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But now the order is reversed: a growing number of sites are geared to helping users plan offline activities to size each other up and decide if they've got chemistry.
Most dating websites used to focus on helping singles get acquainted with extended online communication before meeting face-to-face.
He says other cities will be added, but they need enough restaurants and enough users.
The site focuses on age-themed dinners of 10 people rather than matching individuals, he says.
It operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Match.com, which purchased it in 2009.
For the new partnership, AARP is offering its members a seven-day free trial and half off the normal rates.
AARP senior vice president Sami Hassanyeh says after the website approached the organization a year ago about a partnership, AARP decided to plunge in."I do not think we're late in getting into this," he says.
"I think the market is getting bigger, not smaller."New 2012 Census information released in November says there are almost 38 million unmarried Americans ages 50 and older in the USA. Research suggests face-to-face chemistry maybe be more important than some online dating sites initially realized.
This retro appeal is especially evident with Grouper, which organizes something like the old-style "double date," where a couple of friends go along for moral support.
AARP officials say members have been asking the organization to get into dating for several years.
Members have started 20 dating-related online groups (with names like "Single and Mingle") that have more than 6,000 participants.
A study earlier this year in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest finds "no compelling evidence" to support the online sites' claims that their algorithms work better than other ways of pairing people."What's been amazing for us is that the industry in 2012 — be it or site after site after site — they're emphasizing meeting face-to-face as a chemistry check," says the study's lead author, social psychologist Eli Finkel of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
In May, Match.com, founded in 1995, announced "innovative features for connecting people that eliminate the distinction between online and offline dating," including monthly mixer events in 80 cities.