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In the present context, this suggests that increasing age should be associated with intensified desires to find a romantic partner and, particularly, a partner with whom the individual might share an emotionally meaningful and affectively positive bond.In sum, Socioemotional Selectivity Theory provides a theoretical basis for expecting that there may be important associations between age and involvement in dating activity, broadly defined.Second, the theory suggests that age-related variations in time perspective should affect people's goal preferences.In comparison with younger adults, older adults should be relatively more focused on the present and the present-oriented goal of emotional regulation than on the future and future-oriented goals.Indeed, Internet users 55 years of age and older are substantially underrepresented among visitors to online dating sites (com Score, 2003; Madden & Lenhart, 2006).Socioemotional Selectivity Theory (Carstensen, 1995; Carstensen Fung, & Charles, 2003; Carstensen, Isaacowitz, & Charles, 1999) posits that time perspective affects goal setting and selection such that the salience of different goals varies across the lifespan.Based on Socioemotional Selectivity Theory and a consideration of the ways in which Internet dating may provide convenient solutions to some of the particular dating challenges older adults may face, we have argued that there are grounds for expecting that age may be associated with increasing involvement in online dating pursuits.The reality, however, may not be as simple as we have painted it thus far. First, until the advent of online dating sites in the 1990s and their recent and rapid proliferation on the Internet, the tasks associated with finding a romantic partner typically required that individuals meet face to face before they could get to know one another and determine their compatibility as a couple.
In 2004, for example, dating websites and online personals ads generated nearly US 0 million in consumer spending, ranking first in revenue among categories of paid online content (com Score, 2004). More recent statistics demonstrate that interest in online personals ads and dating websites remains high.First, it suggests that older adults should be more likely than their younger counterparts to believe that they are “running out of time” to meet new partners.If, as the theory predicts, aging is associated with shifts in temporal perspective characterized by a sense that the future is diminishing, older adults should be more inclined than younger adults to perceive time as a constraint on their ability to succeed in the romance-seeking enterprise.Indeed, although there is substantial variation in the age of individuals who visit online dating sites (com Score, 2003; Madden & Lenhart, 2006), younger cohorts (e.g., Internet users between 18 and 29 years of age) are more likely to report accessing such sites than are older cohorts (Madden & Lenhart, 2006).Thus, while Internet dating appears to have fairly wide appeal across age ranges, individuals in some age groups appear more likely than others to seek opportunities to meet romantic partners online.