Miércoles 20 de Junio de 2007, Ip nº 195

Boomer seeks date, has PC skills
Por Tralee Pearce

Jeff Moulden may have met The One online this week. But as he awaits her next move in the modern dating dance, the Toronto salesman has an old-fashioned case of butterflies in the stomach.

"It happens almost every time," says the 45-year-old. "I don't want to be single."

Mr. Moulden, who describes himself as an attractive and environmentally aware guy who loves food and wine, playing hockey and sleeping in on a rainy day, has been looking for dates online for 3½ years on three different sites.

"I picked up on it as a way to meet people I otherwise wouldn't," says Mr. Moulden, who has never been married. "When you're younger, there are more social events - and parties. Nobody has parties any more and the bar scene fades away in your 30s."

While he still believes in the magic of meeting a woman in the "real world," he is one of a growing number of baby boomers logging on in the name of romance.

In the past two years, the baby boomer demographic - aged 42 to 61 - has become the fastest-growing segment of the market, says Lavalife.com's CEO, Marina Glogovac.

This week, Lavalife launched LavalifePrime.com, a branch of the online dating service specifically targeting the single baby boomer.

It's a savvy business move. Boomers are affluent and see themselves as young, vibrant and datable. There are a lot of them. And although online dating is nothing new, boomers are finally embracing the medium en masse.

About one-third of the 85 million boomers in North America are single, says Ms. Glogovac, and 70 per cent of them call themselves Internet-savvy, according to the American Association of Retired People (AARP).

One of Lavalife.com's competitors, Match.com, reports the baby boomer segment has grown by more than 340 per cent since 2000.

The 1,500 North American singles who have already signed up for LavalifePrime.com aren't just thinking marriage or sex. As part of the standard profile options, boomers can click "kids and empty nest" as a topic of discussion and search for "activity partners" to accompany them to the theatre or on hiking trips.

Boomers can also post photos and video clips on a "life experiences" board, where handsome men with crinkly Harrison Ford eyes brag about the birth of their grandchildren and share images of themselves sailing.

"It's about your life experiences and where you've been," Ms. Glogovac says. "Your mind is sexy."

For single boomer women in particular - only 14 per cent of whom are looking for marriage, according to AARP, compared with 22 per cent of boomer men - online dating appeals to their healthy sense of self, experts say.

"They are better educated and more affluent than any other generation of women ever before" Ms. Glogovac says. "They know what they want."

Toronto artist Sue, 57, once almost signed up for a matchmaking service - until she discovered the cost was $8,000 for six dates.

Sue, who asked that her real name not be published, is encouraged by the online dating successes of a number of friends and acquaintances. Now she's intrigued by a site tailored to her demographic.

"That would be wonderful," she says. "That would also entice more people to sign up for it and take it seriously."

Jeffrey Schlotman, a 54-year-old dentist in White Plains, N.Y., who divorced four years ago, has been using Lavalife.com for two years. He says he joined LavalifePrime to meet women who are at the same stage of life as he is - he's not into arm candy.

"Not that it wasn't flattering to hear from women in their 20s and 30s, but that's not what I'm into," Dr. Schlotman says. "It's fun for about a minute. It's so much more rewarding to have a conversation about my own era."

A lover of travel, theatre and pre-war architecture, he enjoyed lunch yesterday with a 52-year-old woman he met on LavalifePrime who attended the same college. They've booked a second date to see Spamalot in New York City.

"It's great to have so much in common," he says.

Many boomers find dating in midlife is less stressful than when they were younger, says sociologist and dating expert Pepper Schwartz of the University of Washington. "When you're younger, you don't know who has character because they haven't had enough time to figure it out or display it," she says.

After her own 23-year marriage ended when she was 55, Dr. Schwartz decided to try online dating, a field she has researched and worked in as a consultant.

In a book to be published next week called Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years, she chronicles her dating adventures - including characters such as Mario, her charming first date who never called back, and Ed, the man who wore a deal-breaking pinkie ring and kissed like he was trying to break her teeth.

"Dating is never a piece of cake," says Dr. Schwartz, now 62. "But it's easier now because I like myself better and I know what I'm about. If I get rejected, it's okay. It's not the end of the world. And if I have to reject somebody, I hope I'm nicer about it than when I was younger."

In keeping with the take-charge ethos of their generation, Dr. Schwartz says boomers see online dating as just one more venue for taking their personal lives into their own hands. It may be akin to playing the lottery - you can't win if you don't play.

"Part of the luck of meeting someone online is that you went and tried in the first place."

Long-time boomer single Jan Morrison agrees. A psychotherapist in Prospect, N.S., she was about to leave the world of online dating five years ago when a friend suggested she take one last look.

That's how Dr. Morrison found her mate of five years, with whom she built a house.

"You have to be willing to put yourself out there. Online dating was perfect for that."

  31/05/2007. The Globe and Mail.