Tag Archives: love

Online dating after 60: liars, cads and bores

July 8, 2013
George Clooney
George Clooney

“Bloody boring” is the way Carole Lethbridge describes the man who seemed perfect for her. He was caring, decent, and interested in a relationship. “But too ordinary,” she says. This is the trouble when you’re a dynamic, financially independent woman in your 60s trawling the online dating sites for love. Just about every man out there seems to be a creep, a scammer, a liar or dull. Well, not every man. Matthew, the smoothie she fell for, was a two-timing cad who broke her heart.

Who would have thought in our 20s or 30s – when some of us were desperate and dateless – that the same feelings could return to plague us in our 50s, 60s and 70s? The search for love and meaningful sex, for a partner with zing, can be more fraught the second or third time around. In Carole’s case, it was the fifth time around. She’d been a sucker for bad marriages and had four divorces behind her by the time she launched herself into online dating at the age of 65.

Carole is not the first Australian to chronicle her experiences with online dating. But her hilarious book Online Dating After 60 explodes a few myths about older women: that they’re sexless, for one. If anything, you can’t help feeling sorry for some of the men.

The days of stigma and secrecy about online dating are long gone. Fifty-one per cent of adults have used an online dating service or would consider using one, a new Nielsen survey of 3,500 Australians for the dating site RSVP.com reveals. And 35 per cent of people aged 61 and over were similarly well-disposed towards online dating. “It gave me more options than just sitting knitting in my mountain village,” said Carole, who’d moved to the Blue Mountains and knew hardly anyone.

But it’s a dispiriting journey she takes us on. Smooth Matthew, the cad, is her first online date, and she can’t believe her luck. After the heartbreaking bust-up with him, no-one can match up – not the pensioner who couldn’t afford a $2.30 biscuit but grabbed her hand under the table and put it on his penis on their first date; nor the bankrupted property developer who lived with his sister and was looking for a woman with a house and a car; nor Barry who didn’t resemble his photograph in any way…….Not many mature-age men, it turns out, look like George Clooney.

And then there are the men who came to look at her online profile and went by such names as: Strong Boy – 71-year-old; Come Ride Me – 57-year-old; Big Rod – 70-year-old; Jack Hammer – 56-year-old. A man she met, another whose online picture bore no resemblance to reality, said when she pointed this out: “Most women don’t mind what I look like because I’m so good in bed. Are you going to come home with me?” She loved sex, but not boors or bores and she wanted a relationship not a fling.

At the other end of the machismo spectrum were the clearly unsuitable matches for a woman with a background in business, a big personality and a penchant for stilettos:  the self-described “quiet, reserved person” who eschewed the “flash life” and was keen on doing “a bit of caravanning,” for example.

People do meet the love of their life online. I know of three. In the US a new study from the University of Chicago shows one in three Americans who married between 2005 and 2012 had met online – including through social media, chat rooms, and email – and half of these had met through an internet dating service. Surprisingly these online marriages were proving to be happier than marriages that had their genesis in more traditional milieus like bars or parties perhaps because of motivation or screening, or the sheer volume of opportunities.

Even so, I had to wonder at some point why Carole persevered in her online search for love, especially as the years rolled on. She puts it down to a longing for the caring she never got as a child. As well, here is a woman who is “rage, raging” against the loss of youth. She refuses to conform to stereotypes and expectations of a single woman heading to 70. Not for her the obligatory short hair, the immersion in the life of grandchildren and gardening, and contentment with a circle of women friends. She loathes talk of the “$2.50 club” whose members use their cut-price rail tickets for special outings. And she despises talk about ailments. Retirement has never suited her.

You want to cheer, “Go girl!” And at the same time you want to caution: “There’s more to life than a spouse – there’s a lot to be said for gardening, grandchildren, friends and work,” though that’s easy for me to say from the haven of a relationship.

But are too many older women hanging out for a George Clooney? Is all this online dating with endless availability making people too picky, too harsh on each other, to quick to find one another “ordinary”, too ready to think the next person will be better?  Or at any age, as I’ve written before in relation to octogenarian lovers, is chemistry still the vital ingredient, and without it, there’s just no point?

Enquiries and pre-orders for the book email: onlinedatingafter60@gmail.com

What’s your experience?  What do you think about online dating? Please click on Comments.

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Truly madly deeply: a late-life affair

April 15, 2013
best old lovers pic google

Not for the first time I’m getting love lessons from an 85-year-old. And it’s not the quiet, companionate kind of love she’s talking about. My old family friend has fallen passionately, unquietly, obsessively in love, and she doesn’t mind telling the world.

She is surprised to be grabbed by love at her age but her sons, in their late 50s, are amazed. Nothing prepares the younger generation for their parent’s mad love affair; not when their parent has lived out a decade of unremarkable widowhood, and before that almost 50 years of stolid marriage. Not when their parent is 85 for heaven’s sake. You tend to think, with the hubris, the ignorance of youth and middle-age, that there’s a cutting off point for falling in love. And if your own love-life is on the rocks, if you’re trawling haplessly through internet dating sites, you might feel, if not disgusted, then annoyed, even jealous.

At the hairdresser’s, leafing through magazines, you might have come across an article about old people – nursing home residents perhaps – getting married. But maybe you thought, as I once did, it’s for the sweet companionship, for the comfort. You didn’t think it was because they couldn’t bear to be apart from each other, not even for five minutes, because their heart leapt when the other came into the room.

This is how my family friend talks. She hates it when he goes; she’s aflutter when he arrives. To the uninitiated she looks like a little old lady. But the heart, it turns out, is ageless. She is euphoric; even her voice has changed. “I only wish I could give you some of my happiness,” she says. At 81 he’s “very fit”, she tells her friends; he’s her soul mate.  It was at the retirement village’s bingo night that he formally told the other residents they were in love. He kissed her in front of the assembled players; then he took her home. Two weeks later he hasn’t left.

I’m no longer amazed at the love affairs of elderly people. My dear, departed father-in-law when he was falling in love in his mid-80s told me he felt like a youngster. “The touch of her hand sends me crazy,” he told me. His son didn’t know where to look. “It’s the same feeling I had in my 20s. I didn’t think it could happen again,” he said, “but it has.”

This is the man who had given us lessons in the other kind of love – the patient, devoted, enduring kind. He had nursed through 15 years of dementia the only woman he had ever loved. When his wife died, women with casseroles and caresses came. His indifference was total till lightning struck, chemistry fizzed, the thrill of mutual heart-pounding attraction hit – in church no less – where the sweet 80-year-old dispenser of bibles slipped him a note.

Gazing upon these octogenarian lovers, we can learn some lessons about love. In their happiness and years, they are so uninhibited. Their love is coloured by a sense of urgency. There’s no time to waste. There’s a wonderful Paul Cox film called Innocence. A couple falls madly in love in their 70s. The woman is unhappily married. When her husband learns about the affair he thinks his wife is mad and needs a psychiatrist.  It’s impossible to fall in love at 70, he tells his adult son. But the couple feels “love becomes more real and fulfilling the closer you come to death.”

Perhaps some adult children wish their widowed parents might live out their last years in quiet dignity, not shot through with giddy passion. Perhaps some worry about the inheritance, gold diggers, Lotharios. Perhaps some urge their parent to show more caution instead of revelling in this ‘to-hell-with-them-all’ abandonment. But surely we should wish them well. What a lesson they’re teaching us – we’re never too old to fall in love.

What’s your experience? (Click on ‘comments’)

Coming of Age is updated every Monday