Valentine’s Day 2019 has come and gone, leaving in its wake warm and fuzzy memories and wilting red roses.
But not for everyone.
Older Americans, it seems, are increasingly striking out on their own by choice and by choices made by Mother Nature. According to data released by the Senior List, divorce is rising among Baby Boomers — people born to parents in the post-World War II years 1946-1964. For Boomers, now aged 55-73, the divorce rate has tripled. For those 50 to 65, it has merely doubled over the last few decades.
This is a contributing factor to television and online ads for dating apps targeted to seniors — ads featuring good-looking seniors smiling and chatting as they maneuver online dating and meet other attractive seniors to ride bikes or have cocktails.
The reality, however, is more complicated and less attractive. Most people between 55 and 64 are already married, and the pool of those who are not shrinks daily, as obituaries attest. Throw in various health and financial issues, and senior dating slides down the priority list.
Some states have hotter dating scenes than others, though, and the Senior List has ranked them. The top five states— Maryland, Hawaii, Connecticut, Alaska and Virginia — have relatively low but growing rates of single seniors, in the 12-13 percent range, and That means the dating pools are expanding and that senior singles have disposable incomes to enhance their social lives.
At the other end of the spectrum, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi come in last for senior dating. Their pools of single seniors are declining, though not by much, and none of them have average senior incomes above $50,000. In other words, these states have fewer eligible senior singles.
Where is North Carolina in all this senior dating data?
The Senior List puts the Tar Heel state at No. 43 with about 12 percent of our population in this demographic, which is barely growing and whose average income barely hits $50,000.
It turns out that the most successful place for single seniors to find love is not a state at all. Both women and men 55 and up have the best chance of finding love in Washington, D.C.
Could Congress possibly take credit for this?
For more information, visit www.theseniorlist.com.
The situation may not be so great for Americans on the younger end, either.
In its December 2018 cover story, “The Sex Recession,” The Atlantic reported that for all sorts of reasons, young adults are having less sex. Factors include helicopter parents, living at home into their 30s, fixations on social media, dramatically rising levels of professional and educational achievement of women, and some not generally covered in Up & Coming Weekly. The bottom line is, today’s young folks are starting later, dating less and entering fewer romantic relationships than their parents did.
It is tempting to dismiss these changes as personal situations, but they have significant implications for all of us. America’s declining birthrate is already an issue for colleges and universities, whose pool of traditional applicants is diminishing annually. Will we become a nation of old folks, like Japan and Italy?
Researchers tell us, and we know instinctively, that meaningful relationships of all kinds and at all ages make us happier and help us live longer. Chronic loneliness leads to depression and has been equated to the health risk of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
All of us, no matter our ages and marital status, should make a daily point of putting down our phones, peeling ourselves away from our computers and reaching out to other people. We may help someone else. We may make new friends. We may find a new and more interesting job.
We may even find the loves of our lives.