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Many older adults have multiple needs for companionship. And that sums up the generation gap in a nutshell …

Or, as we have been often asked by older women considering prospective male companions: are they truly looking for companionship, or someone to nurse them through their later years?

Stitch Update: the more we talk to the people registering for Stitch, the more we have come to understand how important the issue of trust is (and how absent it is in most online dating sites today). The profile selection page from paints a clear picture: young people dating have a well-defined set of filters, which they use to help them find that “perfect” match.

Whatever the reason, most older adults will tell you that how someone looks is doesn’t matter much in their search to find a companion.

One thing we have been struck with has been the important role that dinner plays in the social (or not-so-social) lives of most older adults.

With the obsession that today’s media has with youth and appearance, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s only the young who are looking for companionship, that dating is a young person’s game. Which of the following images do you think the media is more likely to use to accompany an article on online dating? At the same time, more older adults over 55 find themselves single and looking, either through divorce or the tragic loss of a husband or wife they loved for many years.

We are all living decades longer than we once did, and are staying fitter, healthier (and in some cases, friskier) further into our wisdom years than ever before.

But just as many are actually seeking multiple companions to fit in with their varied social needs. One of our favorite lines comes from a Huffington Post article on this very subject: It won’t surprise you, of course, to discover that most of today’s online dating services are designed around chatting with potential matches online before things get serious enough for a phone call. Yes, trust is important to everyone, no matter how old they are.

But for a retiree on a fixed income, who has heard countless stories of peers being taken advantage of both online and in the real world, trust takes on a special significance. Are they authentically interested in me, or are they after something more?

That’s why we’re currently working on a number of features for Stitch to ensure that the people you meet are who they say they are. We’ve found older adults to be far more refreshingly open-minded. In case you hadn’t figured it out by now, all the differences we’ve described above lead most older adults to conclude that, well, online dating is not a positive experience at all.

One thing that many dating services have in common is using fancy algorithms to help you find a partner based on a dazzling array of filters you provide them. Whether it was the Jewish 82-year-old, who admitted in her youth she would have only accepted “a handsome Jewish boy” but now “doesn’t mind about their background as long as they are kind”, or the 59-year-old devout Catholic who had never considered dating Protestants when she was younger, we found an incredible willingness to judge potential partners on their personality and shared interests than any pre-conceived notions of who the “right” partner might be. It’s built around the needs of younger generations, who care a lot about age, about appearances, about filtering out potential matches based on arbitrary criteria, who are happy to spend inordinate amounts of time online, browsing and scrutinizing potential matches.

Part of this is probably the wisdom that comes with age, but even more significant is an essential truth about how age works.

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