Without kids to take care of or jobs to juggle, older adults are forming the kinds of relationships that work for them
Even with that assistance, though, many older Baby Boomers aren’t going on many dates. A 2017 study led by Michael Rosenfeld, a social demographer at Stanford University, found that the percentage of single, straight women who met at least one new person for dating or sex in the previous 12 months was about 50 percent for women at age 20, 20 percent at age 40, and only 5 percent at age 65. (The date-finding rates were more consistent over time for the men surveyed.)
Indeed, the people I spoke with noted that finding someone with whom you’re compatible can be more difficult at their age. Over the years, they told me, they’ve become more “picky,” less willing-or less able-to bend themselves to fit with someone else, as if they’ve already hardened into their permanent selves. Their schedules, habits, and likes and dislikes have all been set for gay hookup spots Philadelphia so long. “If you meet in your 20s, you mold yourselves and form together,” said Amy Alexander, a 54-year-old college-admissions coach. “At this age, there’s so much life stuff that’s happened, good and bad. It’s hard to meld with someone.”
Finding a good match can be particularly hard for straight older women, who outnumber their male counterparts. Women tend to live (and stay healthier) longer, and they also tend to wind up with older men; the older they get, the smaller and older their pool of potential partners grows. “About half of men will go on to repartner,” Susan Brown, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University, told me. “For women, it’s smaller-a quarter at best.” (And divorced men and women ages 50 or older, Brown said, are more likely than widows to form new relationships, while those who never married are the least likely to settle down with someone later on.)
One possible explanation for this gender disparity is that men rely more on their partners-not just when it comes to cooking and housework, but also for emotional and social support. Women are more likely to have their own friends to lean on, and they may not be eager to take care of another man. “For many women, it’s the first time in their life they’ve had independence-they might own a home or have a pension, or something they live off every week,” Malta told me. “They don’t want to share that.”
Still, healthy men are in high demand in assisted-living homes, Brown told me. And many of the older women I spoke with said that they were desperate to find someone active, screening dating profiles for mentions of physical activity and asking sly questions about family health conditions.
They don’t live together-a rule that’s been important for her, as someone who values her independence, loves to travel, and doesn’t want to slow a pace she knows he can’t keep up with
One 85-year-old woman I spoke with, who asked not to be identified in order to protect her privacy, has been dating an 89-year-old man for more than 10 years. His health is significantly worse than hers, and although she loves her partner and says she’ll stay with him, the relationship is getting harder. When she visits him in his retirement home a few times a week, she can sense that his health is declining. “We had wonderful conversations early on, but fewer now because he’s less engaged,” she told me. “It makes me sad to watch it happen.”
For reasons like this and others, a growing number of older people are “living apart together,” meaning they’re in a relationship but don’t share a home. It’s a setup that would have been less accepted in the past but represents today’s less rigid norms for older age.