Martha Stewart has officially entered the online dating world with a Match.com profile at the age of 71. She says, “I’m told that I’m a specific person, and that the efficiency of online dating might be a good way for me to find that needle in the haystack.”
It’s a perfectly reasonable decision; this is a woman taking charge of her golden years, unafraid to ask for what she wants, and courageous enough to put herself out there in the online dating scene. So why has the media had a field day mocking, criticizing, and judging her? It’s simple. People want to think of Martha Stewart running her business, making Mother’s Day brunch scones, and assembling flower arrangements in her “Skylands” mansion in Maine. People don’t want to think of a woman that age who wants love, intimacy and yes, sex.
But Stewart is not alone in her new pursuit. The 60 and over group is fastest-growing among online daters, with countless sites tailored specifically for them, such as ourtime.com, seniormatch.com, cougarlife.com, and even eharmony.com, with a high over-60 demographic. And don’t think it’s just the women getting touch with their sensual side. Just ask Hal Spielman. The author of Suddenly Solo even took to the Today Show to share his story.
Socialization is key to lifelong health and longevity. In some cultures, the death or divorce of a spouse means being a social outcast, dependent on the charity of the community and adult children. Those over 60 are rejecting that stereotype, and the Internet has given us more opportunities than ever to find like-minded friends and significant others. Not surprisingly, numerous studies note that people with high socialization live longer and have better memory than those who aren’t as social. And – you guessed it – those having sex are 20 percent more likely to have a higher quality of life, reporting they are ‘very happy.’
But that doesn’t mean the golden agers are all looking for happily-ever-after, either. Many seniors are perfectly happy cohabitating and having casual hook-ups without tying the knot (again). For some that might mean getting another lesson in safe sex. Adult sex education groups are springing up including Our Whole Lives (OWL), featured on Oprah.com. The group was intended for adults aged 20 through mid-30s, but they found more popularity with an older demographic seeking to reclaim their sexuality.
It’s a new world, and aging today isn’t what it used to be. We’re more active, mentally engaged, and working further past traditional retirement age than our predecessors. Why should love, relationships and sex be any different?
Martha Stewart is brave not only to admit what she wants but to ask for it. She should be an inspiration for other ‘never-tirees’ to pursue all we want out of life – especially if that means finding meaningful relationships. (And for some, even one-night stands!) We don’t stop living just because we’re older. Maybe the same commentators that criticized Stewart will understand once they hit 60.