AARP Launches New Online Dating Service For Older Americans
By Eli Epstein | December 5, 2012 3:43 AM EST
Senescence can be a lonely place. Whether you're widowed, separated, or never tied the knot, the older you get, the tougher it is to meet someone. Combine that with the dearth of tech-savvy senior citizens and you don't exactly have an immense user base for online dating.
The AARP, however, wants to change all of this. To do so, the organization is launching an online dating channel and an online dating site where 37 million of its members, 25 percent of whom are single, can find companionship.
"We know isolation is a very big issue for our members as they age," Nataki Edwards, Vice President of Digital Strategies and Operations at AARP, told ABC News. "It's not necessarily about getting married. It's about the companionship and having fun things to do with someone else."
The new site's philosophy is tailored to how the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers used to date. It stresses face-to-face interactions rather than excessive online conversation. The program aims to introduce users early on in their relationship. Edwards calls it "dating like they used to date."
Shelley Kilburn, 54, enjoys the person-to-person focus. "When you talk to someone in person you get a better image or feeling, you have that ability to use a (woman's intuition), that sixth sense," she tells ABC News.
She says AARP focus on this type of interaction would draw her to their service. She also notes AARP's reputation as a safe haven for seniors as an another reason she'd use the organization's dating technologies.
Even with a streamlined, modern approach to senior dating, AARP admits it has work to do if it wants to enlist reluctant members. Pepper Schwartz, 67, AARP's Love and Relationship ambassador, says older daters aren't normally inclined to use online dating.
"I think most of them go kicking and screaming," she told ABC News. "They wouldn't do this if there was another option."
Schwartz advises seniors to work hard at building their online relationships. To put things into perspective, she asks them if dating was ever that easy, even when they were younger.
To facilitate positive interactions between members, AARP is offering advice as part of its dating services. Not surprisingly, it urges users to avoid talking too much about grandchildren and medical problems early on.
To ease the financial blow, the senior organization is offering a seven-day free trial, then half off after that for members.
AARP isn't a first-mover in the senior dating market -- OurTime is billed as the premier online relationship site for the 50+ crowd -- though the organization is partnering with HowAboutWe.com to ensure that its members spend less time behind their computers and more time on dates.
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