Single Seniors Find Love Links

You are never too old to make a love connection on cyberspace.

Jane Glenn Haas

McClatchy Tribune Newspapers

November 17, 2009


Interested in meeting a companion? Or maybe a long-term mate?

There are three good ways to do that:

"More people feel comfortable enrolling on these sites today, and they are very successful," says Terri Orbuch, a therapist, university researcher and author of the new book, "Five Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great" (Random House).

Robert Bowers will testify to that.

He became a widower in 2006. And he soon discovered living alone in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., was not his style. But where to meet a woman?

"I had been married to one woman for 47 years, so I didn't feel I needed to know any women," he says.

One day, surfing the Internet, he found seniorpeoplemeet.com, a site devoted to seniors "getting together." He signed up and "Wow! I got so many hits I didn't know where to start! I had a hard time remembering what I said to each one of them."

Bowers, now 75, dated eight or nine of his "hits" until he met Jean, 71, divorced after 46 years of marriage.

"Bob's e-mails were entertaining, witty and humorous and they intrigued me," she says. "I knew he was smart and engaging, seemed romantic and caring as well."

They met for dinner at a restaurant on the lake in Mission Viejo, Calif.

He put a rose on the table.

They were married a year later.

Orbuch is a consultant to seniorpeoplemeet.com, a Web site she praises for separating the ages and creating an "express dating service" for the 50-plus crowd.

"If you are going out face to face, you have one or two dates, come back, try to find another," she says. "This way, you can talk to five or 10 people at once on the internet, then talk on the phone and then decide whom to meet face to face. "You have a lot more control. You can sit in your house in your pajamas at 2 a.m. and you can control where you are e-mailing. Besides, you can actually see what you write and then click and submit it.

"When you're face to face, you can't edit your words."

Control can be empowering, Orbuch says. But she admits all "date-baiters" are not honest in their online profiles. "That's why I tell people to take at least a week e-mailing back and forth so you can tell what's happening. Intimacy develops faster because people feel more comfortable sharing online or on the telephone before they are face-to-face." She tells seniors to expect some rejections. Not everyone is interested in building the same type of relationships, she says. Some just want companionship.

Companionship is what Carol Hamman was looking for six years ago when she moved to California from New York state.

She had been divorced for several years, but she wanted "somebody to go out to dinner and the movies with." Her son suggested she try eharmony.com, one of the largest online dating services. "For three years, I dated a lot of guys. Some were honest and then there were the others, like the guy who said he was 65 and turned out to be 85.

"I met some amazing people. One guy was almost 7 feet tall!"

And then she met Tom Hamman.

She told him she wasn't ready to remarry. And Hamman, whose wife had died two years earlier, said he felt the same way. They were married a few months later and moved into his home in Huntington Beach, Calif.

"These experiences prove it's never too late to find deep love," Orbuch says. "But finding a partner takes time. There may be emotional obstacles - from grieving a death to anger over divorce."

Orbuch counsels the online dating services are useful primarily to people younger than 70.

"People over 70 are more likely to be in communities with others their age," she says. "There is retirement and independent living, as well as nursing home communities. These people just aren't as active with e-mails."

Ah, but the boomers. The newly aging crowd can be eager to create some sort of relationships.

"There are a lot of them," Orbuch says. "Our research with the same couples for 22 years shows 46 percent of them got divorced. They don't necessarily want to continue living alone.

"It's good mental health for them to be united."

Ask the Bowers and the Hammans. They found love is just a "click" away.