Skip to main content

Martha Stewart on Match.com? Don't laugh

By Pepper Schwartz, Special to CNN
updated 7:37 AM EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
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
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
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
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
updated 2:52 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
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
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
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
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
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
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
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
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
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
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
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
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
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.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
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.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT