Sex in the (Cyber) City: The Rise of Online Dating Among Seniors
There are currently over 35 million people over the age of 65 in the United States. They say 60 is the new 50, and many in this age group are taking that saying to heart. The 60+ year old today is not looking forward to retirement and doting on grandchildren. Men and women of a certain age are embarking on new careers, looking and feeling younger, and they are dating.
Image: Don Hankins via Flickr
While the idea of people our parent’s age looking for a Friday night hook up might make us cringe internally, the 60+ generation doesn’t appear to care. They live in a world different than the world their parents grew up in, and they are embracing this new world. They can get divorced without the shame and stigma attached with the status. They can use their disposable income to travel and expand their horizons. They also live in the same digital age their children live in, and they have no problems using technology to their advantage.
In recent years seniors have migrated to online dating sites to find companionship. There are a number of websites dedicated to senior dating. Not unlike their under 60 counterparts, a wide variety of options are available to them. There are sites for Christian Seniors, divorced seniors, seniors looking to just hook up and many other options. What’s so interesting about this new trend is that it’s not so interesting at all, in fact is it not unlike the experiences of the younger generation who frequent online dating sites. There are frogs to kiss that turn into princes, or give you warts. There are posers who fake the funk.
Some find it interesting that the silver haired migrate to the internet to find their mate, yet it is a sign of the times. The Internet is the one entity that doesn’t discriminate against a person’s age, looks, or coolness quotient. Retailers target the 18-40 year olds as the ‘hot’ demographic but the Internet doesn’t care about your age, simply your connection speed. Seniors can ‘shop’ from the privacy of their own home, without fear of being ridiculed or ostracized.
This trend of seniors turning to the Internet for companionship is a good thing. It demonstrates that our need for intimacy and connection remains with us. It shows the younger generation that life doesn’t just go on after 60 but that you can live a life that is not all that different than the one you do currently. It shows us that there is no need to fear aging. It can be embraced and accepted because it is not extraordinary.
What the Internet doesn’t tell seniors returning to the world of dating and mating, is that like their younger counterparts navigating the online dating world, they are also at risk for exposure to the same sexually transmitted infections [STIs] of the youth. Men and women over 60 come from an era that did not have HIV, and HPV was not discussed. For many the last time they ‘dated’ they were concerned about an unplanned pregnancy. With pregnancy no longer a concern seniors are returning to the world of sex and becoming statistics in the process.
The rate of syphilis and chlamydia being diagnosed in those over the age of 55 is on the rise. This can be attributed to a number of factors. The immune system of our older citizens is often compromised by other health ailments common with the older population. Older women who’ve gone through menopause can have vaginal walls that are both thinner and drier increasing their chances that they will contract a STI like HIV through unprotected sex. Almost 25% of recorded cases of HIV infection have been reported in people over the age of 50.
Online dating for the 60+ year old is certainly a whole new world, comprised of the good, the bad and the ugly the rest of us face as well.
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