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    Baby boomers click onto online dating

2006-03-18 07:16

Susan Gladstone's moment came when she turned 50. Divorced, with two children, she was getting tired of asking friends to fix her up and being told they just couldn't think of anyone. And so, she turned to online dating.

Two and a half years and dozens of dates later, Gladstone, an event planner in Miami, hasn't yet found her perfect soul mate. But she's had lots of enjoyable dinner dates, met fascinating people from around the globe, and to her delight has made a number of lasting friendships.

Gladstone is part of a growing trend in the United States: people in their 50s and beyond searching the Internet for romance, companionship, sometimes marriage. As in any age group, there are ups and downs.

There's the old stale-photo trick, the date who asks right away how much money you have, or the ones who say how fabulous you are and then disappear. Still, many older online daters say that even if they haven't found true love yet it's been worthwhile.

"I had minor back surgery recently," Gladstone says, "and I got about a half-dozen emails from men I'd met online, checking up on how I was! Even if I never meet my partner, I'll be happy for the wonderful friends I've made."

The main reason more mature singles are going online for love is simple: more widespread access to the Internet, hence more familiarity with online dating.

And dating sites are catering to older members. Yahoo Personals, for example, has an advice column for users over 50, with tips on everything from etiquette to sexual health for those whose romantic radar may be a tad rusty.

Another reason: "Baby boomers are seeing their children use online dating, and watching their success at finding mates," says Rochelle Adams, spokesperson for Yahoo Personals. "They're seeing that it's not such a crazy concept.", another large online dating site, says boomers are its fastest growing segment they've increased by at least 350 per cent since 2000, and now number 3 million or 22 per cent of total users. Spokesperson Kristin Kelly says older users tend to be much clearer and more realistic about what they want: "There's no substitute for the wisdom gained with age."

Claudia Polley certainly knows what she wants. The beauty of online dating, says the 56-year-old museum consultant from Washington, DC, is that you can tell right away if someone can write well a key test for her. "If they can't spell, and they start out with 'Hiya!' well, I wish them a wonderful life, but not with me."

Polley's work takes her around the globe Africa, Europe, the Caribbean. "It would be wonderful to share that with someone," she says. Aside from intelligence and flexibility, she looks for wit and humour. Physical appearance is less important.

Of course, it's all a question of chemistry. The spark you perceived during countless email chats can simply fizzle upon meeting the person in the flesh.

(China Daily 03/18/2006 page6)


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