'I was looking for sex': What it's like to use dating apps in your sixties – iNews
At the age of 57 and newly divorced, Michael wasn’t looking for love. If he were being honest, when he started using dating apps he was looking for sex. Towards the end of his marriage, his sex life had been non-existent, so once he was single, he was ready go online to connect with women.
He spent days scrolling through various apps. He joined Tinder, Bumble and even hook-up apps such as Pure, but he struggled to match with anyone, never mind get a date. It made him miserable. “I went on Bumble, but it was like tumbleweed, I had absolutely nothing. It was demoralising so I deleted it,” he says.
When he was in his twenties and living in London, Michael didn’t find it difficult to get a date. “I was pretty good looking back then,” he says. Working in film, he met women all the time. The last time he went on a date, he was aged 30. But as he approached 60, Michael was shocked at how much the dating world had changed. The infinite swipe of dating apps was depressing and rejection was commonplace. Then his friend told him about Hinge.
“Once I was told to download Hinge, my dating just went ballistic,” he says. “There were way more women my age on that app. Within no time at all, I had 17 dates lined up.”
Michael joined hordes of older people only just trying out dating apps for the first time. Divorce rates among the over-60s have doubled since 1993 – and it appears these newly single people are looking for a good time.
This surge in older daters is reflected in concerning sexual health statistics. A report by the Local Government Association says that the number of STIs recorded among over-65s has increased by 20 per cent, from 2,280 in 2017 to 2,748 in 2019. The biggest increases were in gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
And while most over-65s say they met their partners at work (20 per cent) or at a bar (20 per cent), in 2019, two per cent said they had met their significant other on a dating app. This figure may be small, but it’s growing. In 2022, it rose to three per cent, compared with 13 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds who met their partner this way.
For Michael, entering this new world of online dating was disorientating. “Going on dating apps is painful. They offer up a lot of rejection that I haven’t been used to,” he says.
But then, after 17 dates on Hinge, something surprising happened: Michael fell in love. “I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t looking for anything serious,” he says. “Even before the date, it was quite clear we were very attracted to each other. We met up in a bar and it was amazing,” he says.
A few weeks into dating, Michael had to travel to Cape Town To work for four months. “I decided to book us a two-week holiday to Italy for when I got back. I wanted to see if this was going to work. I probably wouldn’t have done that when I was younger,” he says. “In my twenties, there was no sense of a clock ticking. Now, I don’t want to waste any more time.”
Psychotherapist Isabelle Hung runs The Divorce Club, a support network for divorcees. She encourages people to throw themselves into the dating apps. “For the older people that come to our meetings, we like to do a few coaching sessions on how to use dating apps and the new rules that come along with it,” says Hung.
“It’s very stressful for some people. The entire dating scene has changed from when they were young. People used to only date one person at a time, but now, I have to explain that people date several people at a time now, thanks to apps.”
Hung advises that older daters should focus on apps aimed at the over-50s, such as Our Time and Silver Singles.
Dating coach Rachel New also helps a lot of older clients manoeuvre on the new online dating scene. Her advice is always the same. “Always allow for attraction to be a slow burner,” she says.
“People dating in their sixties and seventies are very nostalgic for how they met their first partner. They think it should be like that again: an instant attraction and meeting naturally through friends or the pub. But later in life that isn’t always the case, and you have to allow room for that.”
It’s about changing that mindset,” she says.
For some older daters, there can be anxiety about meeting up with someone online. When Audrey Lindt, co-author of a book, Misadventures in Mature Dating, became single at 60 following her divorce, she threw herself into online dating. “My daughter put me on the apps,” she says, specifically Luxy, an app that says it targets “high-end” singles.
She was shocked by the attention she received. For a year, she was beseiged by men who claimed to be super-rich. “They all promised me the world, saying they knew how to treat a woman and boasting about having an expensive lifestyle – but learned that the most interesting men were actually scammers. They were trying to make me send them money. I reported them to the app as scammers but nothing happened. Thankfully, I didn’t meet up with any of them.”
Lindt thinks older daters are particularly at risk of being exploited. “I think these scammers are coming for older men and women because they probably think we have money and that we are desperate to talk to people,” she says.
Now aged 67, she has been in a happy relationship for five years. “I did eventually meet my partner on Luxy. Our first date was wonderful. We went for a walk and then we went for lunch. He kissed me on my neck, and I felt like, wow, this could be something,” she says.
Roy, 61, from London, has been enjoying a new lease of life since his divorce. “I went out last night with some friends. We had shots. I’m very hungover,” he says on the phone. Since January, Roy has been using dating apps frequently.
“I wasn’t looking for hook-ups, so I didn’t bother with Tinder. I started with Bumble, but I was very reluctant to use the apps,” he says. “I’m not convinced that everyone on dating apps is actually interested in dating,” he says.
In his year of experimenting with dating apps, Roy had one short three-month relationship and several dates. He has tried almost every platform: from Silver Singles to Facebook Dating. “It’s so much harder to date at this age,” he says. “It’s impossible to meet anyone in real life because most people my age are married.”
Currently, Roy is having the most success with Silver Singles. To join this app, users do a personality test. After completing the test, the app matches you with users that best match your quiz results.
Apps like Tinder and Bumble are different: instead of personality prompts, users curate a selection of photos. Hinge is a mix of personality prompts and curated images. A relatively unknown site is Facebook Dating: accessed through the Facebook app, it matches you with friends of friends, as well as people you might now know.
One day, when out with a friend, Roy met a woman in a bar. “I thought, it’s so rare for me to meet a woman naturally,” he says. “So, I asked her on a date. Then, a couple of days later, she started asking me for money.” Roy quickly cancelled the upcoming date.
But Roy hasn’t given up on romance. “I have dates set up for weeks in advance at this point and I try to go on one date a week and also balance my time with my friends,” he says.
While Roy is still searching, Michael is happier than he has ever been. “My marriage was very verbally abusive, but now I’m with the most wonderful woman in the world. I think she is the best woman I have ever met,” he says.
He adds: “My advice for older daters would be: don’t give up, and don’t lie about your age. Just be yourself.”
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