On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter April 8, 2022
By Columnist Tom Blake
Has the senior dating scene changed in 28 years?
This week, I was rummaging around my computer desktop when I came upon the first newspaper article I wrote. It was published July 8, 1994, in the Laguna Niguel News and the Dana Point News. Those newspapers created a new category called “Middle Aged and Dating.”
“Home alone, with only dogs for company,” was the title of that first article. When I re-read it this week, I thought to myself, “Oh my, age 50-plus dating has changed in many ways in 28 years, but, in some ways, it hasn’t.
Why did I start writing about dating after 50 in 1994? An unexpected divorce was the triggering event. I had been happily married for six years. I spent Christmas 1993 visiting my 83-year-old mom in Northern California. Simultaneously, my wife was taking what furniture and belongings she wanted and moved out. The catch? She hadn’t informed me of her plan.
I wasn’t a writer back then, but I’ve always kept a diary. That move-out event started an entirely new diary chapter. I wrote about the move out, the subsequent divorce, and the rather unsuccessful attempts at trying to date in the first few months after the divorce. I had blind dates, first dates, expensive dates, frigid dates, frustrating dates, and last dates. After each date, I wrote the woe-is-me details in the diary.
Five months later, I converted those diary notes into a 70-page short story. I thought perhaps that some newspaper or magazine might be interested in my hard-luck story, written from the man’s point of view. Luckily, the Laguna Niguel News and Dana Point News editors gave me a chance. They thought my articles would agitate but attract women readers.
At that time, the Internet was just in its infancy, so responses from readers were either faxed to me or left on the newspaper’s telephone InfoLine. There were no Internet dating sites.
As predicted by my editors, that first article struck a chord with women readers. The first message I received on the InfoLine was: “Who is this sniveling puke?” The second message was, “Get the boy a crying towel.” My editors loved those comments.
In that article, I described the middle-aged dating scene as a “jungle.” Not much has changed in that regard, senior dating is still a jungle.
The biggest change: the Internet and online dating. Seniors are able to cast their nets far and wide to try to find a potential mate, which can dramatically improve their chances of meeting someone. However, with the good comes the bad; scammers prey on vulnerable older singles and are a menace to internet dating.
And then, for the last two years, we’ve had this thing called the pandemic, which has made meeting people face-to-face challenging at best.
The terminology has changed. In those days, there were terms like “breaking up” or “petting.” Now, words like ghosting, catfishing, cupcaking, cuffing, breadcrumbing, phishing, and LATs (living apart together) are now tossed around.
One of the biggest changes in the last 28 years is the ratio of single women to single men. Back when the column began in 1994, the ratio of single women to single men was very close to being equal—one-to-one.
But now, as we seniors reach 70, 80 and beyond, that ratio has reached 4-to-1 or 5-to-1, or even larger, making dating more difficult for women.
Some things haven’t changed: networking through friends to meet potential mates is still an important way for singles to meet. And single people are still lonely, in many cases, even more so. Frustration with dating is still an issue.
And most of us are not with the same partners we were with 28 years ago.
So, yes, things have changed since the middle-aged dating era. We aren’t middle-aged anymore, we’re seniors. To keep up with the times, I’ve changed my column name from Middle Aged and Dating, to Finding Love After 50, to On Life and Love After 50, to Senior Dating. I haven’t figured out what the next term will be. Hopefully, my readers will make suggestions.
In 2013, I changed newspapers from the Orange County Register to the three newspapers that make up Picket Fence Media in South Orange County: the Dana Point Times, San Clemente Times and The Capistrano Dispatch. It was the smartest journalism move I’ve ever made. I’m blessed to still be writing for printed newspapers.
I look back and am grateful for the 28 years of writing columns. There have been nearly 4,430 columns and eNewsletters combined and five printed books published. Some of my readers have been with me for nearly the entire time. I appreciate their friendship and support.
And speaking of appreciating Champs, as I was composing this article on Monday, I received an email from Champ Larry L. in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He sent me a video of Glen Campbell singing the song, “Yesterday When I Was Young.” I hadn’t thought about that song but always enjoyed it. And it seemed to summarize today’s topic of what has changed in 28 years. I also liked Roy Clark’s version.
Here’s the link Larry sent of Glen Campbell singing “Yesterday When I Was Young.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZVm-vHeG9Q