Two thirds of over-65s want a romantic partner

Source : Richard Brooks
Published on 12 December 2012 12:01 AM

An older couple sitting on a bench, smiling as they look out to sea.

A new online poll for Age UK reveals that 62% of people aged 65 and over believe it's important to have a romantic partner as they grow older, with 1 in 8 (12%) actively seeking a new relationship.



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’. 83% of the people surveyed thought friendship becomes more important in later life

These results highlight the value of companionship – romantic or platonic – in later life. The top reasons those aged 65 and over surveyed gave for wanting to find love were:

  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

Dating in later life can be daunting

Despite a longing to build new relationships, over a third of those surveyed (35%) thought they were too old to join the dating game again, worrying about rejection and what other people will think. For nearly a quarter (23%), it was their children's reactions they were particularly concerned about.

Similarly, nearly half of those surveyed (48%) find it more difficult to make friends as the years pass.

The role of friends and family is 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. The findings also showed that a brave minority of over-65s (17%) would try dating websites.

Relationship expert Donna Dawson commented: '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.' 

Spread the Warmth - keeping older people well in winter

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.

Commenting on the survey, Lucy Harmer, Head of Information and Advice at Age UK, said: '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.'

For free, friendly, and impartial advice, contact Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65.


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Age UK experts

  • We have a number of experts available for comment, including:

    Caroline Abrahams

    Caroline Abrahams

    Age UK Director of External Affairs Caroline Abrahams.Caroline Abrahams: Charity Director

    Caroline Abrahams is Age UK’s Charity Director, and has worked predominantly on children and family issues throughout her career.

    She was Director of Policy and Strategy at the children’s charity Action for Children and Chair of the End Child Poverty campaign before joining the Local Government Association.

    She then moved on to become Senior Policy Adviser in the Department for Children, Schools and Families and more recently she has been an adviser to the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls.

    Her policy interests include poverty, public service reform and safeguarding.

    Professor James Goodwin

    James Goodwin

    James GoodwinProfessor James Goodwin: Head of Research

    James is head of our research department in Age UK.

    His responsibilities include:

    • funding and commissioning a wide portfolio of research (including social and economic research, and research to improve the health and wellbeing of older people);
    • knowledge management and translation;
    • and all research partnerships, internal and external, including international.

    He has a Visiting Professorship in Ageing at Loughborough University.

    Jane Vass

    Jane Vass

    Jane Vass - Head of Public PolicyJane Vass - Head of Public Policy

    Jane Vass is Head of Public Policy at Age UK. She joined Age Concern England as Financial Services Policy Adviser in 2006.

    She was previously an independent consumer consultant and writer specialising in financial services from the consumer viewpoint.

    In this capacity she undertook research such as reports for the National Consumer Council on equity release and on savings and investments for low-income consumers.

    She was a member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel from 1999 to 2003, and from 1983 to 1993 she worked for Consumers’ Association.

Age UK later life factsheet

  • This factsheet, which is regularly updated, is the most up-to-date source of publicly-available, general information on people in later life in the UK.

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