Like it or not, dating has gone digital.
As the stigma associated with online dating fades — and smartphone use rises — millions have turned to apps and sites such as Match, eharmony, Bumble and Tinder to find romance. Now, smartphones often play the role of matchmaker, and a relationship can launch with a simple swipe right on another user’s profile.
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.
For an older demographic used to classified ads, blind dates and singles bars, the cyber dating world can feel like an alternate universe. Yet, those 50-plus are increasingly joining the scene.
One in five internet users ages 55 to 64 said they’ve used a dating app or service, according to a January 2018 poll from technology and research company Morning Consult. That figure is 1 in 10 for those 65 and older. And the overall number of 55- to 64-year-olds who have dabbled in dating sites or mobile dating apps doubled to 12 percent in 2016 from 6 percent in 2013, according to the Pew Research Center.
This is a natural evolution, says dating coach Julie Spira, an expert for the 50-plus focused dating site OurTime. Most people are already texting and checking social media on their phones, so “there’s no reason not to use an app to find love,” she says.
An alternative to the bar scene
With some dedication, it’s possible to become an in-demand dater.
“Many of my clients who are over 50 are going on two to three dates a week,” says dating coach and Dates & Mates podcast host Damona Hoffman.
But there are challenges as well. For those who have been on the sidelines, much has changed since the 1995 launch of Match.com. There are scores of dating apps and sites to appraise — all with varying capabilities. Liars and scammers remain, as well as those who post misleading photos and fudge their age.
However, there are also those who are genuine, honest and looking for love. And there are countless success stories.
Online dating “is a job, and is not easy,” says Brianne Porcelli, 56, who met now-husband Joe Porcelli, 66 on eharmony. “I never would have met Joe if it weren't for this site,” she says. “It wouldn't have been possible. I didn't go to bars, clubs, etc. I went to work and home.” Eharmony “took much of the legwork out of meeting someone,” she says.