When it comes to love after 50, has Cupid lost his aim?

The baby boomer generation practiced free love, but many are finding their older years lonely.

Story highlights

  • Studies show increasing numbers of baby boomers are feeling lonely
  • Loneliness can be as bad for your well-being as smoking or alcoholism
  • New dating initiatives are helping bring over-50s together, building meaningful relationships

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Margaret Manning, founder of Sixty and Me, a community of 100,000 women over 60, dedicated to inspiring and providing resources for them to live independent, financially secure and healthy lives.

(CNN)In many ways, baby boomers are the luckiest generation in history. We are living longer, challenging stereotypes and following our passions. Unfortunately, there is one area that we aren't so fortunate -- and this blind spot has the potential to kill. We are unlucky in love.

To be clear, I'm not just talking about the kind of love that sweeps you off your feet with red roses and chocolates on Valentine's Day. I'm talking about intimacy in all of its forms -- a conversation with a friend who genuinely cares, an unexpected call from your daughter and, yes, romantic affection with someone who understands you.
Margaret Manning is the founder of the online community Sixty and Me.
As the leader of Sixty and Me, a community of over 100,000 baby boomer women, I understand better than most the kinds of intimacy challenges that we face as we get a little older. In fact, when I did a survey of our members, over 1,000 women responded and a whopping 75% said that they felt lonely. Other studies, including one by AARP, have shown that well over a third of people over 45 are chronically lonely.
    The reasons for this are varied. Silver divorces are on the rise, our family roles are changing and some of us are, voluntarily or not, leaving our careers behind. Regardless of the triggers, it is clear that our generation is struggling to build meaningful friendships and intimate relationships.
    These findings are pretty scary when you consider the fact that loneliness kills. According to a recent scientific review, loneliness may be as bad for you as smoking and alcoholism. Simply put, love, friendship and intimacy are essential parts of life. They are not optional extras that we can ignore and still expect to thrive.
    After looking at all this data, I couldn't help but wonder -- has Cupid lost his aim? Are men and women over 50 doomed to loneliness and a lack of intimacy? And, if so, what can we do to help Cupid to get his aim back?
    Well, the good news is that boomers are natural change agents. In every phase of our lives, from the 1960s to our 60s, we have reinvented ourselves. We are tech savvy, educated and optimistic. We still believe in love in all of its forms. We just need the tools to help ourselves.
    This is one of the main reasons that I decided to start Boomerly, a new discovery and messaging service that will help baby boomers to build meaningful friendships. Boomerly, which will launch in a few months, is not a dating site, although I'd be delighted if our members find love. It's a tool for building friendships with like-minded people. I hope it helps Cupid, and baby boomers everywhere, to get their groove back.
    If there's one thing that I have learned from running Sixty and Me and Boomerly it's that life after 50 is whatever we make it. We can accept invisibility, or we can follow our passions. We can let our bodies go, or we can make our 50s and 60s the healthiest time in our lives. We can accept loneliness, or we can get out there and build meaningful relationships. If we find love along the way, all the better.