A recent Pew survey on remarriage found that divorce rates for older Americans have doubled since 1990 and one in two divorced or widowed seniors had remarried in 2013. That represents a big boost for senior dating sites and an increase in the number of older singles populating the big sites like Match.com. Count the increasing numbers of older women who want to date but are not interested in remarrying (the Pew points to a gender gap there), and you get a picture of seniors swarming the dating sites.
Still, while the headlines want us to believe that hundreds of thousands of seniors are happily engaged in online dating and finding our next partners via their profiles, would that it were that simple!
The online dating scene is a bit of a jungle, with people claiming to be who they aren’t (younger, mainly) and potential matches getting stuck in endless email conversations before ever meeting. But with promising new sites launching all the time, it’s becoming easier to navigate the landscape and find the right fit for you, whether you’re looking for companionship, a lifelong lover or a fun date for the weekend.
Here are our dating site picks for seniors, 2104 (see our earlier picks here). We’ve tested the big sites, as well as some promising newcomers.
A companion/dating site for older adults age 50 and over, Stitch launched earlier this year in San Francisco and is accepting signups from users in other areas of the country. New York City and Los Angeles are up next and will launch when enough people have registered from these areas.
Why it made the list It’s beautifully designed, with clear information about how to use the site. The mandatory identity verification system is a nice safety feature designed to eliminate scammers, well worth the $10 verification fee for a free user plan. Plus, the people who run the site seem genuinely interested in getting user feedback and acting on it.
Who’s It good for Older people looking for companionship, activity partners, a travel companion, dating or a long term relationship.
The downside Currently, unless you live in the San Francisco area it’s impossible to do a targeted search for your state or city. But for now, you can meet Stitchers” in other locations in order to connect for travel or chat about mutual interests long-distance.
Cost The free plan lets you see one profile a day. Other plans are $9 or $19 a month, depending on options you choose. See more about pricing here.
Check it out at stitch.net.
Coffee Meets Bagel
This is a relatively new and novel dating site. By connecting with your Facebook account, it matches you with a person, called a “bagel,” who is a friend of one or more of your Facebook friends. When you receive a bagel, you have the option to like or pass; both sides have to like in order for either to take the next step.
Why it made the list Using only friends of friends eliminates some of the unknowns of dating and increases the likelihood that you’ll find you have something in common.
Who it’s good for People with lots of Facebook friends who are looking for quick meet-ups and casual dating.
The downside Ninety percent of the site’s users are under the age of 35, according to information we found. The system depends on users have plenty of single Facebook friends, and since it also requires that any prospective date you “like” also likes you (“likes” do not show up on your Facebook!), it can be hard to get a match. Plus, the site only shows one match in a 24-hour period. I’ve only gotten one match in the last 10 days.
Cost It’s free to sign up and use, but you pay for “Beans” – Beans unlock more information about your match, such as mutual friends. You can pay for a bunch of Beans or earn them by inviting friends or engaging in other cute little gimmicks. An extra Bean allows you to revisit bagels -i.e. matches – after the 24-hour window and check your ranking.
Two years ago, AARP partnered with the then-fledgling dating site How About We to create an over-50s version. Like its all-ages counterpart, it’s designed to get you out and dating fast rather spending weeks on get-to-know-you emails. To that end, the site asks users to create their ideal first date, whether that’s a trip to the museum followed by coffee nearby, dinner and a movie, or something quirky. If there’s some place you’ve been dying to try out or a show you want to see, propose it – the person who responds might be of like mind. That’s the idea, at least.
Why it made the list The site is simple to use and not terribly expensive. It caters to the over 50 individual, both in its stated age bracket and because it makes that first step easier – a plus for anyone who’s been out of the dating game for a while. That said, women commenting on Senior Planet have complained that they’ve received date requests from younger men in their 40s.
Who’s it good for People who are looking for an activity partner as well as those looking for casual dating or a committed relationship.
The downside While a person’s proposed date tells you something about them, there isn’t as much information about users as on other dating sites. And out of the 18 profiles we looked at, 17 hadn’t been active in a month. It’s hard to tell how many active users there are or how many people put up a profile and then stop visiting the site. Plus, the site promotes itself as free, but without paying, you can’t view or send messages – and so really can’t date. Once you’ve given your credit card info, the site auto-renews your membership.
Cost The most popular plan is $71.94 for 6 months; one month is $34.99. AARP members get a 50 percent discount.
Check it out at dating.aarp.org
eHarmony markets its site as the gateway to marriage. Reviews indicate that 14 to 23 percent of users are over age 55; there is no data for ages 60 and over.
Why it made the list eHarmony uses “29 dimensions of compatibility” to pick matches— based on an extensive questionnaire. The site’s algorithm is based on six qualities that include agreeability, sexual and romantic passion and spirituality.
Who’s it good for Singles looking for marriage or long-term relationships.
The downside eHarmony only accepts heterosexuals and people who are single, divorced or widowed; check “separated” on the questionnaire, and you’ll find yourself ineligible. With an unpaid membership you can’t see profile photos, though you can see some details about a person. You must fill out the complete questionnaire and then go through the three levels of what eHarmony calls a “guided communication” with a prospective partner whom eHarmony has chosen for you – this communication is an exchange of questions, then a round of makes/breaks and finally a series of questions designed to dig deeper. Only after you’ve completed these three rounds are you able to directly email or chat with a potential date (however, it is possible to break the rules and contact a date directly). Just as with Match.com (see below), eHarmony has been criticized by many on consumer review sites for subscription cancellation issues.
Cost Plans vary from Basic to Premier. Basic per month is $59.95 or around $85 for 6 months, but special offers might be available.
Check it out at eharmony.com
Match is one of the most well-known and widely used dating sites for all ages; roughly 30 percent of users are age 50 or over according to a recent article; no data is available for number of users over 60.
Why it made the list Unlike some sites, Match allows you to specify a wide number of criteria in the person you’re looking for. You can specify religious status, smoking and drinking preferences, marital status and more. The site’s well regarded Synapse matching algorithm uses your profile details, match criteria and on-site searches to find the best matches for you. So for example, if you state that you only want 6’1” nonsmoking men, but you occasionally search for or look at 5’8” individuals who smoke, the site will provide shorter smokers among your potential matches. The site also points you to Mutual Matches – people who not only match your criteria, but who also say they are looking for someone like you. Like eHarmony, Match only accepts users who are single, divorced or widowed.
Who’s it good for People seeking long-term relationships as well as short term dating.
The downside Match has a high number of fake users, as do some of the other sites, and it doesn’t alert you to possible spammers. As with eHarmony, unsubscribing is reported to be difficult.
Cost $17.99 a month for 6 months, with discounts for first time users. A free membership allows you to browse, but restricts your ability to interact with members or see who is interested in you.
Check it out at match.com
OKCupid is one of the best free sites available. Users can see full profiles and communicate for free.
Why it made the list It’s completely free and allows for rapid connecting with users. Optional questions allow users to learn more about potential dates. Another advantage of this site is the lack of restrictions: married individuals are permitted to put up profiles, which helps eliminate the likelihood that someone will pretend to be single, and allows you to make informed decisions. The LGBTQ community is welcome.
Who’s it good for People who are interested in casual dating, casual sex or friendships.
The downside In July 2014, OKCupid admitted to conducting experiments on users to see how match percentages and other factors affected users’ perceptions. This revelation calls into question their commitment to providing users with a trustworthy experience. Like Match, OKCupid has been criticized for having a high number of fake users.
Cost The free option allows you to communicate freely with as many users as you like through emails and online chats. For $9.95 a month, you get extra perks.
Check it out at okcupid.com
Also worth noting
AYI, or Are You Interested, is considered one of the larger dating sites and, like Coffee Meets Bagel, lets you connect with friends of your Facebook friends. According to AYI, 25 percent of the site’s US members who log in each day are age 60-plus. Instead of asking you to fill out a questionnaire, the site simply imports your Facebook profile. Unlike Coffee Meets Bagel, the site doesn’t require a two-way “like”; if you see a profile that interests you, you can message that person directly. The price is reasonable – $24.99 a month (though I was offered $12.50 a month, or $6.25 a month for a 6-month subscription).
My experience as a free-plan member has been confusing and unsatisfactory. AYI has sent me over 100 messages from men; the messages include a link to pay up and learn more. I’m unclear as to who is sending these, the men or AYI. Most are people I would never meet in real life and would probably not date.
- 11 ways to quit lurking and write your online dating profile
- A dating site for farmers finds traction in the city
- Online dating: Do you know who you’re looking for now?
- 4 simple steps to setting up your online dating profile
- Top 5 dating sites for seniors (2102)
Which dating sites have you tried? Share your experiences in the comments section.