Has the senior dating scene changed in 28 years?

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.

Tom’s first article July 7, 1994

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

Which online dating site is best for seniors?

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – November 19, 2021

by Columnist Thomas P Blake

Which online dating site is best for seniors? 

During the pandemic, most single seniors didn’t interact face-to-face with people, so many of them decided to give online dating a try. Several were frustrated with the experience. Some seniors don’t internet date at all. Connie emailed me about the difficulty she’s had when trying to meet men. She wrote, “I have never been on an online dating site. I prefer the old-fashioned way (of meeting men).”

I assume what Connie’s “old-fashioned way” term means to her is networking through friends and/or going to public places where she might by chance meet a guy.

I’ve often been asked by seniors, “Which online dating site is right for me?” 

Take Ellen for example. She wrote: “I am a widow, 66, and recently retired. So, I’m starting a new chapter in my life. When I think of the future and see myself alone for the rest of my life, that makes me feel sad. However, when I look at my life today, I am happy–busy with kids, grandkids, hobbies, and church. 

“I tried online dating for a few years. Tried them all: eHarmony, Plenty of Fish (POF), Catholic Match, Senior Dating, and OurTime. I met some nice people, but nothing clicked.“More times than not when I emailed someone, I never got a response. After a while, it just wasn’t worth the work anymore, and Internet dating is a lot of work. I keep my options open, but I figure at this stage I am pretty well done with online looking. But I am certainly open if I meet someone in person.”

 I’m not an Internet dating expert. After all, I’ve been with Greta for 24 years and have never been on an Internet dating site. So, how do I advise women like Ellen to find the right dating site?

I turn to an expert dating and relationship coach I’ve known for 20+ years, who is also a Champ. Her name is Christine Baumgartner; she lives in Orange County, California, and calls her business “The Perfect Catch.” She helps clients all over the United States, not just in the OC.

Recently, Christine posted comments on Facebook under the title, “Which Internet dating site is ‘the best’ one?” I felt what Christine wrote was so informative for single senior daters that I chose to share some of her highlights in this week’s eNewsletter.

When Christine is asked by a client which dating site is the best one, her reply is, “This may surprise you, They’re generally all the same.”

But she points out that certain sites have a particular focus such as religious beliefs or sites that cater to a variety of age groups, including sites for seniors.
Christine said, “In reality, the outcome of a person’s online dating experience or your own experience often has more to do with some of the following…

“Your attitude toward yourself, the opposite sex, and dating in general. In particular, many people tend to struggle if they have negative opinions about the opposite sex (due to past dating experiences).”

“Profile content and photos. Many of us are tempted to lie about our age or touch up our pictures.” She stresses that singles should be honest with what they post.

“Persistence. Some people give up quickly when dating doesn’t turn out to be what they were looking for.” Christine recommends people adopt a stick-with-it attitude.

Christine concluded, “I have clients who have met their significant others on dating sites after we worked on these things together. I’ve found that it’s usually not the site causing a person to not find the right date…it’s the person not using the site to that person’s best advantage.”

If I were single and trying to figure out how best to meet someone, I’d contact Christine. She’s a widow and has walked the walk. Not to mention that she is one of the nicest human beings one will ever meet. No wonder she does so well at helping senior singles who are struggling to find their way. Here is Christine’s picture:

Photo courtesy of Christine Baumgartner

Christine’s email is christine@theperfect catch.com and her website is www.ThePerfectCatch.com

Contact her, you’ll be pleased that you did.

Seniors are getting the travel bug

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – June 11, 2021
by columnist Tom Blake
(The article today has been edited for length and clarity)
cheryl and guy new orleans
Guy and Cheryl – Mission Viejo, California
Seniors are on the move and traveling again
Senior travel is back. Despite the pandemic, Champ Cheryl and her husband Guy (That’s Guy and Cheryl in the photo above) managed to travel.

Cheryl explained: “Last July, Guy and I wanted to venture out of California when our international trip was canceled. So, we rented a Silverado dual cab and went on a 7,000-mile road trip for five weeks culminating in New Orleans.

“We visited nine states and had fun seeing how other states were dealing with the pandemic. We enjoyed visiting family and friends along the way.
“It gave us a lift as we returned home to Covid restrictions in California.

Almost everything in New Orleans was closed. We did get a beignet (deep-fried pastry with powdered sugar) at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter of course!”

Now, Cheryl and Guy are going to travel internationally. She continued, “After being canceled for two years, we have received confirmation of our flights and hotels for Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and more. We are traveling alone and conduct a great deal of research on each destination.

“Six years ago, I made a quickly scribbled note about your Travelafter55.com website, which you said describes a trip to Budapest that you and Greta took.

“Could you let us know how to access that information on the website? No rush because we do not depart until August for a month. Before we go, I like to have as much information about a city or site. Travel books are basic help but I like information from reliable people I know.”

Tom’s response: “Travelafter55.com is the right website. On the home page, look at the archive listings in the right-hand column. Click on the May 2015 archive. That will take you directly to Budapest and the subsequent river cruise (on Viking) we took from there to Vienna, continuing to Amsterdam.

“Our visit to Prague was eight years earlier when we took the Orient Express train from Venice to Prague and on to Paris. Click on the April 2007 archive to read about Prague. Note: you will first see an article about Valencia, Spain, but scroll down pass that to read about the train trip and the visit to Prague.
Travel After 55.com website

“You are going to love your trip.”

Thyrza emailed “Since I am free to travel until my next doctor six-month check-up, I plan to take a seven-day cruise to Greece with Holland America Line. Short enough but long enough to just relax and get pampered. My sweet doctor said I can’t be sitting around waiting for the next six-month check-up. I think for us seniors this is true: tomorrow is today.

Larry, a former neighbor I’ve known for 30 years, lives with his fiancee in the Phillippine Islands. When the pandemic hit, he was in the United States on business for a few months.

Since then, he has been unable to fly back to The Phillippines. He’s had seven different flights booked and then canceled by the airlines or the Philippines government.

He emailed this week: “Now I’m shooting for a flight to Manila on July 10th.”
So, it appears that Larry will be able to give his fiancee a long-overdue hug next month. I am hoping for him.

You will remember Champ Carmen, who lives in Barra de Navidad Mexico. He’s the one we wrote about a month ago who was corresponding with Annalisa, 69, who lives in Milan, Italy.

He’s planning to travel soon; I’m not sure if it will be to Milan, Italy, or Michigan, or somewhere else in the USA. He’ll let us know.

My partner Greta and I love to travel. We’ve had our Covid-19 vaccinations, our passports are up-to-date, and we’re raring to go. But, just to be cautious, we’re going to wait a few more months to cruise or possibly go see our friend Carmen who might still be in Italy.

Cruise ships are starting to appear in U.S. ports, which is an encouraging sign, for those of us who enjoy cruising. 
Senior travel–so much fun when there are no restrictions.

Senior Independent Women

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter June 4, 2021

by Columnist Tom P Blake

Paula, 75, emailed recently, describing her life with Harvey and Stuart. While reading her email, a song popped into my head, which seems to be happening often lately.

As you read today’s column, I think you’ll understand why Paula’s email content made me think of Bob Dylan’s classic 1965 song, “Like a Rolling Stone.”

So, who the heck are Harvey and Stuart? They are Paula’s two Basset Hounds, pictured above.

Paula wrote, “When I wrote you after your recent column about Sarasota, Florida being a dating paradise, I explained why I was disenchanted with Florida. You asked why.

 “It’s too hot, too humid (but the bugs aren’t as bad as those in Texas) and lastly it just doesn’t feel like ‘home.’

 “After a divorce 29 years ago, I decided there was an amazing world out there that I had not seen and things I had not done. I have lived in several states—Montana, Alaska, Washington, Florida, to name a few.

 “Regularly, I move to a city and state where I have never been before…buy a house that needs renovations and live in it for at least two years so I don’t have to pay capital gains tax.

 “If I enjoy the area where I am then I stay longer but I am always planning my next move to somewhere.

 “I live in Jacksonville, about 45 minutes from the beaches. Parking is hard to find and some beaches are not dog-friendly. I have only been to a beach one time since being here; I am satisfied with that only visit.

 “I have lived in several states and have found that senior women are very cliquish. Those single females have their established group of friends and when a new person appears on the scene, they are mildly friendly but not as accepting as I would hope.

 “Plus, some women have husbands they want to keep attached to their hip, which is no problem for me. “I love having lunch with a lady or ladies just for the conversation because talking to my dogs is not too inspiring.

 “I have made lots of friends along the way and have kept some close to my heart. I use a saying by some anonymous individual ‘…a reason, a season or a lifetime’ as my guide when I meet somebody. “I tried to move back to the Spokane, Washington area after I sold my last house here in Jacksonville, but couldn’t find anything in my price range so I had to return to Jax to buy another house to renovate which is almost done. I am my own general contractor.

“I do everything I am physically able to do. I recently de-tiled the walls behind two bathtubs. I remove carpeting and even do plastering. “I am not in search of a gentleman to call my own…moving as much and as often as I do wouldn’t rest well with any man. The only way I can do what I do is to be single. 

“I have no inclination in finding a significant other since I move around so frequently. Senior men are very planted and moving at an older age frightens them to no end. Most are settled in the place where their immediate family resides. Asking an old man to move would be like asking a ‘tree hugger’ to go out and cut down a Christmas Tree. 

“Being single has its ups and downs but I am happy with myself and busy. I know for certain I would not be a good wife. “I am still pretty healthy according to my cardiologist but I am no spring chicken at the age of 75. I still have a lot I want to do and see but that doesn’t mean getting on a plane or sailing on a boat. The USA has wonderful things to see and places where you can have fun.

 “I knew after four weeks of living in Florida it was not going to be my stopping-off state. I knew I was not going to put down roots here. I haven’t found that place just yet but I know when I do it will give my heart that ‘warm giggle.’

 “I want seniors to know that life doesn’t stop because they have aged, retired, or even lost a spouse. Both men and women can be resourceful and fulfill their dreams. They should do things that inspire their daily living and focus on a rich future. As for being lonely, that is a matter of choice. 

“Warmest regards from sunny, humid and the state where hurricanes love to visit.” 

Senior Men and Dogs

Kathy, “One of my main problems with dating was animals. I love animals, but I’m allergic and even if I wasn’t, I don’t want animal hair on my clothes or furniture. 

“Trying to find a man that didn’t have a dog in the house was hard and I would never consider asking someone to change that for me, so, when I was online, I would pass men up who had photos of their animals in their profiles.” 

Leslie, “In my life when I stayed in a relationship out of fear that there wouldn’t be anyone else, it was the wrong decision. When I’d leave, another door would open.

Those single women-to-single-men ratios you’ve written about bother me because I find they don’t matter. When I was younger and moving to Atlanta, I was told, too many women live there, you’ll never date again. So I went there expecting the worst.

  “It was the opposite, I dated a lot and met the love of my life there. I’m now 80. Never did I expect another relationship, yet here came one, four years ago. He just gave me a ring. “Please write M back and let her know those ratios don’t matter. Plus, when you tell men that, it gives them a false sense of what’s going on and can cause the behavior as shown in Corrine’s situation.

(Tom’s note: Corrine was the woman we wrote about a few weeks ago who was worried that her man would leave her).

“That’s what’s great about your column, you can sway expectations one way or the other.” 

Tom’s comment to Leslie: “In my writing about senior dating topics, presenting a balance is important. Swaying expectations is not my goal. Instead, I prefer that the facts help people make their own decisions. Plus, attempting to “sway” this group of wise and intelligent thinkers wouldn’t work.”

One thing is certain. These three women are fiercely independent and have minds of their own. More power to them. I don’t think they will be “swayed” by anything anybody says to them.

Are women under 50 less tolerant of men who won’t commit?

          On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  April 16, 2021

by columnist Thomas P Blake

(Today’s eNewsletter has been edited for length and clarity.)

Are women under 50 less tolerant of men who won’t commit?

I received an email this week that made me wonder if women under 50 might be less tolerant than women 60-plus in dating men who state they will never commit to a more serious relationship. The email was written by a woman who requested to be referred to as “M.”

M wrote: “I enjoy reading your column each week in the Dana Point Times even though I’m not over 50 🙂 I just finished reading your advice to Corrine who is afraid her boyfriend might leave her because she expressed the desire for more commitment. 

“I had such a visceral reaction to your advice to her that I am compelled to write you. 

“I’m saddened that you are encouraging this woman to not voice her own needs in the relationship for the sake of her boyfriend’s comfort. And for encouraging her to settle for something sub-optimal because, as you say, ‘there’s no guarantee you would find someone as compatible.’” 

“She’s been with this guy for eight months and she’s in love with him. I think it’s appropriate for her to express her desire to move the relationship to the next level.

“She is looking for a ‘life partner.’ His response “He may not be that life partner for her and now he feels pressure” should tell her a lot. He’s telling her that he does not want the same as she, or at least does not want it with her.

She should take him at his word and get out now if he’s not going to be able to give her what she wants, as difficult as that may be. Sure, he may come around eventually, but he is more likely to do that if she walks away now than if she continues to put her own needs on the back burner to accommodate him. 

“I understand they’re having fun together, but she says she feels insecure in the relationship. That is not a good feeling and that is NOT how one should feel if they are in a loving, respectful relationship.

“I’ve come to learn that being loved means feeling safe and secure, not just when you’re together, but also when you’re apart. She shouldn’t have to be constantly worried that he’s going to leave her. And she certainly shouldn’t be afraid to talk about the future and ask for what she wants out of fear he might leave. That is not loving and no one should settle for that.”

Tom’s response to M: “I appreciate what you say. But a woman less than 50 has not walked in the shoes of a woman 65. There were two reasons I advised her to stay in the relationship, even without a “life partner” commitment from him.

“First, if she bailed out and moved on, I think she would look back in regret, thinking, “Maybe he would have stayed.” She’d go from currently being happy, to sad and questioning her decision. Why do that?

“And second, age might be a factor. She feels it would be difficult to find someone as suitable now that she is 65. The ratio of single women to single men at that age is about 3-or-3.5-to-one. Some women say that not all the men in those numbers are relationship material, making the effective ratio of women to suitable men more like four-to-one. She figures she’d rather be happy now than have to start over again at even worse odds.

“The approximate ratio of single women to single men below age 50 is close to one-to-one. Women younger than 50 have far more men from whom to choose than their older counterparts. If a guy they like won’t commit, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Perhaps this fact triggered M’s “visceral” reaction to what I had written. (Ok, I admit, I looked up “visceral” in the dictionary. It means, “deep feelings.)”

Three weeks ago in this eNewsletter, I published 29 Champ responses to Corrinne’s story, which is the same story that triggered “M’s visceral reaction.” I was curious what percentage of women Champs–who commented on “Should she leave or should she stay”—felt she should leave. It surprised me that 61 percent said she should leave him.

So, to answer today’s article-title question, “Are women under 50 less tolerant of men who won’t commit?” Not by a lot. Women 65 and above have a mind of their own as well.

By the way, when I submitted the column to my newspapers, my editor, a woman under 45, had her own “visceral” reaction: She said: “If I were Corrine, I’d been on the next!” (I think she met the “next” train out of town.)” So, that’s an additional “leave him” comment for women under 50.

After exchanging emails, M wrote: “That ratio at age 65 is certainly depressing! Ha Ha.” I thought about saying, “Yes, see what you have to look forward to!” But, I didn’t.

Part 2 – Champ Terry, aka, “The Funny Plumber,” living near the border of Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) commented, tongue-in-cheek, about having pictures of ex-spouses around the house: “My wife Daeng has no problems with seeing pictures of my three former wives. She thanks them for teaching me how to be a better husband.  I guess it is how we look at things.

Champ Terry and his wife Daeng using local transportation

Senior dating eNewsletter: keeping it fresh

 On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  March 19, 2021

by columnist Thomas P Blake

                                       Senior dating eNewsletter: keeping it fresh

The pandemic has made producing this weekly On Live and Love after eNewsletter a challenge. The reason? Many Champs—not all—have hunkered down in their homes and haven’t gotten out of the house as much as they would have during normal times.

Hence, they have less to say about life and love after 50. The stories, experiences, questions, and comments from Champs have slowed to a trickle.

Champs are the voices of people age 50 and beyond—often far beyond. We’ve got subscribers in their 90s. And at the other end of the age spectrum, we’ve got Champs in their 40s.

(The latter are mostly women who are dating considerably older men. These women often take issue with me, claiming that I infer they only want the old guy’s money. They say, “I’m with him because I love him.” I roll my eyes.)

There are weeks when I say to Greta, “I have no idea what the hell I’m going to write about this week.” I ask myself, “Why do I continue writing these eNewsletters? Why do I keep hammering them out after 26 years, having inked more than 4,000 articles?”

(That total is a combination of newsletters and newspaper articles)

Greta says, “You do it because you love it, you are helping people, and it’s good for your brain and helps keep you young.”

And then an email arrives from a Champ that rekindles my enthusiasm. In this week’s case, the email came from Patrick Hynes, a Champ I’ve known for more than 40 years. We’ve mentioned Patrick a few times in our articles. He and I worked for the restaurant chain Victoria Station in the 1970s. We did not know each other then, but have resurrected so many memories it seems like we did.

Patrick is an interesting man; he loves to write. For about six months, he’s been publishing a short blog titled “Patrick’s Brief Encounters…Snippets of my life in America.” He is a native of Australia.

At Tutor and Spunky’s Deli Meet and Greet: Tom, deli owner Samantha, and Patrick  (photo by Tom)

For a few years, Patrick was a public relations executive for the Anaheim Hilton Hotel, near Disneyland. In that capacity, he met several VIPs: Mohammed Ali, Joe DiMaggio, Charlton Heston, to name a few. And that’s what he writes about, those brief encounters with famous folks, including photos. He’s written 31 “Brief Encounters.”

In his email this week, Patrick’s said: “I am running out of steam with my ‘brief encounters’ blog…and I’m anxious to move on to a new theme.”

I wrote back, “What? Out of steam after only six months?” And yet, I understood. It’s tough to keep writing fresh material without inputs from readers.

Patrick added, “I am blown away with your longevity (26 years) and fresh eNewsletters and columns. I feel honored to have been mentioned in some of them.”

Patrick’s comment gave me a shot in the arm (not to be confused with Greta’s and my Covid dose #2, which we received two weeks ago), a boost to my morale, and a recommitment to keep producing these weekly eNewsletters.

Patrick’s comment was from a person who understands and appreciates the challenges of keeping a blog/eNewsletter or newspaper column fresh. A little appreciation goes a long way.

                                  Our Champ Patrick Hynes

People ask, “How many Champs receive this weekly eNewsletter?” I send out approximately 2,000 each week on Friday. Of course, not all of them are opened. Hence, I resend the column on Sunday to those readers who did not open, which is why some weeks Champs might receive two copies (because they didn’t open the Friday one). 

While our readers are mainly located in the USA, other countries represented include Canada, the UK, Australia, and South Africa.

This week, a widow from Budapest, Hungary, subscribed. I sent her a ‘welcome’ email, telling her that Budapest is one of the great cities in the world. I based my comment on a 2016 visit there that Greta and I enjoyed.

The widow replied, “I m a widova for 3 years – after more  than 20 years together –  and just trying to understand life, love, and men.” So welcome to her.

Also, recently readers have subscribed from the Philippines and the Canary Islands (Spain). And welcome to them.

So I remind you. If we want the “On Life and Love After 50” eNewsletter to continue arriving on a weekly basis, keep reaching out, sending me your material. Encourage friends to join us.

Note from Tom: I have a   http://www.travelafter55.com website. It covers several years of travel that Greta and I have taken. Lots of photos. Once at the travel site, if you scroll to April 2016, you can read about and view photos of our visit to Budapest.                        

And now, some “brief encounters” with Champs this week:

Carol, 73, wrote: “Regarding those women who preach stop looking so hard for a man or how wonderful it is living alone, I say: ‘That makes no sense to me. I’ve been happily independent for over a decade.’

“Having friends, family, and activities does not alleviate the desire for slow dancing with a partner, or snuggling up for a movie, or in front of the fireplace, or hugging and exchanging backrubs. The desire for the company of a man does not imply some inherent shortcoming in a woman’s life.”

Gina emailed, “If you walk daily on a beach pedestrian path or nature trail, around the same time each day, you start to see some of the same people. Say hello and good morning to as many people who make eye contact.

“I have met a nice man and we go on walking dates. I’m not into the awkward dinner dates anymore. Walking and great conversation is perfect.”  

Future topics: I’d like to write about two issues in future columns:

1. Health issues as we age and our partners grow older as well (names can be withheld)

2. A Champ wondered why widows or widowers who have new relationships still display pictures of their deceased spouses, seemingly everywhere, including at their homes and on Facebook. How should we respond to her comment. 

Let’s hear your opinions.

Where the Men Are

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – February 19, 2021

By columnist Thomas P Blake

       Where the Men Are

Today’s eNewsletter reminds me of two songs. The first is Connie Francis’ 1961 song, “Where the Boys Are,” (link at end of this eNewsletter) which was the theme song for a movie of the same name. The movie was about four coeds seeking love on spring break in Florida.  

At least twice a month for the 26 years I’ve been writing about dating, I’ve been asked “Where the men are?” and “Where do I meet senior men?” by women. If my math is correct, that would be approximately 624 times. And that’s a conservative number.

Sometimes, the question is stated differently. For example, this January, a woman wanted to know “where to meet a nice, decent man?” and another asked, “Where the senior single men are.”

My answer has always been that there is no place, of which I’m aware, where older single senior men go to hang out with the sole intention of meeting single women close to their age. Admittedly, there are some singles functions that single men attend, but the ratio is usually somewhere near four to five women to each man.

And then women say, “Some of those men aren’t potential mate-material.” Reasons cited: age, weight, still-married, broke, smoker, drinker, couch potato, kids living at home—the list can go on and on. So, in effect, a more realistic ratio is even greater, like six or seven to one, women to men. For women, those are pretty discouraging numbers.

However, one of our woman Champs has discovered a place where there are lots of older single unattached men. She emailed, “I live in California, but I bought a condo on the beach in Sarasota, Florida. I love it there!

“If it weren’t for my grandson living in California, I would move to Sarasota. Beautiful beaches, tons of museums, theaters, fantastic restaurants, hiking, biking, and water sports. It reminds me of a smaller, less-busy San Diego.

“Californians and East-coasters are moving to Sarasota in droves. A California couple rented, sight unseen, my house in Sarasota because they are building a custom home in Sarasota.”

Our Champ provided Sarasota population demographics: “41 percent married, 59 percent single, divorced or widowed; 48.7 percent men, 53.3 percent women. Where are you ever going to get those odds? The average male age is 46.2 and the female age is 52.4 (respective numbers higher in South Sarasota).

“I meet retired single men everywhere in Sarasota! Grocery store, beach, home-improvement stores, restaurants/ bars, walking, and living in my condo complex. It’s like a candy store for senior women!”

A candy store for senior women? Sarasota sounds too good to be true for senior women wanting to know where the eligible men are. But, Sarasota comes with some quirks, which our Champ explained:

“I returned from Florida yesterday and wanted to share some experiences that might make you laugh. In Sarasota, I made an appointment with my painter, Oscar (not his true name), a mid-30-year-old, to repaint my window sills after having hurricane windows installed. I employed him three times previously for various paint jobs. 

“For some odd reason, this young man, after viewing the window sills and slider frames, decided to hug me and kiss me on the lips. I was so shocked I pushed him away and said “Oscar! I am old enough to be your grandmother! Please don’t do that!”

Tom’s comment: (Not to mention the danger during the pandemic).

“He left, looking chagrinned. Oscar returned and completed the paint job appearing crestfallen and quiet. He only charged me $250 for about six hours of work and said it was a ‘special discount’ just for me. I wonder what he would have charged if I had let him kiss me? LOL!

“The next day, I met with a photographer (mid-70s) to take photos of my condo for renting purposes. His name was the same as my ex-husband’s name so we joked about the coincidence. He is a widower who lost his wife to cancer after 52 years of marriage. He asked me to go on a date. 

“He has had no luck with internet dating sites. He was a very nice man but I didn’t feel any chemistry. He was quite overweight. I told him I was leaving for CA in a few days so dating was probably not in our future. He still insisted I call him when I return to Florida. Maybe he will have lost some weight by then?

“Soooo…for all those women looking for a man, Sarasota is just teeming with single men of all ages looking for women. At least that has been my experience. BTW, my girlfriend, her husband, and I went out to happy hour one evening and another evening went out to dinner, then dancing.  So enjoyable to do some ‘normal’ activities during this pandemic.”

The second song our Champ’s story reminds me of is the Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes,” because of this line:

                                “Every form of refuge has its price.”

Sarasota sounds like a great place to take refuge for senior single women, but, at a price: be prepared to be kissed by your 40-year-younger painter. Oh, and then there’s the cost of moving there.

The link to the Eagles’ song Lyin’ Eyes


The link to Connie Francis singing “Where the Boys Are.”



Now, with signs that the pandemic is easing, face-to-face dating will become more prevalent. Let’s hear what has changed in senior dating. Send me your questions and experiences to share with our Champs.

Also, some of you have asked why some weeks you are emailed two copies of the eNewsletter. The reason: If by Sunday, you haven’t opened Friday’s eNewsletter, I resend a copy because some people have told me that they inadvertently deleted the first one and want a second one sent. By sending a Sunday copy,only to people who didn’t open,  it saves me from sending a bunch of individual emails. 

The Blood-Drawing Station

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  December 4, 2020

by Columnist Thomas P Blake

There are two parts to today’s eNewsletter

                              Part One – The Blood-Drawing Station   

“Why am I here?” I thought to myself at 6.47 a.m. on Tuesday when I opened the car door in a Mission Viejo parking garage. With the pandemic kicking up its ugly heels again, aren’t people supposed to be extra careful when venturing out? The health experts are urging us to stay home as much as possible.

And the last place we should be voluntarily visiting is a medical facility. But the sign on the five-story building where I’m going says Mission Medical Plaza. I wouldn’t call it a medical plaza; a medical center is more like it. And I’m here voluntarily.

I am having my blood drawn. I’m supposed to do this every six months for a routine health exam, but due to the pandemic, I postponed my June 2020 visit. My doctor recently texted me saying I was six months past due and encouraged me to come in to see how my body was holding up.

I figured by arriving before 7 a.m. I’d be one of the first persons there so I wouldn’t have to wait long. Holy cow, as I entered the drawing station, there were five men and three women wearing masks who had already signed in on the front-desk clipboard, sitting in socially-distanced chairs waiting to be summoned to the front desk to sign paperwork.

I’m guessing the average age was 65-plus, so I fit in.

I entered my name on the clipboard and took the last available chair.

One man had a USC (University of Southern California) face mask on. Another man approached him and they started talking about college football. The USC guy said, “I’m here because I played football for 25 years; my knees are screwed up.”

The other man said he had played football as well, but I couldn’t hear where he said he had played.

A few minutes later, I started a conversation with the USC man by saying,

“I had a buddy who played for SC. You probably have heard of him.”

About then, the man was called into the blood-drawing room.

“What was his name?” he asked as he walked away.  

“Lynn Swann,” I said. He turned around and gave me a thumbs up.

I got to know Lynn in 1973 when I worked at the Victoria Station restaurant chain. Our company presented him with a college football player-of-the-year award we had created as a kind of a publicity ploy.

 Lynn Swann at the 1973 USC Awards Banquet with MVP trophy                                             and Victoria Station award

                                                                                  Photo: USC Sports Info

I had dinner with Lynn on the night of the day he was drafted in the first round of the 1974 NFL draft.

Lynn was an All-American at USC and went on to win four Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was MVP of the Super Bowl in 1976, and later became the athletic director of USC for a few years.

Another guy sitting in the waiting room was wearing an “Ohio State” sweatshirt. Oh wow, a dreaded Buckeye, particularly for me, a Michigan Wolverine. UM hasn’t beaten Ohio State in football in 10 years. I was glad I wasn’t wearing any UM clothing as we’ve had an embarrassing year with a record of two wins and four losses. And those Buckeye fans love to tease Wolverine fans.

Just a few days earlier in Costco, I had a golf shirt with a big Michigan block “M” on the front pocket and a guy from Wisconsin walked up to me and said, “Tough year, eh?” He wasn’t referring to the pandemic.

One woman who came into the drawing station a bit later was wearing a UCLA sweatshirt. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her about football, or anything else.

When people are summoned to the front desk to sign the paperwork, they are asked a couple of questions.

“Are you fasting today?” is the first question.

In all my visits here, I’ve never heard anyone say “no” to that question.

And then the second question:

“What is your date of birth?”

That one people seem to dread. When they answer, some lower their voices, hoping no one in the waiting room will hear their response and learn their age.

I respond by giving my DOB and then add, in a whisper with a wink, “But don’t tell anyone.”

Sometimes I try to guess how old a guy is before I hear his answer. I’m often off by 10 years or more.

My name was called by the guy who would be drawing my blood. He said, “Follow me” and led me into the blood-drawing room. I recognized him as the same guy from 12 months before. I doubt if he remembered me as I guessed he had probably drawn blood from more than 2,000 people since then. He was wearing a mask, face shield and gloves, of course. The room was spotless.

I always brace for the needle going into the arm and look the other way. But I didn’t even feel it. He was very professional and quick.

I thought I was finished. I was—almost–but not before the guy handed me an orange biohazard bag—for the collection of, umm, how do I put this delicately?—well let’s just say you collect what goes into the bag in the bathroom at home and then return it to the drawing station at a later time.

And then he emphatically added. “When you return the bag, ensure it is sealed. Do not hand it to the people behind the desk. They don’t like to be handed a bag of poop. Ask them where the box is in which to deposit the bag.”

His advice sure made sense to me. I walked through the waiting room, trying to disguise the bag he had given me.

As I walked to the car, at 7:20, I thought about all the workers in the medical field who every day are putting their lives at risk so that the rest of us can do our best to stay healthy. Front-liners and first-responders are amazing human beings. I had seen a bunch of them in that medical building that morning and thanked them. They seemed to appreciate that.

And I also thought that the drawing station was a good place to get out and chat up some new people and socialize, albeit a quick in and out. One never knows who you’re going to meet there.

But I was happy to be returning home—even with the bag in hand–to finally get a cup of hot coffee and a bit of breakfast.

Part 2 – The reality of life – and reflecting on a hero

Rafer Johnson died at age 86 on Wednesday. He was an incredible person. Great athlete. Great humanitarian. In 1960, at the Rome Olympics, my buddies and I were in the stands at Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, September 6, and watched him win the decathlon. As I recall, it was about 10 p.m.

To win, Rafer had to stay within 10 yards of C.K. Yang, Rafer’s UCLA teammate who represented Taiwan, in the decathlon-1500-meter race. The race was Rafer’s weakest event of the 10 decathlon events but with guts and grit, he finished one and a half yards behind Yang to win the gold medal.

I checked the journal I kept from that 1960, 84-day European trip. The Cold War with Russia was hot. In addition to the decathlon that day, we watched the USA’s Ira Davis get beat out for a silver medal by a Russian on the last jump in the triple-jump event (my track coach called it the Hop, Step, and Jump.)

Rafer, who had been watching nearby, immediately went to the Russian and tried to congratulate him by shaking hands, but the Russian refused. I wrote in the journal, “People in the stadium booed the Russian entirely too much. The Russian left the field crying.”

And one more item from that day. Australian Herb Elliott set a world record in the 1500-meter event at 3:35.6 seconds. That record stood for seven years.

The next day, Wednesday, September 7, my buddies and I were at the Olympic Village, where the athletes stayed. We had purchased tickets to fly home on the Olympic team charter airplane and were waiting there to board the bus to the airport. I had a Coca Cola with Rafer. He was such a humble man, he barely acknowledged his victory from the night before.

And now, 60-years-later, Rafer Johnson, the legend is gone.

Opportunity often arises from adversity

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  November 27, 2020

by Columnist Thomas P Blake

                          Opportunity often arises from adversity

Millions of people worldwide have experienced unthinkable and unavoidable adversity in the year 2020. Of course, Covid-19 is the biggest factor, but natural disasters such as fires, smoke, hurricanes, and flooding have added to the adversity.

Adversity leads to opportunity.
People have lost their loved ones, jobs, homes, and social interaction with friends—the list goes on and on. For the most part, adversity has hit seniors the hardest. The death toll is highest among the senior population.
However, there is a flicker of hope on the horizon. The vaccines developed so far have been touted to be 90-plus percent effective.
Once this adversity is behind us, opportunities will start to arise for individuals. Jobs will become available. In-person family visits will resume. Senior singles will meet dates face-to-face. I’m not trying to paint a rosy or idealistic picture about what has happened to us all in 2020—it’s been a terrible year.
In 1994, I learned a valuable lesson about how an opportunity can arise from adversity. On Christmas 1993, I was visiting my 82-year-old mom in Northern California. I didn’t know at that time that my life was about to change dramatically. Adversity was already underway; I just didn’t know about it.  
The morning after Christmas, my wife of six years telephoned me at Mom’s to say she had moved out. (She didn’t mention that she had taken what furniture and belongings she wanted).
All I could say was, “Where are you living?”
“Doesn’t matter,” she replied.
And then she said, “Gotta go,” and hung up.
I packed my bag and got in the car. I was so surprised and shocked that I started jotting some notes on a pad of paper during the 500-mile drive home. Soon, those notes were transferred to a journal I started writing, attempting to gather my thoughts, figure out what had happened, and plan for the future.
Three months later, I was served with divorce papers in front of employees and customers at my deli. Of course, that event was described in the journal. 

Making a 30-foot deli sub was more fun than receiving divorce papers at the same deli

I started to date, thinking mid-life dating would be easy. It wasn’t. I described in detail the dating frustrations and failures in my journal.
After five months, the journal had grown to more than 100 pages. I converted it into a short story. I naively queried PlayboyEsquire and the New York Times, thinking those media giants might be interested in a story about a divorced man’s dating woes. They weren’t.
Eventually, two women editors of the Dana Point News newspaper agreed to review my material. On July 7, 1994, just six months after my wife’s move-out, my first column was published. I realized that my writing opportunity had grown out of the adversity. I certainly didn’t expect the opportunity would last for 26 years.
In June 1998, I met Greta, who had experienced adversity as well. She was a single mom, who had raised four kids. She created her own opportunity by becoming a special education teacher and being such a positive force in her student’s lives.
Hopefully, after Covid-19, all of us will be able to get out and about. Seeds of opportunity will pop up here and there. For whom? In what format? When? No one can say. Some Champs have already shared their new-found opportunities with us. In the October 30 eNewsletter, seven Champs were featured with the opportunities they are working on during Covid-19.
Wendy Green is a new Champ. She is a single mom who raised two children. Wendy has bounced back from adversity more than once in her life. She reached out to me by finding my articles on the Dana Point Times website.
Wendy said, “In March 2020, I was laid off from my job because of Covid. I knew I still had a lot to give, and there were a lot of people from my generation experiencing a sense of loss and in need of inspiration. That is when I decided to start the Hey, Boomer broadcasts. (those broadcasts are scheduled for most Mondays, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.)”
Wendy’s website, http://www.heyboomer.biz also features her weekly blogs. I encourage Champs to sign up and read her sage advice and comments.
As we emerge from this unthinkable adversity-filled year, it will be up to us as individuals to recognize our seeds of opportunity and make the best of them, although we may not realize or understand them until months or years later.
And as always, I hope you will share them with me and subsequently, all Champs.

Small world: Remembering a Johnny Cash concert 25 years ago

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – October 23, 2020

by Columnist Thomas P Blake

Small world: Johnny Cash concert 25 years ago

In early September, our next-door neighbors in Monarch Beach-Jake and Kresta Racker- invited Greta and me and our across-the-street neighbors, Alex and Colleen Torres, for a socially distanced happy hour in the Racker’s backyard. It was a spur-of-the-moment pleasant break for all of us after being isolated from people for months.

The Rackers, along with their son, Ethan—moved in nearly five years ago. They are ideal neighbors, friendly, fun, and considerate—but we had never socialized.

The happy hour conversation turned to Johnny Cash. Whenever the subject of Johnny Cash comes up, I always add my two-cents worth, having worked with Johnny for two years in the 1970s. I also co-produced an album with him.

Destination Victoria Station record album of Johnny Cash train songs

Jake said he saw Johnny Cash in concert only once. Jake remembered that he and his buddy Quinn from Utah saw Johnny perform at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s.

I had a vague recollection of seeing Johnny perform at the House of Blues but I wasn’t sure when it was.

After the happy hour gathering, I didn’t think much more about when I had seen Johnny at the House of Blues, until last Friday (October 16,2020), when Jake sent me a text.

His text included a picture of a ticket stub from the February 25, 1996, Johnny Cash House of Blues appearance, which his buddy Quinn had found in a drawer and sent to him. Jake had told Quinn about our Johnny Cash happy hour discussion.


I started to wonder: had I been at that same show? If I had, I probably would have written about it. At that time, I had been a newspaper columnist for less than two years, writing about “Middle Aged and Dating Again” for community newspapers owned by The Orange County Register, including the Dana Point News.

I had boxes of old columns in the garage. I found a manilla envelope from 1996. I started leafing through the articles and was thrilled to find the 89th column I had written, dated March 14, 1996, titled, “Dream of a date includes an evening enjoying the music of Johnny Cash.”

(Today’s column is number 4,143—give or take a hundred).

So, I had been to the same concert that Jake and Quinn had been to nearly a quarter-century before. The article stated that it was the 31st Johnny Cash concert I had attended.

The article also stated: “This was a special night for Johnny. At midnight, he turned 64. Earlier in the day, he and his wife became grandparents together for the first time.”

And this: Johnny mentioned at the start of the show, “Later, we’ve got a surprise for you.” The surprise: “Tom Petty and two members of the Heartbreakers joined Johnny. That’s like putting a supercharger on an old Chevy.”

I printed out a copy of the article and placed it on Jake’s front-door mat. He emailed a copy to Quinn in Utah. An hour later, Jake stopped by and said the article helped him and Quinn “fill in the details” they had forgotten about the concert. Facts such as The Freewheelers were the opening band and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were also there.

The Racker family has lived next door for five years. It took Jake and me that long to discover we both enjoyed the same special night at the House of Blues 24 years before.

Jake and Kresta framed the copy of the article I gave them along with the ticket stub and presented it to Greta and me as a remembrance.

Framed article from March 14, 1996 with concert ticket stub – now on our living room wall

The world is indeed small–even in the neighbors’ backyard.