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Technology and Intimacy Study: How the Internet Can Enhance Your Love Life

77 percent of older adults who’ve sent racy text messages said it made their love lives better.

Published: Sept. 21, 2021 | The Senior List Research Team

Smart devices aren’t just made for calling the grandkids and posting Facebook status updates: they can also help enhance your most intimate relationships. With a quick swipe or tap of a button, you can now find and maintain romantic connections in unexpected ways. Cyberintimacy, or “the phenomenon of technology-mediated communication between partners and potential romantic interests”,1 has changed what it can look like to spice things up in your love life.

Sexual intimacy is an important part of later life, and you might be unaware of the applications of technology in your romantic pursuits. Your cell phone or personal computer can help enhance your love life with your long term partner, or, if you’re single, aid in connecting you with potential intimate partners.

In this study of people 55 and older, you’ll find out how older adults are turning to technology to connect with their romantic partners, as well as valuable tips for safely using your smartphone or other devices to start or enhance your own love connections. 

Key Findings

  • Nearly one in three people aged 55 or older said their romantic lives today are better than they were in their 20s or 30s.
  • Only 18 percent of single seniors and 9 percent of seniors in relationships have sent or received sexy self-portraits on their phones within the past two years. But of those people, more than 80 percent said it made their love lives better.
  • 28 percent of single seniors say they’ve used online dating apps recently, and 60 percent said these apps have had a positive impact on their love lives.

Tips for Exploring Cyberintimacy as an Older Adult

If you like it hot, but wouldn’t mind it hotter, you aren’t alone. Our research revealed that nearly half of people aged 55 and older claimed that their romantic lives are worse now compared to their younger years. However, nearly one-third say their love lives have improved since their 20s and 30s. 

How does your romantic life now compare to when you were in your 20s or 30s?

All people 55+

Single and dating

In a committed relationship

It’s better

30%

28%

30%

It’s about the same

23%

16%

24%

It’s worse

47%

56%

46%

These data make sense, considering that studies show that the heart-racing, butterfly-inducing romantic feelings you typically feel in the beginning stages of your relationship are known to fade over time.2 Additionally, single seniors were more likely than partnered seniors to report a worsening of their romantic life with age. 

However, there are ways to keep love and romance alive even in the longest relationships, including through the use of technology. That’s exactly what older adults are doing: a number of people have turned to sexting, pornography, video calls, and dating apps in the past two years to enhance their intimate lives. 

In the past two years, which of these activities have you tried to enhance your love life?

Single and dating

In a committed relationship

Internet pornography

33%

14%

Video calls / chats

30%

5%

Sexting (sending sexual text messages)

19%

9%

Sending or receiving nude or other sexy photos 

11%

5%

Online dating apps*

28%

*Only singles were asked about their use of dating apps. 

Remember, everyone’s relationships are unique, and not all of the following tips or suggestions will work for everyone. However, if you’re no longer physically able to have sex or Covid-19 has kept you socially distant from potential partners, some of these methods may help you revive your love life. 

Tip 1: Break Out Your Camera

Humans are visual creatures, so it’s no surprise that many adults of all ages enjoy erotic photos and videos. Out of all of the activities included in our study, sending or receiving sexy photos paid off the most: 81 percent of participants said that sending or receiving sexy photos made their love lives better. Additionally, 66 percent of people found that engaging in video calls impacted their love lives positively. Another 47 percent claimed that pornography had a positive impact on their love lives. 

How did the following impact your love life?

Better

Neutral

Worse

Sending or receiving nudes or other sexy photos

81%

17%

2%

Sexting (sending sexual messages)

77%

20%

4%

Video calls / chats

66%

32%

1%

Dating apps

60%

34%

6%

Internet pornography

47%

50%

3%

Social media sites

34%

63%

3%

If you’re searching for sexual inspiration while social distancing or want to shake things up in your intimate relationship, sending and receiving provocative photos may be a great option for you and your intimate partner(s). The drawback? Sharing too much, or sharing your content with the wrong person, can threaten your privacy. 

Although sending and receiving sexy selfies with someone you’re attracted to can be both fun and fulfilling, it can also be risky. If you do decide to share any revealing photographs of yourself, you should take adequate measures to protect your privacy and the privacy of the consenting adult you’re communicating with. 

How to protect yourself and your partner(s) when sending and receiving intimate photos on your phone or computer:

  • Make sure your photo communications are fully consensual. Only send suggestive photos of yourself when your partner has clearly consented to receiving them. Similarly, your partners should also check in with you before they send photos.
  • Only show as much as you feel comfortable showing. Never let anyone pressure you into sending images that you are uncomfortable with them seeing.
  • Protect your identity by hiding your face and other defining features, such as tattoos, piercings, or recognizable backgrounds.
  • Make sure that all of your devices (phones, computers, and tablets) are password-protected to prevent your nude photos from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Consider downloading an encryption application on your phone where you can store your naughty photos in a vault-like library. Encryption is used to protect sensitive files, and it works by scrambling digital data into an unreadable format. Only by entering a password, or encryption key, can the files be accessed.
  • Double-check before hitting send. It might seem obvious, but always double-check that you are sending your private photos to the correct person. Remember that any photo you send or receive could potentially be seen by the wrong pair of eyes. 
  • Turn off all of your phone’s location services if you don’t want the recipient to know where you are located.

Remember, sending sexy photos can enhance romance. So, don’t be coy! Send those sexy images (or videos) if you desire – but make sure that you also protect your privacy and the privacy of whoever you’re communicating with while doing so.

Tip 2: (Safely) Send a Sexy Text Message

If words tend to tickle your fancy, or you’re not quite comfortable sending sexy photos of yourself through your phone, you could alternatively try sexting to spice up your love life. Sexting refers to the act of sending sexually-oriented text messages. In other words, it combines the acts of sex and texting. 

According to our study, sexting was the second-most fulfilling way that mature adults successfully enhanced their intimate lives.

Sexting can be a great way to test the waters with a new partner or long-term lover: If you’re interested in trying out something new in the bedroom, you could suggest the idea through text message to see how your partner responds. If you’re shy, or need extra time to get in the mood, sexting can be an alternative way to initiate sex and help you get in the right mindset for intimacy. 

When you’re sexting your long-time partner or someone you’re interested in getting to know more intimately, it’s essential to understand the risks associated with sexting and how you can sext in the safest manner possible. For example, if you sext someone you’re romantically interested in, it is always possible that others may see your naughty messages.

How to protect yourself and your partner(s) when sending and receiving provocative text messages:

  • Double check your text recipient. Make sure that your sexts are indeed going to the correct phone number. It might be awkward if you send a suggestive message to the wrong person!
  • Don’t say anything you don’t want to say, and never let anyone pressure you into sexting if you don’t feel comfortable sexting!
  • Get in the habit of deleting your sexts. If you don’t want your daughter, sister, or close friend reading your texts, your safest bet is to delete them after they’ve served their purpose and get in the habit of deleting your sextually-oriented conversations.
  • Come up with code words to help you determine when sexting is acceptable and when it isn’t. For example, if you’d like to have a sexting conversation with your partner, instead of immediately sending a sexually-oriented text message, first double-check that your partner wants to engage in a conversation of this nature with you by sending a priorly agreed-upon code word.

Tip 3: Use Dating Apps to Make Connections

Technology continues opening new doors for single seniors to make connections and spice up their sex lives. You can even meet people virtually and safely during a global health pandemic. Dating applications, such as Match, eHarmony, OurTime, and Silver Singles, make it possible for you to meet and communicate with romantic interests online.

We asked older adults why they’ve recently tried dating apps, and most reported that they did so in order to meet new people or find long-term love. Nearly 25 percent used apps for casual sex, and a few started apps during the spread of Covid-19 to connect safely with other singles. Best of all, 60 percent of single seniors using apps claimed that they made their love lives better. With evidence like this, you may wish to try a dating app to connect with new potential intimate partners. 

Here are the top 5 reasons singles in our study tried dating apps in the past two years:

  1. To meet new people
  2. To pursue a long-term relationships
  3. To get out and socialize
  4. To have casual sex
  5. To avoid Covid-19

If you decide to use a dating app to enhance your love life, there are a few safety tips you ought to keep in mind. 

How to protect yourself and those you communicate with on dating apps:

  • Protect your personal information. Never give out personal information (such as your address, phone number, or bank account information) to someone who asks for it through an online dating app/platform. 
  • Be vigilant about scammers. Unfortunately, romance scams are on the rise. Never send money to someone on a dating app even if they claim to be in need, and use the internet to research a potential date before meeting them.
  • Take caution during your first meetings. When meeting someone you connected with on a dating app in person, always share your location and your date’s name with someone you trust. Stay sober during the first few meetings, and always drive your own car or take a taxi to the meeting place.
  • Consider getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you are looking to engage in casual sex with people you meet on dating apps, it’s essential to practice safe sex to protect your health and the health of your partners. According to one study, STI rates are on the rise in senior communities.3 Talk to your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough for sexual activity.

Conclusion

Remember, a healthy sex life is possible at any age, and you deserve to feel fulfilled in all aspects of your life. Though everyone’s love lives may look different, technology is changing the way that single seniors and those in relationships engage in intimacy and evidence suggests that technology can offer significant benefits when used responsibly.

Our Data

We conducted an online study of 761 people aged 55 or older in September 2021. Those who responded lived in the United States or United Kingdom. 638 were in committed relationships, while 123 were single and dating. Those who were single and uninterested in dating or meeting romantic partners were not included in this study.

Sources

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32721219/ 
  2. https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2020/02/unirel-loveqa.html 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7177870/