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To those who began dating before the rise of online dating sites, then, finding a date or a mate usually meant seeking possibilities for face-to-face contact with one or more potential eligibles. Against this experiential backdrop, individuals in older cohorts may find the notion of turning to computers and the Internet to find romance rather more unconventional and counternormative than do today's younger adults.
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Second, younger adults may also be more skilled in the use of the Internet for nonwork-related purposes. Whereas many older adults may have first encountered the Internet in workplace or educational environments, younger persons are more likely to have been introduced to the social uses of the Internet along with or before its more utilitarian applications.
They may thus be more comfortable using the Internet as a social and relationship-building tool certainly social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook have provided online resources designed for the maintenance of relationships than individuals whose early lives did not include the Internet and thus more likely to view the process of meeting romantic partners online as a simple and natural extension of their efforts to meet partners through face-to-face means.
Research on other aspects of Internet behavior provides a basis for expecting a generational gap in patterns of Internet use e. To our knowledge, however, researchers have yet to undertake systematic examinations of the possibility that age may be an important correlate of people's online dating behaviors and involvement.
Indeed, most published reports in this area do not discuss issues of age at all. Nevertheless, a review of the literature on Internet-initiated romantic relationships provides some support for our contention that attitudes toward and experiences in relationships developed online might vary with age. For example, Donn and Sherman examined the attitudes of undergraduates the vast majority of whom were between the age of 18 and 20 and 76 Ph.
Overall, both groups exhibited negative attitudes toward using the Internet to meet potential romantic partners. However, compared to the graduate student subsample, undergraduate respondents were significantly more negative in their evaluations of Internet dating and those who engage in it. Undergraduates also expressed significantly greater concern with issues surrounding trust and safety relative to graduate students, although both groups were sensitive to the possible risks in these domains.
Finally, undergraduates were less likely than graduate students to report considering using the Internet to meet potential partners or actually having used the Internet for that purpose. A rather more favorable picture of online dating—or at least of online daters—emerged in Brym and Lenton's large-scale survey of members of a Canadian online dating service.
Contrary to stereotypes of online daters popular at the time of the study, and in direct contrast to the prejudicial views held by participants especially the undergraduates in the Donn and Sherman study, Brym and Lenton found that their sample of online daters was in fact more sociable offline than the general Canadian population.
Their respondents were highly involved in clubs and organizations, visited relatives often, and frequently engaged in social and leisure pursuits with others. Together with the lines of argument we developed above, these two studies highlight the need for further research investigating age in the context of Internet dating. The Donn and Sherman results suggest that older and younger respondents may differ in their attitudes toward and willingness to engage in dating on the net.
The majority of their participants had never used the Internet to initiate a romantic relationship, however, thus limiting our ability to generalize their findings to online daters.
The Brym and Lenton study, in contrast, sampled active members of a popular online dating site. Their results corroborate findings that older adults are active in online dating and call into question stereotyped views—shown in Donn and Sherman to be rather prevalent among younger adults at least those with little or no involvement in online dating —which cast online daters as lonely and desperate Anderson, ; Wildermuth, At the same time, Brym and Lenton did not examine respondent age as a variable of interest.
Consequently, the extent to which their participants' attitudes toward, involvement in, and experiences with online dating varied with age remain empirical questions. The analyses presented in this paper were intended to build on the contributions of these earlier studies.
Following Donn and Shermanwe investigated respondent age as an important variable in its own right. Following Brym and Lentonwe recruited Internet users with at least some exposure to Internet personals ads and online dating sites. We sought to answer the following three research questions: Is age associated with involvement in online dating?
Is age associated with satisfaction with offline methods of meeting people? Is age associated with the likelihood that participants have disclosed to friends and family the fact that they use the Internet to meet people?
Age and Involvement in Online Dating Our review of reasons to expect that age might be an important variable to consider in understanding the pursuit of online romance suggested two competing hypotheses regarding the direction of any correlation 3 we might observe between age and measures of extent of involvement in online dating and the use of Internet personals ads.
If this were the case, we would expect involvement in online dating to decrease with age. On the other hand, we also reasoned that a variety of contextual life changes associated with increasing age might intensify individuals' motivation to seek new partners while both making it more difficult for older individuals to meet people through offline means and increasing the appeal of dating methods that confer benefits in terms of time and efficiency, size of the pool, and the ability to screen and select potential partners.
If this were the case, we would expect involvement in online dating to increase with age. Accordingly, we tested the following competing predictions: Individuals will be more apt to engage in online dating the younger they are. Individuals will be more apt to engage in online dating the older they are. Age and Satisfaction With Other Methods of Meeting People Regardless of whether involvement in online dating increases or decreases with age, we expected to find a negative association between respondent age and rated satisfaction with non-Internet ways of finding romantic partners.
This hypothesis was predicated in part on the assumption that, given older adults' reduced access to natural social institutions Hitsch et al. We thus predicted that: But for most single people I know life is pretty good. Being on the shelf is only a problem if your shelf is dull.
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In fact, the older you get, the more interesting your shelf is likely to become and the harder it is to be coaxed off. And we are extending our own shelf-life everyday by staying fitter, healthier and more attractive for longer. Women are no longer crying into their Chardonnay.
Singles are more likely to be playing capoeira; dining at secret supper clubs; running with the Good Gym or digging up their home-grown kale. Which is why dating is such a problem.
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Why would you want to spend an excruciating hour getting to know a complete stranger when you could be enjoying ukulele karaoke with your mates or learning to make gin? Today in Britain one in five heterosexual couples met online and a whopping 70 per cent of homosexual couples found their partner via the web.
New research is suggesting there could be very real problems with internet dating. Michigan State University found that married couples who met online are three times more likely to divorce than those who met face to face.
And online daters are 28 per cent more likely to split from their partners within the first year. Even the CEO of Match admits that online dating cycles are shorter because people are more willing to leave unsatisfying relationships.
In that way, sexual attraction is similar to hunger. And the chances of opposites attracting?