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Importantly, such declines appeared as early as age 30 and thus well before old age.With respect to the pursuit of romance, if we assume that individuals who use the Internet for this purpose are either single or dissatisfied with some aspect of their existing intimate involvements, Socioemotional Selectivity Theory has important implications for understanding whether and how age will affect their approach to the opportunities that Internet dating offers.In particular, the theory argues that, as people age, their sense that their lives are finite increases and they become increasingly focused on the present and goals associated with emotional regulation and less focused on the future and future-oriented goals.Given that intimate relationships play a central role in emotional regulation, Socioemotional Selectivity Theory further proposes that emotionally meaningful relationships characterized by intimacy and affection should increase in importance with age (Carstensen, 1995).

In comparison with younger adults, older adults should be relatively more focused on the present and the present-oriented goal of emotional regulation than on the future and future-oriented goals.

Not only do current policies in many organizations actively discourage workplace romance (thus eliminating what may be, for many individuals, the single largest pool in which they might seek partners), but older adults may also have less time for socializing outside of work hours than do younger adults who have not yet entered the workforce full-time (Brym & Lenton, 2001).

Congruent with the former argument, Hitsch, Hortacsu, and Ariely (2005) have argued that older adults enjoy less involvement in “natural” institutions such as school and university that facilitate meeting by bringing together large numbers of potential dates.

We might thus expect them to be relatively more interested than their younger counterparts in those means of identifying and meeting potential partners that offer opportunities for screening and selection.

To the extent that individuals become more certain of and perhaps more fixed in their tastes as they age or learn from experience (i.e., failed relationships) what they want or need in a romantic partner, older adults may be attracted to Internet dating sites and online personals ads to a greater extent than younger adults precisely because such sites offer opportunities to restrict their search to prospective partners who meet particular criteria and to filter out those who possess traits or qualities they deem undesirable.

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