On a chilly evening in March, a crowd of 40- and 50-somethings — dressed in everything from power suits and long fur coats to metallic bows and oddly sequined pants — descended upon a Murray Hill restaurant for a night of speed dating with HurryDate, a 12-year-old dating company based in New York.
The Manhattan neighborhood is known as a mecca for young Jewish singles straight out of college and eager to mingle (and probably do more). But this evening was all about the boomer set. While the music may have been softer and the shots of Jäger may have been replaced by glasses of wine, make no mistake: Everyone was still checking each other out.
“I come to this with the glimmer of hope that in the woefully short time of four to five minutes I’ll make a connection,” one man said.
Dressed in a dark suit and holding a beer in his hand, he admitted his age (56), marital status (divorced) and profession (commercial real estate broker), but like every participant I spoke to that night, he refused to give his name.
As more baby boomers re-enter the dating scene, they encounter a new and unfamiliar landscape. The generation that challenged gender and sexual norms is learning to adapt to a dating world that relies on the Internet and social media — with the responsibilities of children, mortgages and jobs in tow.
In a 21st-century dating culture where bouquets and chocolates have given way to online dating, hooking up and sexting, many boomers still seek the almost-obsolete long-term companion. But the road to love is even rockier on the other side of the hill.
The biggest change, for better and for worse, is the Internet. Many Jewish boomers have jumped on the online dating bandwagon. Thirty-three percent of JDate users are over 50, and that segment has increased 93% over the past five years.
Still, online dating feels foreign and emotionally unsatisfying to many. Jackie Weinberger, a divorced 50-year-old, said her relationships from JDate “felt forced” compared to meeting people in person. “I don’t think the people I met online ever made a connection with me,” she said.