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For ‘The Golden Bachelor’ and Others: What Dating After 60 Looks Like

Hadley Finch Intro: Post 60 dating includes ‘mind-blowing sex,

patience and polyamory in NY TIMES profile By Catherine Pearson
Published Sept. 26, 2023
Updated Jan. 9, 2024

When Janet Ha, 65, first tried online dating in
February, she found it “confusing and weird.”

Her son’s 20-something ex helped her make a
profile on Bumble, but all of her initial matches
were focused on hooking up.

“I had checked ‘something casual’ —
because I didn’t think I was looking for a
relationship — but I didn’t realize what that
meant on Bumble,” Ms. Ha said, laughing.

She quickly learned to navigate the app, but still
wasn’t sure what she wanted. Her nearly 30-year
marriage had ended in divorce, and her children
were grown. “I just did not want to have to take
care of anybody anymore,” said Ms. Ha, a teacher
from Minnesota who plans to retire in the spring
of 2024.

Dating among older Americans is in the spotlight
thanks to the popularity of “The Golden
Bachelor,” which followed Gerry Turner, a
72-year-old widower, on his quest to find a
partner in a “Bachelor” spinoff show featuring
singles age 60 and older. (Ideally, Mr. Turner
said, a “high-energy” partner who might like
pickleball or golf.)

Though reality TV is unlikely to reflect the
typical experiences of older single people,
millions of them are looking for love — and
their stories are often overlooked. Older daters
face all of the challenges their younger
counterparts do — burnout, ghosting, gaslighting
— but many of them have found that dating can be
infinitely better when you don’t have as much to

The prevailing narrative surrounding the growing
number of unmarried older adults tends to focus on
the risks of isolation and loneliness. But Sindy
Oh, a licensed clinical psychologist in Los
Angeles, said she was struck by how different
dating can be for her older clients because they
have a much stronger sense of self. “They have
accepted who they are, and they are presenting
themselves as is,” she said.

‘Mind-blowing Sex’
Though Ms. Ha’s introduction to online dating
was inauspicious, four months ago she swiped right
on Mike Ecker, 64, a divorced electrician from

Had they met when they were in their 20s, Ms. Ha
said, “I don’t think I would have been
attracted to him, and I don’t think he would
have been attracted to me,” describing herself
as a “city girl” and Mr. Ecker as a “rural
guy.” But their rapport formed easily and
instantaneously. Whenever Ms. Ha matched with
someone, she asked what song the person was
“vibing to.” Mr. Ecker sent “Invisible” by
Trey Anastasio. It felt like a sign, as Ms. Ha had
been thinking a lot about the invisibility of
older women.

On their third date, Ms. Ha drove three hours from
her home to his so they could spend the weekend
together. They have spent nearly every weekend
together since, playing Yahtzee and cribbage,
cooking and having what Ms. Ha described as
“mind-blowing” sex. (The secret, she said, is
good communication.)

“We are really open to talking about everything
in a way that I have never experienced before,”
Ms. Ha said. “I used to be afraid to show who I
really was in a relationship before, because they
might leave. And I don’t have that at all

‘Shot Out of a Cannon’
One in three baby boomers is single, said Susan
Brown, a distinguished professor of sociology at
Bowling Green State University who studies
demographic shifts in marriage and divorce, and an
estimated 14 percent of single people between the
ages of 57 and 85 are in a “dating

David, 61, described feeling like he was “shot
out of a cannon” when he began dating after his
marriage of 25 years ended in divorce. He said he
had found the “loneliness of a cold marriage
even lonelier than being alone,” and is now
experimenting with polyamory and nonmonogamy.
He’d had inklings of these things during his
largely sexless marriage, but never felt like he
could explore those sides of himself, and
described the confidence he now feels as “a
remarkable feature of mid-life dating.” (David
asked that only his first name be used out of
respect for his ex-wife’s privacy.)

“One thing I quickly discovered is ‘Wow, you
really don’t have to play any games at this
point in life,’” said David, who lives in
California. “I don’t have to tell any story
that’s not true about me. And neither do

Kathy Denton, 64, said she felt “bolder” now,
in part because she no longer experiences the
pressure she once did to settle down. She has been
able to find fun with some of the men she has met
through dating sites, even if none have been a
long-term match. One “delightful man” cooked
her “the best soups and breakfasts”; another
swept her off to his condo in Florida and showed
her “how to have fun again.”

Ms. Denton would like to fall in love again, but
she has also “fallen in love” with herself,
she said, and realizes that she is the only
company she needs. She goes to the beach, spends
time with friends and plans to enroll in a stained
glass-making class. “If I had to spend the rest
of my life alone, I’d be fine with it now,”
said Ms. Denton, who lives in Michigan. “I love
my life.”

‘We Need a Lot of Patience’
Dating after 60 isn’t all roses. Several people
interviewed for this article mentioned how
frustrating it is to meet people whose toxic
behaviors have calcified over decades.

“We need a lot of patience with each other to
undo some of this crap we’ve been through,”
said Ms. Denton, who added that she had dated men
who turned out to be compulsive liars, or who she
suspected had alcohol issues. She has interacted
with men who clearly did not bother to read her
profile, she said, and others who sent naked
photos. Some daters also brought up sexual
dysfunction, the shrinking dating pool for older
women and the threat of being scammed.

But for Ms. Ha and Mr. Ecker, opening themselves
up to each other has brought them both surprising
happiness at this stage in their lives. Mr. Ecker
had been dating off and on for 10 years before he
met Ms. Ha, and was coming out of a particularly
difficult stretch when they connected. His mother
and his beloved dog had both died, he had ended a
three-year relationship and he had lost a chunk of
his savings to stock market volatility, just as he
was preparing to retire.

Now, he and Ms. Ha are planning the next stage of
their lives together, thinking about what they
want retirement to look like. They feel lucky to
have found one another. “Ever since that first
message she sent me,” he said. “I have felt
that this thing has been guided and out of our


Are you willing to be surprised by ageless, timeless love?

Hadley Finch

Claim a gift audiobook of my fave interviews with love experts at http://happysexyloveinromanticrelationships.com

About Hadley Finch

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