Sad to say, the concept of dating later in life rarely gets the attention that millennial dating receives. From apps and websites like Tinder and eHarmony, the dating landscape of those in their younger years tends to dominate the discussion. Even research itself has largely failed to look at the topic of starting a new relationship later in life.
But all of this is changing. At present, research is showing that online dating for older adults is not only on the rise, but there are notable benefits of dating later in life as well.
Interestingly enough, statistics from previous years have shown that adults over the age of 60 are now the fastest growing group of individuals who are dating online. According to Pew Research Center, 12 percent of those between the ages of 55 and 65 have used an online or mobile dating site compared to only 6 percent just a few years prior! Since 2013, it is understood from numerous surveys that the trend of online dating continues to rise among people of all age groups, particularly for older adults. But what are the benefits of starting a new relationship and dating after 40, and how is this a better approach overall?
According to the literature on the topic, there are several primary reasons why people choose to date later in life: companionship, fun and intimacy. But there are other science-backed reasons.
1. Dating is beneficial to life-long happiness
Of the studies that have looked at dating after 40, women, in particular, have certainly acknowledged their reservations about dating. Despite this, they still view dating later in life as both very enjoyable and beneficial.
Adult men and women agree with the fact that online dating is the easiest way to meet new people. Besides, they're also put on a platform which doesn't limit the number of options; there are just as many out there who want to date. More importantly, it's considered enjoyable because these daters get to experience "the thrill of the chase" more than once.
2. It combats loneliness.
Both men and women also choose to date later in life to combat loneliness. This is particularly true of men, given that women tend to have larger social circles.
A better way to put it would be that women tend to have more communication partners whereas men have better-connected ones, which means they organize their social relations differently. Loneliness is one of the primary causes of depression, and dating is just an amazing cure.
3. It helps people reminisce and relive their younger years.
One study that specifically looked at the experiences of women who dated later in life found that perceptions of dating varied for each woman. That is, not all women viewed dating as merely a path to remarriage; most of them, for instance, considered dating as a means of attaining a level of companionship that they couldn't achieve before.
For example, women in the study cited that dating would mean they would be able to go out and dance with a partner, see movies, enjoy dinner together, talk with their partner, and so on.
4. It offers a sense of adventure.
Other research has backed up this claim that dating, whether serious or casual, can be a thrilling addition to your life. Another study, for example, has found that women see dating as engaging in a social activity that provides a unique form of intimateness that cannot be achieved through their relationships with other women.
5. Online dating makes it easier to find sincere companions.
There are also additional benefits to online dating. Older adults are much more interested in representing themselves in an honest way. As such, older adults tend to find more quality matches. They are also more interested in finding someone who is compatible rather than looking for casual hookups.
In short, dating later in life widens peoples’ social circles, provides a new level of intimacy and, in turn, improves health. Online dating also means that older adults can expect to experience fewer reservations about the person they're interested in.
That pretty much sums it up, right? But let's take a look at reasons why both men and women tend to shy away from dating.
It is important to acknowledge the obstacles that men and women may face when it comes to seeking out relationships. First and foremost, women, in particular, often have reservations.
A study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that women often fear being taken advantage of either emotionally or financially. Interestingly, all of the women interviewed were able to cite their own horror story of a friend, or a friend of a friend, who had a negative dating experience. But, again, despite these concerns, they still viewed dating as a positive reinforcement.
Research has also shown that those who choose to date in their later years tend to be more socially advantaged than those who do not date. They are more likely to be educated, more wealthy and in better health, overall.
Above all, it is important that the topic of finding relationships later in life becomes part of the broader conversation; the aforementioned horror stories shouldn't deter women, in particular, from experiencing the companionship and intimacy.