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This makes quite a comparison to how many young people organize their first dates, which usually involve meeting up in a bar.
Several of today’s dating services are built specifically around this concept: Grouper, for example, hooks up groups of young people in bars and offers them a free first drink as part of the package. The fundamental premise behind most dating services for young people is that the ultimate goal is to find love and marriage.
More than any other activity, dinner is where older adults feel the isolation of being alone most strongly.
This is why, for most older adults, a dinner date is the most important first step towards finding companionship.
Because no matter how old you get, one thing about human nature never changes: nobody likes feeling lonely.
Some are seeking someone to have dinner with, some are looking for someone to travel with them, others are looking for someone to share their favorite activities. There is an entire spectrum of dating that goes far beyond the marriage-oriented online dating services available today. Far more than their younger counterparts, older adults feel much more comfortable evaluating a potential match in the real world instead of online.
It’s always fun to have attraction, romance, and flirting. Which goes a long way to explaining the next point … That’s right, instead of texting and messaging, they actually prefer to talk to someone on the phone to find out if they like them. All the Millennials out there are shaking their heads, wondering why on earth anyone would like to talk on the phone when they can instant message instead.
That’s why we’re currently working on a number of features for Stitch to ensure that the people you meet are who they say they are. We’ve found older adults to be far more refreshingly open-minded. In case you hadn’t figured it out by now, all the differences we’ve described above lead most older adults to conclude that, well, online dating is not a positive experience at all.
One thing that many dating services have in common is using fancy algorithms to help you find a partner based on a dazzling array of filters you provide them. Whether it was the Jewish 82-year-old, who admitted in her youth she would have only accepted “a handsome Jewish boy” but now “doesn’t mind about their background as long as they are kind”, or the 59-year-old devout Catholic who had never considered dating Protestants when she was younger, we found an incredible willingness to judge potential partners on their personality and shared interests than any pre-conceived notions of who the “right” partner might be. It’s built around the needs of younger generations, who care a lot about age, about appearances, about filtering out potential matches based on arbitrary criteria, who are happy to spend inordinate amounts of time online, browsing and scrutinizing potential matches.
Part of this is probably the wisdom that comes with age, but even more significant is an essential truth about how age works.