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As Gen Z ditches online dating and millennials struggle to recapture the golden days of social media, dating apps are helping older singles to redefine the feel of connection in the digital age. Much of the rise in older singles joining apps has to do with “the shedding away of stigma about dating later in life,” says Justin Garcia, a sex researcher and executive director at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute. In only a few decades, North America has undergone “massive shifts” in courtship patterns.

Garcia says one particular shift is the result of what he has termed “reverse intergenerational transmission” Where the flow of family or social customs is typically top down, with online dating it is bottom up. “We have generational transmission of information and knowledge, but what we are seeing in dating is the reverse. Kids and grandkids are putting their parents and grandparents on dating apps and helping them understand the new rituals of courtship in today’s world.”

There was a time when Wendy felt guilty for having desires of her own. She was born in 1952. Everything was geared toward the gratification and pleasure of men. Then came the 1970s, a time of rebellion and independence. “We burned our bras and screamed for women’s liberation,” she says, “but inside, in many marriages and many bedrooms, nothing had really changed. That’s so very different now in a million ways. Now my sex is mine, no longer something to just be given away to a man.”

Dating apps have become ground zero for aging singles to explore expanding sexual appetites, but they also serve as more than a virtual meeting place. They’ve helped equip seniors with a newfound confidence. Wendy, who asked to be identified only by her first name citing privacy concerns, was married for 40 years. Now 72, she lives in Hampshire, a county in South East England, and started using dating apps in the wake of her divorce. “I was very low,” she says of the wound that her separation left. “A family member pretty much instructed me to get on Feeld, as it had been brilliant for her.”

Online dating has since given her a new perspective on life—and a means to take back the control she lost. “It’s no longer a ‘show’ of fake orgasms to keep a partner happy. It’s holding out for the real deal—sensually, that is, not in the ‘in love’ sense. I feel in love with myself, and I’ve given myself permission,” she tells me. “I can’t describe what a radical turnabout that is for me in terms of pretty much the whole rest of my life pre-Feeld. It sounds dramatic, but it’s truly my experience.”

Even as older singles are more open to love via dating apps, their success, in part, is owed to being “more rigid, a little bit more sure about what it is they want and don’t want,” Garcia says. “For many, this isn’t their first rodeo. The concessions we may make in our relationships [when we’re younger], people 60 and older don’t feel a need to make those concessions.”