The Dating Game's Senior Circuit: Rules Have Changed
TIMONIUM, Md. – The bell rang, and Dorothy Binder greeted the man taking a seat across from her.
“I want to tell you that I’m very nervous, but I’m here to have a good time today,” said Binder, a petite redhead in her 80s. “So, um, what do you like to do?”
“Well, uh, I like to go to restaurants and go to the opera,” said Clewell Howell, a retired lawyer. The 76-year-old rested his chin on his hand and smiled, his blue eyes warm behind thick glasses.
Around the table at the “speed-dating” event last week in Timonium, other seniors chatted in pairs about hobbies and grandchildren, while nodding and scribbling notes. After three minutes, the bell rang again and the men sat down with different partners, starting a new round of self-conscious conversations.
As people are living longer and changing their ideas about old age, more seniors are dating than ever before, experts say. But many older people find that the rules of the game have changed drastically since the last time they dated, four or five decades ago.
These days, seniors are as likely to meet through online dating services or singles cruises as bingo games. Older women are confidently setting boundaries — such as refusing to cook or clean for a man — even though older single women greatly outnumber older single men. And while bringing protection once meant a purse full of mad money, seniors must now be aware of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.