Monday, March 05, 2007

Dating boom is not just for the under-40 set

The youngest baby boomers will turn 43 this year and the oldest boomers just turned 60.

These boomers are the fastest-growing population of singles. reports that over-50 singles are their most lucrative demographic. Imagine that! Just one generation ago, love and sex were relegated to the under-40 set. A life of grandkids, bridge and table tennis were on the agenda for the over-40s.

Today, it's romance and sex for the generation who made their name in the free-love era.

And therein lies the problem -- many boomers never negotiated for safe sex. It wasn't even on the radar. You either celebrated the pre-AIDS days of birth-control-pill-protected sex or you married the person who was intended to be your lifelong sexual partner.

Chicago Sun-Times

Why I yelled 'cunt' at my cable company's automated answering system or HUMAN problems require HUMAN solutions.

Today, boomers in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond are finding themselves newly single -- either due to outliving their partner or to divorce. And being out on the dating scene again can be daunting. Many of this generation never so much as said the word "condom" or had much experience dating.

Still, an AARP survey of singles in their 40s, 50s and 60s found that half of respondents believe that sex is a crucial part of a good relationship and a happy life. And 34 percent of 40-plus women are dating a younger man! Singles in their 60s were found to be the happiest members of the bunch.

However, amid the boom of boomer dating, there is a demographic that gets left behind. The tail end of the boomer generation, as well as the prior generation, have an epidemic of widows who have lost their spouses. According to the AARP, there are four times as many widows as widowers. Nearly one-third of women age 55 and older lost a spouse and remain unmarried, while just 9 percent of men do.

The trend of boomer dating could provide some inspiration to these women.

Many widows feel a sense of guilt about dating again. She may feel as though she's committing adultery. She may feel that her "goose is cooked" sexually or that she doesn't deserve romantic happiness anymore, now that her partner has gone. Men don't seem as plagued by these feelings and limitations.

There also is the issue of children -- whose disapproval of dating after the death of a parent can be profound. Many women just give up or wouldn't know where to begin if they did want to date.

The good news is that the benefits of dating don't change with age. Everyone has some reason for being single, and there is no reason to spend the rest of your years alone.

Dating in the golden years means most of those "rules" laid down when you were younger don't apply anymore. Most widows and widowers are not looking to marry again. They're looking for someone to enjoy their days with. The beauty is that both of you understand how precious every day is -- life itself offers this perspective, as does the loss of a spouse. Dating as a widow offers a tremendous appreciation for quality time together.

Half of older singles meet their new love interests through friends, neighbors and relatives. And the other half? They are probably getting involved in new activities and maybe even venturing online.

So don't be afraid to get back out there. Life is waiting.