The perplexing realities of senior online dating
When George Surface was widowed at 59, his daughters urged him to get back into the dating pool. Instead, he found Argentine tango. Surface is pictured here with dance partner Jeanne Matson.
Photo Peggy Garbus
Dating was challenging back when I was young, naive, and full of hope. Now that I’m over 60, it’s nearly impossible. One never thinks of seniors as interested in dating, never mind that we might still want to enjoy the earthly pleasures of necking (for the uninitiated that means “making out” not “hooking up”) and simple companionship. We older dudes are out of dating practice. Divorced or widowed, we cautiously re-enter the dating fray, carrying our shattered dreams and broken hearts with us like badges of honor.
At age 59, I was widowed unexpectedly. It was a devastating loss. I mourned deeply, and became somewhat of a hermit. Seeing how lost I was, my two daughters at first encouraged, and then insisted that I needed to return to the land of the living. It was time, they said, to take a risk, to get back out in the world and—to date again. I reluctantly accepted their advice but very soon faced my first hurdle.
Where do you meet someone when you’re 60-plus? My dating options were limited at best. Church? As a non-practicing Catholic the chance of meeting someone at my place of worship was zero because I have no place of worship. A local bar? I barely imbibe, so the drinking scene was out. Grocery store? Call me a pessimist but after more than 40 years of pushing a cart around Stop & Shop, I have found Cheerios, ketchup, and Rice-a-Roni, but have never found a woman who wants to meet me, let alone hit on me. So with my daughters’ encouragement I researched the possibilities on the Internet in the hope of finding happiness again.
I discovered that in today’s virtual world, you have a better chance of saying “hi” to your neighbor on Facebook than greeting them face-to-face in real life. It turns out the same is true for people seeking a friend or a potential inamorata in the 21st century where digital dependence reigns supreme. There is a website for every niche dating market imaginable and some I never imagined existed. They are differentiated by age, race, sexual orientation, sexual preferences, and religion: Christian Singles, Cosplay (people who like to dress up in costumes), and SoulGeek, among them. All the sites serve the same purpose: to allow people to identify their needs and to meet up with someone who is attractive and also attracted to them. The fastest-growing place for us lonely hearts is online. Match.com alone has more than two million members who are over 50.
I soon realized that I had to create a dating profile detailing my assets, interests, and preferences. Feeling more like a used car than a human being I created a profile that perhaps would be better suited to the Kelley Blue Book:
1953 Ford Coupe:
An Everyman’s Classic
Connecticut Yankee Edition
Many miles but all original parts, in good working condition. No sunroof and original reddish brown has turned silver gray. Well-worn seat covers still comfortable, and ample legroom. Headlights work 20/20 with assistance for near and far away. Front grille is intact. Rear axle widened for smoother ride. Engine was cracked but now repaired. Gas tank filled with regular octane. No fuel additives (such as little blue pills). Automatic shut off when driven for over four hours. Snores while idling. Trailer permanently affixed to rear bumper carries important passengers: two daughters, one son-in-law, and one perfect grandson. Though everything is past warranty, a 100-percent return policy is honored if buyer is ever unsatisfied.
In reality I posted a more conventional profile. I went on a number of getting-to-know-you dates and met some very accomplished women including doctors, lawyers, and teachers. But nothing stuck.
My online profile is still out there but I decided to boost my efforts to meet a potential companion the old-fashioned way. I took up the Argentine tango. Now I can always find a partner—albeit a dance partner—and I’m having fun, learning new skills, and enjoying life again. Who knows what the future might hold?
In the late19th century, Argentine tango was developed by immigrant laborers, musicians, and dancers in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Uruguay.