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Although he just turned 50 in September and isn't an AARP member, Ken Nicholas signed up with How About We this fall because he "liked the premise of taking it offline."Nicholas, a sales consultant in Los Angeles, was married for 12 years; he says it was difficult to get back into dating after his divorce was finalized in August.
He had tried a few online dating sites with "really terrible experiences."His date suggestion: "How about we start with coffee and end with wine.
It operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Match.com, which purchased it in 2009.
The site focuses on age-themed dinners of 10 people rather than matching individuals, he says.Add some art or culture in between and it could be fun." That got him a few dates, including one woman he's seen several times since.The AARP partnership with How About We is part of the broader evolution under way among dating websites to focus more on the elusive ingredient that the online environment has never been able to provide: a reality check.What's somewhat ironic is that young singles who are so digitally immersed are at the forefront of this move to meet face-to-face."People of my generation, in our 20s, think a one-on-one date — especially a blind date — can be a lot of pressure. By early next year, it aims for 10 more cities in the USA and Canada and will add London."I cringe a little when people describe it as online dating," Waxman says. The typical experience for a Grouper member is to spend about five minutes on our website and about two hours at a bar with your friends."Online dating industry consultant Mark Brooks, who has worked for many such sites, including POF (Plentyoffish), says the AARP move into dating seems smart."Seniors is a very good niche," he says.
We've found most of our relationships — whether romantic relationships or just friends — happen a little more organically. "Most dating sites skew toward guys, with more guys than women. Being a 75-year-old single man is the equivalent of being a 21-year-old hottie."That's good news for AARP member Judith Schwartz, 65, of Clermont, Fla., an IT consultant and adjunct professor of computer science who began online dating after her husband died in 2008."The younger men were primarily interested in sex and the older men were primarily interested in having somebody take care of them," she says.
By the end of this year, officials say the site will have hosted nearly 2,000 events with 150,000 singles. Plentyof Fish, a free online site, also hosts face-to-face events."I think what people have reached is a saturation point of wanting to do everything digitally," says Andrew Connell, president of Dinner Date, that launched in January.