By Kathy Gaillard
Love is in the air and as couples celebrate Valentine’s Day, more and more individuals are not waiting for Cupid to shoot an arrow, but are taking matters into their hands by looking for love on the internet. According to Pew Research Center, one in ten Americans has used an online dating site or mobile dating app.
Of that number, 66% have gone on a date with someone they met through a dating site or app, and 23% have met a spouse or long-term partner through online dating sites. In addition, public attitudes and acceptance of online dating have also become more positive in recent years. Today, people 55 and older are visiting dating sites more than any other age group — up 39 percent in the last three years—according to the Internet tracking firm Experian Hitwise. Singles 45 to 54 represent the second highest group that is accessing online dating sites. According to the United States Census Bureau, one of the reasons for this trend is that about 37 percent of people 50 and older are unmarried and the divorce rate among the 50-plus demographic is high. With so many individuals in the 50-plus category unattached, living independently into their later years, and becoming increasingly comfortable using the internet, this demographic is now more open to looking for love online.
Long-time Milwaukee native Nettie Perry, a 50-plus, recently divorced entrepreneur fits that profile. While she has not yet tried online dating, she is considering it as an option. “I’ve always received emails from various online dating sites, but I never really considered it an option for me until recently. “I think I became more receptive to the notion of online dating when I received an email from a Christian online dating site. “I must admit that I was intrigued by this because I have always said that if I ever remarry, I want to marry someone that is really spiritually connected and has a personal relationship with God. I am considering giving this Christian online dating site a try,” said Perry. Whites are slightly more likely to use dating sites than other ethnicities — 11 percent compared with 7 percent for blacks and 5 percent of Hispanics, according to the Pew Research survey. People without a high school diploma were the least likely to use the internet to find a date, while those who have completed “some college” were the most likely.
While some people are still reluctant to admit that they have tried online dating sites, forty-two percent of Americans say they know someone who has—up from 31% in 2005. Some individuals continue to have a stigma about online dating for a number of reasons. Some still regard online dating as a sign of desperation; some simply mistrust people who use online dating sites, while others think that online daters are socially inept or losers. That said, many people are opting for online dating services for a myriad of reasons, including using it as a way to ‘vet’ potential suitors or get matched with individuals that share common interests in a more expedient and noncommittal manner. Online dating is not all red roses, strawberries and champagne. According to the Pew Research study, more than half of online daters say they believe someone else “seriously misrepresented themselves” in an online dating profile.
More than a quarter have felt uncomfortable or harassed by someone who contacted them. And, while online dating may get a bad rap for these and other reasons, it may also not be practical for people who are really busy. Responding to “flirts” and “winks” can take a lot of time if online daters are serious about finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. Another Milwaukee mover and shaker, Sherry Hill, who is a proud member of the 50-plus club, said that online dating is not something she would ever consider. “I know people who have tried online dating and have been successful at it. In fact, I know a couple that met online and they have been married for almost 20 years, but it is not something I choose to do. “Men can tell you anything as they hide behind the internet and I guess I am just not that trusting.
“I applaud those people who have good experiences with online dating, but it’s just not something I’m comfortable doing,” said Hill. Without a doubt, online dating has become a major match matcher. A 2010 survey conducted by research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, states that of more than 12,000 people polled in a study, one in six couples walked down the aisle after meeting online.
If online dating is something that you would like to try, here is a link (http://www.moneycrashers.com/best-online-dating-sites-free-vs-paid/ ) that takes you to a site that compares the various online dating sites, rates them and provides a cost comparison for users.