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Featured Essays

Love in the New Age: Online Dating Over 50

September 10, 2019
by Carolyn Drake
Carolyn Drake was assigned by AARP to meet and photograph couples over the age of 50 who found each other on online dating sites.

True love never gets old. BJ Ridings, 70, met Dennis Gariglia, 72, through a dating website called Our Time, and have been together for seven years. As people live longer and healthier, late-life romances like theirs are increasingly common —and why not? Technology opens new avenues for meeting Mr. or Ms. Right, and older adults are (usually) more attuned to what they need in a romantic partner. So, bring on the poetry and candlelight!
Ridings and Gariglia, both retired, live together in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Ridings had been looking online awhile but sensed something different about Gariglia. She’s outgoing but appreciated that Gariglia, a former cop, is more inward and calm. They also both share a love for Philadelphia sports teams (Ridings grew up there). After one lunch?date, they’ve been together ever since. “At this point in life, we’re beyond game playing and the dramas that come with more youthful relationships,” says Ridings. “We love each other and that’s it, and it’s also more than enough to make us both very happy.”

Helena Williams, 58, and Scott Glore, 61, had their first get-together five years ago at a Starbucks in Hiram, Georgia, and talked non-stop for two hours. Now they’re engaged. “I was a was single for 17 years,” Williams says. “After my son’s dad passed and my son was of age, he didn’t need mom on a day to day, so I felt it was time for me.”

Tom Budzinski, 65, was widowed, and Fran Hodges, 63, divorced when they met online and then in person in 2018 in The Villages, Florida. They’re both passionate about music and travel; both have two sons and both fell instantly in love with each other. The couple is now planning a wedding. “It couldn’t be any more perfect,” says Hodges. “We radiate love. We think also the fact that we are older is important. It’s saying to each other, ‘I’ve waited you for my whole life. You’re the absolute most special, wonderful person.’

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