By: Amil Delic
Many woman in their 50s and even 60s are still dating, but you would never know it.
“If you go back in historical decades, once women hit a certain point, we’re discarded as being useless to society because we couldn’t reproduce,” says Valerie Gibson, author of The Later Dater.
The idea of a woman being no use to society isn’t accepted in many parts of the world today, but multiple forms of oppression were common in many cultures not long ago. As history shows, women have rarely had the power when it came to the workplace, custody of children, and the ability to freely leave a marriage that might not be working emotionally or financially.
A number of things have changed since the 1970s when the introduction of a number of equality laws, the Married Women’s Property Act and the Equal Pay Act to name a few, had made many households an equal playing group. But women didn’t immediately reap the benefits of these laws as it took many years to bridge the gab between sexes. Marriage still remains the predominant family structure in 67 per cent of Canadian home, but that number has been falling over the last few decades. In 1961, married couples accounted for 91.6 per cent of census families according to Statistics Canada.
The tide is beginning to shift according to Deborah O’Connor, a University of British Columbia professor, who feels that “for the first time in history women are in an economic position where they f can actually leave marriages.”
Canada’s divorce rate has been steadily climbing over the past decade with most occurring between the ages of 40 to 49. This has left many people in there 50s single and looking for love. “You are dealing with a boomer population where marriage hasn’t been forever,” says O’Connor. “They are leaning more towards ‘I want to be happier’ because of the values the boomers have.”
This is quickly becoming reality as (post) baby boomers are “beginning to challenge the norm and re-shape the gates of what marriage looks like,” says O’Connor. “You’ll find unmarried women who were previously in a relationship rated higher on the happiness scale than unmarried men.” O’Connor references a study done in 2013 at London’s Kingston University which saw women become much more satisfied with their lives after their divorce had been finalized.
The older you get, the harder it is to find love. I think that’s what my mother has been telling me the last couple years, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. “The 50-plus demographic is the fastest growing dating demographic,” says Gibson. “There’s been an enormous emphasis on education when it comes to looking after your diet, health and exercise over the last decade,” says Gibson as she elaborates on her point. “Nowadays, being 50 means that you are halfway through your life.” Many boomers have attached themselves to online dating sites hoping to find a companion later in life. One of the most popular sites is match.com.