It's easy to assume that people using online dating services are young adults. They're comfortable with technology and appreciate the ease of reaching many potential partners with one post, hopefully increasing their chances of finding Mr. or Ms. Right.
But while approximately 40 percent of the users on popular dating website eHarmony are between the ages of 18-34, members over the age of 50 are the fastest growing age group. If you're looking for a partner over the age of 50, know that one in five members is in your targeted age group.
The reasons for these shifting demographics are complex, but are likely fueled by the growing number of older professionals who are comfortable with computers, the Internet and social media. When these active adults find themselves alone and unable to find a new partner in their social circle, they turn to the Internet.
"I was looking for a woman who was retired, who could spend time together. It's more fun sharing time together and sharing new experiences," said Ralph Herbst, 68, formerly of Berks County and now living with his fiancée in Mahoning Township. "Most of my friends were happy for me. They knew that I'd been unhappy and did not like being divorced."
While Kate Solt, 38, wasn't comfortable with computers at the time, she asked a friend for help setting up a profile on eHarmony in 2006.
"My friend had success with it, and she kind of showed me the ropes," she said. "I was in my early 30s. We'd bypassed all of our high school and college friends. Do you really want to go back to that time?"
Her husband, Joe Solt Jr., 40, agreed that it's difficult to find a potential partner in a small town, especially when there are no single people among your friends and social network.
"If you're waiting for a chance meeting in the town that you grew up in, you might be waiting for awhile," he said. "This is a small town. Exhausting your options doesn't take long."
No matter what your age, the couples interviewed for this article noted that today's match-making websites are relatively easy to use. If you can use a computer and send an email or log into a social media website, you can set up a profile, they reported. You can also ask a friend or family member for help.