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Lifestyles, Dating and Romance: A Study of Midlife Singles

This and Related Reports

What comes to mind today when single men or single women are mentioned is either people between 20 and 30 navigating the singles scene, or the widowed elderly, especially women. However, with increases in life expectancy and divorce during the past century, the midlife and older single population is rapidly growing. As a result, the image of singlehood is ripe for change.

This online survey of 3,501 age 40-69 single men and women was conducted for AARP The Magazine to obtain a snapshot of their lives, their outlook and well-being, their activities, and their attitudes and behavior in the arenas of dating and sex.

Among the study's findings:
  • Singles in their 40s, 50s and 60s say their personal freedom and independence is what they like most about being single, but it comes with the price of not having someone to do things with.
  • The majority date either exclusively or non-exclusively, but large proportions, especially of older women, take a pass on dating and sex.
  • Only 2 percent of women say that sex is acceptable during the first date, while 20 percent of men think it is.
  • Women want dates to have someone to talk to or do things with; men want the sexual dimension built in.
  • Personality and sense of humor count most for both men and women, but many men emphasize physical attractiveness and sexual satisfaction.
  • Both midlife and older men and women want to date younger individuals.

The survey was conducted during June 2003 by Knowledge Networks, using its web-enabled consumer research panel, a randomly recruited and nationally representative sample of the U.S. population. A benefit of this methodology is that it affords more privacy for respondents, compared to a telephone survey, when the study has sensitive questions. The report was prepared by Xenia Montenegro, Ph.D. of AARP Knowledge Management. For further information, contact Dr. Montenegro at 202-434-3538 or Linda Fisher, Ph.D. at 202-434-6304.

To order printed copies

Please, include your full postal mailing address as well as the title and stock number:

  • Lifestyles, Dating and Romance: A Study of Midlife Singles (Stock #D18003)
  • Lifestyles, Dating and Romance: A Study of Midlife Singles Executive Summary (Stock #D18005)

Send your request by mail to
AARP Fulfillment
601 E St., NW
Washington, DC 20049
or by e-mail to

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