What’s the fastest growing group of online daters? If you’re thinking men in their 30s, think again. Bowling Green State University professors of gerontology, Dr. Wendy K. Watson and Dr. Charlie Stelle, have been researching the landscape and found that people over 60 represent the most rapidly growing demographic in online dating.
The study authors also delved into the question of which features make a dating site a good fit for seniors. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all, but their number one criteron make sense to us: an emphasis in profile questions on mutual interests and honest self-representation over looks and sexual prowess. You can read an article about the ongoing study by clicking here.
With Watson and Stelle’s study in mind, we’ve tested several popular dating sites, looking also for easy online experiences, and come up with five – both free and fee-based, senior-specific and all-ages – that we deem senior-friendly. Take a look and see which is a good fit for you.
- Why it’s senior friendly Match.com profiles provide plenty of opportunity for you to explore your potential mate’s education, faith, politics and other choices that you might find important. And this dating site can’t be beat on sheer volume: It boasts a membership of over 17 million, 2.5 million of whom are seniors. The odds are with you.
- What makes it easy The site lets you breeze through the profile creation process by checking off the basics first. You can save the paragraph sections for later, if and when you feel like further expounding on your life story and getting into the nitty gritty of the type of partner you’re looking for. The site also offers online guidance.
- Downside: Browsing is allowed for free, but you can’t make any actual connections without joining a paid plan.
- Price per month for 6 months $19.99 including Match.com Mobile, Matchtalk for narrowing your search by using keywords, and Stir events – offline groups that gather locally for happy hours, cooking classes, etc. What a great way to mix it up with other singles. If you can’t find a Stir event that’s right for you, you can organize one of your own.
- Why it’s senior friendly: eHarmony is dedicated to helping seniors find long-term relationships. With over 20 million registered users, the key difference between eHarmony and traditional senior dating sites is the intricate Compatibility Matching System, which narrows the field from thousands of senior singles and claims to find the most compatible matches based on your profile.
- What makes it easy: Answering 258 multiple-choice questions based on psychology tests may not sound easy, but once it’s done eHarmony does the rest. Members aren’t allowed to search. You simply sit back and wait for the experts to send you matches by email.
- Downside eHarmony totally controls your dating choices. It’s not for everybody. Plus, because the site has a Christian ideology, it does not entertain same-sex matches; those are relegated to a new separate service run by eHarmony, called Compatible Partners. The site also will not admit members who are legally separated but not divorced.
- Price per month for 6 months: $23.95 pays for eHarmony experts to decipher your perfect match based on your answers and their methodology. Mobile access and Facebook connection are available, but don’t offer on-the-ground events.
AARP Dating Powered by How About We…
- Why it’s senior friendly Howaboutwe.com has recently partnered with AARP for a version targeted specifically to the 50-plus population – which is no surprise to us, since we had HowAboutWe pegged as the most senior-friendly online dating method. How About We and its AARP version are built around proposed dates: You can propose a date or scan dates that potential partners have proposed. These range from the generic (coffee somewhere quiet where we can chat) to the specific (a bike ride to the Met to see the Matisse show, or I’ve got Knicks tickets for Friday night. Want to join me?). Either way, it’s simple to “read” someone by the type of activity they want to share and find a good fit that way.
- What makes it easy The site has a fun, laid-back feel that’s easy to maneuver. You can post a date for free without the muss and fuss of completing a daunting profile, and if you use the “Play” function while you’re browsing, you have a quick and easy way to sort the ‘This one looks nice’ from the ‘No way in Hellers.’ You’ll get a daily email from site with potential dates based on your preferences (age, political and religious leanings, etc). Social networking connections are also available. If you like the idea of a live meeting without spending hours online, AARP Dating is a great option.
- Downside AARP Dating promotes face-to-face meetings, so it’s not a good choice for those who’d rather learn more about the person before going on a date.
- Price per month for 6 months An affordable $12; AARP members get a 7-day free trial and 50 percent off membership.
- Why it’s senior friendly 1.4 million hip, mature seniors visit Ourtime each month. It’s one of the most popular dating sites catering to the over 50 set. The personality section is a great feature if you’re looking for more than a one-night stand. And the profile questions range from ‘Do you like to cook?’ to ‘Are you a punctual person?’ – traits that most younger users don’t really consider important, but many seniors do.
- What makes it easy The profile is a straightforward mix of multiple-choice questions and paragraphs, without much glitz or glamour.
- Downside Online dating veterans may miss the extra features that other sites offer.
- Price per month for 6 months Browsing is allowed before joining the plan for a modest $12.99 per month for 6 months, but you’ll need to answer some basic questions before delving into a full-fledged search. Online chat is available, but no Facebook or mobile connections, yet.
- Why it’s senior friendly With over 3.5 million active users, OkCupid offers a plethora of unique visitors, seniors included. Some of the questions are geared toward the younger set, but seniors get around it by answering the mature questions about what you do on Friday night, the types of books and movies you like, and (a biggie for those who are set in their ways), ‘What six things could I never do without.’
- What makes it easy The profile is primarily Q&A based. Many of the questions are a bit bizarre, but easy to skip over. Don’t let the profile creation process discourage you from taking advantage of the gratis membership account.
- Downside: It’s fun and easy, but you get what you pay for. Enough said.
- Price per month for 6 months: FREE – unless you find ads distracting. If you’d prefer fewer flashing banner ads, and more access to information on who visited your profile, go ahead and upgrade to A-List status for a monthly fee of $14.95. Connecting with Facebook and Twitter is a free option.
Note Be aware when signing up for auto-payment on any online dating site: Complaints have been filed that certain sites continue to charge monthly fees after a member cancels. Keep an eye on your bank statement.
Thinking of trying online dating? Check out more Senior Planet articles:
Do you have a favorite dating site? By sharing it in the comments section below you’ll help out some other seniors.