market to look for a new relationship. With social stigma surrounding second relationships disappearing, more and more people, including those of a more advanced age, are finding the confidence to look for a new partner. And they are actively using the new tools now at their disposal.
Dating and the World-wide Web
One of these tools is of course the meteoric growth of the world-wide web, and all that has come with it. Sophisticated websites catering to people looking for a new relationship have mushroomed in most countries around the world. A site like 60dating.com is easily recognisable as a website aimed at seniors looking for a new partner. Sites like these are easy to use and quick to facilitate online contacts with attractive potential partners. For many seniors, its appealing to look outside their own social networks and use websites or apps to give their dating game a new boost. Qualitative websites offer a large pool of potential partners and also allow the user to select contacts based on specific criteria, like hobbies, education levels, or appearance. An over 60s dating site is therefore a logical consequence of broader developments within our society.
Senior dating is the future
Even though some people still regard a date between people in their 60’s or 70’s as somehow ‘’less’’ than one between young people, it is certainly a sign of things to come. As European countries continue to age, and as relationships continue to become more flexible, the pool of senior-daters will only increase. In an individualized society like the United Kingdom, and many other Western countries, the advantages of dating are obvious. It provides people with a larger social network, fosters contact, and also stimulates the growth of new relationships. Ongoing research has consistently proven that people in relationships are happier, and by extension often healthier, than singles living on their own. Relationships provide comfort and social contact – especially in trying times, like the ones we all experienced the last two years. No wonder single seniors want to date, as well!