Digital Dating

The ways we meet may change, but the laws of attraction never grow old.

March 29, 2022 | | Over the Next Hill

Do you remember your first crush? Your first kiss? How about “going steady”? I’m guessing these are memories we have all stored away to revisit occasionally.

Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and ’60s met and mingled in our neighbourhoods, our community halls and churches, our schools and universities. Later, we hooked up in watering holes, or perhaps at work.

In 2021, Kathy Anderson and Michael Coombs, who met through an online dating site, celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary on their sailboat Escape. Photo Courtesy Kathy Anderson.

In 2021, Kathy Anderson and Michael Coombs, who met through an online dating site, celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary on their sailboat Escape. Photo Courtesy Kathy Anderson.

The fallback position was the newspaper personals column. Though the social acceptance of these ads has waxed and waned with the times, “matrimonial” agencies were helping lonely bachelors find wives through printed ads as long ago as the 1700s.

I remember helping my widowed mother move into her retirement residence many years ago. We finished the heavy lifting, tidied ourselves up and headed to the dining room for dinner. As we walked to our table, I was keenly aware that all eyes, particularly male eyes, were directed toward Mum. “Sizing her up” came to mind – and it dawned on me that the laws of attraction never change.

They might take slightly different forms, but they’re definitely there. Always.

Just as we interact at many of our online meetings and classes, so it is with the current digital dating scene. There’s no dress code, and if you time it right, you can enjoy a martini while browsing through pictures and bios of other singles – without the need for a designated driver.

So are you a single senior interested in a relationship and curious about the process? Are you being nudged toward dating sites by friends and family? Or do you think of internet dating as more like a downed power line, inherently dangerous and unpredictable? Many of us probably know online dating stories that fall on both ends of the spectrum, from horror to happiness forever.

For those ready to try digital dating, several sites cater specifically to seniors, including seniors who identify as 2SLGBTQ.

Silver Singles, for example, has been around for more than 20 years, and according to its website, it takes about an hour to complete the questionnaire and get started. Another site, eHarmony, claims its users send 2.3 million messages a week (wow!) and it offers a section dedicated to seniors.

Both Silver Singles and eHarmony offer a free basic membership, as do most dating sites. But most also offer features available only by paying a monthly fee, ranging from about $10 to more than $50.

Mono resident Kathy Anderson, now 67 and retired, was doing well on her own after her marriage unravelled. The principal of a French immersion school in Peel Region, she had developed a strong support group called the First Wives Club. Unlike the movie of the same name that inspired them, the group was not interested in revenge, but rather in supporting one another through the peaks and valleys of single life.

“My life was busy with work, raising children, skiing and adventure travel,” says Kathy. “But I eventually realized I was missing the companionship and continuity offered by a life partner.” As part of a First Wives Club activity, she posted a profile on the dating site Plenty of Fish, mostly because it was free.

Not expecting much, she turned to other interests – for months. When she finally checked the site, she was attracted to the kind eyes of a widower who indicated an interest in her.

Kathy connected with Michael Coombs, initially for a walk, then dinner. She laughs heartily as she recalls his insistence on being her plus-one at an upcoming wedding.

The seasons changed. Michael bought secondhand skis, took lessons and became competent enough to join her on a ski weekend in Banff that Easter.

Again the seasons changed. Kathy and Michael signed up for sailing lessons and bought a sailboat together. They began to plan their wedding. On the second anniversary of their first date, they married and have now been married for eight years.

“Kathy says we’re lucky. I say we’re blessed,” says Michael. “We come from different places, different life experiences, but it works. And if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 72 years, it’s that doing it ‘someday’ doesn’t cut it. Do it now.”


A footnote about my mum: She met a very nice man who also lived in her retirement residence. They spent the last years of their lives together in a strong and loving relationship.

About the Author More by Gail Grant

Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

Related Stories

Along with his Islamic faith, a focus on helping others has defined Imtiaz Ahmad’s life purpose. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Imtiaz Ahmad

Mar 29, 2022 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Along with his Islamic faith, a focus on helping others has defined Imtiaz Ahmad’s life purpose.

Jack and Margaret Fleetwood moved to a retirement residence when Margaret’s health concerns curbed her independence. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Is Now the Right Time for Congregate Living?

Nov 29, 2021 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Driven by the huge baby boomer demographic, which is wealthier than any age cohort before them, the retirement community industry continues to innovate.

Carmel Hili has devoted his life to advocating for the homeless. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Carmel Hili

Nov 29, 2021 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Carmel is currently involved in helping to sponsor and settle families from Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.

Gearing Down

Sep 24, 2021 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

When it’s time to put on the brakes — for good.

On her first solo trip, Barbara McKenzie had the pleasure of feeding a koala at the Sydney Zoo in Australia.

Faraway Places are Still Within Reach

Nov 22, 2017 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Travel helps us see things from a different perspective and lean away from old age.

After her husband’s death, Kathryn MacDuffee determined to make the best of the new phase in her life. Hiking expeditions with friends included a trip to the Grand Canyon in 2015. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Senior and Single

Mar 19, 2019 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Living alone doesn’t have to be lonely.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to vjones@inthehills.ca.