Single seniors make a written list of characteristics in a potential mate

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – May 28 2021

by Thomas P. Blake author and columnist

When I started writing dating columns 26 years ago, I promised myself I would not write about politics or religion. That commitment hasn’t changed.

One of our Champs sent an email this week stating, “I realize you have to be careful with your column topics but the information in the enclosed attachment is a good guideline for me in finding a serious relationship.”

The Champ, a friend in his 70s, knows I avoid religious and political topics. So when I read his email, I assumed the attachment had something to do with politics, religion, or both.

It did, sort of. The attachment was called “Pastor Rick’s Daily Hope,” written by Rick Warren, the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California’s largest church. Warren’s headline read: “Let God Guide Your Choices.”

Although the attachment appeared to be about religion, I opened it, eager to see how it might help my friend find a mate. I thought if the information was helpful to him, it might benefit other single seniors as well.

Warren listed five characteristics to avoid when choosing a potential marriage partner and two characteristics that a mate should have. Warren cited a biblical reference to each characteristic. I assumed those references were what my friend alluded to that I don’t normally write about.

I read what Warren wrote and feel his seven items make a lot of sense for senior singles. (Warren’s Bible references are not included).
Five must-nots are listed first
1. Whomever you marry must not be nursing uncontrolled anger. Uncontrolled anger reveals deep insecurity and low self-worth.
2. “Whomever you marry must not be stuck in an addiction. There are hundreds of ways to get addicted.
3. “Whomever you marry must not be harboring bitterness. Bitterness is like poison. It eats you alive.
4. Whomever you marry must not be selfish. When it comes down to it, the number one cause of conflict in marriage is selfishness.
5. Whomever you marry must not be greedy. If you marry a greedy spouse, you will be in debt your entire life.”

And two must-have items are listed next

6. Whomever you marry must be generous and kind.
7. Whomever you marry must tell the truth. Love is based on trust, and trust is based on truth. If you don’t tell me the truth, I can’t trust you. And if I can’t trust you, how can I love you?”

Warren also addressed a common mistake that singles make when choosing mates. He suggested that when a potential mate has one or more of the negative qualities he listed, the potential mate should be avoided “ matter how good-looking, rich or nice they are.” (The italics are mine).

Those words struck a chord with me. I remember years ago writing a column titled, “But She Was Beautiful.” I wrote about a date I’d had with a very attractive woman.

She was rude to the waitress at the restaurant and said when I took her home, “Next time I’d like to go to a more upscale restaurant.” And then she added, “Do you have a nicer car than the Suzuki Sidekick you picked me up in today? I was afraid a friend might see me.”

I ended that column with the words, “But she was beautiful” as if I were rationalizing that tolerating her negative qualities was okay because of her beauty. Of course, I didn’t ask her out again.

My friend concluded his email with, “I wonder what qualities other single seniors think are important? I’d better get busy making my list.” 

I can think of two modern-day issues that senior singles will likely consider when evaluating whether a person would be a suitable mate for them. They could be considered “hot-potato” issues. 

The first: political-party affiliation. With the country so divided politically, people belonging to different political parties might be too opinionated for each other. 

The second characteristic has emerged because of the pandemic: Are both parties vaccinated for Covid-19? I read a recent survey that stated one in four people require proof of a Covid-19 vaccination before going on a date. The people surveyed were under age 55. 

So, considering Pastor Warren’s seven items, plus the common mistake he mentioned, and the two “hot potato” modern-day issues, my friend should be able to create an effective written list of the qualities he seeks in a partner.

Plus, he’ll likely add other characteristics that are important to him. I recommend all senior singles who are dating have a written list of qualities wanted in a mate. Whoops! I mentioned both politics and religion in today’s article. But, I don’t think I seriously infringed upon my 26-year-old promise to avoid those topics. After all, I need to stay current with what’s happening in the senior dating world. 

Senior downsizing and getting rid of stuff

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter May 21 2021

by Columnist Tom Blake

Senior downsizing, relocating and getting rid of stuff

As we age, we start to realize that we may need to make some changes in our lives such as possibly relocating, downsizing, and clearing out clutter and “stuff.”

Last week, the above message was delivered to me loud and clear.
My nephew Derek made a special trip from Dallas to California to meet with me for three hours and then he met with my sister for three hours in heart-to-heart discussions.

Derek’s dad, our brother Bill, passed away on January 19. Derek is the executor of Bill’s estate. And while there was a will and estate plan, Derek said there was so much stuff that executing the estate had been a nightmare.

Looking me directly in the eye, he emphatically stressed the need for older people (as in yours truly) to clear out “stuff” while they still can, and not leave the task for their kids or someone else to try to figure out who gets what, and what to keep and what to toss out.

In some cases, growing older necessitates starting over in one’s life. Today, we share situations that three of our women Champs are dealing with. It’s called “starting over.”

Joanne, Albuquerque, New Mexico On April 24, Joanne wrote, “No one needs extra stress right now. I’m waiting for an apartment on the west side of Albuquerque to become available. It’s HUD so it could take a while. 

“In the meantime, I will be staying with friends in Reno. I’ve rented for 40 years and have never been treated like this. We’ve had three property managers in 10 months. When they don’t want to be bothered by you, they block your phone number, etc…

“So, I’m putting my ‘stuff’ in a storage place on May 17 and plan to leave for Reno on the 18th. It’s a two-day drive from Albuquerque. I’ll stay in Reno to help my friend for a couple of months and when the next apartment is available, I’ll come back to ABQ and live on the west side of town. I swore I wasn’t ever moving again.”

 Jackie, Illinois “I’m selling my house, the home in Illinois that Randy provided for me in his will, to move back to Georgia to be near my children. I’m starting over.

“Once I get settled or after I do some traveling, I’ll see if God has someone once again for me as I had with Randy, and like the Italian love story from last week’s eNewsletter.

“I’ve been told it’s a good real estate seller’s market now and I have no reason to be here anymore. I’ll take the leap to put it on the market on May 24. I hope once everything is over I can visit my sister and we came come to another one of your Meet and Greets at your former deli, Tutor and Spunky’s in Dana Point, as we did in May 2019.

“I’m sure you will be giving us an update from last week’s eNewsletter on Annalisa and Carmen. The ‘Where Do I Begin?’ song by Andy Williams took me back to the 1970s.”

Susan, Virginia, 

“I hope the meeting between Annalisa and Carmen will lead to something. I am lonely too, been alone for a very long time, was okay with it for a while, but now feeling it much more. I’m getting ready to move and that in its self is very stressful. Downsizing. ‘Where do I begin?’

“I keep shredding paper and there is a lot of it. I got rid of 11 pounds of paper today and about eight pounds last week.

“I don’t have much big furniture, so that is a plus. I once had a big house and moving from that place where my kids grew up was hard. I moved in with my daughter for a while and that was fun. I then moved in with my son, before he was married, and then I moved to an apartment, and now, moving again!

“When my ex-husband passed away eight years ago, he left nothing in order! My daughter handled the estate. It was very hard on her to sort everything out! 

“I have to move again because the rent where I am now living keeps going up, so I’m moving to a less expensive place–an over 62 community. 

“It has been a long journey for me divorcing in my 60’s and the things I went through. I could write a book on divorcing later in a woman’s life. There was nothing out there at that time to help women and I still don’t think there is now! 

“A good divorce lawyer is worth his or her weight in gold. I didn’t have one to protect me, and I didn’t have the money to continue fighting the ex. I also was just getting out of treatment for breast cancer, but, I did walk away with something: my health. 

“I am 79 and wishing that I was younger. Having to make a change again at his late date is not fun.”

Tom’s comment: Relocating, downsizing, and/or getting rid of “stuff” can be a pain in the rear, I understand that. But, it also can be a positive new beginning. It’s something that nearly all Champs need to get busy on, especially getting rid of “stuff.” Greta and I know we need to get that done.

And the result of relocating can be rewarding. A new environment will mean new challenges of learning the local area. One will meet new people, make new friends, and encounter new adventures. It’s a chance to start over, to stimulate one’s brain and muscles. It could lengthen and enrich a person’s life.

Good luck to the above three Champs. Please let us know how it’s working out for you.

Senior love story

On Life and Love after50 eNewsletter May 14 2021

by Columnist Tom Blake

“Where do I begin?” was the instrumental theme of the 1970 film Love Story. In January 1971, Andy Williams’ version was released. The first four words of Andy’s rendition are also “Where do I begin?” It is one of my favorite songs of all time. There is a link to Andy singing the song at the end of today’s eNewsletter.

The son popped into my head this week when I received two emails almost simultaneously. And because of those two emails, I didn’t know how to begin this column.

The first email’s subject line caught my attention: “Ciao from Milan.” Greta and I have spent several days in Milan and we love that city so I opened the email.

The email was from a woman named Annalisa, which in itself, is a beautiful name. Annalisa wrote, “I always read you eNewsletters. I am a 69-year-old Italian woman. I have been alone for 12 years since my ex-husband left me for another woman. Our family has suffered a lot.

“I do not speak English well, but I can make myself understood. To write this letter, I am using a translation app so excuse me if some words are improperly used.

“I am looking for a mate who is an American citizen. I’ve been online for 10 years and haven’t found anybody desirable. I am disappointed with the online dating sites.

“You have a lot of acquaintances. You probably know of older men who are lonely like I am. I am looking for a widower aged 67-77 years old who is intelligent, unattached, cultured, and socially active. I reside in Milan and I’d like the gentleman to visit me here. I will host him.

“I do not want a divorced man for the reason that I have suffered and I’ve seen the sufferings of children and families from divorce. I prefer a widower without children for a serious and loving relationship.

I hope you can help me.”

My first reaction was: Doesn’t Annalisa know I’m not a matchmaker? My second reaction: “Wow, this is incredible. A Champ who lives in Milan Italy is reaching out to us. And my third reaction: Annalisa probably doesn’t understand that there are many Champs who live in the USA and Canada who would like to meet a quality older man. Hence, I think Annalisa has competition and a challenge on her hands.

I promptly responded: “I received your email. I need a little time to think about it. I will get back to you. 

“Did you say you are willing for the man to come to your country and stay for a while? What about the pandemic, is Italy allowing foreigners into the country?

“Thanks for writing. Your email is one of the most interesting I’ve received in my 26 years of writing columns and newsletters.”

Within a minute after sending my response to Annalisa, another email arrived. It was from Champ Carmen (Carm to me), who lives in Barra de Navidad, Mexico. He and I were high school classmates and have remained friends for 60+ years. Carm was featured in this eNewsletter a few months ago.

Carm wrote: “I’m toying with the idea of selling the place (in Mexico) and moving to Italy for the final few years.

“Plan B is to rent out the place for a few months (would have to be Nov.-April — tourist season here) and spending that time in Italy to test the waters. But that’s wintertime in Italy so I couldn’t do the north that I haven’t seen yet. Do you think I could do it on $2,000/month?”

I read Carm’s email in disbelief. Italy? What a coincidence. I wondered if he and Annalisa might meet in person someday.

I wrote Carm back and mentioned Annalisa and described her email.

Long story short. Within 24 hours of me opening those two emails, Annalisa and Carm had exchanged emails and photos with each other. The thought of them meeting in person wasn’t as far-fetched as I first thought.

And what if a relationship formed? And if they ever married, I hope they’d play “Where Do I Begin?” at their celebration. Maybe the NY Times would want to cover the event (Tom is smiling).

When I mentioned this story to Greta, she said: “Let’s return to Milan.”

Milan was in the news on Tuesday. The world-renowned La Scala opera house reopened after a seven-month closure due to Covid.

                       La Scala Opera House in Milan

                                              (photo by Tom 2016)

The link to Andy Williams singing “Where Do I Begin?” is below.

Andy Williams singing Where do I begin?

9 senior women comment on senior women sharing senior dating expenses

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter

by Columnist Tom Blake

In last week’s eNewsletter, Champ Wayne asked senior women their opinions about sharing dating expenses 50/50. He said he can’t afford to pay for first-class airfare, 5-star hotels, and pricey restaurants. Included below are the responses of nine women (responses edited for length and clarity):

Bobbi, San Mateo, California, emailed, “I understand the 50/50 arrangement. My partner and I had that type of relationship. Sometimes he would pay the entire bill and then I would reciprocate the next, but most times we shared.

“Some restaurant portions are too large for each to consume so we’d share an order. “I have no problem sharing expenses. I am financially secure so no big deal and it’s only fair to both parties especially with the rising costs everywhere. Unfortunately, I am now single again, as my partner passed some time ago. 

“Most women in our age group should be willing to share expenses.” 

Bonnie, San Juan Capistrano, California, “How nice that Wayne explained his circumstances, and his wish to have his resources to rely upon through his retirement years. 

“California is expensive. I hope that he can continue to live here, as it sounds like he is happy doing so. “For the woman who cares about his life, security, and planning to remain solvent…she will stand out in the crowd and would be worth a relationship.”  

Bring your calculator on dates?

Gail, “I see nothing wrong with sharing the cost for entertainment and travel expenses. However, I would add some conditions.

“Each person in the relationship would first have to be honest and committed to each other—- this does not necessarily mean they are married but committed and not still looking for someone.  

“Once that is done, they need to discuss with all honesty and be willing to show proof of their annual income. This would be confidential. Their most recent tax return could suffice. 

“So now, each person knows the other’s annual income. Then, the incomes are added (just for illustration purposes) and used to figure percentages.  

“For illustration: “Female X has a yearly income of $50,000Male Y has a yearly income of $80,000 

“Combined the income is $130,000. Female X makes 38% of the total Male Y makes 62%.  “Hence, when they travel, dine, or purchase groceries, etc., the female would pay 38% and the male 62%. Our smartphones have calculators, so each person’s share would be easy to figure on the spot.  

“I feel this would be the fairest and most honest way to do things. “I didn’t consider each person’s assets- that would be up to the couple.” 

Confession from Tom: Gail’s example above unburied an old memory. More than 30 years ago, a woman I was dating and I agreed to share expenses on a trip to New York City. I kept track of every penny each spent (a little anal one would think).

On the flight back to San Francisco (coach class), I said to her: “I calculated what we both spent, you owe me .83 cents.” She went ballistic. That’s probably why we stopped dating.  

Shari, “A senior woman who is dating should insist up front that she believes in paying her dating expenses. That puts both parties on an equal footing. In that way, the woman is not beholden to the man. Also, it does not put undue pressure on one party to pay for everything.  

“And when both parties pay, either one can suggest places to go without hard feelings creeping in. I wouldn’t dream of letting a man pay for all the dating expenses.   Consensus: Avoid 5-star and pricey places.

Sandy, “Regarding Wayne’s 50-50 sharing of expenses: 1) What if the girl of his dreams could not afford half of the first-class flights and five-star restaurants? 2) Would he want to limit his net to women in a specific financial or social bracket?

“Stephen and I are both Champs who met online and married in 2014. While we were both working – there was a significant financial disparity. We were both employed in long-term career positions but his financial remuneration was greater than mine. We both had our own homes and stellar credit scores.

“I addressed this by being transparent about my finances within the first four dates because I was asked about my ‘pension.’ It was my hope that Stephen could decide if I was acceptable including my less than stellar portfolio before knowing each other too long.

“For us, neither finances nor medical history prevented our commitment and marriage.

“My message to Wayne: I could not afford half of first-class airfare or five-star restaurants. He might be throwing away an opportunity with a woman whose value exceeds her balance sheet.

“And not being able to afford those privileges does not mean a woman is poorly educated, lacking in intellect or culture. It is just a financial inequity.”

Gina, “Interesting that Wayne gave the example of first-class air, five-star hotels, and expensive wine and dinners. Does he have to fly first class to enjoy the trip otherwise he doesn’t want to go?  

“If he wants to cultivate a relationship with a special-quality woman, he can hold off on the first class and five-star trips and instead be creative with his time and attention and do what he can afford.   “If a guy I was newly dating said ‘I love to fly first class and only go to 5-star hotels, let’s plan a trip and split 50/50,’ I’d say no.  

“Once there is a strong connection and a desire to spend more time together, within the first three to six months, a couple can have a conversation about travel dreams. The man can be honest about what he can afford and ask how she feels about sharing expenses.

“A man who has similar values, world views, and, is a good listener, and is thoughtful within his means, goes a long way.”

Cris, “The key is to discuss expense-sharing early so your companion knows what to expect. A conversation starter could be ‘I’d love to take a cruise next fall, it would be fun if you could join me. Is that type of expense in your budget?’

“This should open the door to a conversation about future travel and a discussion about what type of situations they would each pay their share of expenses.

“I’m sure many women would have no problem paying their share, especially if the alternative was to not travel at all. And, I bet many women have no problem picking up the tab for dinner once in a while.”  

Nancy, “First time responding to your newsletter. “Money is an intimate topic…When I was single I would sometimes make a bet with a friend that money was a more intimate topic than sex.

“To prove the point I would engage a guy at a bar in a conversation which eventually led to a discussion of sex–likes, desires, things they had tried, etc. They spoke openly. But when I questioned their net worth or annual income, they clammed up! 

“I can afford to share expenses with my significant other but I would much rather offer to do it than be surprised when a check arrives or I feel obligated to contribute a pre-arranged amount.  

“Looking back over the last year together, I can say that my ‘voluntary’ contributions have greatly exceeded 60%….and I don’t feel bad about that because it was voluntary. And I must admit I enjoy seeing him smile when I randomly pick up a check, suggest we have dinner ‘on me,’ or prepay a hotel bill.  

“My advice to Wayne is to discuss the topic of sharing expenses, in generalities, and suggest that he and his partner share expenses informally, but do not expect a rigid 50/50.  

“His misfortunes are not her problem. Figuring out a fair way to share expenses is…as a couple. Not by edict.”

Kathy, “If I were dating right now I would want to split expenses; I don’t like to feel that I owe anyone, anything. Paying my way has always made me feel like I’m an equal partner in a relationship.

“When I remarried my husband after four years apart, we came into the relationship with separate checking accounts and a household account that we both pay equally into monthly. It works great, I wish I’d done this the first time around.

“There’s no discussion when I come home with a bag of new clothes or even a new car that I’m spending his money, or too much money. It’s made life so much easier.”