Add some art or culture in between and it could be fun." That got him a few dates, including one woman he's seen several times since.
What's somewhat ironic is that young singles who are so digitally immersed are at the forefront of this move to meet face-to-face."People of my generation, in our 20s, think a one-on-one date — especially a blind date — can be a lot of pressure. By early next year, it aims for 10 more cities in the USA and Canada and will add London."I cringe a little when people describe it as online dating," Waxman says. The typical experience for a Grouper member is to spend about five minutes on our website and about two hours at a bar with your friends."Online dating industry consultant Mark Brooks, who has worked for many such sites, including POF (Plentyoffish), says the AARP move into dating seems smart."Seniors is a very good niche," he says.
We've found most of our relationships — whether romantic relationships or just friends — happen a little more organically. "Most dating sites skew toward guys, with more guys than women. Being a 75-year-old single man is the equivalent of being a 21-year-old hottie."That's good news for AARP member Judith Schwartz, 65, of Clermont, Fla., an IT consultant and adjunct professor of computer science who began online dating after her husband died in 2008."The younger men were primarily interested in sex and the older men were primarily interested in having somebody take care of them," she says.
We don't like to even call them dates," says Michael Waxman, 26, co-founder and CEO of Grouper, which launched last year in New York. "I did go on several dates and they're just not what they advertised themselves to be."AARP won't have a clear field for the older singles market.
But now the order is reversed: a growing number of sites are geared to helping users plan offline activities to size each other up and decide if they've got chemistry.
Most dating websites used to focus on helping singles get acquainted with extended online communication before meeting face-to-face.
And everybody's getting into the act — even the AARP.
The 54-year old nonprofit, best known for lobbying on behalf of the 50+ crowd, for the last several years has been repackaging itself to appeal more to the younger end of its constituency: a quarter of the group's 37 million members are single and more than half of the singles are younger than 70, AARP says.
So the organization is launching its own dating enterprise, in partnership with an up-and-coming site called How About We.com, which solicits ideas for interesting dates, then connects potential partners who like the suggestions and want to go out.
Its traffic jumped 221% in the past year, according to Com Score."The core idea was to build an offline dating site that made it easy for people to say what they want to do for a date, connect and get offline," says Brian Schechter, 33, co-founder and co-CEO of How About We, which launched two years ago.
Although he just turned 50 in September and isn't an AARP member, Ken Nicholas signed up with How About We this fall because he "liked the premise of taking it offline."Nicholas, a sales consultant in Los Angeles, was married for 12 years; he says it was difficult to get back into dating after his divorce was finalized in August.
He had tried a few online dating sites with "really terrible experiences."His date suggestion: "How about we start with coffee and end with wine.