Since 1994, Tom Blake has been a newspaper columnist on the topic of finding love after 50
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.
On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – May 27 2022
by Tom Blake
The stresses of long-distance relationships
(Note from Tom: Today’s eNewsletter has been edited for length, clarity, and controversial material)
The pandemic has been hard on senior long-distance relationships. Travel restrictions made face-to-face meetings difficult. And when the partners lived in different countries, getting together was almost impossible.
I heard of relationships where one person lived in Canada and the person lived across the border in the USA and were unable to see each other for one to two years, due to border-crossing restrictions.
Did the long-distance relationships within the USA survive the test of time being away from each other? Recently, we wrote about the frustration a woman in Illinois expressed about not being able to see her California man friend more often. She wondered if she was wasting her time. They had seen each other only a couple of times in the last year.
And now that restrictions are easing, what’s happening to international long-distance relationships? Larry, a Champ, a friend, and a former Dana Point neighbor of mine from 30 years ago—he’s now 82– emailed last week regarding the status of his international long-distance relationship.
I mentioned his situation in previous eNewsletters when he said nine of his scheduled trips to the Philippines to see Emy, his woman friend, had been canceled.
Larry wrote last week: “Many men have been interested in the lure of Asian women. I started an online investigation of these women and their countries a dozen years ago. I discovered there are two common denominators. They all want love and financial security.
“I chatted with many women online throughout the entire world. Many come from countries with different religions than mine. One country stood out above all others (The Philippines) for Catholicism and an English-speaking populace.
“At first glance, it was obvious that Philippine dating sites were not the way to go! Full of money scammers and women desperate to escape the poverty of The Philippines. So, I looked at other non-dating social sites. This is how I met Emy. We are now in our 7th happy year together.”
A few years ago, Larry went to the Philippines to be with Emy. Just before the pandemic arrived, he returned to the USA to attend to some personal matters. Then, after the pandemic spread, his return flight to Manila was canceled.
During 2000 and 2001, he had eight more reservations to fly to Manilla canceled. The Philippine government was strict about allowing people into the country. Larry expressed his frustration to me with both the Philippine government and the U.S. government and their travel restrictions. However, I understood those restrictive actions, which nearly every country instituted, in an attempt to protect the health of its residents.
Larry wrote: “Since March 2020 until recently, the Philippines and the USA governments have kept me from returning to The Philippines. The stress has been close to unbearable. It has taken a toll on my life, and I am now in a recuperative stage. It is going to take days, weeks, and perhaps longer to recover.
Love rekindles in PV
“To get Emy and I back together, I investigated 35-45 countries where Emy might be able to get a visa. I found only two—Ecuador and Mexico. Ecuador seemed too far away in South America. And Mexico, which she chose, turned out to be difficult for her to enter. They required many documents and other severe travel restrictions for Filipinos! She endured a 3-day delay in Manila, but with help from friends plus 34 hours of travel time, we have been together again in Puerto Vallarta Mexico (PV) for over two weeks.”
When I read “Puerto Vallarta,” I was shocked. I had no idea that Larry and Emy had “PV” on their radar. However, that’s not so bad, in fact, it’s darned good. “PV” is a great city. Greta and I have visited and stayed there five times. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
Emy and Larry (photo by Larry McCook)
Larry said, “What is it like here in Mexico with Emy? Life is better than good. She is the same lady who loved me in 2019: Sweet, kind, and caring. She never misses Mass, and it is great to hold hands together in Mass. She cooks three meals a day made from fresh food from the local market. Our apartment is so clean that a person could eat off the floor. She gives me a strong full back massage every day, and we take long walks every day.
“We live in a nice updated fully furnished 1 BR apartment including A/C and electricity for under $500 per month, which helps us save for rainy days. Buses run every 5-10 minutes and it costs 50 US Cents to anywhere in the city. Supermarket pricing is close to the same in the US. The locals are friendly. We live across from a large sports park.”
Tom’s comment: I wonder what they will do? Will they remain in Mexico or return to the USA or the Philippines? I know he will let us know.
Their story is an example of how determination and true grit can keep love alive. More power to them.
I’d like to hear from other couples who are involved in long-distance relationships and how they made it through the pandemic and what obstacles they had to overcome.
On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – May 20, 2022
by Tom Blake – Columnist
A New You – 5 Tips for overcoming heartbreak (Love will find a way)
Growing old has many rewards: retirement, playing lots of golf, exercising at will, children are grown and usually married and grandchildren for you to enjoy. No more 9-to-5 working pressures. The list is endless.
However, as we age, we also experience loss. We lose loved ones through divorce, breakups, misunderstandings, and death. It’s not just losing a partner. We lose parents, siblings, and dear friends. We are dealt personal hardships. Perhaps we’ve been diagnosed and are dealing with a serious illness.
It’s life, it’s inevitable and it’s hard. When these things happen, we face a new challenge: overcoming our heartbreak and finding a new direction.
How do we do that? How do we become “The new you?”
In writing about senior dating and relationships for 28 years, here are five tips I’ve learned from readers on how to overcome heartbreak. One of the main themes of songs is heartbreak, and how to overcome it. Today, I’m including three songs that I feel can be helpful to get people through tough times and give them hope.
5 tips for overcoming heartbreak
1. It’s understandable and ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to be alone (for a time, but not for too long). One of my favorite songs from the 1970s was REM’s “Everybody Hurts.” In a nutshell, that song’s message is: “Everybody hurts sometimes. Hold on.” It’s a powerful song of hope and overcoming adversity. Link at end.
2. Remind yourself that healing takes time. It will sting for a while. In an interview April 21, 2022, on Good Morning America, Robin Roberts asked Magic Johnson (the photo above is of Magic Johnson with Greta Cohn and Tom Blake at Tom’s deli, Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point, California, in 2009) how he overcame the news in 1991 that he had HIV. Magic said, “You realize you aren’t alone.” Being aware of this helped him become “A new you.”
The Bee Gees, the 1970s popular singing group was made up of three close-knit brothers. They had many hits, including, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” I saw an interview on TV recently with Barry Gibb, about that song and how he dealt with the loss of his three younger brothers, who died years apart. Maurice and Robin were members of the Bee Gees and Andy was much younger but not in the group.
Gibb was devastated. He said, “I moped around for months, there were highs and lows.”
My sisters and I lost my brother Bill a year ago January, it’s taken that long to not think about him every day. I’ve healed, I guess because I no longer daily reach for my phone to call him as I did for months after he passed. Again, healing takes time. And we will never forget.
3. Don’t try to go it alone. Have a support group, if only one or two people. Confide in them and talk to friends; be out socially, if possible. Try not to isolate yourself. Be around people by attending church, volunteering, and going to senior centers. Don’t be afraid to admit your pain.
4. Remind yourself that everything is going to be all right in due time. It may not seem like it when adversity happens. Be as positive as you can. In 1976, Neil Diamond co-wrote and sang live one time the song “Dry Your Eyes,” in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King because so many people were mourning. The song was on the “Beautiful Noise” album. He did not sing it live again until 2017, after the terrorist bombing at an Aria Grande concert in Manchester, England.
Greta and I attended one of his last concerts at the Forum in L.A. in 2018. At least, he unexpectedly (to me) sang “Dry Your Eyes.” I filmed a video of it, which is linked below.
5. Look for a seed of opportunity that often sprouts from adversity. When I was dealt an unexpected divorce in 1994, I started a journal just to gather and organize my thoughts. Six months later, using the words from that journal, I became a newspaper columnist. A seed of opportunity came along, and I grabbed it. I’m still writing 28 years later.
Another song about overcoming heartbreak is by the singing group Pablo Cruise who had a 1978 hit titled “Love Will Find A Way.” Words from that song include:
“Oh, but it’s all right (all right) Once you get past the pain (Past the pain) You’ll learn to find your love again So keep your heart open ‘Cause love will find a way”
On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – May 13, 2022
Columnist Tom Blake
Why high school reunions are good places for seniors to meet
In my April 29 “Big Yellow Taxi” article, I wrote about a couple who started dating after reuniting at their high school reunion in 2018. The woman lives in Illinois; the man lives in California, near his three daughters, seven grandchildren, and his 96-year-old mom.
The woman is frustrated because they live so far apart. She wonders if she’s wasting her time with him. Over the years, many Champs have shared their stories of meeting a mate at a high school reunion. Some of those meetings have led to marriages.
Champs responded to the Big Yellow Taxi article, including Althea, who wrote:
“Your recent article inspired me to share this high school reunion story with you. My half-brother, Ray, who is now 89, was married for over 50 years to Shirley and widowed in March 2010 at the age of 77.
“In 2011, there was a summer high school class reunion in our hometown of Foxboro, Massachusetts, which he attended. He was living in South Carolina.
“At that reunion, he met Diane, a woman he had known in high school, who graduated a year after he graduated. He knew her through a family member of hers. She is a retired nurse and a widow with five kids, and Ray, a widower, also has five kids.
“Diane lived in Ohio. Ray visited her there and she visited him in South Carolina. Plus, between visits, they spent a lot of time talking over the phone.
“Ray and Diane married a year after Shirley died. I thought it was crazy and disrespectful to his wife of 50-plus years until I talked to him and my nephew, his oldest son, about it. They both said that Shirley wanted Ray to be happy and not be alone for the rest of his years.
“Even though Ray and Diane married quickly, they are still together and happy, now living in Ohio in an assisted living facility.
“I’ll even bet he and Shirley had a lot of talks about what he would do after her death.
“The key to senior relationships is honest and upfront communication. The woman from your most recent article needs to have communication with the California guy if they are to be a forever couple who met at a high school reunion.”
Another high school reunion romance (years later)
In 2017, I wrote about two of my Jackson High School Jackson Michigan school classmates—Phil and Sue—who hadn’t seen or communicated with each other since graduation. At our 50th high school reunion in 2007, they spent 20 minutes talking to each other. Both were married at the time. I mentioned them again a few weeks ago as well.
Five years ago, Phil became a widower. He heard from another classmate that Sue was divorced. He lived in California; Sue lived in Michigan. He contacted her and asked if he could visit her. She said yes, and off he went driving to Michigan.
When they were together in Michigan for a week, they realized they had special feelings for each other. After he returned home to California, he proposed to her over the phone. They were married at the Riverside County Courthouse two weeks later and Sue moved to California to be with Phil.
These two reunion stories reveal
four reasons why high school reunions are good places for seniors to meet potential mates:
1. The number of singles attending. As we age, more and more people who attend reunions are single again. Often widows and widowers attend because they know the people and feel more comfortable among them.
2. A single person might see someone who they had secretly admired in high school, who is also now single. Why not spend some time together?
3. When people who have known each other for years share memories and experiences at class reunions, they often have much in common, which is an important factor in favorable compatibility.
4. Sometimes, people from different graduating classes also attend reunions, which means even more singles are there. You might meet someone who could be older or younger than whom you didn’t even know before.
One added note about high school or college reunions: often, the people you meet live in a different city or state. So, a long-distance relationship could evolve. That can present challenges for people who want to be together. Bottom line: nothing’s easy in senior dating.
When you receive that reunion notice, don’t just toss it aside. An unexpected meeting could happen. “But, but,” the Champ says, “my reunion is in Michigan, and I live in Ushuaia (Argentina).”
Here is a photo from my 60th high school class reunion
(Today’s eNewsletter has been edited for clarity, grammar, and wordiness)
Champs responded to last week’s “Big Yellow Taxi” eNewsletter which featured a widow living in Illinois who had met a widower in California at their high school reunion. She called herself a vaycay girl and wondered if she is wasting her time with him.
Jackie, also a widow, emailed: “I try not to make my life about having to find someone, but at age 74, IF I had another love story like meeting Randy at my 50th reunion, and subsequently marrying him, that would be nice, but I’m trying to be content—one day at a time. I am enjoying the journey and doing what I like to do, including attending my grandchildren’s activities.”
Tom’s comment: We’ve said it before. Attending school reunions can improve one’s chances for finding love in our senior years. After all, the people who meet at reunions share a common past and experiences from years before.
D, emailed: “In my opinion, the Yellow Taxi ‘vaycay’ gal is very lucky. Who in their right mind would leave California for Illinois when everything that person has is in California? (For the man, children, grandchildren, and mother live near him in California).
“That guy’s life, happiness, and stability are also his survival and how to make it after the loss of his wife. He was described as a nice guy, and he is making an attempt at a relationship. The Yellow Taxi gal doesn’t seem to appreciate what she has, not to mention a visit by him after he recovers from his knee surgery.
“She is lucky but is complaining like a spoiled brat.”
Our Champs often comment about the oldies songs that I sometimes link to at the end of my eNewsletters. Last week’s song, Big Yellow Taxi, inspired the mention of another song from a Champ.
Champ Wayne emailed a tidbit about a song that he felt illustrates how a songwriter’s personal adversity didn’t stop him from co-writing and making famous a 1960 classic song.
Wayne wrote, “The Drifters recorded “Save the Last Dance for Me” in 1960 and it became a great hit. “The songwriter, Doc Pomus, suffered from polio when he was a kid and was crippled. However, he sometimes used crutches to get around.
“During an interview on Elvis Costello’s show “Spectacle,” Lou Reed, who worked with Pomus, said the song was written on the day of Pomus’ wedding while the groom who used a wheelchair watched his bride dancing with their guests.”
Tom’s comment: I went online and verified that Pomus co-wrote that song with Mort Shuman and the details Wayne provided in the paragraph above are true. Wayne continued: “Pomus’ wife, Willi Burke, was a Broadway actress and dancer. The song gives Pomus’ perspective of telling his wife to have fun dancing but reminds her who will be taking her home and ‘in whose arms you’re gonna be.’
“Hence, the song. True story and very touching! That’s how this wonderful song was written!”
With Ben E. King on lead vocal, the Drifters made the song a number one hit, and it was later recorded by multiple artists, including Anne Murray. I agree with Wayne that the song reminds us that opportunity often arises from adversity. Through dedication, hard work, and never giving up hope, we can make positive contributions to life and the world. Here’s the link to the Drifters singing, “Save the last dance for me.”
On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 29, 2022
Senior dating, wasting her time? Big Yellow Taxi
Last week, I received an email with this subject line: “Both widowed, he is living an amazing life.” The email had been sent from a link on my website. I did not recognize the sender’s name or email address.
The message read: “Dating a high school friend. We really connect. We are both widowed. I have kids…they are fairly independent. He is an amazing father of three daughters ages 45 to 51 and has seven grandchildren and a 96-year-old mom living near him.
“We love each other…I think. But we are in a long-distance relationship. He is in California; I am in Illinois. He texts me his day-to-day happenings and we talk on the phone every 10 days. It’s been four and a half months since we’ve been together.
“He had a knee replacement and is recovering well. He seems all on board and his daughters seem receptive of me. But I am afar. I feel like a vaycay gal.
“Where do I fit? Am I wasting the time I have left? What do you think?”
I felt it was not my place to advise her about senior dating, wasting her time or not. I’m a columnist, not a relationship counselor. Besides, she didn’t provide enough information to give her an intelligent answer. I get questions like this often from single seniors. In responding to a situation like this, it’s best for me to ask questions which might nudge her to answer her own question.
I emailed her back. For openers, I asked, “What is a vaycay gal?” Followed by:
“How often have you been together in person?
“Did you re-meet at a reunion?
“What do you want? To move to California or him to Illinois? Who would relocate?
She responded: “A vacay gal is when you are in a long-distance relationship, but you only take vacations together. I knew him in high school. We are both 72 and widowed. We reunited at our last reunion in 2018.
“A year ago, we started emailing, texting and talking. He visited me in Illinois for a week last October. I visited him in California at the end of December. We really hit it off. We would have visited again but he had knee replacement surgery March 8. He is doing well and will visit me May 15 for three weeks. Plus, we have a trip planned to Hawaii in September.”
And then she added: “I doubt he would move because his three daughters, seven grandkids and mother live in the same California town.
“I want a partner in life and a loving relationship.”
I responded to her: “Wasting your time? Heck, I think you’ve got a good thing going. What do you expect him to do?”
“You didn’t answer the relocate question: “Would you be willing to move to California and would he want that?”
We’ll see what she says. Her emails remind me of a 1972 song by Joni Mitchell called “Big Yellow Taxi.” More specifically, this stanza.
“Late last night, I heard the screen door slam And a big yellow taxi took away my old man
Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”
The final sentence “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?” is repeated five times in the song.
Maybe, she’ll realize she’s got a good thing before the big yellow taxi takes him away.
Comment from Tom: Today’s eNewsletter features 36 responses from Champs, the most responses in a newsletter since my writing career began. It has been edited for brevity (believe it or not), clarity, discretion, and grammar. It’s long, featuring 28 responses from women and eight from men. Some other responses are not included but will be in future eNewsletters as they are relevant to the senior dating scene.
Here’s what 28 women said
Linda #1, “The best way to describe my experience with a lot of men is they go from zero to the topic of sex very fast. I say to these men: ‘Let a woman feel safe and comfortable with you. We will get there. Just not on the first date.’ “I had a man show up to our first date in his motor home. He assumed we would ‘hang out’ in it after dinner in the restaurant parking lot. Didn’t happen.”
Kaitte, “I gotta get to KNOW you and be in a relationship. It’s the one GIFT I’ve got–you can’t buy, rob, or steal it from me. If you have an issue with that, hit the door. I haven’t had sex in 14 years. I have to feel something and the man has to be deserving.”
Tasia, “I completely agree with you Tom – I never want to be made to feel cheap or used. I want to be able to look in the mirror and feel good about myself. I’ve known a few women who jump right into bed with the new guy, and, after a few times, they find out he’s ghosted them or is in some type of committed relationship. No thanks!
“Those few women I referred to were all in their late 40s/ early 50s. I don’t know if that makes a difference when compared to women in their late 50s and older.”
Christine, “Your advice was so wonderful! I consistently give men and women this very same advice in my relationship counseling. I have nothing to add except my hearty endorsement.”
Virginia, “I have been a reader of your column for 23 years, and in my humble opinion, your response in this week’s newsletter is by far the very best one ever!
“Succinct, and all-encompassing, I can’t imagine what more could be added even by the wise and the few jaded CHAMPS in our group.
“Thanks for conquering and clarifying this sticky subject and putting it out there in black and white for seniors who may be a tad too lonely: ‘To thine own self be true.’ Bravo, well written! I wish this response could be published in every senior newsletter nationwide.”
Althea, “I agree 100% with you! I don’t have any additional comments on the subject of having sex on a first date with a STRANGER, because you said everything I would have.”
Annette, “I’m 62. The last time I had sex on a 1st date I got a skin infection.
My answer is ‘no’ unless that’s all you are looking for.
“Times have changed but men have not. At my age, unless it’s a committed relationship, there’s more to life than a one-night stand.
“I would have to check their feet, under their fingernails, and their home first (for cleanliness). What is unseen is not worth it. Glad I was cured.”
Mary Lou: “There’s something about Diane that just didn’t ring true – got my spidey sense working. Nine out of ten women wanting first-date sex? That’s hard to believe.
“You handled the advice perfectly. A very informative column, especially the caution about STD’s. Good God, how humiliating to get one of those at our age.
“Love Garth’s song The Dance. He is married to one of my favorite country stars – Trisha Yearwood.”
Linda, “Your answer was perfect. You don’t need to ‘dance’ right away to figure out if you like someone well enough. Remember what you told your daughters when they first started dating? It still applies.”
Joanie, “I agree with Tom. As a senior – no sex until you have a relationship established. Being ‘used’ and then ‘ghosted’ or worse left with an STD is too hard to deal with for a lonely senior.
“A DECENT man will wait. For most seniors, ‘companionship’ is more important than the sexual aspect of a relationship…no woman should give before she gets what she wants! Tom is correct.”
Sandy, “Classy answer! Returning to dating through online connection has its share of strange elements. No wonder people flounder and need reality checks. Your answer was grounded and mature, thanks!”
Gail, “My first reaction to your question is, ‘Oh, hell no!’ I’m old-fashioned when it comes to dating, and intimacy, I love it. BUT I must have a connection, a trust with my partner. I must know him well.
“Sure, I have had sex on a first date with someone. I did it once and it was fun but didn’t last, he was a player.
“For me, on a regular first date with someone, sex will not happen. I would feel pressured. I have had numerous first dates when I did not have sex and never heard from them again. In a fact that is very telling, they were not interested in anything else. Good-bye, user.”
Norma, “I am like Diane, I look forward to your newsletters on Friday. I like people and enjoy hearing stories of their lives, as it is real, not just some movie.
“I am not involved with anyone, so this had not crossed my mind. I just wanted to tell you, it is a wonderful article, very well written and needed to be said. People need to be reminded of the dangers you pointed out.”
Pat, “I thoroughly enjoyed the first-date subject. I agree with you entirely. If you want to ‘Dance’ and thoroughly understand the ramifications you outlined, then go for it. However, it wouldn’t be my choice.”
Teresa, “Great topic — ‘The Dance.’ I suggest that Diane look at her online profile again to see if there is anything there that indicates she is primarily interested in ‘dancing.’ Years ago, I tried online dating and ladies kept answering my post. I’m heterosexual so couldn’t figure out why I was attracting women.
“As it turns out, somewhere in my profile I had inadvertently checked the box that said I was interested in same-gender partners. Go figure! In her case, Diane’s friend, and son (who set up her profile) might have accidentally checked a box or implied that Diane is looking for a ‘dancing partner.’
“Also, three out of four guys that I met with just wanted sex. I don’t understand why they go to online dating for that. Is it because sex is free that way? I am certain that all men know they can go to a massage parlor, go online, or go to almost any bar (from a dive to the most upscale) and there are ladies working there who will instantly provide sex if men are willing to open their wallets. It baffles me that someone would go through the torture of online dating just for a roll in the hay. Sorry if this topic made you uncomfortable. ‘Men are from Mars.’”
Laurie Jo, “I signed up on a lot of online dating sites after my divorce. I had been married for 30 years. I went on many dates of all types. Met for coffee, drinks, dinner, etc.
Not ONCE did anybody ask me to come over for sex. I think I am attractive and self-sufficient and own my own home. So, I’d like to think that perhaps I was fortunate that the people I dated were polite gentlemen.
“I met, dated, and still have a relationship with my boyfriend. And I didn’t let him do anything but kiss and hug me until he declared his love for me and wanted to be exclusive.
“If I’m ‘old-fashioned, that’s fine. We have been together living apart for six years and it seems to work well for us. Don’t dirty dance until YOU are comfortable with a person!”
S, “No. I have to love the person I’m lovin.’”
Thyrza, “So dance is the euphemism for sex? Huh! I am with you; Dance is for the youngsters who don’t know any better. For an over-60 woman, that’s being irresponsible and reckless. Leave ‘the dance’ to the kids who do not know any better. I suggest she see her gynecologist first.”
Barb, “Re, ‘The dance’ person. I had decided to stop in Chicago on my way back from visiting my son and spend the day with a man. We had been in contact and had had several phone conversations. About two minutes after I got in his car, he said; ‘I just got my results from the VA, and I’m clean.’ It took me a minute, and then it hit me. I said, ‘If you’re thinking that’s what we’re doing you can take me back to the airport NOW!
“He said, ‘No, we’ll find other things to do. We did. I got a tour of the city, Lake Michigan, etc., and best of all a miracle healing. YUP. I had been on crutches and in a cast for about 12 years due to nerve damage from severe osteomyelitis and many surgeries.
“I got my cast off the next day, at my doctor’s appointment, the leg color was normal I put the crutches away, put a shoe on, and was walking. Something I was told I’d never do again.
“We had visited a place where I later learned miracles had occurred! He and I still email, message, and chat weekly.”
Jackie, “I would never give a guy a second moment if he only had one thing on his mind. I want to be made special, not an object for sex. Love says wait, lust says I want it now. I go a bit farther. Wait until you’re married. There is so much intimacy in getting to know a person.
Sue, “Interesting that men are calling women after a first date to come over for sex. Years ago, it was come over and see my ‘new car,’ ‘record collection,’ ‘paintings,’ or ‘etchings.’
“Now the wording is just more explicit. There will always be lots of decisions to make in relationships”.
Crislinn, “Wow! I’m surprised that nine out of ten women would say it’s okay to have sex on the first date. Your suggested reply to those requests was perfect!”
Ticia, “I know for me deep down it would be nice to enjoy life with another person but for now, I am content with my singleness. I may go back to online dating but for now, I am going it alone with just me and my sweet dogs.”
Mo, “I am that one in 10 women who says NO to sex on a first date. I agree with all the reasons you state. I want to get to know someone first. I don’t want an STD. I want to see if we are compatible in other areas: do we have common interests, values?
“Are we both looking for the same thing in a relationship? Only sex? (then go for it!). Just friendship? A travel buddy? Companion? A long-term commitment (then wait at least for a couple of dates for sex).
“A man who is interested in you and not just for sex, will want to get to know you also and respect your decision and boundaries.”
Joanne, “This newsletter is pushing my memories to great lengths – Coming from Michigan, I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii. When I went the first time it was incredible. The marriage wasn’t a good one so when I got to Hawaii, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. I met Don Ho and was impressed – except I didn’t want to sleep with him or anyone else I had just met.
“Since I’ve always been very fair, I’m sure that had something to do with it. They call me Haole with blue eyes (white person from the Mainland Ha Ha). The tour director took an interest in me. He was 20 yrs. older.
“Turns out we did become friends and he would send me money for flights to go visit from California. He had been an entertainer before becoming a tour director. He knew a lot of people and introduced me to a lot of those people. I did end up living on Maui for a couple of years. I agree 150%, don’t just ‘jump in bed before you get to know someone.’”
Rhonda, 73, “I loved what you wrote about not having sex on the first date. Glad you had the courage to put forth a more traditional view. I love reading your column every week. You’re such a good writer.”
Susie, 80, “I am with you, no sex on the first date. Of course, I seem to go the other way in waiting too long. I must be attracted to someone first to even think about The Dance. That doesn’t happen much for me.
“I would like to be in a relationship, but with someone who is a little younger than I so he will keep up with me, Most men my age don’t; I have taken good care of myself over the years, so I want someone who has done the same. He is difficult to find.”
Maria, “Thinking back, I’ve succumbed to first-date sex on occasion, but I was much younger then and in a different mindset! Sometimes the chemistry is right at the moment. I’ve had a history of getting “dumped” for someone else, so now as a sage and much older woman, I see it in a different light.
“I think all women have to be cautious, respect themselves first, and know who they are. If you’ve just met someone and it’s the first date, and he suggests a little frolic in the hay, that tells me right off who he is and more importantly, who he isn’t! Asking a man to respect a ‘getting to know you’ period, is asking for respect for who you are. If he can’t, move on–he’s just in it for sex.
“Many of us who are older are lonely, miss the tenderness and companionship, and, yes, miss the sex! But if you fall into that first-date sex trap, you are put in a vulnerable place and you realize later that you were taken advantage of, especially if you never hear from him again. I want a man to know me first. The idea of sex now (I’m 77) is very much a secondary thought, and frankly out of my realm of possibility. I’d happily settle for a long, meaningful friendship at this stage of life.
“I’m interested in what the men have to say, because all of this applies to them too, if roles were reversed.
“If you want a loving, sexual relationship as a mature person, take it slow, you still have time, but respect the one you are with.
“Build up to that wonderful moment of intimacy shared. It will be worth the time.”
What 8 men said (4 are married)
Joel, “Great points, Tom. I hope Diane accepts your advice. My own experience was shock and awe that women were so eager for sex. One woman friend, just an acquaintance, said to me, ‘If I’m not in bed by the third date, I’m outta there.’
“I had barely dated before I met my first wife and, 27 years later, at age 55, I became a slave to match.com having zero knowledge of what to do. It was a long learning journey.”
Larry #1, “Great and appropriate answer! I am sure she appreciated your answer, and I was surprised by the ‘9 out of 10’ reference.”
Terry #1, “The sex on a first date article reminds me of my gorgeous, and dear friend R, may she RIP. She believed in having sex on the first date. Her logic was if the sex is no good why would I want a second date. By the way, we only dated once.”
Bruce, “Interesting article, which made me think a little about when I was in between wives back in the early 2000’s I dated a lot, and rarely did I have sex on the first date or even expect so (maybe after the third, lol) on the few occasions I did. I kind of knew beforehand this was just a hook-up for that alone from the written conversations with the women before meeting.
“I totally agree that now you have to truly get to know someone first because of STD’s/scammers/even covid/ etc. Personally, I do not think it is necessarily wrong as time is short now but like you, I would caution against it”
Larry #2, “I think sex on the first date is a must if you are 90 or older! No time to waste!”
Art, “I agree with you that intimacy on the first date is not the norm with me or any of the friends I know. My experience is that a quick kiss goodnight is normal in most cases if we met at a restaurant and came in separate cars.
“On the second date, I usually pick the lady up in front of her home and usually park and talk at the end of the date in front of her home and walk her to the door. There may be extended kissing in the car, and a goodnight kiss in front of her door. It would be unusual to be invited inside after the second date, but not unheard of if we were dancing at the restaurant.
“The norm that I am familiar with is that after the third or fourth date we would sit on her sofa and become physically involved and then go to her bedroom. Thank you for bringing this subject up.”
Terry #2, “I’m 83 years young, have no wrinkles, walk eight miles a day, play pickleball, dance rock and roll like a madman, have a very active libido, and very much enjoy making love (which, BTW, is different than having sex).
“I’m a born-again Christian who believes in the sanctity of marriage. I’m okay with a kiss on a first date but do not favor hopping into bed. My preference would be waiting until marriage to make love but that is tricky these days because so many women I meet state they do not want to marry again.
“Living together is okay for some of them, just not marriage. I make no bones about my desire for a long-term relationship, which to me is preferably marriage. I’m for commitment. Many of the women I’ve met are not. In fact, being open and honest about my desire for a long-term relationship seems to drive most women away.
“I have not encountered nine out of 10 women who gave any signal that they wanted to hop into the sack.
“I have rambled on way too long. Just something about this newsletter that touched a nerve.”
Tom (not me, but a buddy), “When I read your article, I was laughing so hard I was crying. I told my wife that your comment about the man lacking class and character was a bit off. I think he was just being a guy.”
Comment from Tom to Tom: Today, we featured the comments of 33 Champs, 25 women and eight men.
The item questioned most by our Champs was the nine out of 10 of Diane’s women friends who told her to have a roll in the hay on date number one. Perhaps, she is hanging out with the wrong group of women.
Nine of 10 women are not in favor of sex on the first date. In fact, I think it’s a flip flop, 9 of 10 women say no to sex on the first date.
How about the guys? A few said, “Men are men, let it be.” I disagree with that as well. One guy said it because he is in the safety of being married to a bright, intelligent woman. Since he got married, he’s been in the dark about senior dating. I can say that since he’s been a buddy for 35 years. He’s been in the dark about all dating, in fact.
As I was reading and answering the responses, it occurred to me that instead of calling sex on the first date “The Dance,” maybe we should call it by a different dance name: “The Stroll.” Remember: “Feel so good….Baby, let’s go strolling. By the candy store.”
This week, when I received an email about “the dance,” I immediately thought it had something to do with Garth Brooks’ incredible song, “The Dance.” As it turns out, it had nothing to do with the message in Garth’s song.
Diane emailed, “I’ve only been a Champ for a couple of years, but I look forward to receiving your eNewsletter each Friday. I enjoy all the banter and great information. The stories are wonderful. I need your wisdom and experience. I have been stumped lately by something I continue to hear about dating. I think you’ve heard it all and maybe you can give me an update.
“I’ve been told I’m behind the times, that my views on dating don’t work anymore and I need to remember it’s 2022. All these so-called experts may be right. The last time I dated was in 1981.
“I was with my husband for 33 wonderful years and have been a widow for more than seven years. In the 1980s, I went on a date to get to know someone, to laugh, to dance, and to enjoy the time together and build a relationship.
“And here’s what I’m puzzled about: sex wasn’t a first-date consideration back then. But it seems to be now. I’ll explain
“I finally decided to try online dating after my friend and my son set up my online account late one evening after I fell asleep. I needed a kick to get moving.
“I enjoyed most of the conversations and went on a couple of coffee meet ups. After each meet up (the same day) I received requests or invites to come over for sex. Now I enjoy the dance (Diane means sex) and would love to get close again but on the first date? In 1981, we were labeled ‘bad’ girls if we took that course of action.
“I asked a few friends and medical experts about this new ‘dance on the first date.’ I was surprised that out of 10 women, nine told me to dance and NOW! Only one said no.”
“So there is part of my dilemma. I want to dance; I want to build a relationship and I am probably a ‘good’ girl. I also know this is probably something not everyone wants to talk about, but I thought the topic is current and of value. We aren’t getting any younger either.
“If you have up-to-date information or views, I will enjoy hearing what you and other Champs think about the first-date dance. I don’t want to feel that a 68-year-old girl gives up. There is so much more life to live. And there will always be new dance steps!”
Thanks for being a Champ and for writing. I think the 9 out of ten women are wrong. Sex on the first date or until you’ve gotten to know a new person is a bad idea. There are too many dangers, including catching a STD (sexually transmitted disease). Some studies have shown that the fastest growing population segment for STDs is age 55 and older.
Plus, you wouldn’t know the person at all. He might be married, in a committed relationship, or be a scammer or a felon. A man who would request “the dance” lacks class and character.
How would you feel if you had sex with a guy and then he never called you again? You’d feel terrible, cheap, used, etc., and that isn’t a good feeling. So don’t buy into that advice.
You have dignity. Yes, intimacy would be nice but only with a person with whom you are building a relationship. A first-date or second-date hop in the sack isn’t anything more than lust. When is having sex okay? After you’ve established a trust with him.
I think an answer to those men who request first-date intimacy is, “Hey, I enjoy sex, but I need to know a person better than over a few sips of coffee. I’m dating to establish a relationship with someone I’m compatible with. I enjoyed your company. It would be nice to have a few dates and see how we feel about each other.”
If he balks, then he isn’t the person for you.
Are you behind the times? Not from that aspect. Are there things for you to learn? Sure, but don’t think you are wrong on this aspect.
I don’t write much about senior sex; I maybe mention it occasionally but it’s an uncomfortable topic. I’m sure some of our Champs will share their opinions on “the dance,” as you call it.
Look at it this way: If a man didn’t find you attractive, he wouldn’t ask you over for “the dance.”
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 NiguelNews 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.
Rob, originally from Australia now living in Atascadero, California andTerri’s new friend she met on Match.com Terri from Palmdale, California went on Match.com and met Rob. Their story is below.
On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter
April 1, 2022 eNewsletter #13
by Tom Blake
Terri, 71, Palmdale, California, was one of the 16 Champs included in last week’s eNewsletter. She mentioned that she had recently met a new man who is a great travel partner. I asked if she’d share with us how they met and for more details about their evolving relationship. I told Terri she looked about 40 years old in her picture.
Terri said, “I‘ve always taken good care of myself. I guess I didn’t do too bad in the ‘picking good parents’ derby, either: My mother, a tall, gorgeous redhead, worked as Rita Hayworth’s double at Columbia Studios in the 1940s. She turned heads well into her 70s when she was running for a seat on the Lancaster City Council.
“My father was nearly 6’3” (very tall for that generation) and an imposing figure as well. He was a pioneer in the serve-yourself gasoline business in Los Angeles and “Big John” had the dashing good looks of a George Brent or a Don Ameche. They were a tough act to follow. Thankfully I’ve managed to have an interesting life on my own!
“I met Rob on Match.com, back in the dark ages of 2021, right in the middle of Covid-19, and right after we had both received our second vaccines in February 2021. I guess we were feeling a little invincible.
“He lives in Atascadero and I was considering a move to Paso Robles, near that area, so I put that zip code in a Match.com search to see what the dating pool from age 66-76 might look like. Rob had been widowed for about a year after a very long marriage. His daughter had suggested he give Match a try. He was on there for about a month. I was divorced in 2014 after a 33-year marriage. I was on Match a lot longer than I’d like to admit, however, I met some interesting men and some who remain, dear friends, today.
“I saw but didn’t answer Rob’s profile, thinking it deserved more than a cursory or flippant reply. Surprise, surprise, he then wrote to me, giving his email address and asking if I’d like to begin a conversation? So, I wrote him back.
“We talked on the phone for a couple of weeks and then he invited me to a family barbecue at his house. He sent me a dozen red roses before the BBQ. And it really was a family barbecue: his daughter, her boyfriend, his grandson, his best friend, and her boyfriend. I guess it was the ‘approval committee’ barbecue and I passed!
“We’ve been having fun ever since and I have been thankful for his presence in my life throughout some health problems I encountered (since recovered). My life would have been a lot tougher this past year without Rob’s positivity and his presence. Now it’s time for us to travel some and to have more fun. Life is an adventure!
“Rob owns a nice home where he lives with his daughter and grandson. So, we’ll be something like an LTS (living together separately) couple about 15 minutes away from each other.
“Rob was born and raised in Australia. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy at 16 and traveled the world for 20 years, including extensive service in Vietnam. Upon his retirement from the Navy, he was a ranking officer. He helps his fellow RAN (Royal Australian Navy) officers celebrate ANZAC day each year (see Rob’s photo).
“After his military retirement, he lived a dozen years in England and six years in France, working as an antique dealer. His American wife wanted to return to the US, which brought them to California, and the Central Coast where he has lived for the past 24 years. Kind of an International guy, no? Love that Aussie accent, and Rob’s a great travel partner!
“He’s an honest and up-front guy, with a high energy level to boot! I would say that persistence and resilience are two of the best qualities one can possess if you want to meet someone and pursue that through dating sites. “Thanks for your columns, Tom, and for all I’ve learned from you about life and being a ‘senior single’ in the past 7+ years!”
Part 2 RETA – “No Grumping for me”
Reta, 84, Cincinnati, emailed: “No Grumping for me. After reading all the comments from the ‘young champs,’ I had to comment on my situation. I’m 84 and babysit my three great-grandkids ages 2,4, and 6 three days a week. This is when I notice fewer aches and pains and enjoy life. Sometimes I’m driving the 30-minute drive home after dark-not a problem.
“I also volunteer to crochet shawls for a hospital. I have different groups of friends to keep in contact with. I don’t walk as easily as I used to, but I keep walking and keep doing. Tell that grumpy man that he needs to do the same.”
Tom’s response to Reta, “Good on ya! I like your comment about being around the great-grandkids helping to keep you thinking young. And driving after dark? Courageous. And volunteering. You’ve got all the healthy buttons pushed. “Proud of you. Keep it up!”
16 Champs comment about last week’s “Three things to avoid after age 70” article
Last week’s eNewsletter quoted a guy named Doug Armey who said that most people after age 70 act and talk old. I didn’t like what he said. Many of you felt the same way. As often happens, our Champs chimed in with concise and sage comments. Here are several of them:
Jacquie, “Today, the 25th of March, I turn 74. I don’t feel old. I’ve had two back surgeries and have bursitis and tendonitis, but I still walk 10,000 steps nearly every day. I also read lots of books and magazines. My brother and sister-in-law are four years and three years older respectively and are always traveling. They also walk often.
“I retired at 70 so I could do more of what I want. I won’t be reading Armey’s column anytime soon.”
Rosemarie, South Africa, “I’m 82 and manage my business and interact with clients every day. Health is 100%. Three times a week to the gym. I have lunch with my women friends. It’s best to keep busy.”
Kaitte, “I remember my mother telling me when I was 32 that I was no ‘spring-chicken’ and needed to settle down. At 44 I had cancer. I was dating a man five years younger. My grandmother told me she wished I’d find a man my age and settle down. I told Granny 40-year-olds now aren’t like they were when she was 40.
“I figured if I was going to die, I was going to live what was left of my life on my own terms and not in a hospital room.
“I’m 70 and feel the same—not living my life by some society rule that says I’ve got to act or be a certain way at a certain age.”
Pat, “I just celebrated the 41st anniversary of my 42nd birthday (83) and am still going strong. I don’t dress, act or think like an old lady. My significant other and I are in our 18th year together and it keeps getting better. It’s all about attitude.”
Tom’s comment: Pat’s story about how she met “Cowboy,” her significant other, a Harley rider, was so refreshing and inspirational, I included it in my 2009 book, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50.” Her story’s title: “Love on the back of a Harley.” The printed lesson learned from Pat’s story: Open your mind to meeting people with different interests and backgrounds. Expand your horizons.
In Sarah’s email, sheused a word of which I was not familiar. She emailed, “I wonder if Armey has found himself thinking/acting/feeling those things and not happy about it…thus, his grumping about it.”
She added, “I don’t see anything wrong with mentioning age…unless one is grumping about it. Occasionally,I mention my age, but it’s because I am happy to have achieved it—a badge of honor—sort of like my gray hair. I am proud of that too.”
Tom’s comment: I had never heard the word grumping. It’s not listed in my older dictionaries, but it is listed in some online dictionaries. So, no more grumping from me!
Nigelle, Glastonbury, Somerset, UK, “Hurrah for you, Tom, for speaking up for all 70+ peeps that this Armey chappie has never come across.”
Carol, “Loved your article: it sure hit home. I’m almost 85 and all those things were me…I try to keep doing things, but I don’t ‘drive after dark.’ Your eNewsletters are always good for laughs, even when they hit home.”
Thyrza, “I am pleased you give us your take on the articles published. Who wants to read those unfounded negative reviews of people regardless of age? Armey, who wrote the piece, should learn basic philosophy or logic. One does not make sweeping statements that apply to most people, based only on one’s experiences.”
Diana, “I’m 64 and love every year. Being old and acting old is a choice! I choose to never do either. A fun Friday read.”
Teresa, “One thing never to avoid: if you disagree, speak your mind!”
Terri, 71 and counting, “This Armey guy is all wet and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Seventy years go by awfully fast. I’m lucky. I’ve got great kids, nice friends, a beautiful home, and men still find me attractive.
“I’m in a relatively new relationship with an accomplished, high-energy man, who is a great travel partner. Mercifully, none of us knows how long we have left. Life is and always has been, what we make of it.”
Larry, Florida, “At age 72, I still flip off inconsiderate dudes, like you described in last week’s column. My friend Liz bought a big-screen TV. We rocked and danced to videos of our favorite musical artists. There was a knock on her door. It was her neighbor politely asking to lower the sound because her teenage daughter was studying for a test.’ We considered her comment a badge of honor. We felt instantly younger. We turned the music down, and still ‘danced the night away.’”
Heather, “I turned 69 last week. I rewarded myself by purchasing three new bikini’s. I love being outdoors and getting Dana Point sunshine. No early-bird dinners for my partner Rueben and me. We love to cook and BBQ. Tricky meals are my favs. If they are Rueben approved, they get put into my “Momma Knott’s favorite binder.”
“Also, volunteering is such a pleasant thing to do; I enjoy doing that as well.”
Larry, California: Another thing to do: “Stay off of ladders.”
Tom agrees: That’s for sure. It’s tempting when you need an item from that top shelf that can’t be reached without a ladder. But think twice before doing that.
Kathy, “Some of us who were active in our 30s, 40s, and 50s develop severe knee problems in our 60s and 70s. Even after knee replacements, we can’t engage in those activities we used to enjoy. So, Armey, unless you have walked a mile in those knees, zip it.”
Tom’s comment: My sister Pam recently had surgery on one knee. The rehab was painful and lengthy. But, she’s a trooper (and Champ) and has toughed it out and walking well. I admire her tenacity.
Susie, Virginia, “I’m 80. I’ve had a hard time adjusting to living in an age 62+ community. 80 is just a number to me. There is no one living here like me, I have been blessed with good health and good genes. I’m pretty lonely here.”
Thank you, Champs, for your warm, positive, and friendly responses.