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