VOICE and amazing.community Connect on Making Connections
- Innovation for Ageing
- Chris Anderson
This blog post has been submitted by our US partner amazing.community, a nonprofit with the mission to expand the work horizon for women 45+ through tech focused learning opportunities, resource sharing and community building.
So, what do you get when you bring a UK and a US community together for the first time? A riveting conversation about online dating, of course!
Ok, let me explain.
At the end of March, VOICE and the US nonprofit amazing.community celebrated their partnership with the premiere of the Swiss film “Les Dames”, a documentary that followed the lives and loves of five fascinating older women. Central to the theme of the movie was the exploration of love, what it means and where to find it particularly as we age. In the film, the five women step out of their comfort zones to make new connections. Some even ventured into online dating, a subject that gave the group plenty of food for thought and discussion.
Professor of Gender and Media at Newcastle University Karen Ross joined the conversation and helped unpack some of the issues around online dating for the group. Her perspective, both as a scholar who has studied issues related to the visibility of older women in popular culture as well as her personal experience dating in the digital world, allowed for a great exchange. The discussion explored both the logistics of online dating (i.e. “does listing your age invite discrimination?”) as well as the concept, itself (i.e. “isn’t it better to join an activity that leads to friendship and then love a better approach?”).
With apps such as Tinder, Hinge and Bumble leading the way, the online dating market is expected to grow to $9.9 billion by 2026 up from up from $6.7 billion in 2018. Research by the dating site E-Harmony suggests that by 2031, 50 percent of all UK couples will have met online and by 2040, 70 percent of couples will have started their relationships this way.
Though younger generations are more prolific users of dating apps, older daters take advantage of these services as well. In fact, going forward, older generations are expected to increase their online dating activity at a faster rate given their enhanced familiarity with technology resulting from the pandemic.
Professor Ross’ perspective as someone who has dabbled in online dating was insightful and amusing. She questioned the choice of some virtual daters to post misleading photographs or to lie on their profile about basic details, like height. These are, after all, quite apparent when meeting in person for the first time. Honesty is essential in Karen’s view and includes sharing your correct age.
She also stressed that when looking to make connections online, standards need to be kept high. There’s no need to compromise. Thanks to advancements in technology, finding someone you click with online has been made easier with the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Apps and online dating portals follow your behavior on their sites and use this information to better personalize the selections they offer. For example, if you indicate you like motorcycle riding zookeepers, the algorithms on the sites will work to identify candidates with this very special, albeit unusual, profile.
There has also been a proliferation of sites that match candidates based on niche preferences. If you only want to consider someone of a certain faith, there are apps for that, including JSwipe (Jewish), Christian Mingle and Catholic Match. Older daters are invited to take advantage of apps tailor made for them including, Silver Singles, Love Begins At and Zoosk. According to the Observer, the top dating site in the UK for those over 50 is Our Time.
But wait there’s more: Chorus (get matched by friends), Her (match with queer women/nonbinary people), Tastebuds (match by musical tastes), Nuit (match based on astrology), Dig (match with dog lovers) and many others. Though no longer available, at one time there was Sizzl, a dating app for bacon lovers sponsored by none other than Oscar Meyer. (I’m guessing they chewed the fat on first dates.)
Notwithstanding the potential benefits of online dating, Professor Ross stressed the importance of finding fulfillment with oneself no matter if/how women select to date and applauded the willingness of the five women in the film to take chances in their personal journeys.
Professor Ross intends to dive more deeply into the subject of online dating. She’s presently seeking funding for an extensive research study of older women, who have pursued virtual dating, that will look to address three essential questions:
- What is their motivation for dating?
- What is their impression of dating apps vs dating websites?
- How has dating changed for them now versus when they were younger?
When funding is secured, Professor Ross expects to reach out to both VOICE and amazing.community to seek their input. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, if you’re dating in the UK, get ready for August 1st. Thanks to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, this day is predicted to be the most popular day in the UK to schedule a date in 2021. Now that’s news worthy of a right swipe!