Understanding Dating for 65 and Over
"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
- Henry Ford*
* Apparently, there is no direct evidence that Ford ever actually said this...
Generative Research uncovers latent knowledge within a user population, like seniors who date! Using creative tools to gather data, and then viewing that data through dozens of lenses, we are able to develop true insights for impactful innovation.
Working in collaboration with Margaux Reynolds and Shu Ou, we set out to learn more about the experience of dating for people over 65.
What is their experience?
How do they see the world?
What is the motivation?
CREATIVE TOOL KIT
We modified three traditional generative tools: The Timeline, Dixit Cards, and The Pile Sort.
SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT
With professional insight, we can better determine where our selected participants sit among a general population of their peers.
Solin has written about boomer sex, dating, and relationships for more than a decade, and is a dating expert and columnist for The Huffington Post, AARP, About.com and Maria Shriver
We selected 5 participants, found through networking, online chatrooms, and social media.
72 Years Old
"I miss living with someone."
66 Years Old
"Just aren't many good men out there."
65 Years Old
69 Years Old
"I think I'm in love!"
72 Years Old
"I can't forget..."
GETTING TO WORK
We spent at least 1 hour with each participant, using our customized creative tools to generate deep conversations. These were recorded with video, photo, and pen and paper.
Successfully interviewing the primary user requires us to empathize with them, actively listening to their fears and desires, not just to their words.
Translating data from all of our notes into a large affinity map gave us the platform from which to launch analysis according to more than a dozen themes.
Using a whiteboard, and butcher paper, we worked to make sense of the information, continually returning to our Affinity Mind Map for reminders and insights.
This is my favorite part of any research process. Through this, latent patterns present themselves like bones in an archaeological dig. And just as the bones contain as much information as the layout in which they are found, visualized data offers clues that sheer numbers can't provide.
After hours spent reviewing the data, and the various analyses, we established patterns and cross-checked them with what we learned from our Subject Matter Expert.
I'm old, and so are the people I'm dating. I already FEEL it, and on a date, I have to LOOK at it, too.
No one wants to be reminded that we are over 70, but it's the only thing we can see.
I really put my best foot forward but then I meet these people and they look so shlubby.
It's not whom I thought I was going to meet.
ONE WAY ROAD
Dating today, and at this age, is EXACTLY like it was when I was a teenager, except with computers.
You might think that by now this whole thing would have gotten just a little easier!
And I never heard from him/her again.
At this age, I can handle rejection. What I don't like is the not knowing. That's the worst part.
In my mind, the entire time, I kept remembering what it was like, 18 years ago, or even 40 years ago.
In the end, as great as it was, it just wasn't the same. It wasn't what I was looking for.
From our research, we arrived at a holistic and honest understanding of a tender population of people who, like anyone, just wants to find someone with whom to share the act of living.
This map symbolized the 10,000 foot view of dating for this population. Armed with our knowledge, it acts as the anchor from which we can locate and pull the deeper insights uncovered.
Dating forces seniors to face their age, personally and literally. In general, being old is regretful, loathsome, exhausting, unwanted, and burdensome.
Making growing old awesome! Redesign AARP's model to offer exclusive dating benefits, not just financial discounts, turning VIPs into VIOPs.
Seniors enter the dating pool in the same line as 20-somethings. There's no merit for experience, history, or knowledge.
What if Seniors could accrue "Love Capital" allowing them to enter the dating process at stages that match their "skill level"?
Senior women observe that men are poorly presented, poorly kept, and poorly behaved. Men skip emotional well-being and go straight to a search for a care-taker.
What if "beauty" could be regendered to actively include men, and at a younger age, teaching them to take care of themselves today in order to create a healthier tomorrow?
Senior men have a tendency to ghost, while senior women are seeking and ready for authentic, face-to-face engagement.
Imagine a system in the senior dating space that rewarded honesty and transparency in - and after - first dates, a real-time score for the behavior of daters.
Missed opportunities, lost loves, bygone eras, and abandoned identities color the dating experience at every step of the process.
How can lost loves be rekindled or reunited? Or, what support can be offered to affirm that today offers much better than yesterday.