By studying dating relationships, rather than older married couples, we can begin to study the influence of age separate from relationship duration. Comparing younger and older adults seeking a new relationship provides a more equivalent starting point than comparing long-time married couples to newlyweds. In this lifespan sample of eHarmony users all looking to pursue a new relationship, the relative importance of sexual attraction was still lower in later life, and not as a function of relationship duration.
With this restricted range, the real world significance of observed significant differences is unclear. Conversely, the lack of age differences in importance of companionship may be due to a ceiling effect. Future research could ask respondents to weigh the relative importance of sexual attraction and communication given real life trade-offs and look at how the ratings differ from the present study.
Finally, our interpretation is limited by the cross-sectional nature of the data and restricted generalizability. In addition to possible cohort effects, eHarmony users and online daters generally may not be representative of the single population at large. Younger eHarmony users may be especially marriage-minded and interested in companionship. Older online dating users may be particularly interested in sexual attraction, as sexual desire may motivate active pursuit of new romantic relationships.
In this sample, the 60 to 79 year old users' preferences were rather homogeneous but this could be a selection effect; older adults in the general population may have more varied preferences and differ more by age. Despite these limitations, the study also has notable strengths. Previous studies have often interviewed people who were already in a dating relationship or were just considering whether to date.
Our approach was to use eHarmony user data, with participants actively seeking new romantic relationships. The large sample of eHarmony participants is also an important advantage over previous work using small convenience samples of community-dwelling older adults. Although it is unclear how eHarmony users might differ from the general population, the data set is still ecologically valid for interpretation of the general population of eHarmony users and potentially other individuals who use online dating services. The present study also builds on previous online dating work by collecting quantitative data from all users, allowing comparisons of the relative importance of companionship and sexual attraction.
This is also the first study of relationship goals in online dating with an extensive age range and sufficient sample size in each age group to allow comparisons across the entire lifespan. As the population continues to age, there will be many single, older adults seeking relationships. Thus, an accurate understanding of relationship goals, the importance placed on different types of goals, and how those goals are different or similar from younger counterparts have important consequences for formal online and in-person dating services and informal matchmakers acquaintances, friends, co-workers, family members.
Contrary to the stereotype, older adults still value sexual attraction quite highly, though age differences do exist. Learning more about older adults' relational goals is an exciting and important first step toward understanding the processes that lead to strong relationships in later life.
The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Aging, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, or the National Institutes of Health. We also express our appreciation to eHarmony for providing access to this data sample.
National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Author manuscript; available in PMC Dec 1. Menkin , a Theodore F. Robles , a Joshua F. Wiley , b, c and Gian C.
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Gonzaga d Netflix Find articles by Gian C. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Psychol Aging. Associated Data Supplementary Materials 1. Abstract Utilizing data from an eHarmony. Online dating, aging, gender, relationship goals. Intimate Relationship Goals What do people want from a potential romantic relationship? Theoretical perspectives on relationship goals, aging, and gender Developmental changes may increase the value and salience of companionship compared to passion or physical attraction.
Purpose of the Current Study Popular media claimed adults 55 years of age and older were the largest demographic using dating websites in Rosenbloom, Identifying prioritized goals In this paper, we first identified principal relationship goals from eHarmony's questionnaires by conducting a factor analysis. Age and gender differences in importance of goals We hypothesized that older adults might value sexual attraction slightly less than younger users Hypothesis 2A and focus more on companionship Hypothesis 2B.
Measures Each new eHarmony. Independent variables and covariates Demographics e. Data analysis To test whether companionship was valued significantly more than sexual attraction, we compared the means of the composite scores using paired-samples t-tests. Open in a separate window. Identifying prioritized goals We expected that users would value companionship more than sexual attraction. Age differences in relationship goals, and interactions with gender We predicted that older users might value sexual attraction less than younger users Hypothesis 2A. Gender differences in importance of relationship goals We predicted men would value sexual attraction more than women at all ages Hypothesis 3A.
Discussion To our knowledge, this is the first quantitative study to examine what online dating users across the lifespan are looking for in a new relationship. Supplementary Material 1 Click here to view. Footnotes 1 These age groups have been used in previous research on cognitive aging as well as relationship research e. Partner preferences across the life span: Online dating by older adults. Relationship goals of middle-aged, young-old, and old-old internet daters: An analysis of online personal ads. Journal of Aging Studies. The importance of dating relationships on quality of life for older persons.
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Dating for Older Women: Experiences and Meanings of Dating in Later Life
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10 things you only know when you're online dating in your 50s
New partnerships in late-life widowhood. Allyn and Bacon; Watson WK, Stelle C.
Dating for Older Women: But according to many singles, even getting invited to the dinner party can be tricky when people tend to socialise with other couples as they get older and settled into marriages and parenthood. Katie Sheppard, the director of relationships at Match. Its research shows that dating is, especially for divorced women, fraught with complication, anxiety and worry.
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Looking for second-time love when children are a first priority is a challenge. Nicola Lamond, Netmums spokeswoman and mother, said: Single parents describe themselves as lonely, isolated, vulnerable and worthless. There is a real sense their world has shrunk. Trying to meet people in bars and clubs can feel like a younger person's game, especially when you need a single friend and a babysitter to get there. Susan Broom is a bubbly woman with a ready laugh who is 48, single, and has now given up actively looking for a man, certainly online, and is not afraid to admit that she does feel the sadness of that.
I prefer men of my own age. But a lot of those men my age are only looking at women in their 20s or 30s. Because of its 'anything is possible', 'sweet-shop' appeal, online dating just encourages men to cherry-pick their ideal — usually younger — mate. Which is depressing if you're a woman of a certain age. Studies across all cultures and nations have shown a consistent trend for men to have younger partners.
An unhappy pattern for plus women who want a new partner.
10 things you only know when you're online dating in your 50s
It's an invisible band of women, they don't complain and they just get on with their lives, but actually it's tough for them. It's hard to meet people, especially in London. I'd like to try to set something up for the single people in my area, I know they are out there. A physical event where people actually meet instead of everybody finding online dating a bit of a letdown and just staying home feeling sorry for themselves. Women also report losing friends because of the differences between single and attached lives. So it's tough because you also have to get out there and find a new bunch of female mates too, and, of course, they end up being younger than you, and then you worry about going out with them and they'll be getting chatted up and you won't!
And in a real way — not just in a 'singledom rocks' way. Because quite often it really doesn't. There are rewards, however, for remaining single, says Kate Grussing, the founder of the management consultancy firm Sapphire Partners, who believes single, childless women in their 40s and 50s have huge advantages at work. They have proved themselves, they are good at what they do and at the top of their game. And they will have got where they are in their careers by juggling far fewer balls on the way up. When actress Lynda Bellingham, 62, met her third husband, Michael Pattemore, in she assumed "he wouldn't fancy me".
Reaching my 50s was an unsettling time, and I felt that my romantic life was over. And that kind of assumption is something which holds a lot of women back, claims Julia Macmillan.