Senior long distance dating – a challenge – but not impossible

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 19, 2019

Senior long distance dating — a challenge for seniors — but not impossible

Two weeks ago, we wrote about a widower, age 75, whose wife passed away two years before. He’s dating again. After being shunned by a widow he met at church, he turned to Internet dating sites to try to find a mate.

He emailed, seeking advice. He said he met a woman on the OurTime website, who lives 845 miles away. He was going to send her air fare to visit him.

I suggested, instead of sending her air fare, he should look for a woman who lives close to him. Getting involved in a long-distance relationship might be too much effort for a man his age.

Champs responded, sharing their opinions about senior long-distance dating.

Cynthia emailed: “Forget about long-distance relationships! If you can’t meet people in person within a 50-mile circumference, then it’s not worth it.

“You need to simply look around your own town, church, neighborhood, grocery store, club, senior center or wherever you go for entertainment.”

Art, said, “This man should be able to meet eligible women within an easy driving distance from where he lives. I am in a relationship with a lady I met online, and she lives only 15 minutes from me.

“Together, we belong to several Meetup.com groups, and there are at least four women for every man who attend events. Perhaps he is unfamiliar with Meetup.com, but unless he lives in a very rural part of the country, there are probably Meetup groups in his area.

“A woman living 845 miles away is too far for a meet and greet lunch or dinner, and the cost and inconvenience would make a possible romance very difficult.”

Susan chimed in, “If you are lonely, join a club, an exercise or Meetup group, volunteer, etc.  There are so many ways to not be lonely. If you enjoy children, volunteer at your local school or library. (Meet.com is not a dating site, but a place to meet lots and lots of new friends, and when you meet lots of new people, who knows what could evolve? )

“When I was off work for a few months, I volunteered at our senior center. I was NEVER lonely there. Lots of seniors hanging around wanting to talk with someone.”

Joanie stated, “This 75-year-old man should make sure he looks extra good, smells nice, wears fitting, well-cut clothes, gets a haircut and takes care of his skin.

“And then, he should take ballroom dance lessons. There are tons of wonderful single women who dance, most looking for a nice man. And there is a shortage of men. He will meet someone quickly.”

Gina added, “I think online dating can be an effective tool, but one should weed out the people who are long distance. Potential mates should be within 50 miles and willing to meet within a few weeks of making a connection via text messaging and phone.”

Linda felt differently; she said, “I think he should visit the woman 845 miles away, see where and how she lives. You can tell a lot about people based on how they live.”

Liza emailed, “My advice for your lonely widower is to slow down and relax.  Smelling desperation on a member of the opposite sex is a huge buzz kill.  Most seniors don’t want to be alone but that big of a rush would scare off any decent woman–but would certainly appeal to a scammer.”

Shelley said, “Yes, indeed; loneliness can cloud a widowed person’s thinking! I lost my beloved husband of 39 years five years ago. My judgement was impaired for at least 2 1/2 years!

“The widower should look for a woman he can meet in person and not have to send plane fare to. That has scam written all over it.’”

                  And yet, long distance relationships can work

A while back, I wrote about Sally, a widow, from New Jersey, who had been married 41 years. Two years before, she had corresponded with a widower (married 48 years) online. But he lived in Atlanta.

Through the online site, she sent him a message that she was removing herself from the site and included her personal email address. He didn’t receive her message.

When her online site tried to get her to renew, she checked her mailbox, one last time, and found a message from him. She said, “I emailed and we picked up writing again. I guess it was meant to be!”

They agreed to be just pen-pals. “No pictures. No, ‘Are you the right one?’ and, no plans to meet,” says Sally. However, a senior long-distance relationship began.

“We were very careful in the beginning when we wrote. We never mentioned the names of our children or grandchildren, just funny stories about different things. We both had long, stable marriages and our families were the center of our lives. We had successful careers. Neither felt threatened by the past.”

Then their arrangement changed. She said, “About 8 months into the pen-pal thing, he tells me not to get serious or marry anyone until we meet. At that point we exchanged photos, talked on the phone, and it kept getting better.

“He came to NJ for a two-day visit and stayed a week, and then kept returning every two-three weeks. I visited him in Georgia.”

Sally liked the Atlanta-area lifestyle. She visited a recreation community catering to all ages and particularly liked the quaint homes with porches. She told her gentleman friend that if she relocated, it would be incidental to–and not dependent upon–their relationship. “Marrying again was not in our plans,” said Sally.

Sally sold her New Jersey home and bought a home in the recreation community. She and her widower friend maintain separate residences, and have a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.

“We spend weekends together; we cook for one another once a week. We love to shop together. He visits his family and I visit mine, keeping these issues apart,” says Sally. “I am very lucky. It’s an open, honest, loving relationship without it ever getting routine, stale, or to the point of too much togetherness. We are committed to one another, but, observe that space that people need.

“We never intended it to turn out this way, but we gave it a chance. As seniors, we accept who we are and enjoy what we have now.”

And, you Champs likely remember Chris and Tina. They were 14 years in a long, long-distance relationship: England and California. Nearly 4,400 miles. But they made it work. Now they are married. She’s in her 70s and he’s in his 80s.

And, how about Champs Terry and Daeng. California and Thailand? Want to see happiness? Look below.


 Champs Terry and Daeng–who says long distance romance can’t be fun

                              Tom’s five senior long-distance dating tips

  1. Try local first. Focus on what’s near you. There are many options, as mentioned above, where seniors can go to meet new people and make new friends. Who knows? They might meet a potential mate by being out and about. Meetup.com is not a dating site, but it has endless choices to pursue activities that one might enjoy—like learning a language or hiking, and there’s no cost. Senior centers will have like-minded people who want to chat. Volunteering is a great way to pay it forward and meet people at the same time.
  2. If you Internet date, perhaps Cynthia’s and Gina’s suggested 50-mile dating radius is a good rule of thumb. However, it depends. Does the man still drive? Does the woman still drive? What happens if they become a couple? Who moves? Or, does the relationship become a Living Apart Together (LAT) relationship?
  3. Seniors must realize there are lots of scammers online, even on the most reputable senior dating sites—OurTime, Match.com, and eHarmony.com, for example. Regardless of what the sites claim, scammers slip through the cracks and target vulnerable, lonely seniors.
  4. When you make contact with someone who lives near you, the two of you can meet in person and decide if there is a mutual attraction, without the challenges and expense of traveling long distances. Keep your search as close to home as reasonable.
  5. Long-distance relationships can work. Before giving up on your Internet site, check every message, just in case. It only takes one, as Sally discovered, but we never know which one.

Author: tpblake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published four books. His primary topic is finding love after 50 and beyond, sometimes far beyond, for people 80 and older as well. He also blogs about travel at TravelAfter55.com.

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