Dat­ing in the later years

Wel­come to the sec­ond of our five-part se­ries ex­plor­ing as­pects of se­nior life. In part two, Jenn Ri­p­ley spot­lights on­line dat­ing for se­niors.

The Victoria Standard - - Lifestyle - JEN­NIFER RI­P­LEY

"Look­ing for a tall man. 85-90 years old... needs to have a good mood. But other than that I'm pretty open," says the spritely white-haired woman re­cently pro­filed on the pop­u­lar blog Hu­mans of New York. Her quest for com­pan­ion­ship re­ceived 10,000 Face­book com­ments. While some com­menters ex­pressed sur­prise by her open­ness, look­ing for love later in life is not un­com­mon at all.

Love and com­pan­ion­ship are not just de­sir­able, they are es­sen­tial to qual­ity of life es­pe­cially as we age. "Peo­ple in happy re­la­tion­ships are health­ier as they age", says Dr. Liesl Gam­bold, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of So­ci­ol­ogy and So­cial An­thro­pol­ogy at Dal­housie Univer­sity.

Dr. Gam­bold points out that as we age, men­tal health is­sues such as de­pres­sion, lone­li­ness and ap­a­thy can creep up more of­ten, es­pe­cially for those living alone. Phys­i­cal health can be­come ne­glected as well if there is no one to be ac­count­able to or to mo­ti­vate us to take care of our­selves. Hav­ing a part­ner and a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship in our later years can im­prove our men­tal and phys­i­cal health by pro­vid­ing com­pan­ion­ship and in­cen­tive to­wards self care.

To­day, there is noth­ing stop­ping peo­ple from pur­su­ing re­la­tion­ships. As Dr. Gam­bold points out, Baby Boomers are ren­o­vat­ing ev­ery stage of life they move through in­clud­ing re­tire­ment.

When it comes to dat­ing later in life, Boomers are tak­ing the ini­tia­tive. From Gam­bold's per­spec­tive, re­tirees to­day have a re­fresh­ing and straight­for­ward ap­proach to re­la­tion­ships. They are also bet­ter ed­u­cated, more fi­nan­cially sta­ble, and can ex­pect a longer life ex­pectancy than ever be­fore. This al­lows more op­por­tu­ni­ties for se­niors to en­joy re­tire­ment - trav­el­ling, ad­ven­tur­ing, and pur­su­ing in­ter­ests that had per­haps been put on hold.

"They are more com­fort­able with who they are and are not as will­ing to be in a bad re­la­tion­ship,” ex­plains Gam­bold.

De­spite the men­tal and phys­i­cal ben­e­fits of close per­sonal re­la­tion­ships, seek­ing out com­pan­ion­ship in small com­mu­ni­ties isn’t al­ways straight­for­ward. His­to­ries are com­pli­cated and in­ter­wo­ven and very lit­tle is pri­vate. We all know the sto­ries of life­long friends or neigh­bours whose his­tory be­came the ba­sis for a love story. But that doesn't hap­pen to ev­ery­one.

To­day though, dat­ing is no longer re­stricted to the peo­ple in your com­mu­nity. The ad­vent of the In­ter­net opened up new pos­si­bil­i­ties for find­ing a com­pat­i­ble com­pan­ion. Com­puter match-mak­ing has been around since 1964. Us­ing the com­bined power of al­go­rithms, com­put­ers and in­for­ma­tion high­way, Match. com launched its on­line ser­vice in 1995. It may seem ironic that a math­e­mat­i­cal ap­proach to match­ing like-minded in­di­vid­u­als has con­nected mil­lions of peo­ple who might oth­er­wise be alone.

For the on­line dat­ing world, se­niors are the fastest grow­ing de­mo­graphic. In re­sponse, cre­ators of on­line dat­ing sites have de­signed sim­ple, eas­ily nav­i­ga­ble site with fewer dis­trac­tions. No­tably, these sites pro­vide op­tions for matches other than ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships and now help match peo­ple with pen pals, pla­tonic com­pan­ions, ac­tiv­ity part­ners and fel­low trav­el­ers.

Se­nior­match.com is an es­tab­lished site fo­cus­ing on se­niors. Other sites tai­lored to se­niors in­clude Se­nior­peo­ple­meet.com and Ourtime.com. Two of the orig­i­nal dat­ing sites, Match. ca and ehar­mony.ca, of­fer the op­tion to nar­row your search based on age.

Nav­i­gat­ing the field of on­line dat­ing sites can be daunt­ing. Web­sites such as top10­dat­ingsites.ca pro­vide re­views for on­line dat­ing sites and can be a help­ful place to start. Sites are com­pared based on mem­ber­ship costs, pri­vacy set­tings, and the match­ing sys­tem used. Many sites of­fer free tri­als and this can be a great way to try var­i­ous for­mats to find the best fit.

As with all In­ter­net us­age, it’s im­por­tant to fol­low In­ter­net safety pro­to­cols such as en­sur­ing the web­site is ver­i­fied and se­cured. Bad­deck Li­brary’s Se­nior Tech­nol­ogy In­terns are avail­able to as­sist se­niors en­ter­ing the world of on­line dat­ing. Please call Madi­son or Natasha at 902295-2055 for one-on-one help with all your com­puter and In­ter­net tech­nol­ogy ques­tions.

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