What Online Dating Profiles Say About Our View Of Aging


Marc Agronin (@MarcAgronin) is a geriatric psychiatrist at Miami Jewish Health in Miami, Florida, and author of the forthcoming book “The End of Old Age: Living a Longer, More Purposeful Life”.

Online dating is growing in popularity among single and divorced people in their 50s and over. And the way people present themselves on their dating profiles says a lot about how we see ourselves later in life.

All the major dating sites cater to this age group, and the use of their services has doubled from 6% to 12% of 55-64 year-olds since 2013, according to the Pew Research Center.

This phenomenon tells us that the search for romance continues unabated with age, although there are differences in how we present ourselves over time.

For example, a recent study by aging researchers Eden Davis and Karen Fingerman at the University of Texas at Austin, examined 4,000 profiles of people between the ages of 18 and 95 from two major online dating services. Using an analysis of the word choices in these profiles, Davis and Fingerman found that younger daters tended to use more singular first person pronouns (“I”, “me” and “my”). and descriptions of work, accomplishments and negative emotions. compared to older daters, who used more first-person plural pronouns (“we”, “we” and “our”) and emphasized relationships with others as well as positive emotions.

These results supported several key assumptions they had about aging; that is, that older people prioritize social connections, good health and positive emotional experiences.

Studies by Pew and Davis-Fingerman show us that aging is not a barrier to seeking love, and that younger and older adults share many of the same goals and ways of presenting themselves to others. potential partners. “Even up to a very old age,” says Fingerman, also a gerontologist, “people share the same ideas about what makes them attractive.”

Thus, words that emphasize being “lovable” and “lovable” were seen in all dating profiles, from young to old. Both groups sought to emphasize their appealing qualities looking for romance and sex.

Self-presentations from older daters suggest that they are quite happy with their existing social relationships, but hope to expand them. Fingerman described to me how a key age difference builds over time, with younger daters hoping that a potential mate will fill a void for them as a new social bond, and most older daters looking to add. a new partner to an established and robust social platform.

As a result, their profiles use more pronouns “we” and “we” which emphasize friends and family.

Such depictions show that 40s and beyond are a dynamic and vital time, in stark contrast to fears of decrepitude played by too many items marketed to the aging crowd. For particularly glaring examples, just look at popular birthday cards for 50+ that emphasize themes of shock, surprise, consolation, denial, or even criticism of how whose aging is zero.

Online dating profiles tell us the opposite, that aging brings distinct benefits, including larger and deeper social networks, less reliance on work and success for self-esteem, and a more positive outlook. of life.

The results of the Davis-Fingerman study should therefore give a boost of confidence to people who are considering a dating site. Just like a person searches for a new partner, there are networks of equally interested people who do the same, most of whom are likely to see that person as a source of strength and inspiration with each new connection.

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