Skip to main content

Martha Stewart on Match.com? Don't laugh

By Pepper Schwartz, Special to CNN
May 1, 2013 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Martha Stewart demonstrates tips during her American Made Program last year in New York City's Grand Central Terminal.
Martha Stewart demonstrates tips during her American Made Program last year in New York City's Grand Central Terminal.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pepper Schwartz: People seem surprised or make fun of Martha Stewart for online dating
  • But like everyone else, famous people over 50 stop meeting eligible partners, she says
  • Schwartz says middle-aged men and women need physical affection, love. It's healthy
  • Schwartz hopes Stewart's example encourages others who have been afraid of ridicule

Editor's note: Pepper Schwartz is professor of sociology at the University of Washington and the author or co-author of 17 books, the latest of which is "The Normal Bar." She is the AARP Love and Relationship Ambassador and writes the Naked Truth column for AARP.org. She is a senior fellow at the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit organization that gathers research on American families, and chief expert for perfectmatch.com.

(CNN) -- So people are either surprised or snarky about Martha Stewart going onto Match.com to find a guy.

What did they think she was going to do: Make a man out of paper maché or cookie dough?

Stars and celebrities are no different from anyone else. When they get over a certain age, they stop meeting eligible partners. If a woman does meet someone compelling at a party, she doesn't know if he's available or just wants to play. If she meets him at the office, it might be too complicated.

Pepper Schwartz
Pepper Schwartz

But in general, when men and women get over 50, the odds of just bumping into Ms. or Mr. Right aren't in their favor. So the really committed ones go hunting where the odds are better, and that's online.

Willie Sutton famously responded to the question of why he robbed banks by stating, "because that's where the money is." Well, that's why boomers are flocking to the web: Other 50 plusers who are looking for love are there. By the way, I don't use the verb flocking loosely; just about every site, Perfectmatch.com, Chemistry,com, OK Cupid and more, report the biggest jump in new people joining their sites are in the 50 and over crowd.

But let's not stop at the rise in numbers on the Internet. Let's go to the more interesting fact: they are going online to find love, passion and sex. There, I've said it: Middle-aged men and women and people old enough to be thanked by Willard on the "Today" show still want it all.

They want to cuddle, kiss, hold hands, get touched in erotic zones and have intercourse. And they don't want you to think that's cute or optional. Their sexual and emotional needs don't die before they do. In fact, a lot of medical evidence indicates that if they do have physical affection, love and sex they will live longer.

But if most of these men and women waited for their friends to fix them up or for someone to approach them on the street, they'd most likely be alone forever. And they don't want to be.

At 50 they could have another 50 years together. Or they could have 10 rewarding years. I have friends that have been together for four years, since she was 83 and he was 86. They go back and forth and stay with each other in their assisted living apartments. They are in love and no less in love, and in no less fabulous a manner, than when they were with their late spouses.

So don't sneer at Martha, at least not for online dating. Applaud her for her bravery and knowing what she wants, without letting pride get in the way. I hope she serves as a role model for all those older men and women whose amorous and romantic ambitions have been stifled for fear of ridicule.

"'What will my friends say," they ask me, "if they see me on Senior Friend finder or J Date?" My answer is: They will say "Good for you."

At least that's what my friends said when I went online. And then they said, "Congratulations," when I fell in love and got engaged.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Pepper Schwartz.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT