Mobile Cellphone Info has posted a new item, 'Yes -- That's Martha Stewart on
You know Martha Stewart can run a company, spot a weed from an herb and whip up
culinary treats, but like many of us, she needs help getting a date.
The 71-year-old grandma told Matt Lauer on the Today Show she plans to create an
online dating profile to join in on the fun. She already has some geek cred: her
early embrace of technology helped restore her career. But is she really serious
about pursing an online romance?
"Well, I had a long-time boyfriend that ended a couple of years ago," she said.
"And I haven't found the next Mr. Right."
Websites like Popwatch gave some advice on filling out a dating application.
Writer Hillary Busis, for example, suggested she put "whitest woman alive" for
ethnicity, "cleanliness is next to godliness" for religion and, in response to
her stance on smoking, "Do you mean trout? If so, yes."
All joking aside, Stewart decided to sign up on Match.com, using her real name
and photo. On her profile, she wrote she likes cooking, gardening, movies,
museums and travel. She also loves to watch House of Cards, listen to rap music
and exercises more than five times a day. She's looking for a man that's
intelligent, established and curious, as well as lover of animals, grandchildren
and the outdoors. Know someone who would fit? She relishes men with adventure
and new experiences that can teach her new things.
That doesn't sound like most profiles, but she isn't the first grandma to
venture into online dating. In fact, she's part of a growing wave seniors
flocking to sites to find meaningful companionships, serious relationships and
even marriage -- making them some of the most active Internet daters these days.
Silver Surfers Look for Love Online
You know that clich. When you ask people what they want in a partner, they say
they want to find someone "to grow old with." But what happens when you're
single and already old? Like Martha, you're back to square one.
Motivated to find a companion and encouraged by family members who don't want
them to be alone in their golden years, seniors are turning to the Internet,
which is now second only to mutual friends in helping them find a partner. The
elderly are the fastest-growing demographic in online dating. EHarmony said 15
percent of its active members are age 50 and over.
Advocacy group AARP, meanwhile, is helping its members find love, too.
Kickstarted by an idea that its 37 million members would jump at the opportunity
to post, "Beach, anyone?" its dating site, powered by "How About We," connects
seniors by the thousands. For seniors, the stakes are often higher, since the
benefits of dating extend beyond basic companionship to health and longevity.
"Your social circle and social interactions really are directly correlated to
your level of happiness," said Sami Hassanyeh, AARP's chief digital officer.
"And when you're happy, studies show you stay healthier longer."
Online dating is also a popular way for seniors to meet new people, but the
possibility of predators complicates matters. Many aren't especially tech-savvy,
so they're particularly vulnerable to meeting liars and cheats. Washington's
Attorney General even has a section on its website giving seniors safety tips
for online dating: avoid inviting people who want just money or the opportunity
to inflict physical or emotional harm.
Still, possible pitfalls aside, how effective is digital dating in finding true
A Brief History of Online Dating
Stewart has always had great timing -- except for that while insider trading
fiasco -- and is joining online dating is at its peak, which has come a long way
from just a decade ago. Online dating has been around from almost day one of the
Internet. Back then, bulletin boards and newsgroups played host to a variety of
dating activities even before the Web itself was created. The first major
Internet dating site, Match.com, launched in 1995. Other dating sites were
popular at the time, but they were more along the lines of "mail order bride"
services than today's sites.
Digital dating really expanded in 2002 when social networking debuted, first
with Friendster and MySpace, and later with Facebook. People use them to connect
- in business, friendship and community, to name a few -- reducing the stigma
for online dating and making it more popular for rivals like Plentyoffish and
eHarmony, among others, to enter. Over 40 million Americans have tried online
dating, and the average user spends around $240 a year. In fact, 17 percent of
U.S. couples that married last year met online. And the fastest growing segment?
Yup, the 50 and over demographic, which grew by more than 40 percent last year
Online dating is more appealing and accepted now, and the "senior shift" is a
good example of how the industry continues to transform, especially as more
sites focus on niche audiences to stand out in a crowded market. In addition to
sites dedicated to the elderly, there are sites focused on specific interests,
cities, sexual orientation, occupations and religion.
It's About Chemistry -- and a Bit of Math
Match.com CEO Sam Yagan was certainly pleased to welcome Stewart to the club,
but he didn't exactly promise she would find her the man of her dreams online.
"What we know we can get you is some great first dates," he said. "I think
finding a soul mate for you might be a bit difficult, but I think first dates
are easily doable."
She'll likely have to kiss a lot of frogs to find her prince, but her odds are
just as good as anyone else: online dating is primarily a game of numbers and
algorithms. Serious data crunching behind the scenes has as much to do with
success as a shared interest in dogs, movies and walks on the beach. For
example, OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder says his site uses carefully-honed
algorithms to crunch data, creating compatibility ratings to match daters.
Unlike match-making from days of yore, this go-round is more about math than
chemistry, something Stewart would know if she asked author Dan Slater, who
married her niece. Slater spent years studying online dating for his new book,
titled, "Love in The Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and
Mating." A former legal affairs reporter for the Wall Street Journal, he logged
a few of his own cyber-dates by the age of 31. In his book, he lays out the
conflict between the romantic ideal of love by online daters and the
mathematical approach computer geeks take in setting up these sites.
"I don't believe a computer can predict long-term compatibility or long-term
relationship success," he told Julie Spira, cyber-relations and netiquette
expert. "Online dating is getting better at predicting who would get along on a
first date. As the technology evolves, it's a good chance that it will get even
That suits seniors just fine, since a growing number of them don't want marriage
-- they just want companionship. In a sense, seniors -- with their life
experience and their measured expectations -- benefit the most from online
dating. And Martha, no doubt, has advantages on her side as she makes her foray
in digital dating. "This is a subject that has been on Stewart's mind for a long
time," Slater said. She's talking up her latest book, "Living the Good Long
Life: A Practical Guide to Caring for Yourself and Others," so I don't doubt
Still, it doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure out the buzz for
Match.com. We'll have to see if she finds a partner -- she vows to let the
cameras in on her adventures of the heart. Regardless, the former M. Diddy is
putting a very public face to a growing trend, and, being a romantic at heart,
I'm hoping she -- and the throngs of others looking with her -- finds true love.
If not, Larry King is still on the market.
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