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BY MYRA FAYE TURNER
It’s been twenty years since Match.com burst onto the internet scene offering to hook up singles seeking love and companionship. Since that time, the stigma associated with online data has decreased significantly. According to finding from the Pew Research Center, 59 % of adult survey participants agree that online dating is a good way to meet someone. And online dating is not just a young person’s game, in that same report, researchers found that:
8% of adults age 45-54, 6% of adults age 55-64 and 3% of adults age 65 and over used online dating sites.
If you’re thinking about online dating but have been hesitant because you worry you won’t find many sites devoted to adults of a certain age— there’s good and bad news. It’s true that most sites cater to the younger crowd but there are some sites specifically geared to the senior demographic, the so-called “thin dating market.” Pew defines this group as middle-aged adults who “have a relatively limited number of available partners within their immediate social circles.” If you’re ready to get out there, here’s three sites to get you started.
Our Time is a popular dating site geared for people over 50. The accompanying app is available for both Android and iOS systems. Like all sites, you need to create an account to browse, which takes just a few minutes. The system will ask what you’re looking for (women seeking men, etc.), which country you live in and your zip code. Next, create a username and password, enter your date of birth and provide an email address. You then move on to create your profile. You can upload a photo when you sign up or save this option until later. You’ll need to write a short statement about yourself and then you can start searching.
From your dashboard, you can add more information about yourself, which helps the system send potential matches. The questions they ask are pretty thorough —everything from eye color to religious affiliations. You can add education and employment information, number of kids and much more. You can answer questions about your likes and dislikes (Do you like to cook? Go to the movies? etc.) It all depends on how much of your personal information you are willing to share.
When you see someone you’re interested in, click on their username to find out more about them based on the information they have provided in their profile. The site offers free and paid membership levels. The level you select determines which features you’ll be able to use when contacting another member. For instance, whether you’ll be able to send a message or flirt with the user.
The majority of the profiles featured members 50 and over, however, there are several members younger, including some in their early 30s. You can get the app in the Google Play Store for Android phones, or Apple store for iPhones.
Stitch is different than your typical dating site in that members use the site to seek both romantic and non-romantic companionship. They are also very committed to making sure members don’t fall prey to potential scammers. Each member must undergo an identity verification process before being able to communicate directly with other members. In addition, unlike other sites, all members must be over 50. Stitch members can use the site to find potential travel companions or groups to hang out with. Also, unlike other sites, married couples can join if they are looking for non-romantic friendships, such as travel companions or groups that your spouse may not want to or be capable of participating in.
There’s two pricing structures. You can join for free or pay $80 annually. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of a free vs paid membership. The sign up process is similar to most sites. You’ll create a username and password and the system will ask some basic information like what type of relationship you’re seeking, your gender and the city you live in. But unlike other sites, you must include a current photo of yourself before you are able to continue. Once a photo is uploaded, you can continue adding more information about yourself.
You are now ready to browse. However, if you haven’t gone through the verification process, you won’t be able to see another member’s picture or name. You will be able to read whatever information they have provided. Once you go through the verification process, you can start communicating with other members. However, both parties must indicate that they are interested in chatting. This means you won’t get a ton of people flooding your inbox that you have no interest in. The app is currently only available for the iOS systems but an Android app is supposed to be released soon, according to their website.
Senior Match is similar to Stitch in that members use the site to find both romantic and non-romantic relationships. If you’re looking for a travel companion or an activity partner, this site is another good option for you. Signing up for an account is easy. You enter some basic information: what you’re looking for (woman seeking man, etc.), the age range you’re interested in, your country and state. Once complete, another page will open up where you’ll actually register and upload a photo (or save for later). Once registered, you can add more information about yourself and also what you’re looking for in a potential mate. Do you like pets? Is it important that your potential match like pets? These are just some of the many questions you’ll be prompted to answer. When you finish, you can then start browsing. Like other sites, you can choose free and paid membership. Free membership has limitations. For example, you can respond to a message sent to you but you can’t initiate sending an email or chatting online. The app is available for both the Android and iOS systems.
A word of caution about online dating. There are, of course, inherent risks involved in communicating and having face-to-face interactions with someone you meet online or using an app. Use common sense such as meeting the person in a public place the first time and not giving out too much personal information. Most importantly, always follow your gut instinct— if you feel something is “off”, it probably is.
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