Senior dating challenges during pandemic

 On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  September 11, 2020

by Columnist Tom Blake

                   Senior dating challenges during pandemic

For years, I’ve stated the best way for senior singles to meet potential mates is to get off the couch and out of the house.

However, that advice hasn’t been very useful over the past six months. We’ve been quarantined and encouraged to stay home. So, how do senior singles overcome dating challenges during pandemic times trying to meet new people?

Choices are limited. Senior centers and other senior gathering places are closed. For example, the senior Meet and Greets at Tutor and Spunky’s, my former deli in Dana Point are on hold. The most recent event took place in January.

And when we go to a grocery store or any place indoors, we must wear a mask. It’s difficult to check somebody out from a distance when faces are covered. You don’t approach someone wearing a mask and say, “Excuse me, would you lower your mask so I can see what you look like?”

Internet dating has become the most useful dating tool in 2020. My email inbox is bombarded with online dating-site messages. An estimated 1,500 new dating sites have emerged this year. But, do seniors really want to click on sites with names such as “Cobble,” “Pokerface,” “Say Allo,” “IsMyGirl,” “Live” (speed dating), “Stripchat” or “Extreme age-gap?” Most likely not.

As the number of online sites has increased, so has the number of scammers. Seniors are targets for scammers. Many seniors are lonely, which makes them vulnerable.

Scammers use robocalls, which arrive on our cellphones daily; we should avoid answering them.

But let’s say a senior does meet a prospective mate online, using sites like, eHarmony, or Plenty of Fish (POF). The advice from dating coaches has always been to meet face-to-face as soon as possible, to avoid wasting time on the wrong person.

But that thinking has changed. Sure, singles can still try to meet face-to-face (or should we say “mask-to-mask?”), but, they need to ask themselves, “Is it worth the health risk?”

Before meeting “mask-to-mask,” should each person take a COVID-19 test and bring the results to the date? An Abbott Labs test recently released called BinaxNOW provides results in approximately 15 minutes, does not need any other instrumentation, is very reliable and costs only $5.00.

On a first date, or any date, does each person wear a mask or gloves and place a package of hand sanitizers/wipes on the table? 

Does each show up with a thermometer and take his or her temperature and then show the results to the other person, proving he or she isn’t overheated?

A thermometer for her and a thermometer for him

One of our Champs wrote: “You can probably forget about kissing (can we say Russian roulette every time?)”

How about hugs? That’s always been a nice way to end a date when a kiss would be premature. Even hugs are risky. Yes, senior dating during the pandemic is a challenge.

How can senior singles feel safe meeting a stranger on a first date? Some are trying, respecting social distancing and mask guidelines.

This week, Greta and I met two Champs for lunch. We wore masks upon arrival and departure and sat four feet apart while having our lunch. One of the Champs was Dave, a recent widower we mentioned last week, who appreciated getting out with people. He is doing remarkably well. So positive. So upbeat. Here is a photo of Dave and Tom.

Dave and Tom at lunch on Tuesday

People in established long-distance relationships where air travel is required to be together, are being particularly challenged, especially if one person resides in a foreign country.

Last week the news reported that the Canadian border will be closed for another month. So, Americans and Canadians dating across the border but living apart probably haven’t seen each other in person for months.

Larry, a former neighbor of mine, lives with his girlfriend, Emy, of five years in the Philippine Islands. He had to return to the United States in early January for a few weeks. He said, “I continue to be stranded in the United States. My first return flight, scheduled for March 20 this year, was cancelled by the airline.

“I had to cancel my second flight this month, because the Manila Airport remains closed to foreigners. I am now holding reservations to fly from LAX to Manilla on December 9.”

Will senior dating get easier? Not likely any time soon. A former fraternity brother of mine, a highly regarded doctor, emails a Coronavirus bi-weekly update, based upon the University of Washington’s IHME ((Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) data.

On September 5, he emailed: “The data sees lots of trouble around December 1 – worse than anything we’ve seen. Buckle your seat belts, we have a long journey ahead of us only to be avoided with effective vaccines.”

So, Champs, if you are going to meet in person, wear your mask, keep your distance, and save the hugs and kisses for later. And write and tell us how the date went and how the challenges during the pandemic were addressed.

Author: Tom Blake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published five 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

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