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Planning Retirement Online

The 50-Plus dating game - does it work? 

Helen Franks investigates 

Laterlife recently received the following email from Jenny, who had joined a dating agency. The real name of the correspondent and certain details have been changed. 

‘I have had a very disappointing first year with a dating agency. I have been told that I am attractive, a nice person, I have an interesting job, 2 grown up children. I joined the agency using the internet as a way to select people. 

I selected 10 profiles of men in my age group (only 10 to start with because some of them look or sound a bit weird!). Out of these, seven of them said they did not wish to meet. Only two said they did wish to meet but one of these did not return my ‘phone call and the other did not turn up for the date! Even though he had a very responsible job and a good education, he did not bother to ring to cancel.

The problem lies with the fact that the ratio of women members to men is about 4:1 and the 50+ men are spoilt for choice. This means that  many of the men don't put their photos on the Internet. I think most women feel safer if they can see who they're meeting, even if he doesn’t look like Robert Redford!

Because they have more choice, men don't need to travel more than about 20
miles from home to find someone. So that even if I'm prepared to travel further afield, the men are not.

Eventually, I met someone who was very pleasant, but he seemed very unsure of himself. His wife had dumped him after a long marriage, a recent dating partner had also got fed up with his indecisiveness and started dating someone else. I suspect he wants someone younger than me, though we got on well. 

I wrote to the dating agency about my disappointment and they said that part of the problem was that I live near the coast, so that 50% of my  membership radius is in the sea! The good thing about the agency is that they interview members in their own home, so that I feel secure in meeting strangers. They ‘phoned me when they got my letter and said I should keep trying, and they gave me a discount. 

However, the overall feeling so far is one of being rejected and emotionally drained, which is exactly the feeling I was trying to get away from following my divorce! I would be interested to know if any other women in the 50+ age group feel the same.

Yours sincerely, Jenny  W. 


Laterlife decided to talk to the major dating agency Club Sirius, which is keen to promote dating for the 50-plus age group. Helen Franks put various questions arising from Jenny’s email to Jasmine Friedlander, who is spokesperson for Club Sirius and for Elite Introduction Agency.   


Helen:   Where is the best place to find men of 50-plus joining dating agencies?

Jasmine: In and around London and other big cities. Scotland has fewer men joining an agency. Men are more wary of joining. Around 90% of the 50-plus age group are divorced or widowed.

Helen:  How do you recruit more men?

Jasmine:  We aim at target groups and advertise in newspapers. The Sunday Times, for instance, has a large 50-plus readership. Sports publications are another possible source.

Helen: Is the internet a good way for your clients to select partners?

Jasmine:  We get the best results from web sites nowadays, for all age groups.  Our clients can select from photographs and they get profiles and postcodes.

Helen:  Do men and women of 50-plus have different priorities?

Jasmine:  Men initially look for appearance; women for profession and height.  Both tend to be wary about any new relationship. It would be a big step, giving up their lifestyle or their home. Children can complicate the picture. 

Helen:  Jenny talks about the difficulty of finding men within a certain radius. 

Jasmine:   We always tell our members that they must be prepared to travel. If there is a big pool of people, 30 miles is usually enough. But for older people or anyone living in a remote area, we say you must be prepared to look up to 50 or 60 miles away. We recommend that people meet halfway.

Helen:  Jenny felt that she had met comparatively few people over a period of a year.

Jasmine:  Meeting someone suitable could take a year or longer. On the other hand, you could be lucky. One couple of 50-plus met within two months. We have an 89-year-old who gets about two referrals a year and is perfectly happy with that. Not everyone wants a permanent companion.

Helen:  Are men worse than women at not turning up or not replying?

Jasmine:  Sadly yes, though women do it too. When we receive a complaint we always follow it up. Sometimes the person just couldn’t say no over the ‘phone.  We email or send a letter to these people and will put them on hold till they respond.

Helen:   How do you help members overcome a sense of rejection when they get few or no responses?

Jasmine:  We have a members’ hotline open seven days a week. We are aware that rejections and lack of responses can damage confidence, and our staff try to give advice. We may suggest altering the profile and the way it is worded. But sometimes it is very difficult to comment when it’s a matter of looks.

Helen:  Do you offer advice if you feel people are shy or perhaps have a poor approach?

Jasmine:  We know some people are a bit too keen on telling their personal story, so then we say hold back a bit at first, especially on the ‘phone. We suggest making a simple introduction, stating the facts and suggesting a meeting place, and then perhaps having a general conversation if that seems possible.

Helen:  You hold social evenings. Are these for specific age groups?

Jasmine:  We tend to hold drinks parties, usually for all age groups. Some women will attend, maybe bring a friend along, and they’ll have a good time, though they might not meet anyone. We have hosts who introduce people. At one of our ‘themed events’ where we have ice-breaker activities like finding the other half of a famous couple, over 150 people came.

Helen:  Do you ever ask men whether they are looking for a much younger partner?

Jasmine: No. But if someone of 50-plus says they only want to meet people of around thirty, we say sorry, we’re not the right agency for you. They’d be getting wrong expectations.  We consider that an age difference of up to about 10 years is more realistic. 

PS When we last contacted Jenny, she said that she’d had several dates with one person, though the relationship did not develop into anything permanent.  She is still a member of the agency, but is also looking to other ways to expand her social circle. She says her next big challenge is to go on a Solo's Holiday, and we look forward to hearing all about it. Meanwhile, we repeat Jenny’s request  for other women’s experiences and will pass on to her any news, views, tips or information. 

And how about hearing from the men?

Contact with your comments.


Lover come back?

Friends Reunited

While it is no great revelation that 79% of reunion website users are
seeking to find long-lost friends, it is surprising that a significant 55%
are interested in finding an Old Flame.

And are they all young, free and single? Far from it.

Those who fancy a fling with an Old Flame are mainly between the ages of 45
and 64 years old, married, predominantly male (70%) and more likely to come
from Wales, the north-west and from overseas.

Nostalgia and curiosity seem to be the driving forces that motivate people
to try to contact former lovers; and the primary aim is to find out what has
happened to them over the years.

Rather than rekindle a relationship, the majority (64%) would just like to
contact their Old Flames via email to update them on their news. However one
in six actually wants to meet up and 7% are keen to try and rekindle the
flames of passion with a former boyfriend or girlfriend.

The survey concludes with the fact that 75% of respondents believe that the
usage of reunion sites has no effect at all on their existing relationship.
A mere 1% think that a real crisis - like separation or divorce - might
result from using them. is the UK website for finding old friends, colleagues and lovers.

laterlife interest

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