Lisle, Illinois ~ The first step in dating is trying to find someone to date. Online dating vastly expands one's opportunities, but when it comes to finding a new relationship in cyberspace, the dating game can be even more overwhelming for senior citizens.However, once seniors get over the technological hurdle and learn the rules of online dating, it can be far more gratifying than the traditional route, said Stephen Nunes, director of the Center for Lifelong Learning at Benedictine University.
"It's a whole new dimension for me, and I'm not a techie by any stretch of the imagination," Nunes said. "It's something that's very personal, and if used properly, can be very rewarding."
Later this spring, Nunes, 70, will lead a new "Online Dating for Seniors" course to help older adults understand how they can protect themselves and use online dating services to their advantage. Classes will be held from 2:00-3:30 p.m. on Fridays, April 13 and 20, in Room 101 at the Moser Center for Adult and Professional Studies in Naperville. The course is $25 per person.
Four years ago, Nunes, a resident of Homewood whose first wife passed away in 2003, was looking for a friendly companion when he met a retired dentist from the Philippines online. After eight months of online correspondence and a week-long, face-to-face meeting in California, the pair decided to get married on Valentine's Day 2009 at Chicago City Hall.
Online dating has exploded in recent years. According to www.onlinedatingbook.org, 31 percent of U.S. citizens use online dating sites, which were responsible for more than 120,000 marriages in 2008. And there isn't a shortage of available seniors, with nearly 25,000 single baby boomers spread out across the country, according to the website.
"Whether you're divorced, you've lost your partner, your kids are gone and you have an empty nest, I think many seniors need companionship," Nunes said. "With this class, the rationale is to assist seniors in developing a relationship. Many seniors don't have the same social opportunities to meet people that a younger person has."
Students will discover how to pick the right dating site, share information and contact potential dates. They will also learn important questions to ask themselves, as well as a few warning signs and tips to help avoid a scam or dangerous situation.
"Many people are embarrassed to go online – especially at our age," Nunes said. "Online dating is a lead-in. It's not dating in the true sense of the word and I think that's important – that it's a way of initiating and getting to know somebody."
The online dating class is offered by the Center for Lifelong Learning at the Moser College of Adult and Professional Studies, which provides a unique opportunity for senior citizens to access valuable educational enrichment and social networking opportunities. Registration for spring courses has begun. Seniors can register for the online dating course and more than 20 other courses, covering such topics as digital photography, watercolor painting, Shakespeare, social media, computer literacy and genealogy.
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.