A Perfect Match…Dot Com
By Joy Taylor
Welcome to the 21st Century of dating for the over 50 crowd…"The Baby Boomers"…Baby Boomers are those babies born after WWII, from 1945 through the early 1960's. The advertisers should be paying close attention, because Baby Boomers are 80 million strong, and growing in numbers every day. They are buying everything, eating healthy, exercising, and going in for little and big tweaks. They are spending their hard earned and their saved dollars to stay young, fit and vital. So where is this over 50 populace going to find their last true love to go with their new, evolved lives…online dating!
One site promises to match you up based on your personality, another lets you build your own rap sheet. Some are peppered with one-liners, others are lists of attributes…"a walk on the beach or snuggle in front of a fireplace"…yadda…yadda…yadda. What I discovered is that most women lie about their age and weight, and most men lie about their height (ahem) and income. Hmmm sounds like regular dating to me.
Online dating is really the same as walking into a bar, except this bar has a keyboard and a monitor, and the drink of choice is normally a cup of coffee. Instead of dressing up, they sit in front of their monitor in their underwear, laughing at words on the screen. What appears to be lost in this medium is the in-person, touch it, feel it, up close and personal way of getting to know one another.
When I hear that they met online I wonder how the heck can that happen…did you go TRON on each other…did you jump into the monitor and become a pixel…what happened to the old saying of you never know anyone until you live with them. Never mind live with them, how about actually seeing someone in person…and we wonder why the divorce rate is up to 50%.
I began my research interviewing Dr. Helen Fisher, referred to by Time magazine as "the queen mum of romance research." She is an internationally renowned biological anthropologist, and one of the world's leading experts in the science of human attraction. Fisher has authored five books and many articles in scientific journals and popular magazines. Her perspective on love, sexuality, women, and gender differences is regularly featured in major news outlets, including The Today Show, O Magazine, CNN, NPR, BBC, and The New York Times. As a research professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, she focuses on the role of biology in human sex, love, and marriage.
Fisher's latest book, Why Him? Why Her? proves her scientific hypotheses about why we are attracted to one person rather than another. A one-hour special on ABC's 20/20, Why Him? Why Her?, followed Fisher's 2004 book, Why We Love, which was translated into 16 languages.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, she studies the brain in love. With her long-standing research, she helped develop one of the online relationship sites, Chemistry.com, a subsidiary of Match.com, and features a lengthy personality test, and alleged matching system, both developed by Fisher.
The website that Dr. Fisher created the questionnaire for, Chemistry.com, contains multiple choice questions which, in my humble opinion, are just plain silly and way too long. We are not multiple-choice people, especially for women. There is not one black and white answer for a question at any given time that defines who we are and what we want, especially ones directed at our personalities. After all, we are complicated people and the answers depend on the mood and the moment.
From 20 something to 70 something, the question is, what drives people to these websites? For some, it's about finding their last true love, for others it may be to find a partner to share activities with and for others, well let's just say it's about one nighters. Although most still meet that one special person in their own backyard, many are going to these sites because they allow for variety and anonymity. I decided to go inside and see what all the fuss was about, and soon discovered a potpourri of couples and stories. One of the couples I interviewed actually lived 500 miles apart. But soon discovered that love will move mountains, or in this case, one person to the other's home...some may say, they were fated to be together.
Joan and Richard:
Joan was married at the age of 17, the first time around, only two days after her high school graduation. She reminisces, "I remember thinking at that time, that a $30 cake was just too much money!" Widowed after 43 years of marriage, and armed with a healthy outlook on life, Joan decided that it was time to try again, and joined SeniorPeopleMeet. Her only prerequisite, a companion who treated her with respect and didn't take life too seriously. Joan had initially tried the online dating scene, and although she had met some nice gentlemen, her last true love evaded her grasp. A few of the dates had not even shown up! She had taken her profile offline for a while, but her friends and family prodded her into reposting her profile.
In August of 2009, enter Richard, a retired Naval Captain, also widowed (Joan's son was also a retired Navy man); Richard was smitten with Joan's profile and current photos, sans the sunglasses. At age 75, Richard was a bit older than Joan, who wasn't sure how the age difference would play out as she explained, "normally I didn't date men older than me, but I thought, oh, what the heck." Ultimately, it was Joan's daughter who encouraged her to meet Richard in person by simply saying, "What have you got to lose?"
Richard had dated numerous times, never giving up all hope that his last true love was still out there…somewhere. Their initial telephone conversation lasted almost an hour. 500 miles apart, undaunted, Joan told him that she would be in his area in October for a jewelry convention. They agreed that would be a great time to get together. September came and went and Joan never heard back from Richard so she chalked it up to another hopeful gone awry. A few days prior to leaving on her business trip, Richard called. Miffed, Joan asked why he decided to call after all this time. Richard replied that he remembered that she was coming into town and wanted to meet for lunch. Curiosity got the best of her and she agreed to meet that Sunday.
Richard came promptly at 1:00 p.m., and for four straight hours they were never at a loss for words. Joan was taken aback when Richard drove her back to her hotel at 5:00 p.m., but as he opened the door for her he said, "I'll be back at 7pm to take you out for dinner." Later he would tell her that the only reason he left for two hours was because he needed time to catch his breath.
The next day they were having tea when Richard blurted out that he had to lay his cards on the table…and asked Joan, "Is this what they mean by love at first sight?" He paused and she said, "Yes, it is!" For the balance of her stay they were not apart for a moment, and committed to a long distance relationship. For over a year, flying back and forth, they promised to never be apart for more than 10 days at a time. The days and nights they were separated were filled with very lengthy telephone conversations and emails, which gave new meaning to "You've got mail!" Boarding the plane to leave was the pits, but whenever Joan left Richard's home she would leave him a love note, and Richard did the same when departing Joan's home. Richard has saved every one of her love notes, and even keeps one on the refrigerator door. I hear all of you oohing and ahhing. How romantic, age and distance has no boundaries when it comes to your last true love.
On December 15, 2009, Joan retired, and Richard gave new meaning to Carpe Diem…he asked her to move in with him. On February 20, 2010, Richard was in full dress Naval uniform when they wed in front of 130 beloved family and friends, including Joan's sister, the Maid of Honor, and her sons, who walked her down the aisle. Richard's son was his best man. They were well prepared…between the two of them they had 89 years of marriage under their belts.
Joan's advice to others looking for their last true love, post an honest profile, be patient, and be willing to meet after communicating. Do not just email back and forth. It's the in-person meeting that will determine if there is any chemistry. Be sure to post recent photos and be willing to put yourself out there. Joan and Richard are members of the Optimists Club, and Joan continues to create her one of a kind jewelry designs at www.joaniescreatiionsofcornado.com.
After my interviews with Dr. Fisher, it was suggested that I sign onto the websites, Match.com, SeniorPeopleMeet.com and Chemistry.com to see first hand what all the fuss was about. (Drum Roll)…and now the results of my jump into the cold, scary waters of online dating.
At Chemistry.com, I signed on for the free weekend offer, and let's just say that it only lasted 24 hours. Pros to the site: it was a free weekend…cons: they only permit 5 matches per day and they pick'em, and as I said previously, the questionnaire is way too long! The only one I actually communicated with was, to say the least, humorous. His emails were all about him, and eventually told me to go to his website to learn more about him. It reminded me of a commercial that aired many years ago when a guy kept talking about how fabulous he was and then stopped and said, "Enough about me…what do you think about me?"
Match.com with Tom, Dick and Harry…
Tom sounded wonderful on paper, we communicated via email and then on the telephone and decided to meet for lunch on the beach. 1st date, full of animated conversation so a 2nd date was solidified before we said goodbye. Saturday evening was a complete dichotomy of the 1st date…almost no conversation, and believe me I tried. At the end of evening, he grabbed me and tried to plant a kiss, but I pulled away, just in time. He then said, (you cannot make this stuff up folks)…"What do you want for breakfast because I really want you to come home and spend the night with me." Ciao!
Dick was new from the Midwest, and professed that he was in search of the last love of his life. He drove all the way up from Sarasota to have lunch at O'Keefe's. Interesting guy but no chemistry, but I thought I should give him a 2nd chance. He called me the very next day to tell me how much he enjoyed the time we spent together, and would call me in a few days to make plans to have dinner together. He called the next day, and the next, and the next, but never asked for another date. Eventually I just stopped answering his calls.
Harry…(so now you've figured out that the names have been changed, not so much to protect the innocent, but to protect me!)…We met for lunch; he appeared to have fallen in love with me in the first 5 minutes. He said he would do anything I wanted, to please consider moving in with him. OMG, how scary is that! All I could think of is "feet don't fail me now!"
The sites advertise that 1 in 5 relationships begin after meeting on the Internet, but what it doesn't say is how many become long lasting relationships, and just who is taking these polls.
In conclusion, yes, online dating is another way to meet, and the last true love of your life may be a distance away, but beware of what is written or allegedly matched for you. I have discovered through both personal experience, and interviews that everyone is great on paper or in this case, on the internet, but you have to reserve your opinions until you meet in person, and not just for one date.
At the end of the day, most are still meeting the old fashioned way, through friends, family, church or synagogue, or even in the grocery store or at a place of interest that you both may share, i.e., museums, at a wine tasting, concerts, the beach, book or craft shows, etc. People of like mind will find one another, and I do believe that fate plays a part, but you have to be a willing participant with an open mind and heart. Lastly, as Joan said, "put yourself out there, fate is not showing up at your door unannounced!"
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