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

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – May 28 2021

by Thomas P. Blake author and columnist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And two must-have items are listed next

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seniors beware of reverse mortgages

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

by Thomas P Blake author and columnist

Welcome to new subscribers this week. As you know, I call our subscribers “Champs.” Why? Because that’s what they are. I’d particularly like to welcome Dave, a friend I’ve known for more than 25 years. More about him a little later in today’s column.

Last week’s eNewsletter featured Helen, Phoenix, age 80 1/2, whose significant other, Phil, passed away on June 27. She paid $3,000 to a company to find a senior living residence for Phil, three weeks before he died. She’s had no success trying to get some of that money back. 

Champ Larry emailed, “What a timely article!

“I’ve had a dear friend for 48.5 years who decided to get a reverse mortgage to augment his monthly Social Security check.

“He found a phone number on TV offering reverse mortgages and called them for help.

“He was fortunate. He asked me to review the paperwork before he signed and executed this loan.

“The scammers wanted $11,432.00 in loan origination fees plus 5% Interest. These fees had various bogus names. What a TOTAL RIP OFF!

“If anyone needs a reverse mortgage, I suggest getting competitive quotes from your local established banks!

“My advice for seniors: do not buy anything advertised on TV because you can usually buy it for less in your own neighborhood. Also, sometimes when they get your credit card number, you will receive stuff every month that you do not want charged to your credit card!”

Tom’s response: Good advice Larry. More than likely, your comments will help some Champs avoid be taken in a reverse-mortgage scam. I’m not saying all reverse mortgages are bad, but from the reverse-mortgage experiences, people have shared with me, nearly all were bad. I have friends who paid to get out of them. Be very careful, if you are considering a reverse mortgage.

By the way, I’ve known Larry for nearly 30 years, when he lived two doors down from me in Dana Point.

Larry is now in the longest, senior internet long-distance relationship I’ve ever heard of. Until now, that honor (at least among Champs) was held by Chris and Tina, who dated for 14 years at an approximate distance of 5,419 miles—between San Clemente, California and England. Chris and Tina married in 2017.

Larry’s senior long-distance relationship of five years with Emy totals approximately 7,405 miles-between the West coast of California and Davao City, Philippines.

 Emy and Larry – Currently stranded apart by the pandemic

The biggest drawback during COVID-19 is he is stranded in the United States. The Manila Airport is closed to foreigners. Larry and Emy hope to marry in early 2021 but with so much uncertainty surrounding the virus, they will have to wait and see.

Champ Bobbi emailed“Sorry this response is too late to help Helen, but anyone belonging to the VA has a case worker of sorts. They will work with your doctor and place you in the nearest facility most suited to your needs.

“Hospice will also advise and assist you. Never turn to outside companies, and the $3,000 dollars that Helen paid is way out of line.

“My cousin has been at a VA Facility here in Menlo Park (California) and I must say it is a beautiful, clean, building. The nursing/dr staff are outstanding and very accommodating. He turned 100 on August 3, they had balloons, birthday cake, gifts, etc. for him. His mind is still sharp as a tack, but his knees are gone and he had a foot problem, so he can’t live alone.

“His girlfriend is now 88 and could not care for him properly. She’s an angel. The sad part is not being able to visit in person, only phones. We are planning to have a window-visit outside, hoping that will work out.

Champ Rosemarie, updated us from her country, “In South Africa, restrictions are still very much in place: home by 10 p.m. and out again at 4 a.m.  Wear masks outside at all times. Borders are still closed, we can only travel around South Africa.

“We can fly overseas starting in mid-April, 2021. I miss traveling, especially to my home in Germany, to see my brother.”

                                                 Champ Rosemarie

“I am still by myself, even after starting to date 13 years ago. Lately, lots of scammers online; I know they are only online for money, so I delete them straightaway.”

Welcome to New Champ Dave

Technically, Dave isn’t a new Champ. In my and Greta’s opinion, he’s been a Champ for 23 years. He’s just a new Champ to our group. Here’s some background:

Dave and Norma married in 1961. I first met them in 1995. One of my buddies is married to their daughter Tracy.  

In the late 1990s, a healthy and physically active Norma caught a virus, completely out of the blue. Overnight, she was unable to move from the waist down. A wheelchair became her mode of transportation.

The next 23 years became a huge challenge for Norma, Dave, and Tracy.

Dave would bring Norma to social events, usually at Tracy’s house. Norma was always upbeat.

As the years progressed, Norma became more and more bedridden. The challenges became greater for her, and for Dave. However, he was always there for her.

Greta and I admired Dave’s love and devotion to his wife. He had been a successful shoe salesman in Los Angeles, calling on clients for 48 years.

Dave and I could relate to each other, we were about the same age. Dave did every possible thing he could for Norma. 

Four months ago, a few days before Mother’s Day, Norma passed away.

I talked to Dave last Tuesday evening. He’s coming out of the fog, trying to decide how to begin building a new life. Questions like: keep the house or move? To travel or not. He hopes to take a river cruise in Europe next year.

He’s trying to do what many of us are trying to do. Get rid of clutter and other stuff. He’s found unopened wedding gifts from 60-years-ago. He said he can finally park his car in the garage after 48 years.  

Of course, now in the pandemic, it’s hard to get out and be among people. I hope Greta and I can help him in that department a bit.

He’s an incredible man. A true Champ for his 23 years of ensuring Norma had what she wanted and needed. I know other Champs, like Les and Ben, have been down this path. Together, Our Champs can help Dave move through the maze.

Be wise during the pandemic this Labor Day holiday.

Don’t let the old man in

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – June 19, 2020

Thomas P. Blake author and columnist

                                   Don’t Let The Old Man In

While staring at my computer, pondering what advice I could share with Champs this week, with COVID-19 still a concern although restrictions have been eased somewhat, an email sent from my partner Greta, arrived in my inbox.

Moments later, Greta, sitting at her desk a few feet away, said, “Did you get my email? It’s a video with a message that you might want to share with your readers.”

When I saw the subject line: “Don’t let the old man in,” I thought Greta had sent me a subtle hint that she’d seen enough of me during this challenging stay-at-home time.

The email explained that the word “man” could be replaced by the word “woman.” For instance, “Don’t let the old woman in.”In other words, the message applied to seniors of either gender.

I watched the four-minute, two-second video, which featured multiple scenes of Clint Eastwood from a movie he starred in, and produced two years ago. He’s now 90.

According to the video, Eastwood and country-music singer Toby Keith were playing golf together at a Pebble Beach charity event two years ago. During the round of golf, Eastwood said to Keith: “I turn 88 on Monday.”

Keith said, “What are you going to do?”

Eastwood replied, “I am going to shoot a movie,” adding that filming was starting in two days.

Keith said, “What keeps you going?”

Eastwood replied, “I get up every day and don’t let the old man in.”

Later that day at home, inspired by Eastwood’s relentless energy, Keith wrote a song, titled, “Don’t Let The Old Man In.” He hoped Eastwood would like it.

Not only did the actor like it, Eastwood felt he had a spot in the movie where the song would fit in.

Toby Kieth and Clint Eastwood  photo courtesy of Billboard

A video was created by Lone Wolf Media, narrated by Keith, and featuring his song. After I watched the video, I thought Greta’s right. My readers might like this as an inspiration to keep on moving and living, regardless of their age and later-in-life challenges.

Yes, COVID-19 had slowed us all down, and made senior dating difficult, but I felt the video might encourage single seniors to not give up on meeting a mate.

I forwarded the video to my sister Pam, in San Diego. She replied, “The footage in the video is from ‘The Mule,’ a movie Eastwood produced and directed in 2018. Great movie, you and Greta would enjoy it.”

I read about The Mule online. It’s based on a true story about an 85-year-old WWII veteran who was down and out; he tried to help himself get back on his feet by becoming a courier for a Mexican drug cartel, transporting contraband in his old truck, and later a SUV, in larger and larger amounts.

During the video, there are a few quotes by Eastwood that I felt might be appropriate for our senior readers, to inspire them to remain positive, particularly, during the current difficult times. I am in no way advocating that they become drug smugglers or do anything illegal to get themselves back on their feet.

One quote: “Get up and go outside. Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

Another: “Stay close to your friends.”

And a third: “Look out your window and smile. Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

In other words, get out there and live. Try to get the body moving. For some, as we age, it becomes more difficult to walk around the block or negotiate stairs and steps. Do the best you can. Use a cane; use a walker. Just do it. 

I recommend the Lone Wolf Productions video, “Don’t Let the Old Man (or Woman) In.”

Greta and I watched the movie “The Mule” online. The “Don’t Let The Old Man In” song is at the end of the movie when credits are being shown. 

Note about the link below. The first time I tested it, a political advertisement appeared. I simply clicked on skip ad. I wanted to use this particular link because it captures Toby Keith’s version so nicely. So, if any ad appears, you can skip it. I hope you realize I avoid all politics in this column. 

Link to the “Don’t Let The Old Man In” video:

The importance of appreciation in relationships

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – November 1, 2019

by Thomas P Blake author and columnist

The importance of appreciation in relationships

Recently, a friend said to me, “It will be nice to be appreciated by someone rather than be taken for granted.”

He was referring to a romantic relationship that he had recently terminated. It was a difficult decision, one he pondered time and time again–because he cared about her—but each time he thought about it, he reached the same conclusion: he wasn’t being appreciated by her. He’s a good man with lots to give.

His comment struck a chord with me. I recalled that years ago, I had written a column titled, “Appreciation.” I didn’t recall when I specifically wrote that article, but remembered it was in the autumn of the year, a time when many people, who are in less-than-satisfying relationships, evaluate them. The holidays tend to do that to people.

In sorting through my column archives, I was amazed to locate the “Appreciation” article. I wrote it on November 16, 2000, based upon conversations with three people, who had independently commented to me about how appreciation can affect relationships, both positively and negatively.

Much of what I wrote is still applicable today. So, I’m going to quote a few of the observations from that 19-year-old article. The observations might help people who are feeling under-appreciated or unappreciated. Expressing appreciation is a pretty simple concept. Sometimes, however, we just need a little reminder of its power.

I wrote: “Life, day-in, and day-out, is trying on most of us. There are demands on our time. We’re so busy, we may not say ‘Thank You,’ to our mates often enough.

“Expressing appreciation to a mate, and actually, anyone, is a considerate, thoughtful and kind act. It shows respect and acknowledges to a partner that he or she is trying to put us first.

Appreciation and a smile work everywhere in the world. I asked these two Huatulco, Mexico, police officers to help me open a bottle of tequila. The officer in the raincoat whipped out a switch blade knife and pried off the top. I thanked him and his buddy profusely. My appreciation elicited this warm response from them. (photo courtesy of Tom)

“People like to be recognized. When they do something nice for a mate, or another person, regardless of how small or minor, it’s good to hear that what they did was appreciated. Appreciation goes a long way to strengthen relationships.

“When people are appreciated, they will keep looking for ways to please their mates; appreciation and recognition are positive taps on the shoulder.

“However, when people take their mates for granted, and don’t notice or appreciate the little things done for them, relationships can be adversely affected.

“A lack of appreciation from a mate might be a red flag that the mate doesn’t care enough about the relationship. That doesn’t mean the mate is a bad person, it could be as simple as the mate isn’t in love.”

The year 2000 article also stated, “When a mate doesn’t appreciate you, and that behavior repeats itself, you may say to yourself: ‘Screw it, I won’t take being treated that way anymore.’

“Lack of appreciation creates disappointment and disillusionment. When it happens too often to a person, he or she may slowly stop caring. The relationship suffers. It’s like decay in a tooth. Let it go along enough without remedial action, and you’ll lose it.

“Criticism of a mate and finding fault with him or her, is a form of anti-appreciation. It’s demeaning to the person being criticized. Perhaps the criticizing person wants out, but that’s a chicken way to handle it.

“I’ve written about new singles making a list of the qualities they require in a mate. High on their lists should be a partner who appreciates them. In return, they must do the same for the new partner.”

I ended that article from 19 years ago with these words: “One of the dangers in long-lasting relationships—marriage or otherwise–is that the appreciation for each other can start to wane. If that happens, watch out. Look at the divorce rate. Lack of appreciation is one of the factors.”

Such may have been the case with my friend who confided in me. In his case, the decision to move on, is, in my opinion, what’s best for him as well. Moving on is always hard, but when it’s best for you, you’ve got to do it.

Lesson learned from 19 years ago, and still applicable today: If you appreciate receiving appreciation, don’t overlook giving it. It’s a powerful love tool.