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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Elder Online Dating

Last week, The Atlantic reported on a projected new web service called called Stitch which is, according to the reporter, like Tinder for old people - “an online community designed to help senior citizens find each other.”

The Australian owner of Stitch, Andrew Dowling, says the Tinder comparison that has been widely circulated in the media is, generally, off-base:

“Most of the older adults who look at our site can immediately tell we’re offering something totally different. It’s not geared towards casual hookups the way Tinder is. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.”

Dowling is up on his research. He knows that isolation and loneliness in elders are as big a health hazard as smoking and obesity and although Stitch will certainly provide a venue for old people to find dates, that's not its only, or perhaps, primary goal:

”...he’s trying to connect people with common interests. Dowling is, in other words, not just trying to be a romantic matchmaker, but a friend matchmaker of sorts.

“'One of the inevitabilities of getting older is that your social circle eventually starts to shrink, Dowling noted. 'Friends die or move, relationships break down...'”

Sound familiar? If you hang out here, you've read about that difficulty a lot. I do tend to harp on it, don't I.

Right now, Stitch is available only in limited beta in parts of California and in New South Wales, Australia but in a month or two will launch in the rest of Australia, the U.S. and in Canada.

So there's not much news in this yet but it reminded me that a year or two ago I had begun the reporting for a story here on online dating and elders. I abandoned the project because

• No dating site allows you to look around and see what it's like, how it's laid out, how it operates or pricing before you create an account

• Guess what's going to happen then? Even if they don't sell your email address, they're going to bombard you with 89 emails a day until you die.

• You cannot get into the site without giving up your email address, date of birth, Zip Code, name and a couple of other items.

• And finally, if they don't exactly cheat, they are sneaky.

Even with all the above alerts, I signed on to one of the biggest names in online dating to see what I could find.

Credit card information was required to sign on to the free period. That's always a red flag because for sure a percentage of users will forget to cancel before the freebie expires. But in the name you, dear readers, I persevered.

The questionnaire was endless. I no longer remember particulars but I do recall that it felt like high school and I wanted to cry from boredom.

Eventually, I was able to look around at potential dates in my community. There were more than I would have guessed but no one who didn't appear to be either lying about his age or in denial of it with such phrases as “My friends say I look 15 years younger than I am.”

It was so discouraging that I set aside the project for a couple of days.

When I checked back, I realized something that I had not thought through as I planned the project: I could not honorably do it at all because even if I found someone I wanted to contact, I was wasting his time. I wasn't there to find a date' I was there to find a story.

So I let it go and moved on to other things and here's where the sneakiness comes in. A couple of weeks later, a $30 monthly charge appeared on my credit card. I had neglected to calendar the expiration date of the free period.

After several of my emails went unanswered, I finally tracked down a phone number (not easy) and tried to get the charge canceled. Even thought their records would easily show I had never used the site again, they refused but eventually my credit card company saved the day.

(There is no reason, none, for a company to require credit card information before a trial period. They can just shut off your access at the end of the week or month. So they are suspect from the getgo in that requirement.)

Back to Stitch. When I saw the story about it a few days ago, I was reminded that there has recently been an advertising barrage in my area for a 50-plus online dating service called Our Time. I tried to check it out and like the others two years ago, there is nothing to see or know about it without giving away a lot of information.

I wanted to see if this site might be different. It wasn't. I balked at the fourth screen when they wanted my email address – I just cannot stand the thought of more crap in my inbox and my fingers refused to type in even one of the email addresses I use to avoid it.

None of the stories I've read about Stitch addresses any of the objections I have. Meanwhile, Dowling does seem to understand some of the ways elders are different from younger people and he told The Atlantic:

“'We’re going to be exploring a few different pricing models to find out what is going to work best,' Dowling said. 'Many of our users are on fixed incomes so affordability is a big concern—which is one reason why some companies haven’t traditionally focused on older users.'

“That said, Dowling hasn’t had a problem getting requests from people inquiring about Stitch’s launch date. And Stitch is grabbing media attention for being a way for older people to connect without the travails of online dating...

“'There needs to be an easier way to meet new companions, no matter how old you are,' Dowling said. 'As one of our users said to us, “I kept trying online dating sites because I didn’t have any other options.”We’d like to be that other option.'”

Now I am wondering how many of you have tried online dating, what you experiences have been and if, unlike me, you kept at it, how it turned out.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Chasing the Blues


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

I would not touch those sites with a ten foot pole, even if I had one.

Too many stories of men and women being scammed by creeps trolling online, faking a life, looking for money.

Best way to meet a potential life partner, is to get out there and volunteer, take classes, get passionately involved with something you enjoy.

When you're not looking, when you are working on your strengths, BOOM you walk into someone.

And you take it from there.

I tried match.com when I first got divorced, some 15 years ago. 'Course I'm a man who was looking for a woman, so it may be different. I found several women who looked 15 years OLDER than they claimed and several who weighed 40 pounds MORE than they claimed. But I also met a couple of nice women who were very real and very honest. Oh, well ... there was that one stalker; but it worked out in the end.

I finally met someone the old-fashioned way -- through a mutual friend.

I've tried it. I even paid for Match.com for a while (I would've been in my 50s - you decide if that qualifies.) I got a couple of nice answers, a couple of creeps, a couple of very polite Nos, but no interest, which was, honestly, painful. Lotsa guys out there who want an aging motorcycle mama; if that's you, check it out!

And the idea that somebody comes along if you put yourself out there is only true if it turns out to be true. I've done all that and then some, but no BOOMs in the life-partner category came along. It's the greatest sorrow in my life. Being blamed for it, as if I'd done something wrong--or am someone awful--makes it worse.

However, having said all that, I will probably try it again. Go figure.

I know several friends who have met their spouses/partners online, but not without a lot of frogs and liars. I met my husband when I happened to sit next to him on an airplane, go figure!

After my divorce in 2008, I tried online dating with Match.com and had no luck. Perhaps it was because I was honest about my age (62) and I had a 10 year old adopted son!

My husband and I talked my friend into trying a site i had heard good things about - OK Cupid - so she spent several hours filling out the endless questionnaire (it truly IS endless, you are supposed to fill out several hundred then stop! - then came out into the kitchen and joyfully announced, "I finally finished registering with OK Stupid! So that's what we call it now!

I forgot to mention a tip: if you try this,open another email account that has no clues to your full name or location to use for your dating sites. VERY important so your inbox does not get too overwhelmed but also for safety reasons.

Being frugal, I tried a new of the freebie sites and the caliber of folks was quite low.

have no interest in paying to meet someone of the opposite gender so have now abstained
altho, I, too, know folks who have met and married on match.com.
I strongly suspect my advanced age also does not work in my favor.

I have been divorced for many years and away from the dating scene for at least the last 10 years. During that time I have given some thought about where I would go if and when I needed some platonic (to begin with) female companionship. I ruled out the dating sights as being too creepy ( for men and for women).I don't like the bar scene (I can't drink and besides, they are for young people). Senior Centers seemed to attract a little older and less active crowd, so what's left. I thought back to how I met my wife. It was at a party with friends and we hit it off. There was no pressure to impress. What we saw is what we got. Therefore, I now rely on personal introductions when it comes to relationships. It's not foolproof, but it works.

My friend Bee...67, a teacher, and a painter, tried a big name dating site. At first she didn't find any one of any value. Later she found two wonderful men, and today she's talking about having one move in with her. She is exceptionally happy.

Several of my friends,like me, use OKCupid. It has both free and paid services, and you can use the free service as long as you want to. Paid offers online invisibility, which cuts down on people messaging you before you've read their profile. People send you messages through the site -- they only get your email address if you give it to them yourself. I'm rather pleased with the quality of responses I get. Oh, there's the occasional 25-year-old but they're ignorable. You have the option of blocking anyone who is wasting your time. I've met some nice people through OKC.

At age 68---All I did was go to a sight and look --- and became depressed. My first thought was --they are so old--and then I thought --- so are you. They want younger women and they might settle for me? I don't think so.

I am looking for a good friend and the men are looking for sex. I might be wrong but there just has to be a better way to find a match to enjoy life with don't you think?

Wow at last you have partly addressed one of the main reasons I checked into your blog two or three years ago. I wanted to find out if people over 65 were really "dating" and having sex. I wasn't.
The information I have received NOT on those subjects has been by turns helpful, interesting, connective, useful, boring, unreadable, fulfilling, entertaining and more. Today we connected!
I agree, the sites seem invasive and costly. But I was determined because the men i meet every day in my job, volunteering and socializing are certainly nice for dinner, but that was too temporary. I wanted to commit to companionship. I got ready to give up dollars and SOME of my info for a more lasting connection.
Did you know the sites cross-reference? If you sign up for Our Time (which I did) people on Seniors Meet can see your information. Several others do this but nowhere in their advertising does it say so.
OK I was very careful to note the expiration date of the free period. I also put a time limit on myself. If I don't find someone within six months, I said, I will remove my information and close my profile and count the 60.00 as an investment in learning. That's just how I do things and run my life.
So I wrote some good paragraphs about myself, what i was looking for and what a relationship means to me. Nothing overly revealing or sentimental, but you do have to make yourself sound appealing. I did not lie. I did submit photos and you should, too. Choose good photos! Lots of men replied. It was not difficult to sort out those who were, shall we say, exaggerating. No one was going to get my real information without making it clear he was really tall, strong, sexy and smart. I communicated only through the site for at least a week with each person. Pretty soon I had it narrowed to three men between the ages of 60-75 (I am a year older than our blog mistress)to meet in person in a clean, well lighted place. Two of them had irredeemable flaws that would never be apparent in an email give-and-take.
Friends, you must also steel yourself to be fair and clear that you are going to move on.
Within the time frame I gave myself I did find a genuine partner, lucky me. The chemistry was right from the first day. We have been together almost two years now (not a lifetime I know)and he does count himself lucky too, after meeting almost 20 women who did not tell the truth or had ulterior motives or flaws he could not live with. He knows i am never going to marry or move in with him.
So it can work if you set up a budget and a time frame and work within the parameters of what the site requires. Know yourself, know what you want and be prepared to use the time and effort it might take. There are disappointments everywhere, but we can make advantageous use of what's offered with a little thought and preparation. Thanks for this opportunity and for linking me however tenuously to Joan Price and Senior Planet for the sex stuff you don't want to address! haha it works doesn't it!!

I'm 70 years old and a big fan of OKCupid's free option. The interface is much more attractive than most other sites I've visited, and I have yet to experience any of the issues Ronni mentions. I can't say enough good things about it -- and no, this is not a paid testimonial.

A lot depends on how one writes about oneself: the more open, sincere and honest, the better, I think. (Like attracts like.)

I've met some wonderful women on OKC, and had some very satisfying relationships until they came to an end. Can't blame that on OKCupid though :)

Even those I haven't dated have impressed me with their sensitivity and concern for humanity. A real antidote to the daily headlines.

Speaking of dating, I suggested this item about a 31- year-old male with a 91-year-old girlfriend for Interesting Stuff:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omcxjXiWwpU

Wonder if responses would be different if the genders were reversed.

Funny that you should post this right now. Last week I joined seniorpeoplemeet.com. I'm not looking for a partner, but I am looking to see if there are any guys I'd like to be friends and do things with. (Following your advice, I just went in and made sure my subscription was not renewed). The surprising this is that I have identified a few men in my local area that I might like to meet. I haven't contacted them yet; not sure I really want to, not sure I have the energy to follow through. But I do miss male energy in my life (and someone to dance with). If I follow through, I will let you know.

It works sometimes and other times it is just work. A lot depends on where you are in the country, how wide your social circle of like minded people is, and most importantly how clear and forthright you are abut your needs, wants and your past. I had some very pleasant experiences, none terrible, but many boring or frustrating. I no longer use any of the sites however.

A friend of mine said it best, though her comment isn't original: "Any man our age wants a woman at least 10 years younger. The ones 10 years older than we are needs either a nurse or a hearse."

My solution, after having recently moved to a brand-new community 1500 miles from anyone I know, is to make some new women friends. They're a lot more interesting and fun than the slim pickins I met through online dating services.

I have an old email address that I use any time future spam or unwanted correspondence is a concern. Also for security. Very few contacts get my "real" address. I also fake my address, phone number, and name any time the real info isn't essential.

Nobody has a legitimate need for my credit card number if the trial period is "free." Nobody. Period.

I soured on "dating" in my 50s (now 71). No horrible experiences but lots of disappointments, disenchantments, lessons learned, etc. In short, every man I met wanted a woman who was younger, dumber, skinnier, a non-parent, wealthier, needier, or a one-night stand. I tried personal ads, church groups, video dating, and Internet chat rooms.

Stitch sounds interesting. I'm very much into meeting and getting acquainted online, for perhaps a long while, until and unless I'm interested enough to want to actually meet someone. Sort of like easing slowly into the shallow end of the pool ...

Something of mine from 1999. It doesn't seem as if much has changed...

http://web.archive.org/web/20000610141059/http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/227/24970">http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/227/24970">http://web.archive.org/web/20000610141059/http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/227/24970

Sorry, the link didn't translate although it looked fine in preview. Let's try this:
http://bit.ly/SL9QpO

Hi Everyone,

I'm Marcie, the co-founder of Stitch. I wanted to thank Ronni and you for your honesty and comments about a very broken online dating marketplace.

We are trying to fix it by offering low pressure "companionship," and letting people go from there. We don't collect any hair color, eye color, height, occupation, etc. We collect interests and activities instead.

Stitch is also different because you can not be messaged by just anyone. You have to look at people, one at a time, and say "Yes, I'm interested," or "No, I'm not." IF and only if you are both interested, a secure chat room / secure phone line will open up for you to communicate without sharing personal information.

We don't make you answer a million questions, just a few about yourself and what you're looking for.

We will have a clear, simple, free plan to respect all income levels; however, we will at a minimum require an identity check. It will be a minimal cost, and this is what we're working on -affordability to get security. We have zero tolerance for scammers, con artists, and adulterers.

No one under 50 will be allowed on the site.

I hope this helps clarify things about Stitch - and I want to thank Ronni and all of you for your honesty and for sharing these stories. You'll see a lot on our original blog post that was the catalyst for starting Stitch: http://blog.tapestry.net/9-things-you-didnt-know-about-dating-over-55/

If any of you have questions please don't hesitate to reach out to marcie (dot) rogo (at) stitch (dot) net.

...and HI RONNI! :)

I met my Prince Charming on a dating site in Jan. 1998. We have been together ever since. That was of course in the early days of the Internet. Not sure I would do it now.

I might add that I've met more creeps who are neighbors or members of the same organization than anyone I've met online.

I don't know whether this pertains directly to the discussion, so I leave it to you, Ronni.

In reading it, don't be too literal - it really is about your or another's life choices that form who you are and what's important to you for your life. For me, I subbed (discovered!?) my own needs and wants, deciding which was which and those that were non-negotiable.

It's not complete, more of a starting place.

http://oriahmountaindreamer.com/


I think Stitch sounds like a very interesting concept that could fill a huge gap for over-65 singles. It's a service I probably wouldn't use, at least for the purpose of dating/mating, although it sounds like it also has possibilities for connecting with potential new friends.

After 2 early marital strikes out in my 20s and 30s, I've been married to "The Best Husband Ever" for 35+ years. He's now 84 and I'm 77. I'd never find another man like him if I had 100 years! BTW, I met Husband #2 on what I think was the very first computerized dating site ever--in California--in 1967! Primitive? Definitely--but there were LOTS of questions even then.

I wish Stitch great success!

Re the above comment: I should add that, of course, it wasn't a computerized "site" as we know it today. The company sent me a lengthy questionnaire (on perforated computer paper) in the U.S. mail; I completed it and mailed it back.

I love this comment by Jean: "Any man our age wants a woman at least 10 years younger. The ones 10 years older than we are needs either a nurse or a hearse." The only question I have is has Viagra changed everything?

Many older women--fewer men-- hope to meet others with compatible interests. This is not about dating!

If you have moved from one state to another after 65, it's a challenge--especially for single women. One reason retirement communities are appealing. You are among others who have made a significant shift in lifestyle and have that in common.

I checked out SeniorPeopleMeet because I'd love to meet more people with similar interests. Can't do much on this site - besides lurk - if you don't pay.

One option offered suggested it was the 'best' deal, when there was a cheaper deal directly below. Huh? I can do more interesting things with that $15 a month!

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