By Susan Cody
When I think of dating, I lump it all into a few categories -- teen dating dramas, dating in your 20s and 30s to look for a permanent mate, or dating after divorce with all that baggage attached! But there are many other groups dating, and one important group is our seniors. Dating over 60 is becoming far more commonplace, which can only be considered a great thing. Romance is most certainly not exclusive to those under 50.
One of the biggest dating sites in the world, Match.com, has taken a look at what their members are saying about dating and their romantic outlooks in general.
Those over 60 appear to be the most relaxed and happy over the status of their relationships. They cite many factors. The main one is that they've been around the block once or twice and know exactly what they want and what they don't want. Rather than posting photos lying against their nice cars (come on guys, why do you DO that?!) or pursing their lips provocatively into the camera lenses (ladies, leave the silly duck-faces to the kids) and talking about what kind of job they have and money they make, older Americans have eight main interests in romance and companionship.
According to Match.com, they are intelligence, independence, goals, religion/spirituality, political beliefs, compatibility, and current health and activity levels. Now many young people are interested in the same thing but older Americans aren't as interested in what a person looks like, what size dress they wear or what music they are listening to.
Having children is not a concern, instead many are open to talking about each other's adult children (and grandchildren). And by the 60s, the baby-momma drama and any custody or alimony issues are all in the past. What they are mostly looking for is companionship (including sex) and common interests like travel, hobbies and arts and literature. Financial stressors, mortgages and having babies -- the things younger dates may be facing in the future -- are non-existent so all that can be put aside and two seniors can simply focus on each other.
However, seniors can be even more picky than their younger counterparts in some ways, because time is of the essence. Some don't feel that they have the time (or the patience) to deal with behaviors they find irritating. They know how they feel physically, spiritually and how they are financially, and don't want to work on trying to get others to see things their way. They want compatibility without constant negotiation.
Others are more open to dating those with "baggage". They know that one doesn't get to their 60s without a lot of ups and downs and are willing to overlook past mistakes and appreciate those who wish to make a fresh start.
There is also another component of senior dating that has come to light in recent years. That's the growing prevalence of STDs among seniors. Many seniors were married and monogamous before the age of HIV/AIDS and were unaware then of other diseases like HPV which were not talked about until the last decade or so. And since pregnancy is no longer a worry, seniors can forget about other risks that come along with sex.
EmpowHER writer Shaina Gaul talked about other reasons the over-60s population are contracting more STDs and STIs:
1) Since older women produce less vaginal lubricant than younger women, their vaginal walls are more susceptible to microscopic tears, which makes it easier for diseases to be transmitted.
2) Older individuals are less likely to be tested for STDs, which means they have more opportunity to spread the diseases before they are treated.
3) As we age, our immune system gets progressively weaker, increasing the chance of acquiring a disease. http://www.empowher.com/female-sexual-dysfunction/content/stds-and-older-population?page=0,0
In an age where the over-60 population is still working, is becoming more technologically savvy and unwilling to give up on romance after the death or divorce of their spouse, it's great to see more seniors active, healthy and dating. Like any population enjoying a fun social scene, seniors need to understand both the risks and benefits to a happy sex life.
Match.com on Yahoo. Dating Tips and Advice. "The single best decade for dating is...". Web. Retrieved Nov 15th 2012.
EmpowHER.com. Sexual Well-Bring. STD's and the Older Population by Shaina Gaul. Web. Retrieved Nov 15th 2012.
Reviewed November 19, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
By Susan Cody