The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 1:00 am

As 50-plus crowd grows, tales of love inspire

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

More than 27.7 million people will join the 50-and-over age group over the next two decades, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Let that sink in for a minute.

That's a lot of people who will be reaching or moving past one of life's biggest milestones – the big 5-0. It's also another indicator of how we are living longer and will face many of the issues that come with aging. One of those is finding love.

If you don't think that's an issue for the over-50 crowd, then you clearly haven't been on the dating scene in a while.

Consider this: Between the ages of 50 to 54, there are equal numbers of single men and single women in the U.S. By ages 60 to 64, there are about two single women for every single man. At ages 70 to 74, the ratio grows to 4 to 1.

And you thought dating when you were younger was hard.

But there is some good news in all this. Apparently Indiana is the 33rd best state to find love after 50.

With that, a collective cheer goes out for those single 50-and-overs who have spent the last month glaring at the Valentine's Day candy displays and advertisements for ways to spend the day with your loved one.

According to TheSeniorList, an online resource for seniors, Indiana residents have a 55% chance of finding that special someone. That figure is partly based on the proportion of people 50 and over and the change in the proportion who are single since 2012.

One of the biggest reasons for singledom is that the divorce rate among ages 46 to 64 has grown more than 50%, according to a study done at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Almost a third of baby boomers are single, either by divorce, separation or never having married.

David and Lilly Freon fall into one of those categories.

The Fort Wayne couple each found themselves divorced after more than 30 years of marriage. And while neither one was expecting to get married again, each decided they would like some company, so they signed up for online dating on

“I needed more of company than to fall in love and get married,” says Lilly, 60.

However, things took a turn after the couple had been dating a year, and they ended up getting married. They have been married for three years.

“I think it was my motorcycle,” says David, 57.

Lilly, who has two sons, says it was scary to start dating again after her divorce. “I'd been out of it for more than 30 years,” she says.

It also was difficult to find someone who met her requirements. She had been on the site for three years before she met David.

She described David, who coached softball for Northrop High School for 11 years and still officiates sports, as being rough around the edges but a person with a big heart who would give the shirt off his back to anyone.

David, a father of three daughters and grandfather to three, ultimately became Lilly's rock to lean on when she was diagnosed with breast cancer three months after they were married. She now celebrates being cancer-free for a year.

The couple enjoys riding David's Harley as well as traveling. “He always kept me laughing,” Lilly says. and other online dating sites seem to be a place where many older daters go to find love. It might also be the easiest for many. The site says 36% of its users are ages 39 to 53, while 28% are ages 54 to 74.

Sandy Benning was 54 and her husband, Dean, was 66 when they met in 2009 on and married four years later.

Sandy was divorced, while Dean was a bachelor. Both say they weren't expecting to get married, but things obviously changed along the way.

Dean says he had been on several dating sites and had dated a number of women. He hadn't planned on staying single for so long, but he also hadn't met the right person. “I knew there was somebody,” he says.

For Sandy, it was a little more difficult, having gone through a tough divorce. But meeting Dean made things better.

“I had done a lot of grieving when I was still in a marriage,” Sandy says. “I was ready to move on.”

Terri Richardson writes about area residents and happenings that affect their lives in this column that publishes every other week. Email her at or call 461-8304.

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