Why I’m not a matchmaker

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – October 25, 2019

by Columnist Tom Blake

Why I’m not a matchmaker and don’t fix up senior singles

I’m a newspaper columnist and an eNewsletter writer. My usual topic: people age 50-plus seeking love. For 26 years, I’ve written about hundreds of seniors who’ve found love, and thousands who haven’t.

Knowing I have contact with so many older singles, people ask why I am not a senior matchmaker and why I don’t fix singles up. There’s an easy reason: it’s too darn hard and seldom works. The effort usually isn’t appreciated.

It’s not that I haven’t tried; I’ve done it dozens of times. I’ve known widowers from San Clemente, California (for example), and widows from San Clemente and have suggested they get together. Some have, but in most cases, no match was made. And then, the people get mad at me for wasting their time, even though my time was free. It’s a no-win situation. In a nutshell, that’s why I’m not a matchmaker.

Granted, some couples have met at our Meet and Greet get-togethers at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, the Dana Point, California, restaurant I founded and owned for 25 years. But I didn’t fix those couples up. They did it themselves by getting off their couches and out of their homes and coming and socializing.

Technically, I did not introduce them. But, Carolyn and Alex Rentziperis met at our first Meet and Greet 3-4 years ago. And it led to a marriage. He’s been my barber for 25+ years. (Photo by Tom)

Many couples who met there are still together. But not all. Some of the relationships have lasted for a month or so, while others resulted in marriage.

Sponsoring events like that is challenging. Why? There are always more single women than men, especially as we age. Often, by five or six-to-one. I’ve watched women walk in the door, see a limited number of men, and turn around and walk out. Their loss. Sometimes men arrive late.

It takes time and effort to put those no-cost events on.

Last week, a Dana Point woman emailed: “Maybe you should have Meet and Greets more often so seniors have a place to go and socialize instead of staying home. I know you are busy so maybe you can have someone else take charge. Just a suggestion.”

She’s never attended one of our events; she has no clue what’s involved. My answer to her: “More often? It’s difficult enough having one per month, just trying to round up enough men to make it interesting. More often than that? No thanks.” She read that response and unsubscribed–must not have been what she wanted to hear.

Nearly every day, an email arrives in my inbox promoting new dating sites. This week, one arrived with the subject line: “An Easier Dating Site For Men Ages 50+.”

I usually ignore those emails, but, was curious so I clicked on it. It showed a picture of an attractive woman with this caption: “Local matchmaker has more older women & needs more men to match with female clients.”

I said to myself: “What’s new?”

The opening line read, “Meet Successful Dana Point Singles.” Turns out, it’s not an online dating site, but a matchmaking site, the kind where you pay a professional matchmaker to find dates for you.

The site stated, “Professional Matchmakers work with you to determine the exact type of man or woman that would be best for you, and then do their best to find that person and introduce you.”

“Do their best?” Wow, matchmakers are only as good as the people they have in their stables. Let me tell you, they are aware of the lack of men. I have had many of them contact me saying they were having an introductory cocktail party, and did I know of any men they could invite? No joke, it’s true.

It’s Just Lunch is a matchmaking service and on occasion has contacted me asking for the names of men. I decline, of course.

The ballpark cost for hiring a matchmaker? The article stated between $675 to $25,000. At those prices, maybe I should become a matchmaker. Or, at least a paid fixer-upper.

The site also stated: “Matchmaking is by its nature, a local endeavor. That means local offices staffed by warm, experienced, real people – not algorithms.”

Maybe the office is in Dana Point, or San Clemente, or San Juan Capistrano, the cities near me, but if so, I’m unaware of it. Avoid professional matchmakers. Read the online reviews; they are frightening. People feel ripped off.

So, I’ll remain a columnist, and your weekly eNewsletter provider, and leave the matchmaking to – well, the professional matchmakers, wherever and whomever they are.

Senior Online Dating – Plenty of Fish

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – October 18, 2019

Part One -Senior Online Dating – Plenty of Fish – The good and the ugly

by Columnist Tom Blake

The Good about Plenty of Fish

Champ Cheryl, “I just read the 10 responses to the Brooklyn widow who has given up on dating. I thought all the responses/suggestions were valuable, especially Ginny’s.

I’ve written you previously about the success that my partner, Matt, and I had with online dating and just wanted to comment briefly again. It continues to surprise me that so many seniors report being unsuccessful and/or intimidated, that is, afraid of online dating.

“It seemed the main thread running through the 10 comments was the idea that you have to ‘put yourself out there’ in order to be successful finding a partner, and that is certainly true of online dating.

“It’s also true that to be successful, one must be willing to be open and honest about oneself and what he or she wants in a relationship.

“I found when I approached online dating it was important for me to actively think/decide what qualities were important/crucial to me in looking for a partner.

“And during the process of exploring online dating, I also was able to ‘fine-tune’ what my essential needs were and what issues were not as important. That’s not to say that it’s ok to be really ‘picky’–that doesn’t work either.

“Is it important that his favorite color is red and mine is blue? Of course not. The structure of the online dating site is really important. Matt and I met on OK Cupid, where there were literally thousands of questions that could be answered, covering every imaginable subject with the ability to add comments to every answer.

“By the time Matt and I started communicating, he had answered over 400 questions and I had answered over 600, and both of us had added comments to nearly all our answers.

“We both were honest with our answers and willing to answer some questions that might be considered intimate or personal, especially about sex.

“With online dating one must be brave, open, and honest. If you are, online dating can work.

“Getting involved with local activities can work as well, I’m sure, but sometimes there are either limited opportunities (I was living in a rural area of Ohio; Matt was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—600 miles away) or maybe all the opportunities have been explored without success.

“Yes, there are scammers online, but one can be deceived by someone locally as well, and when you meet someone locally, you have no idea initially who he or she truly is, unless someone you know, knows them. There are risks meeting someone locally as well as with online dating.

“Again, I would encourage seniors to get involved with online dating but with a site that provides ample opportunities to get to know someone very well before meeting in person. And there is always the option of doing background checks, which I did a couple of times.

“Matt and I are a wonderful match and found love with each other, which neither of us would have found without online dating.

“I like the comment Champ Jim made last week: Sometimes you have to ‘make your own luck.’ Very true!”

Obviously, Cheryl and Matt put a great deal of effort into meeting each other online. And that’s what successful senior dating—online and otherwise–usually requires. A willingness to put forth an effort. It can take time, money, patience, and a bit of luck.

For some seniors, online dating may be the only option remaining to meet a potential mate. It can work. There are endless success stories, such as Cheryl’s and Matt’s.

However, there can be an ugly side to online dating. Here’s an example:

                                     An Ugly POF story

A Champ wrote: “I’ve been on POF for over 10 years. Here is my POF encounter, 10 days duration, Oct 4-14, in a chopped, quickie, writing format:

“UBER driver, 70, who lives nearby, was from a town near where I’m from back East.
favorite saying, “anyhowzers”
talked 100 mph non-stop, wound too tight
invited him to a dance
went to his friend’s party
went to pool 2 times
did “Taco Tuesday”
Went to a Halloween party, he brought his own bourbon and drank it ALL! (hic)
expected me do drive then; I could not as I had forgotten my glasses
danced at a nearby bar to 70s oldies
he played grab-ass with me on the dance floor!
Went to city to see art galleries,
he only put 24 minutes on meter to walk around, had to rush back to meter to put more $ in (duh)
Drove past galleries, straight to another bar, another beer.

I don’t drink anything except sparkling water at a bar
He ordered one snack plate and split it with me! (cheap, cheap, cheap)
Told me off on way home
End of POF encounter.”

Comments from Tom

Online dating isn’t for all seniors. Plus, there are potential downsides, as described above, to senior online dating: fake profiles, fake sites, romance scammers lurking, trying to take advantage of vulnerable, lonely, people and their emotions. And, there are endless other issues.

Before you sign up for any site, read what the one-star and two-star reviewers write. Even reviews can be bogus. Use only established regular dating sites such as OK Cupid, Our Time, Match, Eharmony, to name just a few. People use these sites for seeking friendship, a pen pal, or a long-term relationship.

Avoid what are known as “Hook up” sites. “Hook up sites” are pretty much for sex only,

                                        Other places to meet men

A suggestion from an animal lover: Get a dog. Besides the health benefits of exercise when walking your dog, you meet other neighborhood dog-lovers. Even better, get an unusual looking dog. That may bring other people over to talk to you. Take your dog to a dog park.

Champ Mark added, “About an hour after reading last week’s column, Donna and I had breakfast at the Strawberry Farms golf course in Irvine. Seated on the patio in front of the driving range, I couldn’t help but notice the ratio of men-to-women was about 25-1.”

Add golf driving ranges as places where more men than woman can be found.

Seniors don’t give up on finding love

 On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – October 11, 2019

Seniors don’t give up on finding love

by Tom P Blake

Comments from 5 Men and 5 women regarding last week’s article

Last week, we wrote about Michele, 67, from Brooklyn, a widow of 18 years, who has given up on Senior Dating. The responses from that eNewsletter were more diverse than any I can recall.

In an unusual turn of events, an equal number of men and women responded. Today, five men and five women comment. And notice the diverse geographical locations of our Champs.

Some comments were depressing, as other seniors besides Michele have given up as well. One Champ, Ginny, provided an extensive and helpful list of suggestions for how senior women might meet potential mates. Her suggestions are included at the end of the article.

Thanks Champs, for taking the time to write. Your comments keep the eNewsletter fresh. The 10 responses follow:

Ken, Alabama, “I’m 61. In lower AL. I have given up on Senior Dating. Haven’t gone out in five years. Been Widowed over 20 years. Early years, I thought I’d meet someone. Had my senior heart broken twice. They wanted me to accept their children. But, they wouldn’t accept mine.

“Now, just me. The few unmarried women I meet are not interested. Many I meet aren’t interested in dating either. Oh well.”

Thyrza, Los Angeles, “Is it possible that Michele is too old school in her approach to finding love after 50? With a wink, I say to Michele: ‘Show some skin.’ It won’t kill you.”

Ben, widower,  South Orange County, Calif., “It’s like anything else in life- you got to throw yourself and see what sticks that you are attracted to and what you want in a relationship. It will be hard to find someone; I was married for 24 years. There are good people out there; just do not give up.

“The dating sites are a real gamble and after some time–why bother?

“I am probably going to leave California in 2020 for TN or God knows where. Reasons: Cost-of-living, downright sincerity of people, people have even stated ‘You belong here. Please come back.’ Price of gasoline, greenery, sense of community and my niece & hubby will be moving there soon from CT. Taxes are not bad and no state income tax.

“Your Tutor and Spunky’s Deli September Meet and Greet meeting was nice and it would be my pleasure to go to the next one in October.

(Thursday, October 24, 5 to 7 p.m., Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, Dana Point).

“No expectations on my part. I am ‘genuine,’ honest and forthright. I am always working on my listening skills and up front with ladies. How else can one be? Happy when I work on the roses and cactus at home, plus reading a good book or seeing a decent movie.

“Articulate, and smile (like Charlie Chaplin wrote in that great song).

“Emotionally, every day is a challenge- certain places I will not go in–too many good memories.”

Joanie, Southern California, “Another option for the Brooklyn woman: Move to Alaska! More men than women! On the other hand, finding Mr. Perfect can be wonderful, but it’s also compromising and limiting.

So, ladies, find exciting hobbies and things to do where you do not have to have a man. And yes, the older we get the less men there are…so why worry about it? Why strive for that ‘diamond in the coal mine?’ Find other interesting things in life. Find a place to nurture others – animals, kids, sick people, babies in hospitals. All highly rewarding!

JimEl Paso, Texas, “My younger sister did one of the things you suggested when she found herself divorced in her 50s. At a party at a friend’s house, she struck up a conversation with a gentleman she found attractive. She asked him out and they’ve been dating for the last few years.

“Sometimes you have to make your own luck.”

Sid, Florida, “This young pup (Michele) is slowly starting to become an older pup.”

Stella, Newport Beach, “The ratios can be depressing if you focus on that. Focus on this instead: It only takes one.”

SallySacramento, “I’ve enjoyed your articles, books, blogs and advice since 1998!

“I’m still single San Clemente Sally living in Sacramento! I cherish my friendships and love giving anyone a smile so they give it back to me.

“Nothing has stuck in 25 years of being a widow but I love my independence and hearing all the stories of everyone I love to meet.

Jon, Olympia, Washington, “I’m happy to be out of the dating scene but am frequently amazed at how many women complain about the lack of men.

“While I don’t have the numbers, it seems that if women were a bit less fussy and would stop complaining about the men they meet, they might be more successful at finding someone they were happy with.

“They need to abandon the romantic ideals of the high school years and get real with where we older people are now. Some honest conversations with the men in their lives would probably clear up many of their problems.”

                      Ginny’s valuable suggestions for meeting men

And finally, GinnyPhiladelphia suburbs, “I have several suggestions for increasing a woman’s chances for meeting single men besides the usual church etc.

“At our Senior Center, we have some attractive, active, single men who shoot pool. That’s where I met my ‘sweetie’ after we were both widowed. We are still going strong after six years of dating, at 78 and 85. I am on the Council there now.

“I wasn’t shy about knocking on the pool room door, the guys invited me in to watch. Men from other places sometimes come for tournaments (more chances)?  And while you’re there, keep your eyes open!

“I know someone who loves Pinochle. She found a card partner. They are both active, fun loving, widows in their eighties, and it turns out that they grew up on the same street. They are very happy together. In fact, much to our surprise, we met them on a cruise.

“Another suggestion, volunteer at a Veterans post, or be an aide to a vet for a day thru the “Honor Flight” program. They pay for trips for vets to DC to visit all the war memorials. From our area it is a bus trip, a send-off breakfast and a wonderful outpouring of flag-waving, local residents ‘welcoming them home’ and dinner and entertainment following.

“Another suggestion. I sometimes have gotten invitations to go to free retirement investment seminar lunches. At the one I attended at the local country club, the ratio of men to women was very favorable. Ladies, be bold, go alone.”

Tom’s comment: It’s not only investment seminars where a nice complimentary meal is included; it could be at new housing developments, senior care facilities, a cruise line’s or travel agent’s promotion function–any number of different situations where a comp meal is offered. I agree with Ginny. Get out and meet new people.

Ginny continues, “Class reunions. I have met some nice eligible classmates who have approached me; however, I am attached.

“And finally, educate yourself about online dating. My widowed, cautious brother, age 73, had done it for several years before finding ‘the one’ online a year ago.

“So, ladies, don’t get discouraged. Get out where the men are. Volunteer, even if you don’t meet ‘the one,’ you are doing something productive to give your life meaning and purpose. HAVE FUN, and in doing so, you will attract others.”

So, there you have it, lots of different points of view from lots of different Champs! Enjoy your weekend.

Oh, and to underscore the point about not knowing when and where men might appear out of the blue. My sister Pam, just returned from New Guinea. These guys emerged from the forest while she was there. Pam’s happily married so she wasn’t interested, but found them to be unique and friendly. Perhaps geographically not available as well.

 New Guinea Skeleton Men (Photo courtesy of Pam Peters)

Widow Happy in Brooklyn not dating

 On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – October 4, 2019

by Columnist Tom Blake

                                     Widow Happy in Brooklyn not dating

Champ Michele wrote, “I enjoy reading the On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter on dating, but I don’t participate much because I live in Brooklyn, NY. I have been widowed for 18 years (at age 49) and still miss my husband. I tried online dating but almost got scammed my first time. The few people that contacted me were beyond bizarre. I gave up on that.

“I have been to some dances, but the men seemed to ask the women to dance who were dressed very provocatively and that’s not me. I would leave the dances saying what is wrong with me. It was depressing. No one seems to know anyone. So, I gave up on that.

“Most single functions end up with the women far outnumbering the men. So, if a man, by some remote chance, asks you to dance, he acts like you should be so grateful that he chose you to ask over these other women. It’s like a meat market.

“I enjoy being with my friends and going on vacation. My attitude is, as my mom used to say, ‘If it’s meant to be it will be.’”

My answer to Michele

I’ve been writing about age 50-plus dating for 26 years, since 1994. My first few years’ articles focused on the challenges of dating later in life for both men and women. At that time, the ratio of single women to single men in their early 50s was approximately one-to-one.

As the years passed, that ratio slowly changed. More and more women contacted me, asking “Where are the men?” The single women to single men ratio drew closer to two-to-one for mid-60s people.

Men rarely wrote me. Either they had found somebody or became too inactive to participate in the dating game. Some men, me included, were still looking for a mate.

Some women said the ratio gap was even larger because many single senior men aren’t relationship material. I could see that finding a potential mate was becoming more difficult for women because fewer desirable men were available. But, good guys were and are still out there.

I remember the Dr. Ruth Westheimer response to a woman at an AARP convention who asked her, “Where are the men?” Dr. Ruth said, “The ratio is a fact of life. But, if you have a nice appearance and a positive attitude, and are willing to get out and socialize, you can effectively shrink that ratio.”

And then another phenomenon happened: A thing called the Internet emerged and online dating got its wake-up call. Women were drawn to it because they could reach out beyond their city and local boundaries to find men. A Brooklyn woman, such as Michele, could reach out to all the boroughs of New York City, which are nearby. Potential mates could meet without driving, by using the subways.

   My partner Greta walking the Brooklyn Bridge, from the Manhattan side

It didn’t take long for senior romance scammers to figure out that lots of women online were lonely and vulnerable, especially widows. The romance scammers saw a fertile environment in which to rip off women.

Granted, lots of couples were formed as a result of the Internet but senior romance scams also bloomed. We try to educate the women about the scams.

Now, we find ourselves in our 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s. That ratio has reached almost four-to-one by age 75. Women, such as Michele, share their stories of the lack of men at singles functions. Greta and I see it at our monthly Meet and Greet gatherings in Dana Point.

Saturday night, Greta and I were at the Greek Festival in nearby San Juan Capistrano. One of our woman Champs saw us and introduced herself. She even made the comment about the lack of single men at singles events. I found myself trying to explain the shortage of men to her, as I am to Michele today.

So, what can I say to Michele, who is “Happy in Brooklyn” spending time with her friends and traveling. She has given up on internet dating, singles dances, and singles functions. She is accepting her mom’s advice: “If it’s meant to be, it will be.”

Michele, I say, don’t give up on Senior Romance, keep your eyes open for opportunities to meet a potential mate.

Be assertive, not aggressive. By that I mean if you see a man when you are out and about, and he appeals to you (age close to yours, no wedding ring, no soup on his shirt, combed hair, no odor, no spinach in his teeth), make a friendly comment, such as: “Nice jacket, nice car, nice dog, what’s the dog’s name? Where do you buy your spinach?”

Or, if you see him in the food mart, say: “Is this a good wine?” or, “Is this watermelon ripe?”

In the Post office, “Boy, these lines are long?”

On a cruise ship: “Where’s the dining room?”

At the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles): “How many hours have you been here?”

Anything spontaneous. He may be hoping to meet someone but he’s shy. Be ready to pop the question: “Want to have coffee?” Be ready to pay for the coffee (his and yours). If he’s worth his salt, he’ll offer at the least to go Dutch. Better yet, he’ll offer to pay the tab. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, at least smile and/or even wink. Have a positive attitude.

That’s where we are now, 26 years later.

I hope Michele doesn’t give up on Internet dating but if she does, I understand. Traveling by subway to meet blind dates would be scary now. But local New Yorkers could travel by subway to Brooklyn to see her. As I recall Brooklyn Heights has some nice cafes

There are so many Internet dating sites online I can’t believe it. Everyday, there is a new advertisement in my email inbox. I can’t imagine the ratios are any better on those sites when compared to singles functions.

Continue to get out and enjoy life and your women friends as best you can. But above all, don’t give up on Senior Romance. You are still a young pup and deserve happiness.