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Prime Time Dating

Courting After 50 Doesn’t Have to Feel Like You’re Playing the Field Past Your Prime

Jimmy Magahern | May 6, 2014, 10:01 a.m.

When Martha Sipple-Stevens found herself back in the dating pool a couple of years after her husband passed away, she was initially frightened about re-entering the singles scene as a fifty-something widow.

“I was married for 32 years, and then all of a sudden to be thrown out there again, it was very scary,” says the now-63-year-old Mesa woman.

“You have friends who are trying to set you up on blind dates, or bring you along to the bars to try to meet someone. And I just found the whole thing to be very frightening.”

Eventually Sipple-Stevens—who goes by “Marty”—ventured into online dating, which she preferred.

“I wasn’t into the bar scene and I still work—I don’t have a lot of free time. And online, you can pick and choose from a lot of people.”

After about nine years of trying out different sites, including a few like OurTime.com, tailored to older adults (the fastest-growing segment in online dating, according to industry analysts), Marty met Clay Stevens, a fun-loving divorcee who wound up being her perfect match. They were married in February 2013.

Now, Sipple-Stevens is an unabashed cheerleader for senior dating, encouraging other suddenly single friends in their 60s to embrace what she considers a much more enjoyable dating scene than the one she remembers from her 20s.

“In your older years, I think you’re done playing any type of games,” she says. “You know what you’re looking for, and you’re not really trying to impress. I mean, you want to be nice and friendly, but you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not. You’re set in your ways. You know what you want out of life, you know what you’ve done. In your younger years, you’re still trying to find your place out there. When you’re older, you’ve had your life experiences. You’ve had your children, you’ve had relationships. You’re not trying to find yourself. Who you are is who you are.”

Not that you don’t still have to be careful hooking up with strangers.

“You’d be surprised how many in our age group are still out there being very active, sexually!” she says, with a salty laugh. “And most of us don’t think we have to worry about safe sex. We figure we’re not going to get pregnant, and we’ve already lived through so much that the danger of it never crosses our minds. But it really needs to be a concern.”

She also found a lot of younger men searching for older women to be their “sugar mommas.”

“You have a lot of younger people out there who are looking for an older person, because they think an older person is established, they have money,” she says. Sipple-Stevens dated one man who was about 15 years her junior and a couple of others who were a few years younger than her. “I guess I did it just to see if I could attract younger men,” she says, laughing. “Kind of an ego boost.”

But she discovered some of the younger suitors—and even quite a few her own age—were actually scammers, a growing trend in the online dating world, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. In 2012 alone, the group reports, members on dating sites were bilked out of more than $55 million through “romance scammers.”

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