Date of Award:

1991

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Jay D. Schvaneveldt

Abstract

This exploratory study is a description of the older dater and his/her attitudes and perceptions about dating, a comparison within the same cohort of youthful and late-life dating and mate selection, and a description of the patterns of dating in the elder years. It is a non-random collection of interviews with 38 single men and women over the age of 59 in two counties in Utah.

Older daters were found to have been married for much of their lives previous to dating. They perceived themselves to be in good health and financial condition and were fairly well-educated. They lived independently and had available and supportive family and friend relationships. They had good concepts of themselves and their ability to attract dating partners. Little resistance was perceived from significant others or the general public to their dating.

Older people were not found to be more conservative in choosing mates than they were when they were young except in valuing romantic love, sexual attraction and interest in sex less now than during their youth. They also accepted divorce in potential partners and height differences more now than when they were young. They were less accepting now of poor financial conditions.

The primary motive for dating and for remarriage in late life was to find companionship. Monogamous dating relationships were the norm. The primary functions of dating were friendship and sharing confidences. Dating partners were met most often through mutual acquaintances or during previous marriages. Dating format and activities for the elderly were similar to those of youthful daters, except at a slower pace.

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