Senior blues? Think Again!'s Singles in America Findings on Boomers

By Dr. Helen Fisher, Biological Anthropologist

Finally, some good news about getting older!’s second annual Singles in America study, a large-scale investigation of single men and women ages 21 to 65+, busts some engrained myths about aging.  Let’s start with an important detail:  When singles were asked about the percent of times one orgasms with a familiar partner, seniors win. People over 60 are more likely to achieve orgasm 91-100% of the times that they make love. Actually, I’m not surprised. Good sex regularly takes communication and experience, and people over 60 simply have had more practice. These men and women have had their share of one-night stands, of course; 64% of single men and 40% of single women over age 60 have had at least a single one-night encounter. But this group is also the most likely to regard sex within marriage as “very satisfying.” More skilled? Probably.

But of all the 135 questions on the questionnaire, the most revealing about older singles in my opinion are the following two questions: “How likely are you to make a committed relationship with someone who offers everything you are looking for in a relationship but with whom you are not in love?” and “How likely are you to make a committed relationship with someone who offers everything you are looking for in a relationship but whom you don’t find sexually attractive?” People over 60 are the least likely group of singles to make a commitment without romance and sexual attraction. Almost 30% of twenty-somethings were willing to commit without romantic love, while only 23% of seniors would sacrifice romance.  Moreover, 31% of those in their 20s would commit without finding their partner sexually appealing, while only 19% of singles in their 60s would forgo sexual attraction in a relationship.

Compromise is for the young- for a biological reason that is best summed up by a friend of mine in his early 40s: “She’s not the best I’ve ever had in bed,” he told me about his wife, “but she’s a great mother to our daughter.” Unchained from this reproductive obligation that younger people face, older singles can afford to be picky. Additionally, as we age, we become more firmly rooted in our communities, tied to a multitude of deep and satisfying social and business relationships. Why move to Tasmania, or even out of town, unless you are passionately in love with someone who also performs miracles in bed?  No thanks, they reason.  And unlike the “old days” when seniors were expected to move in with relatives to care for grandchildren, today they live independently. With Viagra, Estrogen replacement, hip replacements and much more (perhaps most important, Internet dating), older men and women can finally see– and find– what they really want.

Not surprisingly, in this study singles over 60 are the least likely to report that loneliness is stressful, and the most likely to say they are “very happy.” We have things to look forward to, in life—and love.

Find out more about the Singles in America study here!