Love Actually! Older Adults and their Romantic Internet Relationships by Sue Malta

Abstract: This research was inspired by two stereotypes: first, that older adults don’t do computers – and certainly not the Internet and, secondly, that older adults don’t do sex – they are asexual. The results clearly show these stereotypes to be flawed. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted via synchronous computer-mediated-communication (private chat). The sample consisted of older adults (61 – 85 years) who had all used the Internet to meet potential romantic partners, either through their involvement in online discussion groups or via online dating sites.For the most part, the relationships described were meaningful, intimate and long-lasting. The majority were involved in ongoing sexual activity with their partners, and for some, cyber-sex was or had been an integral part of their relationships. Additionally, a proportion enjoyed flirting online with others and some were also involved in extra-dyadic relationships; indicating that sex and intimacy outside of primary, committed relationships was just as compelling an activity for these older adults as for younger Internet users.

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