NEW YORK: Jo Ann Montrose-Eichelberger, 55, never thought she would meet her second husband on an online dating site — especially not one for seniors.
The stewardess who lives in California said she signed up “as a joke” in March 2009. She had been divorced for 18 years and was content being single, but an advertisement for the site sparked her curiosity.
“It felt like I was marketing myself. It was all new to me. At the time, I hadn’t even gone on Facebook,” she said.
Ann and Brian Eichelberger, 57, a correctional officer, have now been married for more than a year.
The number of seniors — classified as anyone over 55 — using the targeted dating site is growing, according to SeniorPeopleMeet.com, which says they attract 1,000 new members a day.
“The norms are changing for seniors meeting online,” said Oakland University professor Terri Orbuch. “Now technology is becoming more central to our lives and it is becoming more acceptable.”
The number of seniors using the internet has risen to 17.5 million in November 2009 from 11.3 million in November 2004, according to Nielsen data.
“For the over-50s, attitudes, values and stability are much more important than for 20-somethings,” Orbuch said.
Seniors are more likely to have had a long-term, significant relationship in their past said Orbuch, which affects the way they approach online dating.
She said that seniors will often know exactly what they are looking for and put a lot of value on spending time together.
A poll conducted by the dating website found 54 per cent of people would rather spend time with their partner than get flowers or jewelry on Valentine’s Day — an 80 per cent increase in priority from when they were in their 20s or 30s.
Though big, romantic gestures do play their part.
For their first date in the spring of 2009, Eichelberger, who lived in Fresno, California drove two-and-a-half hours to Malibu to take Montrose-Eichelberger out for lunch.
“I was surprised he would drive all that way just to have lunch with me,” she said. The couple married a year later.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2011.