Baby Boomers have discovered online dating. The online dating phenomenon began as a way for internet-savvy 20-somethings and 30-somethings to find love and romance. But in the past decade, as online dating websites grew in popularity and respectability, Baby Boomers began using the sites to find their matches. Led by popular online dating sites such as Match.com and eHarmony.com, online dating is now a $1 billion annual business.
According to recent research, single men and women aged 50 and older now account for about 20 percent of all online daters. The research also shows that the number of Baby Boomers who use internet dating is now growing two times as fast as the number of younger users.
But if you’ve never done online dating, where should you begin? Here are five top sites where single Baby Boomers can go online to find friendship, companionship, and yes, even love.
Related article: Boomers: What’s Your Second Date Criteria?
Baby Boomer-friendly OurTime.com makes the bold claim of being the number one online dating website for singles over 50.
OurTime has an estimated 1.1 million active members (all of whom are over the age of 50), who each visit the site an average of seven times a month. This site offers a free trial membership, so single Boomers can “test drive” the site to see if they like it. Membership costs about $20 a month.
The OurTime.com search function is easy to use and quite intuitive. All you do is state your gender (male or female) and then select whether you’re looking for a male or a female. Then select your target age range (for example, 50 to 60), type in your zip code, and click on Search Now. The site instantly finds the appropriate matches and posts thumbnail photos of them. If you see a photo of someone you want to contact, just click on the photo and you will be connected to his or her profile.
SilverSingles.com is another popular website that focuses on the Baby Boomer generation and older. Launched in 2002 as PrimeSingles.net to bring like-minded singles together, the name was later changed to SilverSingles.com—but the focus remains the same.
Thousands of mature singles have joined this dating site hoping to meet fellow older women and men to share new experiences and, hopefully, to find love. SilverSingles.com provides online dating services, including online personals and photographs of men and women. Additional communication tools include private mailboxes and public forums that enable more messaging. Take advantage of the free trial to search the site before you decide to commit to a paid membership.
Some dating sites, including SeniorPassions.com, are free. A free site gives you an easy way to try out internet dating to see if you like the concept. Yes, this is a totally free service, but like they say, you get what you pay for. When I was middle-aged and single, I tried a free dating site and got nothing to show for it. But it did whet my appetite enough for me to join a paid dating site.
SeniorPassions.com can be hard to navigate and search for potential matches. To pay for its services, the site is filled with distracting ads. Like other free sites, sometimes the quality of its members leaves a lot to be desired. However, if you are on a tight budget and you want to try online dating, sites such as SeniorPassions might be worth a try.
Match.com is arguably the best known of all the online dating websites. It was founded in 1995, making it one of the “granddaddies” of internet dating. Match.com has members of all ages, but the company claims that 25 percent of its membership is between the ages of 50 and 65. Match.com says its number of Baby Boomer members has grown 90 percent in the last 5 years.
If Match.com has 15 million members (according to recent research), then this giant website has nearly four million members aged 50-plus. So at this moment, Match.com probably has the highest total number of Baby Boomer and older singles.
It’s no surprise that the organization with the largest number of 50+ Americans finally got into the online dating game. AARP’s dating feature is relatively new, so it doesn’t have much of a track record yet. But, AARP dating is affiliated with HowAboutWe.com, so AARP didn’t have to create its online dating service from scratch.
AARP Dating works a lot like many of the other dating sites. You are required to set up a profile , upload a photo (“No photo = No love.”), and answer a few questions. Once you’ve set up your free account you can look around for a while. But to communicate with another member you need to sign up for a subscription. It’s relatively inexpensive at $12 for one month or $36 for six months.
Of course, there are plenty of other dating sites that are Baby Boomer friendly. The next love of your life could be on one of them—but you will never know for sure unless you give internet dating a try.
I can tell you from personal experience that online dating works. Yes, I, Chad Stone, am an online dating success story. I met Krista on match.com, and we fell deeply and passionately in love. We’ve now been married for more than two years.
So, what are you waiting for? If you are single and ready to meet the last love of your life, give internet dating a chance.
Chad Stone is the author of the critically-acclaimed Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet," a humorous look at his post-divorce experiences on the road to ultimate happiness. He shares his own personal brand of dating and relationship advice on his website at www.middleagedbabemagnet.com and on his blog at middleagedbabemagnet.blogspot.com/. Chad Stone owns a successful marketing and public relations business. He lives with his wife in Santa Fe, New Mexico.