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  • Cameron Oglesby

Seniors don't fall in love the way they used to

That's not to say it the physiological experience of falling in love differs from when they were younger. It's exactly the same.

People have evolved three brain systems for mating and reproduction, – sex drive, intense romantic love, and feelings of deep attachment, says biological anthropologist Helen Fisher. While the sex drive starts lowering somewhere in the 50s, the intense romantic love and attachment don't.

And this accounts for the differences between courtship in the 20s and, say, the 60s.

For example, by the time they reach 60, they're infertile. So the need to find the future perfect parent is no longer an issue.

Younger people might look for life partners of a certain social status, income level, or religion, or that meet their parents' or peers' expectations.

But all that doesn't matter when you're older, have an income and a lifetime of experience, and you don't want to or can no longer have children. Many seniors are divorced or widowed, so they know what they want – and what they don't. They know that at age 60, chances are they can look forward to another 20 years. They know from experience how not to behave in a relationship, and they can afford to be selective.

In spite, or perhaps because of this, it's a lot easier for them to cope with rejection. And there are rejections.

About 30 percent of Americans over 50 were single in 2022, and 1 in 16 used a dating service or app, according to a Pew Research Center survey. One of them, who met her husband this way when she was 68, said "I didn't want to waste my time sitting and having meaningless conversations with people. I wanted to get a sense of 'can I laugh with this person, do we get each other, was there chemistry that resonated with this person.I wanted to see 'could I imagine kissing this person? If not, it was nice talking to you.'"

She met her partner seven years ago.

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