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Seniors turning to Web in search of companionshipSeniors turning to Web in search of companionship
By Jonathan Sidener
Copley News Service
Granny has an online personal ad. Actually, she goes by the screen name “Gram.” She describes herself as a 65-year-old, widowed grandmother looking for an honest man, walks on the beach and an occasional hug.
Gram has a lot of company online. There are hundreds of ads on leading singles sites Yahoo! Personals and Match.com posted by seniors in San Diego County - and that doesn’t count the growing crop of specialty sites that cater to older singles.
Shifting demographics and changing views about online dating have sent seniors flocking to the Web in search of companionship and romance. Many baby boomers, now over 55, are graying. Continuing a trend started by their parents, these boomers are not going gently into twilight years. Many are active and physically fit, with and without surgical lifts and tucks.
Also, the rate of divorce and separation has risen from 25 percent in 1950 to nearly 50 percent in 2001. Combine that with the widowed and the aging boomers who never married and there are more single seniors than ever before.
Of the 97 million Americans 45 or older, more than 36 million are unattached, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.Women constitute 54 percent of the population ages 55 to 84.
For Suzanne Johnson, 73, of San Diego, it was an easy decision to go online in search of companionship.
During 47 years of marriage, Johnson’s husband told her that if he died first, he wanted her to get on with her life and meet someone new. He died in 1999. About a year later, she decided to post a personal ad online.
“I’m computer-literate,” Johnson said. “I’ve been online for a couple of years, so I decided to try it.”
While some might chuckle at a woman in her 70s posting an online personal, Johnson said she didn’t hear a peep from her peers, and even got encouragement from her mother, who is in her 90s.
“I’ve met some interesting people - some good, some bad,” Johnson said. “I’ve had dates who stood me up, but I’ve had coffee at Starbucks, dinner, movies. I’ve met dates for a glass of wine and a walk in the park.”
Ron Geraci, special projects and relationship editor for AARP The Magazine, said online dating has become more popular for seniors.
“It’s a new way to find partners,” Geraci said. “Online dating sites are starting to target advertising at this age group. This is a demographic that pays their bills.”
While these sites are geared toward those ages 55 and older, legally the sites must make membership available to anyone 18 and older.
Carefully scrutinize ads, and don’t assume everyone who posts online classifieds is who they say they are. Most offer a free limited trial, but charge for full use of the sites.
ThirdAgePersonals.com - www.thirdage.com
SilverSingles.com - www.silversingles.com
PrimeSingles.net - www.primesingles.net