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As Neil, 71, said: I recognised the net as the most practical way to connect with like-minded people of a similar age plus the ability to match for common interests/locality and see a photo. For others, the online dating experience is comparatively brief as they find a connection with someone almost immediately.Neil had been using dating websites for seven years and had established contact with about 200 women.Elaine, 61, quickly found a compatible partner: The third man I’d contacted replied to my message … I replied that I’d like to email him a bit to learn more about him.We exchanged about three emails apiece and then we met for coffee.Many described a sense of urgency that compelled them to meet up as quickly as possible.For George, 69, the “best thing” about online dating was the “speed” with which relationships could be swiftly advanced to real-life experiences.The older adults in this study met their dating partners offline in a very short space of time and they usually became sexually intimate with them within four weeks.

Just because someone is single, widowed or divorced, that does not mean they are interested in dating. Older adults who have, for the most part, been married or cohabited long-term, fear the embarrassment of getting it wrong. For many older adults, online dating is easy, relatively safe, anonymous and provides a structured approach to what is typically an unstructured process. The setting up of profiles, viewing others’ profiles and photographs, sending “kisses” or “stamps”, responding with emails, chatting online or by phone and in due course meeting in real life, is a process organised and regularised by the online dating websites. Many older adults initiate meetings with numerous prospective partners over many months.Australian dating website RSVP claims that adults aged 50-plus make up 22% of its membership and the oldest registered member is 91 years old.In terms of how big this phenomenon is becoming, a 2011 worldwide survey of 25,000 married or cohabiting people found that 37% of those aged 60 years-plus had met their partners through the internet.Sue Malta does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.University of Melbourne provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation AU.

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