Two thirds of over-65s polled think it’s important to have a romantic companion*

  • One in ten respondents aged 65 and over are currently seeking a new relationship
  • 83% think friendship becomes more important in later life
  • 66% have known their best friend for over 20 years

People aged 65+ have spoken out about the importance of different types of relationships as we grow older, highlighting the value of companionship – romantic or platonic – in later life. A new online poll* for Age UK reveals that one in eight (12%) people aged 65 and over is currently seeking a new relationship and 62% believe it is important to have a romantic partner as they grow older.

But as well as an eye for romance, the survey shows the importance of enduring friendship. More than half (54%)of those polled say they have a best friend, with two thirds (66%) of these having been best friends for more than 20 years – bringing a literal meaning to the phrase ‘friends forever’.

The poll has been commissioned to coincide with Age UK’s Spread the Warmth campaign, which aims to keep older people across the country warm and well in winter, preventing isolation and helping people in later life to meet new people and try new activities.

Yet despite 59% considering romance to be as important as friendship, over a third (35%) think they are too old to join the dating game again, worrying about rejection and what other people will think.

Similarly, eight in 10 (83%) say the value they place on friendships increases with age but nearly half (48%) find it more difficult to make friends as the years pass.

The top reasons those in later life are keen to find love are:
1. Wanting someone special to share life with
2. Wanting someone who can mentally stimulate them
3. Wanting friendly physical contact
4. Wanting someone to ease feelings of loneliness

Despite a longing to build new relationships, many of those polled find the prospect of dating daunting, with nearly a quarter (23%) concerned about how their children will react.

However, the findings show that one in six (17%) over-65s would try dating websites. The role of friends and family is also vital in helping older people to find love and companionship in later years, with nearly half (48%) relying on those who know them best to set them up.

Commenting on the survey, Lucy Harmer, Head of Information and Advice at Age UK, said: “This research shows that love and friendship continue to play an important role in our lives at all ages. Whatever life stage we’re at, how we spend our free time and who we spend it with can have a huge impact on happiness and wellbeing.

“We know there’s an appetite for making new friends and expanding social networks. A big part of Age UK’s Spread the Warmth campaign is bringing people together to tackle loneliness and isolation in later life by meeting new people with shared interests. Whether it’s cookery classes, Nordic walking, gardening or learning to get online, Age UK’s advice line and website offer information to help people keep fit and healthy and make the most of that all-important leisure time.”

Seeking expert advice on companionship

Age UK is working with relationship expert Donna Dawson to provide tips on getting to know people in later life. She said: “The need to love and be loved, whether by a friend or a partner, does not change as we grow older. What can change, however, is our attitude to ourselves and how we feel we ought to act.

“We need to remember we are the same person we always were, with our own needs and wants and it’s important we embrace opportunities such as taking up new hobbies or meeting others, in order to keep us stimulated and healthy, and to maintain our emotional wellbeing.”

Where can people find out more information?

Age UK offers free, friendly, and impartial advice to people in later life, their friends, family and carers. Contact Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65 or visit our website to find out more about maintaining an active social life through finding new hobbies, local social activities and volunteering.

Better2Know knows that the over 50’s have one of the fastest growing rates of chlamydia infection. More importance needs to be given to prevention, testing and treatment for the older person.

Age UK is offering tips and advice on how to forge new relationships in later life -whether a friendship or romance.

Top tips on how to find love and friendship in later life

1. Be ready to embark on a new relationship. Give yourself time to process your feelings from a previous relationship before beginning a new one.

2. Take up a new hobby or sign up for local interest classes in your area. One in five over 65s met their new partner through a shared hobby.

3. Try online dating. There are a number of sites designed especially for the over-50s to help you meet new people.

4. Enjoy meeting new people! Don’t put pressure on yourself to meet the right person immediately.

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