According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, the recently divorced Montezinos is the poster child for the latest boomer trend: online dating.
Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says divorce has been dropping overall for decades in the U.S., it’s doubled among the 50-and-older crowd.
Dr. Pepper Schwartz, the AARP love and relationship ambassador and chief relationship expert for PerfectMatch.com, attributed the trend, in part, to independent women opting not to stay in mediocre marriages.
Rather than be alone, however, many like Montezinos are demanding a second chance in matters of the heart.
Emma Ernst, a 66-year-old widow from Deptford, N.J., said she still felt a void despite having children, grandchildren and a job.
“I would come home at night and sit in my driveway and didn’t want to go in the house,” she said. “There was nobody there.”
But Ernst and nearly 5 million other men and women older than 55 aren’t hitting the bars and bingo tournaments in search of love. They are flooding online dating sites.
In the last three years, the number of boomers signing up on these sites has jumped 39 percent, according to Experian Hitwise, an Internet tracking firm.
“There’s so much to do, and there’s so much to live for, and there’s so much happiness you can have,” Ernst said.
Ernst said she got computer-savvy and was barely on PerfectMatch.com when someone caught her eye: Terry Moulton.
“I just thought, ‘He looks like a really nice person,’” she said.
Moulton, 66, of Long Beach Island, N.J., said he hadn’t hesitated before signing up on a online dating site.
“I had been married for 41 years and it was the only woman I ever knew,” said the widower. “I could use all the help I could get.”
He estimated that he’d read about 1,500 profiles and gone on a handful of dates before he met Ernst. But she contacted him first.
Their profiles clicked – they had similar senses of humor and a love of dogs — and the two embarked on a journey full of soul-sharing emails.
When the two traveled to Philadelphia for their first date, love blossomed.
“I turned to her in the restaurant and said, ‘You know, you’re the one,’” Moulton said.
“He did,” Ernst said.
“I told her to call me when she got home, which she didn’t,” said Ernst’s daughter, Tricia Lutz, 42. “She didn’t follow any of my rules or guidelines, and she’s still alive, but I did write his license plate down.”
Ernst and Moulton are now engaged and planning a wedding for next year.
“We cry together,” Ernst said. “I know how he feels. I know he has good days and bad days.”
“I found somebody,” Moulton said.