MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Yesterday on the program, we explored why divorce rates for Americans over age 50 have doubled in the past 20 years. Well, today, we have a follow-up on baby boomers and Internet dating. It turns out that 40 percent of Americans over 50 are now single; and whether they never married, are widowed or divorced, many of them are looking for love online.
NPR's Ina Jaffe covers aging. She has this report.
INA JAFFE, BYLINE: Fifty-eight-year-old Vicki Cherco had a date the night before we spoke. It went well.
VICKI CHERCO: He was good-looking and funny and nice and thoughtful, and paid for everything and asked for my phone number and said he'd like to call me again. I had a great time.
JAFFE: He even lives fairly close to her home in Libertyville, Ill. She met him on a dating website called OurTime.
CHERCO: It's people more my age - you know, mature, 50; whatever, you know.
JAFFE: Which doesn't mean everyone acts mature. There was her date with this guy.
CHERCO: Very attractive French man who was very charming.
JAFFE: And he noticed her rubbing her sore arm.
CHERCO: And he told me that he does really, really good massages, and I should just come over to his house right now and he would give me a nice massage and in the morning, we could have champagne and chocolate. (Laughter) I'm like hold on, mister. I don't even know your last name. I think I'll just take some Advil and that'll be that.
JAFFE: Cherco, who's divorced, started dating through online websites a few years ago, after her son was grown and she'd had no luck with the conventional methods.
CHERCO: Meet somebody at work, meet somebody at the gym, meet somebody at church.
JAFFE: So her sister-in-law said she should try dating online, and chipped in a little advice.
CHERCO: Have a thick skin, have a sense of humor, just roll with it - and just have fun.
SAM YAGAN: The reality is that online dating, all we do is we just help you set up a first date.
JAFFE: That's Sam Yagan, the CEO of the Match Group. The company owns OurTime, the site that Vicki Cherco uses; plus Match.com and BlackPeopleMeet and OkCupid, a site he co-founded. In fact, Match owns about 30 percent of the online dating universe. That's a $2 billion industry, and growing. Sam Yagan says a big part of that is people age 50 and up.
YAGAN: It is the fastest-growing part of the market. It is a huge part of the market.
AARON BAUM: I mean, it's staggering the number of people who are single in sort of the age range that I'm looking to meet people in.
JAFFE: That's 54-year-old Aaron Baum, of Los Angeles. He's been a successful online dater in the past in that he met his ex-wife on JDate, which caters to Jewish singles.
BAUM: I think were a success story. We were married for six and a half years.
JAFFE: But when that ended, Baum dove back into the dating pool. This time, he's trying the site OkCupid, known for trying to match users by asking them around a zillion questions.
BAUM: They have to do with your ethics, your thoughts on sexuality, your political beliefs.
JAFFE: And so much more.
BAUM: There was one question. It had to do with if your lover asked you to squeal like a dolphin, would you? And I said sure, why not? (Laughter)
JAFFE: (Laughter) Why would they even ask that? OK. What do I know? I haven't dated in a long time.
BAUM: I don't know. Maybe it's a turn-on for some people.
JAFFE: It may sound silly, but Baum really liked the exercise of filling out the profile. But for those who won't want to answer a zillion questions, there's an option run by the AARP. It's a partnership with an online dating site called How About We, as in how about we go to the concert in the park on Sunday?
SAMI HASSANYEH: And automatically, that gives us something in common. It's sort of an icebreaker.
JAFFE: Says Sami Hassanyeh, the AARP's chief digital officer. He says the organization got into the dating business in 2012 because it was part of their social mission.
HASSANYEH: Helping people with isolation, your social interactions, and providing expert advice to help you get back in the dating game.
JAFFE: Hassanyeh says that right now, there are only about 50,000 people signed up for the AARP site. That's not a lot, but many older daters use more than one service. You need to improve the odds, says Aaron Baum.
BAUM: You need to meet a lot of people, sometimes, before you find the right person or who you consider a match. Well, these online sites sort of give you that opportunity. It's literally a numbers game.
JAFFE: Because when you're older, you realize there's no time to waste, says Vicki Cherco.
CHERCO: Life is short, and what if I only live to be 70? And I don't want to spend the last 10 years of my life alone.
JAFFE: She wants what most older online daters want: Find the right person sooner rather than later, and get off of the online dating sites altogether.
Ina Jaffe, NPR News.
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