Senior romance at the Bargain Box Thrift Store in San Clemente, California

Tom Blake On Life and Love after 50 column Feb 22-March 1, 2018

Romance at the Bargain Box Thrift Shop in San Clemente

The Bargain Box Thrift Shop at 526 North El Camino Real in San Clemente is a wonderful place. It’s run by volunteers from the Assistance League of Capistrano Valley. All proceeds from sales there are put back into the local community.

The funds are used to provide new school clothing to families who need assistance in the Capistrano Unified School District. Also funded: New school clothing and toddler clothing giveaways at Camp Pendleton.

The Thrift Shop is the main source of income for the Assistance League of Capistrano Valley philanthropies.

Working at the Thrift Shop, volunteers Nancy Cormier and Donna ODonnell meet a lot of interesting people; they had no idea that their shop was also a place for senior romance. Until two weeks ago.

That is when a couple named Craig and Ilda Kendall came in to their Thrift Shop to do some serious shopping. Craig told Nancy and Donna, “The Bargain Box Thrift Shop has special meaning to us. That’s why we stop here whenever we are near San Clemente.”

The two women were curious, particularly because Craig and Ilda said they live in Calimesa, near Big Bear Lake, not exactly in the South County area. The women wanted to know more about this attractive couple.

Craig said, “Your Thrift Store was the perfect place for me to propose to Ilda. You see we both love antiques, nice clothes and jewelry. Our families both spent time on the beach in San Clemente when we were kids. We are amazed that San Clemente has retained its friendly, beach-town atmosphere.

“In 2010, when Ilda and I were here, it just hit me, and I asked her to marry me right in the shop.”

“Eight years ago?” Donna said, thinking Craig and Ilda probably married shortly after that.

Ilda said, “To celebrate our wedding, and to ‘pay it forward’ to others less fortunate than us, we stopped here today. As always, when here, the volunteers are so friendly and kind. It is obvious you love working here.”

“So, when did you tie the knot?” Donna asked.

“Three weeks ago,” Ilda replied.

Donna and Nancy were dumbfounded. They looked at each other and said this is a story for Tom Blake’s On Life and Love after 50 Column in the newspaper.

Craig gave Donna and Nancy their email address and telephone number, and then Nancy took a photo of them as they left the Thrift Shop.

ILAD and Craig Kendall at Thrift Shop

Craig and Ilda Kendall at the Bargain Box Thrift Shop in San Clemente, California (photo courtesy of Nancy Cormier)

The two women sent me an email. My challenge was to contact Craig and Ilda, to gather a little more information and since my partner Greta and I were going to Palm Springs on Valentine’s Day for a week, time was of the essence.

As Greta and I were driving on Palm Canyon Drive into Palm Springs, my cell phone rang. It was Craig and Ilda. I explained where we were, and Craig said, “That is an amazing coincidence!”

He and Ilda were on their way to Palm Springs as well. We thought about meeting for dinner, but it was Valentine’s Day and the restaurants were already booked, and they’d be so busy it would be hard for us to hear their story in a crowded place.

Greta and I just happened to have some wine with us, and we ended up meeting Craig and Ilda at the Palm Springs Tennis Club where we were staying. We popped the corks and got to know them in person.

Craig is 72; Ilda is 67. They knew each other in 1962 when living in Riverside. It was apparent from the conversation that Craig had had a keen eye for Ilda since then, although both had married and gone their separate ways.

After Craig was divorced and Ilda was widowed, they reconnected on and had their first date at the Five Crowns Restaurant in Corona Del Mar in 2010. At that time, Craig lived in Running Springs and Ilda lived in Crestline, near Big Bear.

Greta and I could not believe that a senior romance that began at the Bargain Box Thrift Shop in San Clemente eight years before, led to a totally impromptu meeting with Craig and Ilda at the Palm Springs Tennis Club on Valentine’s Day, 2018.

Never give up on senior love; you just never know where or when it’s going to happen.

35 Responses to: Should Sally let man-friend move in? Senior Cohabitation

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – February 24, 2018

You Champs did it!  You set a record. You were simply incredible.

I am almost speechless (Hard to believe, I know). Why? In last week’s eNewsletter, Sally of San Diego, a widow and retired teacher, was hoping a few Champs would respond about her situation, which she described in detail. The main issue: Should she let “D,” her 13-years-younger man-friend of eight months, move in?

Where else but in this eNewsletter can a senior receive such sage and valuable advice from such an intelligent group of people, at no cost?

Thirty-five of you (including 10 men, almost 30 percent) took the time to help Sally by responding. That is astounding. In the 24 years, of writing 3,800 + newspaper columns and newsletters, that is a record number of responses. I’m proud of you and thank you.

At the end of the 35 comments, I attempt to do a short summary of your advice to Sally.

Granted today’s article is long, really long, close to 5,000 words. You can choose to not read it all, but all comments are important. I will also post it to my Finding Love After 50 website in its entirety so you could reread it anytime.

Not only will your responses help Sally, they could help any senior who finds themselves in a similar situation—woman or man.

35 Responses to the February, 23, 2018, eNewsletter (in the order received, not in the order of importance–they are all important):

1 – Dr. John: “Sally likes D, and has mixed feelings about him moving in. I would suggest she have several serious talks with D, lay out ALL her reservations about him moving in – put all her cards on the table – the reasons she’d like him to move in, and the reasons she’s hesitant – and see how he responds.

“My sad experience is that all too often, women have an ‘If he really loved me he’d know what I want’ mentality, and men are NOT mind readers. Let me be repetitive – spell out for D EXACTLY WHAT SHE WANTS AND DOES NOT WANT.

“Maybe even draw up a written contract – this is becoming more and more common with couples – it can spell out everything from who takes out the garbage to how often they are intimate.

“Ask, deep, probing questions about her concerns, such as the fact that D has never married. Yes, this may be uncomfortable, and it’s the opposite of planning on ‘living happily ever after,’ but it will be one hundred times less unpleasant than an acrimonious split several years down the road, especially if finances have become co-mingled.

“As for the senior age difference, that is nobody’s business but Sally’s and D’s.”

2. Carol: “Yikes, and NO!! Enjoy the relationship, but do not have thoughts about moving in together.

Marriage? Why? Are you planning at age 69 to have more children? Of course not! What True feelings your share for one another will not change with a piece of paper.

“If anything, it will put all you have worked for at risk. I write this from the exact place you are in, owning my own home, financially secure, attractive, with many varied interests including being a professional musician.

“The men I meet, want me to be the wives or girlfriends they no longer have or believe they should have at this age. Enjoy what you have together, let time evolve and develop this long term. If, after several years, you both are still as happy as you are at this time, perhaps address it again.

3. Inez“If his desire to move in is greater than hers and she feels comfortable living apart, I wouldn’t change anything. Something sounds a little off to me. I’d be tempted to talk to one of his exes.

“Once the move is made, if things don’t work out, its going to be a messy breakup after the fact. Who has more to gain if he makes the move?”

4. Mike, “My thoughts on moving in is no. She does not know what to expect.

5. Jackie: “Don’t do it! If she is having to ask the question, that means she has warning bells in her heart or her head or her gut. If she were sure, she wouldn’t ask. Trust your gut instincts.”

6. E.H. (woman): “My vote is no. Perhaps he never married because he is devoted to his mother and he is looking for another mother.”

7. Wayne, “This is a tough one. A senior never married at age 56 is a big warning sign (but, not necessarily a red flag). He may either (a) have not found a soul mate, or, (b) be a victim of commitment phobia. My advice to Sally is to take the yellow flag and proceed with caution. Travel together, spend weekends together but maintain your separate residences and reassess down the road.

8. Lynne, “I would advise caution on living together. I’m not opposed to it but concerned that it might make the relationship seem deeper than it is. There is an adjustment period even when you live together that takes time and commitment, and there is no way to know how long it will take to adjust to each other.

“The red flag for me is he’s had a few lengthy relationships. Might be a lack of deep commitment. Be Careful, moving in is easy, breaking up and moving out is hard.

“I’ve had numerous family and friends move in with me. I also moved in with an older man, he was retired but working part-time. We had some great years until his health started to fail.

“I stayed with him and took care of him 24/7 for years, because he had loved and cared for me, I could do no less for him. Be careful and thoughtful, it can be great or terrible.

“I’m almost 74 and look younger and am pretty healthy. I still appeal to men and they appeal to me. I’m more cautious now, after someone fooled me, he was a user hiding in sheep’s clothing.

9. John: “A story that might be related to Sally’s situation, only tangentially: I have a friend I used to teach with. Friend ‘L’ was a music teacher and played various side-jobs evenings and weekends–in dance bands, a symphony orchestra, etc.

“After a gig, some of the band members would hang out at a bar or restaurant, and chat. One time, when L and I were together, he told me he wished he could get along with and have as much fun with his wife/wives as he did with his band-member cohorts at these after-gig gatherings. (This was during his third of four marriages.)

“I suggested to L that if he had to go home and live with these friends, things might be a whole lot different–not mostly ‘cool’ and ‘hip’–when all the ‘warts’ started to appear while in close contact over extended periods. L replied, ‘I hadn’t thought of that.’ Hence his four marriages?

10. Margaret: “I have five male buddies that were never married, and in their 50s. Two got married in their 50s and the other three are still unmarried (in their 60s now), though one of them has a long-term, live-in girlfriend. I’ve known these men for 20+ years.

“Here is my opinion simply based on these five gentlemen whom I love dearly as friends. (A few of them I dated for a short period of time until I decided a romantic relationship with them was not for me–but we remained friends). Each one has wonderful qualities but I’m not sure they are ‘husband’ material.

“The two that got married were divorced after several years of miserable marriages. I think when someone has been single for 50+ years (man or woman), they become set in their ways and it is difficult to incorporate another person 24/7 into their lives. But, there are always exceptions to any rule!”

11. Joanie: “Eight months into a relationship is still the ‘wonderful time.’ There is about a year and a half or two years when a relationship is new, exciting and still romantic. (Nature makes it that way). After that, the two people begin to be comfortable with each other and let down certain guards.

“And that is when they can see if they are really compatible–how do they handle sharing, anger, disappointment, helping, giving at times more than they get, how do they handle distraction in you?

“D can always stay with Sally for weekends and a few days at a time for them both to see how it feels. I would say: 1) wait awhile before you let him officially move in and/or 2) keep it romantic forever by both of you staying with your own current living arrangements.”

12. Kaitte: “Oh man, I have mixed feelings about Sally’s situation. Lots to say. The age difference doesn’t hamper anything, after all he’s in his 50s. Done a little living. Supports himself but doing what?”

13. Jon: “I would suggest short-term, live-ins of a week or so to see if it works before an outright move-in.

“I find it advantageous to have been married just once. In my singles group, there were a few never-marrieds and they were always looked at suspiciously, probably justifiably so. It is a yellow flag but not a red one.”

14. Kenny: “In Sally’s own words: ‘I like the way our relationship is now.’

“Mr. ‘D’ has two options: compromise or not to compromise. If Sally chooses to continue with ‘D,’ their current LAT (Living apart together) relationship is by far the best scenario for Sally. There is certainly way more ‘upside’ than ‘downside’ for Sally being in a LAT relationship

1. She’s already been in an apparently successful long-term marriage, so she hasn’t missed out on the ‘marriage’ experience in her 69 years.

2. She does not have to mix her finances or her paid-for home with someone who ‘is not as financially secure as she’ and, ‘he still works full time.’

3. At this stage of her life, she does not have (or need) the ‘legal’ hassles of co-habitating…and that is a very big consideration even with a ‘can-always-be-contested’ pre-nup or cohabitation agreement.

“If she can temporarily (difficult, I know) take the emotional “Eight-month honeymoon effect’ out of the equation, and let common sense dictate her decisions, the status quo is perfect for her.

“I also feel if ‘D’ doesn’t compromise and/or agree to continue with their current relationship ‘style,’ that Sally doesn’t have to give up on finding another relationship.

“A financially secure, healthy, fit and attractive woman should be a pretty appealing catch for those more-than-enough available men closer to her own age.”

15. Vic: “I would be very leery of a guy who was neither married nor been in a long-term relationship (i.e., more than ‘a few years’) by the age of 56! Sally is right to worry.

“She does not mention whether she ever actually ASKED him why he never married or why those live-in relationships never went anywhere. It’s possible there are valid reasons and maybe he just did not meet anyone compatible who clicked with him.

“But such a conversation would give her a chance to see whether there is a pattern to his relationships: Is he simply commitment-shy?  Does he have some quirk that gets in the way of a full-time relationship? Is there some hidden flaw that manifests itself after time (e.g.: Does he have an abusive streak, is he bi-polar, etc.)? Does he have a roving eye or can’t keep it in his pants? The possibilities are endless.

“Then there is the possibility that he is a slick con artist who is slowly but steadily working his way into her life. Let’s hope not, but has Sally done a thorough search and/or investigation of him?  What does she know factually about his past — beyond just what he has told her?

“Of course, it’s also possible that he’s the real deal. But then, how stable will the relationship be in the long run, when he has never shared a house or a life?

“I’m not saying Sally should not let him move, but I am saying she should do her homework and due diligence before!”

16. Stella, “While I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with a man who’s in his 50’s and never been married, I do say give it a little more time. Time not only heals everything; it reveals everything. If there are any ulterior motives in his desire to move in, they will, in time, surface.

“The 13-year senior age difference also speaks volumes. While 5-7 years either way is typical and shouldn’t raise concerns, this is definitely a reach.

17. Althea: “Going by my past experiences, I see some BIG red flags that are waving at her frantically, trying to get her attention! Because I’ve been there, I am also age 69, and had a long, on-again, off-again, serious relationship with a man who was 14-years younger, similar to Sally’s guy who is 13-years younger. I was 53 and he was 39 at the time, divorced with two small kids. In the long run, age does matter.

“I would suggest to Sally, strongly, that she not let this man move in. (She even wrote that she always felt she would never marry again or live with a man…she should go with her gut).

“She’s only known him for eight months, (not enough time knowing someone to invite them to live in your home- especially at her age and with their big lifestyle differences), he lives 34 miles away from her and works Monday through Friday so she’s only seen him on weekends and the one trip they took together to visit his mother and sister. That’s plenty of time for him to be on his best behavior when they are together.

“Judging by the facts of his past, that for one, he is 56 and has never married … to me that means he has never fully committed himself to any woman… and that he has had live-in relationships of ‘a few years a few times.’ Also a sign of non-commitment. She might become another live-in relationship that only lasts a few years. Is that what she wants?

“Has she been to his home? Does he own or rent? Do they spend time there? What is his work? Has he been working at his job for many years or does he move from job to job? Does he make a steady income? Is he good with money? Does he pay his bills on time, or is he behind in bills? And I pray he has never asked her for money and she has never offered/given him money…

“There are a LOT of questions like that she should be asking him if she hasn’t already. She wrote, ‘He wants to move in.’  Not that he wants her to move in with him. I see a red flag there. To me I see that as another red flag because…he wants to be in her home that he knows is secure. He could be telling her that he wants to move in to her place instead of the other way around, because he wants her to feel secure and happy in her own house and not have to move…  A good ploy by a lot of men.

“Sally should be doing several things…listening to her gut instinct, asking him a lot of important questions, and continuing to live by herself. She could have one of those together-living-apart relationships. At least wait until she’s been dating him for a good 2-3 years before she thinks about having him live with her, or vice versa. I know women who have sold their house, moved in with a guy and then when it ended a few yrs. later the woman had no place to live, no home to go back to.

“If Sally would like to ask me about my 14 year difference relationship, you can give her my email address. I’ll be happy to tell her, and hopefully help her make a good decision.”

18. Mary Ann: “I don’t think it’s normal at age 69 a woman to be involved in a relationship with so much a younger man. If they met earlier in life, and spent many years building memories together, I would understand. Then, they would have had time to get to know each other and make a special relationship, so at a later age, they almost wouldn’t feel the age difference. I know a few happy couples like that. In Sally’s situation, I would be very suspicious to this man.

“To me he is interested in her financial situation. Nine months is a very short time to know all about the person with whom you are involved.”

19. Marillee, “You said you like the way your relationship is now, a LAT? He’s not as financially secure as you are, you own a nice, large, mortgage-free home, and he wants to move in?

“Hmm, could be a red flag! Why not continue to enjoy each other weekends and travel, assuming he can afford to pay his way? Quite frankly, you now have what I consider an ideal situation! You found a special person with whom you can share a committed relationship and see each other on the weekends. He sounds like a great guy, but remain true to yourself, keep your independence, and protect your assets!”

20. Esther: “Sally seems to have a very wonderful relationship with D as it is right now. Why rock the boat? Moving in may ruin a perfectly lovely relationship.

“It isn’t fair to cast all unmarried men over 50 as undesirable. D seems fun, pleasant and willing to work in a relationship. There are plenty of men over fifty who are married and not so desirable. D should be considered on his own merits and not labeled as part of a bad group.

“The issue does not revolve around being over fifty and never married. The issue Sally must face is if moving in together will enhance the good relationship Sally has already established.”

21. Orchid: “Why spoil a good and working relationship? Sally’s situation mirrors mine in some respect. I am in a committed relationship with a younger, highly respectable man with a great job but who will be retiring soon. He is going on 60, has never married and likely the reason is, he is the only child and family of his mother who is 90 and lives on the East Coast. He had relationships before, but that is his past.

“We enjoy and care for each other tenderly and generously. He has his own house and I have my own apartment.

“I have my own life, travel and enjoy my family and friends without him. This is our set up and it works wonderfully well.

“Sally, enjoy your own life and enjoy both of your lives with D.

22. Susan: “NO. Sally should not let him move in. It can take years for the ‘real’ D to come out. He is on good behavior now. If it is right, she will know without asking. If there is one tiny doubt, the answer should be no. She can spend time with “D” but still have her independence.

“Short story. My friend lived with her love for three years. Not a problem. But when they got married he almost beat her to death. I know that is an unusual situation, but Sally needs to be careful.”

23. Christine: “I love how you met D. As a widow, you were staying active, doing what you love, and then—there he was. And it sounds like the LAT is working well for you.

“You mentioned that ‘he wants to move in.’ That lets us know how D feels. I’m curious about you? How do you feel about it? It’s always a balance in every relationship to take into consideration how each person feels.

“Also, I’d be curious about why his other relationships ended. Has that come up in discussions? What part does he think was his responsibility in each of these? The success and failure of every relationship involves two people.

“I believe one of the most important parts of a successful relationship is when each person takes responsibility for what hasn’t worked in the past and what they’ve done to ensure they won’t do that again in the future. So, I believe having this open and honest conversation would be very important for your successful future together.”

24. Jack of all trades (a woman): “D. Sounds very nice and you sound very happy with him. That’s great. But exactly why does he want to move into your mortgage-free house with you? I would hang onto that house as the sole owner, at all cost.

“I see no reason that he needs to move in. It’s a bad idea. You two aren’t married. You have more to lose than he does. Stick with the status quo.”

25. Elizabeth: “I think that keeping this as a LAT relationship is the best way to go for now. If you both expressed feelings of being in love, then maybe it would be okay to entertain the thought of living together. But if it is working the way it is, there does not seem to be a need to live under the same roof, unless both of you absolutely want that.

“Until that point, I’d say to just enjoy the companionship for now and then see where it goes from there. To me, that’s more important than even the age difference, which could be an issue, depending on the feelings involved.”

26. Karla: “To me, the age difference is a red flag. A second red flag is that he’s never been married. The third would be his wanting to move in with her.

“I dated a man a few times who had never been married, although he said he had once been in a long-term relationship. There was something ‘off’ about him. He was very needy.

“He’s in his 70s now and is still a player. I was in a ‘relationship’ with another man for seven years, and I came to find out (shortly before he died) he had lived with woman after woman, and he also had a stable of women on the side, all in secret. I cared a lot for him before knowing what a POS (piece of s…)he was, but I wouldn’t have considered living with him. I value my quiet time too much to live with someone.”

27. Arlene: “After a long relationship ends, we want to recreate what we had. When the next ‘replacement” comes long, we sometimes jump in too quickly.

“One can either throw caution to the wind and rationalize they might not get another chance at love, so best to jump in now. Or one can be more cautious and slow it down.

“Eight months is not that long. I would wait a year or more to co-habitate with someone who has been single his entire life. That would be a red flag to me. I dated a guy for three years who had never been married. He was in his 60s. It ended when he passed on.

“He did not want to ever be married because he ‘never wanted to end up hating someone.’ Such pessimism! Proceed with caution!”

28. Sue: “My thoughts are: It’s sooo hard to find someone that you can get along with, much less, as well as they seem to- so what if he’s at a certain age and not married? He never met the right girl…yet.

“She should go with her heart. If she feels good about him–then bless her! Don’t worry about who makes what at this point…plenty of time for that if things get that serious…and she feels the need/fear for that to be an issue.

“It probably won’t; he seems genuine. Being able to work out issues and keep moving along is a good sign. If she said they never argued, I’d be a little more hesitant and think that they were both holding all in–that’s not good either.”

29. Elisa: “I have been enjoying and “eves dropping” on  your most enjoyable and informative site for many years now. I had an unusual experience when I read Sally’s comments.

“I felt a strong sense that if she allows D to move in, the dynamics of their relationship would change.

“Considering her comments about his relationship with his mother and sisters, as well as never having been married, and his younger age, it all seems to lead to a mother-and-son relationship in the making.

“I feel sure that Sally wants an adult-to-adult relationship from her comments, but the new proposed changes do not seem to encourage this given his background. I may be wrong, and I hope so, but I would caution Sally to trust her instincts as she is the one with all the facts.

30. BD (woman), “Sally, it could be interesting to ask yourself some questions: If you were 69 years of age and living in a modest rental property while still working full time, would the relationship have flourished?

“If your male companion, at age 56, was retired with a large, mortgage-free home, would your relationship have flourished? By simply reversing each of your circumstances, it frees you to explore all kinds of thoughts on this issue.

Moving-in is a big deal. It taps into emotions, finances, spirituality, safety and security. You did not mention if you and your late husband had children. If yes, would their future inheritance be solid and secure from any outside interference?

“Very importantly, why has he only experienced relationships of a couple years throughout his whole adult life? How is this relationship different? If your relationship is also short term, could you manage its end emotionally?

The most important thing that I read from your letter was that you are enjoying the circumstances that you share now–living separately but sharing a committed relationship, which leads me to believe that your male companion is the one wanting this change. And it seems like there would be many advantages in his favor to do so.

“No matter what you ultimately decide, take the time to trust your gut, and then you will have peace with your decision.”

31. Chris (male): “I see red flags for this lady. I know three guys who could be this Mr. “D.” All are over 50, never married and have had multiple live-in situations. The live ins last between five and seven years.

“It takes about that long for the lady (who always seems to be the one with the house) to realize she is with a loser. I would tell her, if this relationship is going so smooth, then don’t try to fix it. Time will tell her what to do, and this just isn’t the time.”

32. Gordon: “Sally, I empathize with you and your dilemma in that I am a widower of 41 years; although, your situation is full of ‘amber flags’ if not red flags. I have been in a LAT relationship for two-plus years, after dating a number of years, and find it tremendously rewarding, fun and liberating.

“Just think…you are retired, have good health, and financial stability. You have obtained ‘The Three-Legged Stool’ of Health, Time, and Money to enjoy your senior years.  Guard that wisely.

1. Age difference and the lesser fact he never married, is not necessarily a red flag, but it is out of the ordinary and does ask the question why. What do you gain by having a live-in partner or boy-friend rather than a LAT relationship with this person. There is risk to every new relationship but let us enter wisely.
2.  What would make your relationship better by living together? That anticipation of meeting and the thrill each time you meet would be tempered greatly. The newness you feel each time you are together would also likely diminish. If those things are not so important and you would prefer a full-time-together relationship, living together may be good.

“Compare what you had in your previous good marriage and what this new ‘live in’ relationship could add that makes your life better.

“It is not insensitive to say that your next relationship should be better than your first because you have learned much and experienced a good relationship with your husband and you know what could be better. I would encourage you to seek more and not settle for what you had in your marriage because that is not attainable. A new person means new experiences and new adventures in life. You are beginning to learn of those now on your own. Will this person, living with you, add or detract from that?

3.  You say he has had three past live in relationships that failed. Could it be that the three different women he had the relationship with were the reason they failed or was he, the same man (the common factor), the problem?

4.  You seemed to be very concerned about financial stability and YOU SHOULD!  At your age financials are more important than ever.  You say you have more than him and the fact is if he moved in with you it would be a windfall for him in that he no longer has a housing cost.

His life style takes a leap forward, but does yours?  What will he contribute to complete a partnership?  In a LAT relationship the answer can be as simple as happiness.

“I am in a LAT relationship and one of the concerns of both of us is that we keep our financials separate. In my relationship, we are both concerned that health issues could financially destroy the other. We both lost our spouse after long and expensive health care.

“We want our money to go to our children and we want to be financially independent. A true relationship later in life should include independent financial stability that promotes a very happy relationship. You earned that. What will the new live in contribute to promote that?

5. Another concern is that once he moves in, you will lose some of your independence including coming and going as you please. Are you willing to do so?

A LAT relationship can have all the benefits of a marriage plus a loving relationship. Why does cohabitation have to exist at our age?  You can spend nights together, travel together, do everything together and still have a loving relationship without cohabitation while retaining your individual independence.  You have earned that.

33. Becky: “Three huge red flags.  I have one word and that is RUN!    We must always be diligent about our personal safety.”

34. Jeanne: “I think you should give the relationship more time before deciding whether to live or not to live together. I know one relationship where the man who has never been married moved in with the woman who has been married, and the difference between them is that she has the money and the house.

“There is definitely love there but she does not want to get married and he does.  They live in her house and right now it is working well for both of them.  But the future is unclear – for her.  Take your time!”

35. Curtis: “I am 66 and never been married. When I was in my 50’s, I knew five guys in their 50’s who had never been married. Four found a relationship with women over 50, who had been divorced. All got married, and are still married in a loving relationship.

“At over 60, I find it surprising to find a woman interested in a relationship. Most have been hurt in past relationships and not interested in having a guy in their life. How many times have I heard when asking someone out, ‘If I want to have fun, I’ll call my girl friends.'”

Tom’s humble summary:

– Not one of you recommended that Sally allow D to move in. Number 28 (Sue), said Sally should go with her heart, which is kind-of an “it’s okay if she allows him move in.”

– I am very impressed with how so many of you are familiar with the term LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship and how you use the term so knowingly and comfortably. And, how so many of you love being in one (vs. being under the same roof 24/7)

– My guess is—from your comments—Sally knows what course of action to take or not to take

– Most important advice, Sally needs to take her time in making this decision

– Hopefully, this co-operative effort by Champs will lead to other people stepping forward with senior relationship questions and issues on other topics

Widow’s dilemma: should she let her much younger, never-married man friend move into her paid-for home?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – February 23, 2018

In December, 2016, Sally, a Champ from San Diego, and I exchanged emails. She initially wrote, “I have no trouble meeting men. But mostly they are UN-acceptable to me.

“I am a widow of almost three years. About nine months after losing my husband, I began dating. I joined two dating sites and met a married man and many losers.

“I am financially secure, healthy, fit and attractive. A retired teacher. I do volunteer work and have many friends. I have a lot to offer but I am soon going to be giving up looking for a relationship!”

That December, I wrote back to Sally: “I understand what you say about possibly giving up looking. That’s ok. But, always keep alert for potential situations–a nice guy in the post office line, or in a store, or at a party, or wherever, just in case a decent man comes along who has a void in his life and would like to have a buddy to do things with.

“Volunteering is wonderful, way to go on that. Do you ever travel? And you say, “Financially secure, healthy, fit and attractive,” wow, you can’t beat that. Lots of men out there would be lucky to have a woman with those characteristics so don’t completely give up! Keep me posted.”

This week in February, 2018, Sally emailed: “You said a year ago December to keep you posted. So, here is an update. I’d welcome any feedback from you or our Champs.

“I have been doing volunteer work for the last two years! And it turned out that’s how I met the man I am now seeing. Two years ago, you told me not to give up and I didn’t, but I was not ‘looking’ when a man I will refer to as ‘D’, came into my life.

“In early April, 2017, ‘D’ walked into the museum where I volunteer as a docent. We talked at length and when he returned to the museum three weeks later, I was on duty again. We exchanged phone numbers. He lives 34 miles away.

“After a few good phone conversations, we had a beach picnic. Our next date was a classic car show! We have seen one another almost every weekend since the middle of May. He is 56 and I am 69! He says the age difference is not important.

“He is patient, kind and loving. He loves my dog and helps me around my home. We took some swing dance lessons and went to a few Elks Club dances. We have had some misunderstandings but have worked through them and grown our relationship as a result. We have built friendship and trust between us.

“We took a trip together last November to Kansas to visit his mother and sister. We enjoy being together and doing ‘ordinary life,’ but are planning more trips to Hawaii, Palm Springs and Northern California.

D is very affectionate, a good listener and, we are able to talk and resolve differences so far. He is hard working and loves his 86-year-old mother and his sisters.

“He is not as financially secure as I and he still works full time, which is good. I am a retired teacher and I own a nice, large, mortgage-free home.

“Your January newsletter about LAT (Living Together Apart) relationships, was great and very informative. I like the way our relationship is now.

“We get a chance to miss one another because we don’t live together. He is a never-married man of 56 and I am a widow of almost four years. My late husband and I had a solid and loving marriage for 39 years and then he became ill and died suddenly.

“I always felt I would never marry or live with a man again, but I did want to find a special person with whom I could share a committed relationship.

“I think D is that person for me. We have been serious about one another for eight months. He wants to move in with me and so we are ‘discussing’ it. I know what it is like to be married and D does not. He has had live-in relationships of a few years a few times, and I wonder, is this a red flag? I used to think there was something wrong with a never married man who had not been married by age 50.

“Do you know any age 56 or older men who have never been married? And yet they are great guys? Thanks for any insights/advice you may have. I hope to hear from Champs as well.”

Comment from Tom: Of course, I have my opinions. But, let’s hear what you Champs have to say. Email me and I will forward your comments to Sally. Let’s give her the benefit of your thinking, experience and wisdom.

Should she agree to let D move in?

Sally’s issue is a little like these Bocce balls. What if the two blue ones were moved in next to the orange one? Would that be a good thing? Or, would moving them in change the game and create problems?

Any other thoughts for Sally?

Update: More than 35 of Tom’s eNewsletter subscribers (called Champs by Tom) responded. You can read their responses in Tom’s eNewsletter that is published immediately above this article. These comments can be helpful to any senior considering allowing a new found love to move in. Read those comments before deciding!

A similar version of this story appeared in the San Clemente Times on March 8, 2018, the Dana Point Times, and The Capistrano Dispatch on March 9, 2018, written by Tom Blake as well: Here are the links:

San Clemente Times article


Dana Point Times article by Tom Blake


The San Juan Capistrano Dispatch


A Green Valentine’s Day Love Story

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – February 14, 2018

Today’s eNewsletter has two Parts

Part 1 – A Green Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is associated with red-colored hearts, red greeting cards, red heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and red roses.

But for one San Clemente, California, couple, Valentine’s Day, 2018, will feature a green heart Valentine.

Green heart Valentine

The background: In 2003, at 70-years-old, Champ Chris Anastasio, recently divorced, became a dance host on cruise ships. In 2004, he danced with Tina, a lovely woman from England. After the cruise, they started corresponding, which began the longest long-distance relationship of which I’ve ever known—5,419 miles.

In 2009, I published a book titled, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50.” Chris and Tina were one of the featured couples. Their story was called, “Cruise Ship Dance Host Meets Match at Sea.”

In the book, Chris was quoted, “Tina would love to live in California, but she has family and grandchildren in England. Friends always ask us if we plan to marry and live together. That doesn’t make much sense. Every time we get together it’s like a honeymoon.”

After 13 years of being an unwed, long-distance couple, things changed. On February 12, 2017, Chris and Tina married at the Dana Point Yacht Club.

 Tina and Chris Wedding Day

                                               The rest of the story 

But Tina still had to return to England from time-to-time because she wasn’t eligible to permanently stay in the United States. So, a month after their wedding, Chris and Tina started working on securing a green card for her, so she wouldn’t have to leave the country.

Two weeks ago today (Friday, January 26), Chris emailed, “After jumping through all kinds of hoops in 2017, we finally had Tina’s green card hearing today. It’s the last stop in the process.

“We were told to bring pictures, papers, letters or anything else that would prove we were a REAL couple. Tina suggested we bring your How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 book with us.

“During the interview, I mentioned that we had become kind of famous because of our long-distance relationship. I said, in fact, we were written up in a book. I handed him your book, with our page marked with a book marker.

“He opened the book and started reading. His whole face lit up. He said, ‘This is great, I don’t have to see anything else. You have your green card.’

“It was amazing. He never looked at anything else. We were out of there in less than a half hour. You had a hand (and a big hand at that) in getting Tina her green card. Thanks for your help.”

I think Chris and Tina’s story is remarkable. A 13-year, long-distance relationship endured. Chris just turned 84 and Tina is 77. Chris volunteers at the San Clemente Villas, a residence for seniors, by dancing with the residents every week. He also dresses up as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny on holidays.

One other thing about Chris. On the first anniversary of 9/11, at age 69, he put the American flag on the “A” marker buoy via a kayak, just outside of Dana Point Harbor beyond the jetty in the Pacific Ocean.

Chris said, “I tended the flag every day from a kayak and changed it about every three months until I turned 80 and had heart surgery. The Dana Point Yacht Club said they liked it and would maintain it.”

For Valentine’s Day, 2018, you can bet that the color of Chris and Tina’s valentine will be green. I am incredibly proud of them.

The book, “How 50 Couples Found Love After 50,” is available on Tom’s online bookstore at:

A similar article by Tom Blake appeared in these Picket Fence Media newspapers:
Part 2 A tribute to Shirley Budhos, the Wise Bird of Manhattan, a departed Champ

Champ Sally M., emailed “Our dear friend Shirley Budhos, aka the Wise Bird of Manhattan, passed away on January 24. You introduced us several years ago and we became friends.”

My response to Sally: “This is tough news for me. I loved her spirit, although we had never met in person. She was active with our newsletter until two weeks ago. When I quoted her, I always called her ‘The Wise Bird of Manhattan,’ a titled she provided more than 15 years ago.

“She contributed an endless number of times to the newsletter with her wisdom. Thanks for letting me know; I often don’t learn when we lose a Champ except when they stop sending in their opinions.

“She is probably itching to give her opinion from heaven today. I can almost guess what she would have said. I am honored that you let me know. Sorry for your/our loss.

“I looked back into my archives and found an email that Shirley wrote on July 8, 2016, She said:  ‘I feel like a spokeswoman who cannot articulate and reveal what women experience. All is not hilarity at my home, but my Russian soul suffers, mourns, and dashes with hilarity, the absurdity of living so long. Without my sense of humor, I would die.

“If you believe in miracles or happy endings, think of me. Life goes on in its own bumpy fashion. I have never lost interest in men and passion, but my imagination is somewhat more fulfilling than reality.”

We will miss you Wise Bird.

Responses to how long should a widowed person wait to date

Part One – Follow up from our Champs: how long widows and widowers should wait to date 

Part Two – Beware of a new email phishing scam
Part One – Recently, (February 2, 2018), the topic of this newsletter was how long should a widow or widower wait to date after the death of a spouse.

We had some brilliant comments from our Champs. Of course, there is no right answer to this question, but it’s valuable information even for people who are not married but have a significant other with whom they’ve shared a life. Their loss of a mate can be equally as devastating.

I am sharing the responses to that newsletter while the topic is fresh in our minds.

The comments are in four simple categories.

1. It’s strictly up to the widow or widower

Dating and relationship coach Christine Baumgartner ( said, “I’m a widow and I also coach many widows/widowers as well as belong to a widows/widowers social group and a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to widows and widowers.

This subject comes up often in each of these groups. I completely agree the only person who gets to have an opinion about how soon a widow/widower should start dating is that specific person and only that person.

I’ve sadly heard of too many widows/widowers who pass up love because their kids/relatives/neighbors thought they needed to wait longer or even worse, never date. So sad to hear how other people’s opinions could keep someone from finding love again.

2. Two men say children should be a consideration

Wayne, “Good article. Key element that might be discussed: Effect on children. I have a friend who dated immediately after his wife died from a two-to-three-year battle with cancer. My friend had a serious girlfriend who moved into his home within months of his wife’s death. Both kids, especially the daughter, REALLY struggled with it. The buddy is early 70’s. I’m not sure there’s a perfect answer but sensitivity to your kids should be considered.

Russell -not a widower, but a man whose opinion I respect. Russel has been married 47 years. He said, “If something happened to my wife, I might never date again. For me, my daughters and grandkids would play a huge role in my decision. I would be very concerned about their reaction.”

3. A widow shares her vast knowledge on how long widows and widowers should wait to date and is a strong advocate of healing first. Her response is long, but she presents a wealth of valuable information that could be helpful to new widows and widowers and others who have suffered a loss of a loved one. Her initials are I. M.

I.M., wrote, “I know how tempting it is to become involved with someone who offers comfort immediately after a partner’s death, but I haven’t seen many of those bonds turn out to be what either of the parties expected or wanted.

“The bottom line for me on this subject is to ask myself: If I give my heart to this man and we share a life, but I die, how fast will he be looking for a replacement? If you don’t care, then jump. If you do care, take some time. Our generation didn’t hop on the ‘instant gratification’ train as a rule.

“I disagree that it’s nobody’s business except the partner left behind on when he decides to date.  If he’s putting himself out there, it’s the business of the new person he meets to be presented with all the facts.

I used to hesitate asking how long it had been since a widower had lost his wife, not wanting to intrude or appear pushy. I stopped hesitating when I discovered on my second date in two weeks with a man that he had buried his wife of fifty+ years less than a month before. Considering we had been emailing for two weeks prior to the first date, I felt quite angry.  And I shared that with him.

He excused his rapid re-entrance into the singles scene by saying she had experienced a long illness leading up to her death and that he had ‘done all his grieving’ during her illness. His revelation came about in a restaurant at dinner after he asked how long I had been alone – which was 3 years.  When I began to mentally examine the timeline, I realized she may have still been alive when he started looking for a replacement. I still feel very bad about that.

“My point is: In the immediate days, weeks and months following the loss of a spouse (bad marriage, long illness, whatever) you just don’t know what you don’t know and to quickly include another unsuspecting or trusting person in that situation can be a recipe for failure.

“Even bad marriages had good moments and long illnesses carry their own set of high and very low moments. Emotional healing from the trauma of a close death isn’t instantaneous. Most people are looking for comfort and escape from the pain or stress of such a loss but are not capable of being honest with themselves or anyone else about their emotional stability.

“The gentleman I referenced is still single (three years later), has engaged in serial relationships that end (by his description) with the women being hurt and angry and left behind because this man cannot commit. He can’t be alone, but he can’t commit to monogamy either. He never gives himself time to be alone and process his loss. He calls several times a year just to check in and ask if I’ll go out with him. No, I won’t.

“Last year, I began seeing a widower of two years whom I had known through business and who later became a casual friend. This emotionally healthy guy – by his own admission – spent a year grieving with the support of family and friends, then began to realize he felt well and whole enough to include a nice woman in his life. And we chose each other.

“We speak openly and lovingly of our spouses, but not obsessively. So, although nobody has the right to dictate how long another person should grieve, I think women should be very careful about allowing themselves to fall in love with new widowers.

“One more point – the families of those new widowers are much more likely to happily accept a new woman into the fold if some time has passed since their mother or sister has died. Even grown children sometimes find it difficult to understand dear old dad is moving on. They feel guilty on behalf of their mother. Quite a balancing act.”

4. Some wait to date for other reasons, or, decide to never date again

Linda, “The latest article about dating was very interesting. Here is what I feel/think – I have been a widow for almost four years. There are other reasons some people don’t move on. I for one am in the process of getting back on my feet financially as my husband didn’t leave me with any financial support when he passed.

“Another reason for not moving on is that in my past, I didn’t make the best decisions in choosing a partner, first husband was physically abusive and the second husband was emotionally controlling. At this point I’m a little gun shy in moving on. I’m 70 and working two part-time jobs, I’m thankful that I am healthy enough to be able to do this.”

Sid,  “Great eNewsletter today on widows/widowers and their dating. My wife died in 2010 and I have gone on a date a couple of times. I teach fitness and am around many females daily and at age 74 am in good condition. I have lady friends and we do a lot of group activities together, but no one has peaked my interest yet and I am ok with that. No need to rush, if it happens or not my life goes on. Please keep up the good work, you provide a needed service to us folks.”

Jackie, “This was a fun article to read (2/2/18). A friend told me when her mother-in-law died, there were women from the church bringing food with invitations of every kind to her father-in-law the next day.

“My advice for widows about how long should you wait to date? Until you get the first good invitation. Men can take their time and go when they want to. Women don’t typically have that luxury.”

How long to wait to date. Don’t wait centuries. Age affects us all:

How long to wait to date. Centuries maybe


Part 2 – Beware of this phishing scam

I received an email from ConsumerAffairs warning of a new phishing scam that targets Netflix customers. But, it could target any company. The subject line will be something like “Payment declined.”

The email will say that your credit card no longer works and you need to update your credit card info to continue receiving Netflix. The scam is called “brandjacking.”

Mark Huffman, a ConsumerAffairs news reporter, writes, “Brandjacking is an increasingly common tactic used in phishing cams. The email is designed to look like it’s coming from a well-known institution. It might be a major bank or a utility company—and at first glance appears to be the real thing.”

The email has a credit card “Update Payment” button to help you scam yourself. Whether it is from Netflix or any other company, don’t update your card via that button.

Huffman says, “There is a safer course of action. Should you receive one of these emails, type the Netflix URL into your browser and log into your account.”

You will determine there if your account needs updating—safely.

Remember, it’s not just Netflix, it could be any company.

How long should a widowed person wait to date?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – February 2, 2018

by newspaper columnist Tom Blake

How long should a widowed person wait to date?

In 24 years of writing about senior relationships, I’ve been asked many times, “How long should a widowed person wait to date?”

The most recent person to ask, Champ Arlene, emailed, “What is a respectful time to wait to date after one’s spouse dies? A man I know is dating after six months of his wife’s passing. He’s in his mid-60s. I’ve asked many women what they think and they say, ‘It’s different for everyone.’ I say he could have waited a year out of respect for his deceased wife.”

The women that Arlene asked are correct: How long to wait to date is different for everyone.

I don’t think respect is the issue here. I don’t know any details about the man’s marriage. His wife could have been ill for years while he stood by her. If that were the case, he had already shown great respect for her.

Or, what if their marriage was unhappy and miserable? But out of respect for her and the institution of marriage, he hung in there. Waiting to date wouldn’t accomplish anything else.

A more important question: has he properly grieved and healed? If he hasn’t, he should not be dating. Widowers tend to date quicker than widows after the death of a spouse. What often happens, particularly with new widowers, they are so lonely, they start to date before they are ready. A nice woman comes along and falls in love with him.

A little later, he realizes he still misses his wife terribly and dumps the new girlfriend. So, in protecting his heart, he breaks hers. That’s not good.

What’s the proper period to wait for grief recovery? Impossible to say. Many times, I’ve asked widows and widowers how long they waited to date.

One widow wrote: “You’ll know you’re ready when you no longer find dwelling on the past comforting. Only you will know that.”

Another widow said: “After 21 years of marriage, it took me a good two years before I was emotionally ‘whole’ enough to consider another relationship. Up to that point, my incessant talk about my late husband would have made any man run in the opposite direction.”

What happens if a widow or widower is still grieving and he (or she) meets someone he thinks would be a great partner who becomes interested in him?

                                      Here’s where honesty is critical

Out of respect for the new person, he should tell her he’s still grieving but feels they could become a loving couple, and, if she would be patient with him, it could work out. Then, as they go forward, they can openly and honestly discuss how things are progressing. In that way, no one gets blindsided, she’s aware of what she’s dealing with. The same honesty can apply to someone grieving from a divorce.

Somewhat along that line, a Champ whose mother saw a man she knew, whose wife had died just months before. My friend said, “Mom questioned me whether it was too soon after his wife had died for her to ask him for coffee. I told her you can’t control when opportunity knocks, and if you don’t answer the knock, it may not return.

“They had coffee. The next Sunday, the man took her to church. Six months later, they were married.”

​Another Champ, Gale, told me years ago: “The man in my life had already done his grieving before his wife died, and no one has the right to dictate what that mourning period should be or for how long. That’s a right reserved exclusively for the partner left behind after a spouse dies.”

In other words, it’s no one’s business except the partner left behind on when he decides to date.

One thing is certain: As we enter our 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, we don’t have a lot of time to waste in deciding if we’re ready to date or not. If we are able to open our heart to a new person, go for it. Just don’t be selfish by rushing that decision when you know deep inside you can’t deliver love.

So perhaps Arlene will not judge too harshly the mid-60s widower who is dating six months after his wife passed away. Let’s hope he has adequately healed.


For more information on dating a widower, I have an eBook on titled, “Widower Dating: Gold Mine or Mine Field” The cost to download the book is $3.93.

A similar article to this by Tom Blake also appeared in these three Picket Fence Media newspapers:

newspaper logos

San Clemente Times         The Capistrano Dispatch      Dana Point Times

Super Bowl II and “Brooklyn Roads” – a Half Century of Memories

Tom Blake

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 26, 2018

As Super Bowl LII (52) approaches next week, I can’t help but think back to 1968, 50 years ago. Two events happened that year that I’ve been reminded of every year since.

After serving three years in the Navy, much of it on a troop carrier in the South China Sea, at the start of the Viet Nam war, I spent a year at The University of Michigan getting my MBA degree. Upon graduation in 1966, I was fortunate to be hired by American Airlines.

In 1968, when Super Bowl II came around, I was a regional manager of public relations, working at the American headquarters at 633 Third Avenue in New York City.

Four days before the Super Bowl, the Vice President of Public Relations, a distinguished man named Holmes Brown, summoned me to his office.

He said, “Tom, I just got off the phone with the president of American Express. They have invited our two world stewardess queens, Patty Poulsen and Jill Spavin, to be their guests this week-end at the Super Bowl festivities in Miami. But, I can’t let Patty and Jill go on their own. I want an American Airlines escort to go with them to be sure they are safe and treated with dignity.

“As the only single man in our department, I would like you to go. Will you do it?”

“Love to,” I said.

He patted me on the back and handed me five one-hundred-dollar bills. “All expenses are paid for, but I want you to have money in case you need to pick up a tab. I want American Airlines to always look good.”

On Friday night, Patty, Jill and I flew to Miami. A representative from Amex picked us up at the airport and took us to the hotel. For the next three days, my focus was to keep them safe.

Jill and Patty AAL

Jill Spavin on left and Patty Poulsen on the right near Paul Revere Statue circa 1968. Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Of course, it was an incredible week-end. The three of us sat on the 50-yard line in the Orange Bowl with George Mira, a former University of Miami All-American and San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Hundreds of Mira’s admirers stopped by to greet him; they were curious about Patty and Jill who looked beautiful.

The Green Bay Packers beat the Oakland Raiders, 33-14. Vince Lombardi was the Packers coach; John Madden was the Raiders linebacker coach.

I remember riding in the bus to the game sitting next to a young kid named Mike Garrett, a Heisman Trophy winner, who years later would become the athletic director of USC for 17 years. He asked me what was in the cooler on the back seat of the bus, I said, “Chilled beer.” He said, “Oh, I wanted a Coca Cola.”

It’s hard to believe there have been 50 Super Bowls since that experience. Each year, I smile when I watch the game.

In 1970, Patty appeared as a flight attendant in the movie Airport.

          Event two – later in 1968 – “Brooklyn Roads”

There was a singer/songwriter from Brooklyn named Neil Diamond who was starting to get noticed. I heard him sing a song called “Brooklyn Roads” on a NYC radio station. Having lived in Brooklyn myself for a while, I loved the song, which was about Diamond growing up there, living two floors above a butcher shop. He attended high school briefly with Barbara Streisand.

I didn’t realize, of course, that he would become my all-time favorite singer. In 1969, songs such as “Sweet Caroline” and “Holly Holy” topped the charts. Later, the album “Beautiful Noise” became a part of my permanent collection. As did, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” with songs I treasure to this day.

I’ve seen him perform in concert about 15 times.

This week, Neil Diamond announced his retirement from performing. Greta and I were fortunate to attend his 50th anniversary concert last August at the Forum in Los Angeles. It was fabulous.

He performed my favorite Neil Diamond song, “Dry Your Eyes.” This song is not as popular or well-known as many of his others. But for me, it’s the best. He co-wrote it with Robbie Robertson of The Band, as a healing song after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, JFK and RFK. The trumpet solo near the end is staggering; it reminds of “Taps.”

Diamond cancelled the last part of the 50th Anniversary tour that was scheduled for New Zealand and Australia. He has Parkinson’s Disease. He will continue to write music and work.

So, yup, I’m looking back over the last 50 years today. Pardon me for the nostalgia. I’ll be smiling once again when watching the Super Bowl next week. I wonder where Patty Poulsen and Jill Spavin are now?

And, to acknowledge Neil Diamond for his incredible 50 years of music, I’ll play “Dry Your Eyes” one more time. But, it won’t be my last.

Here is the link to Neil singing “Dry Your Eyes” at the concert Greta and I attended last August. Note that he dedicated this performance to the English terrorism victims in London and Manchester. Put it on full screen for maximum enjoyment.


Here is the link to Neil singing “Dry Your Eyes”


Observations on life, love and LAT (Living Apart Together)

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 19, 2018

Tom P Blake

Often, sage comments made by Champs in response to a newsletter provide the content for the next newsletter. Such is the case this week. I couldn’t put these articles together without you.

Today: observations on life, love, and LAT (Living Apart Together) relationships. Two California Champs and one Michigan Champ share their opinions.

Maria, Cloverdale, California, wrote: “If I ever was lucky enough to get into a romantic relationship again, I would go for a LAT (Living Apart Together).

“The older I get, I see the whole romantic relationship thing in a different light. I cherish my own space and yes, I’d probably drive another person crazy with my erratic life style – like painting in my art room at 2 am because a particular painting is calling me awake, so I have to go paint!

“The LAT would be ideal for me because you are still sharing a friendship, a love, a partner, fun times, good conversation, affection and support–and sharing in the best of both individual worlds in our own living spaces.

“I’ve been alone for a long time and I’ve developed my sacred spaces in my home, my sanctuary. I am willing to share it, but I would also want times alone in my space. Can a man in a romantic partnership agree with that? Looks like some do, which is nice to hear.”

Tom’s comment: As we age, I think most of our Champs—both men and women—agree for the need for time alone in one’s space. For couples, to be around each other or face-to-face 24/7, won’t work too well. Just like these two train engines I photographed in 2007, at the Montpellier, France, Sant Roch train station:

 Trains, like couples, work better when they aren’t butting heads or constantly face-to-face

Seniors need to get out of the house and involved in activities. They need air to breathe. Social interaction is critical for seniors.

Maria continued, “I’ve come to think that if more older men and women were open to be just friends, most of us wouldn’t feel so lonely at times. I’ve tried to do the friendship thing with men, but I haven’t found a man yet to be interested here in California.

“I love good conversation and sharing of ideas written or face-to-face. I’ve struck up some email friendships with men, but they always end the same way–they ultimately stop responding without a word.

“What are your thoughts on men and women friendships (platonic) and the potential for easing loneliness? When I lived back East, I had romantic men partners as well as platonic friendships with men (I was also a lot younger–is that the difference?). It was a nice mix. Even though I’ve been in CA for 21 years, I just can’t get a handle on how CA men think.

Tom’s comment: Yes, senior friendships can ease loneliness. What is it about older, single, California men? I’m a California man, but I don’t have an answer for how they think; it’s such an individual thing. My guess is most of them want a romantic relationship, but without drama. So, if they think an email relationship isn’t going anywhere, they move on. That’s not exclusive to California men. Men everywhere may feel the same.

Maria ended with: “The older I get, the more I find peace with being alone and developing who I am in my 70’s. What I’d like is a better balance of male and female energy of friendships–frankly, I don’t want the “all women” groups, I want the mixed groups.  A nice mix of friendships is ideal!”
Joanie, Torrance, California, “LAT couples in later life make a lot of sense. If one has been single a long time (like me), certain patterns and habits develop that are hard to change. Also, when each one is secure financially in a paid-off house/condo etc., it’s hard to give that financial security up and take a chance on emotional feelings.

Tom’s comment: To enjoy emotional feelings, older singles should not give up financial security. If someone wants a part of your finances, in exchange for love, then, it’s not love. Don’t ever give up your security, you have no time remaining to re-earn it. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t share financial security—just protect yourself and know what you are doing, and with whom you are sharing.

Joanie continued, “So, keeping each’s financial security in this world is important…and not being there every minute sort of keeps the relationship romantic.

“If one is of an age where he or she is looking for a caregiver, that is a big challenge. We ‘oldies’ should have a place we can afford to go when we are at the point of needing professional caregivers. We should not hope to marry one or have one come live with us.”

Tom’s comment: Well said, Joanie.
Gordon, Traverse City, Michigan

Enjoyed both newsletters pertaining to Living Apart Together (LAT) relationships and wanted to add a couple of positive aspects, that may not be as apparent as the negatives some Champs give.

“LAT admittedly is not for all; however, it has improved my life and relationship in this late-in-life journey many of us are now taking. It is truly an adventure and is better now than ever.

“I have been in a LAT relationship (living in our own homes – seven miles apart) for over two years and found it to be very rewarding and our relationship continues to mature and be even more fun the longer we are together. Here are few reasons:

– “A LAT is a relationship based on the CHOICES we make each day and not on a legal contract and consequences based on that contract

– “There are no financial obligations or liabilities to one another. We share all. This is a very good thing for seniors (not so for young people) in that as we grow older we have increased individual liabilities affecting our partners including catastrophic health issues that often destroy both the husband and wife financially for the remainder of their days

– “Whereas, the LAT remains economically separated from those costs, bankruptcies, etc. The latest stat I read is that 65% of bankruptcies are due to health cost

– “Each time we get together, the excitement and anticipation is always present. No obligation to do so other than we want to be together. Yes, there are days when we simply prefer to stay home.

– “Taking each other for granted does not exist. Consideration for the other is paramount. Therefore, we take particular care to insure we appreciate each other every day.

“A LAT relationship does require a high level of openness and trust between the couple. The love aspect is defined (by me) as mutual happiness we both desire being together.

– “Yes, there are some negatives. How many times have people said to you and your partner: “When are you getting married?”

“Also, we can’t get a joint Sam’s Club or COSTCO membership card (both of us for the price of one) because we don’t live together.”

Tom’s comment: When someone asks, “When are you and Greta getting married?” (20 years together, not married), I take out the paper towel from my back pocket, and dab my eyes, saying, “Greta won’t marry me.” That usually causes them to quickly change the subject.

Gordon ended with: “Our theme song that seems always to fit perfectly is: “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight.”

Tom’s comment: Ah, the England Dan and John Ford Coley 1976 song, “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” from the album “Nights Are Forever.” If you think about the words, it could be the original LAT song.

“I’m not talking about movin’ in
And I don’t want to change your life
But there’s a warm wind blowin’ the stars around
And I’d really love to see you tonight ”

The link follows (click on skip ad when ad appears):

Keep your comments, questions, and observations coming. They are what make our locomotive run.

Living Apart Together (LAT) Relationships update

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 12, 2018

Tom Blake

Update on Living Apart Together (LAT) relationships

Last year, I received an email that piqued my interest. It was about a March 20, 2017, article posted on, titled, “Older Adults Embrace ‘Living Apart Together,’” by Sheena Rice.

From that article, I learned a new term that described a type of senior romantic relationship: LAT (an acronym for Living Apart Together). I checked Wikipedia’s description of a LAT “…couples who have an intimate relationship but live at separate addresses.”

In Ms. Rice’s article, she included comments from researchers from the University of Missouri. Rice said, “The researchers found that (LAT) couples were motivated by desires to stay independent, maintain their own homes, sustain existing family boundaries and remain financially independent.”

I wrote about LAT relationships in our June 23, 2017, newsletter, which included quotes from four of our Champs. All newsletters are posted to my Finding Love After 50 website.

The week after the newsletter was published, three more Champs commented on LAT relationships. Here are excerpts from their comments:

Kenny, “Just one single-over-50-year-old guy’s opinion: I have ONLY been married “twice.” That would be the “first” time and the “last” time. I feel at this stage of my life, 68, there is almost NO (like 1/10th of 1%) upside to co-habitate or remarry, especially with the multiple legal complications of either the cohabitation or marriage agreement and contract, and that includes even an expensive “can-always-be-challenged” legal prenuptial agreement.

“And NO, I am NOT some bitter cynical divorcee. Really, it’s just 2017, just common sense, and I will never justify ‘living together’ to lessen a few $$$ of living expenses.

“I have seen way too many move-in-together couples justify this, “Oh “dahhh-ling, look-at-all-the-money-we-will-save-living-together” arrangement, only to go up-in-smoke (and lots of flames), followed by one helluva mighty big honkin’ litigation full of money mess.

“But, I am currently in a committed relationship. We maintain separate residences and are agreeable to NOT mix our children and our finances.

“Yet, we care for each other (and luv each other to bits and plan to ‘go the distance’) and are totally there for each other. We travel together and all our children / family / friends recognize us as a couple.”

Phil, “I spent 21 years with my wife in a LAT. In the end, not good. We found we had nothing in common. So, we lived apart. But I could not elect the option of divorce, thinking we might reconcile. I was with my wife 24/7 in her dying days.

“In 20/20 hindsight, I would have done something else (about a divorce). With Sue now in my life in 2017, the past all seems like an ‘uncomfortable period.’”

Note from Tom: Phil and Sue, Jackson High School (Jackson, Michigan) classmates of mine, married in 2017. They had not seen each other in 50-plus years. Phil sadly passed away four months after the marriage.

Relationship counselor Christine Baumgartner, said, “I have a neighbor who has been in a LAT relationship for five years. Her partner lives four miles away. They usually see each other every day and spend most nights together at each other’s homes. They share their lives with each other and are both financially comfortable with this arrangement. I asked them why it worked for them.

“She said his house is full of electronics and stuff (which he isn’t going to change) and if she lived there full-time it would make her crazy. This is the only thing she doesn’t love about him and knows it would be a breaking point for both.

“She also said she loves having her own home that she can keep ‘just her way.’ He said he wants her to be happy when she’s with him and knows their LAT is the perfect way to achieve this.”

   2018 update on LAT relationships 

This week, the above mentioned, Sheena Rice, of the University of Missouri News Bureau, sent a follow-up press release quoting Jacquelyn Benson, assistant professor of human development and family science, who is an expert on LAT relationships.

Professor Benson raised this issue: In a LAT relationship, where committed couples live apart, what happens to the relationship and living arrangement when one of the members needs care giving or has other serious health issues? Does it change the living arrangement?

Professor Benson is doing a great service to unwed, committed senior couples, by stressing the importance of “having the talk” beforehand about what happens to the arrangement if someone gets seriously ill.

She interviewed people age 60+ who are in LAT relationships to shed light on her concern. In the press release, she was quoted, “Most of the individuals we interviewed had not been tested by the realities of caregiving within their current LAT partnerships.”

But she did say, “…couples also are willing to make changes in living arrangements to provide care giving support to one another.” That was very encouraging to hear.

Professor Benson added: “Discussions about end-of-life planning and caregiving can be sensitive to talk about; however, LAT couples should make it a priority to have these conversations both as a couple and with their families.”

 Unwed senior couples–whether in a LAT or living together–instead of texting, should have face to face “the talk”

Ms. Benson admits more research is needed to gain understanding on this important topic. The press release added, “Benson is seeking older adults from around the country who are choosing to live apart (in a LAT relationship) or living together unmarried (cohabiting).”

If you would like to participate in her research (both partners must agree to participate), contact me and I tell you how to get in touch with her. Our group might be able to give her some valuable insights on this issue affecting older adult couples.


                            Clarification about last week’s article

Clarification on last week’s eNewsletter from Althea, the woman who is care giving the couple (both 81) in Yuba City, California. Althea emailed, “You did a good job and quoted me correctly except for the place where you wrote that the daughter had ‘hired me.’ I wasn’t hired, in the sense that it’s a job and I get paid…I don’t get any money.

“The ‘pay’ is I get room and board free in exchange for what I do to help them…be company for the wife, making meals, keeping the house as clean as I can (they have housekeepers who come every other week).  And I supply a dog since they lost theirs. Animal love is very important.”

Thanks Althea for setting the record straight.

Senior Single Woman with no place to live says, “I Have Survived”

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 5, 2018

Tom P. Blake

The above three words, “I have survived” are not mine. They belong to a Champ named Althea. We wrote about her in the April 2, 2017, newsletter. The title was, “Seniors Moving-In Together. Will It Work?”

Some background on Althea’s situation: In January, 2017, Althea, then 68, who has arthritis, and earns $895 a month in SSI (she didn’t work enough to build up the credits needed to receive Social Security), had to give up her Placerville, California, apartment.

She had no money and no place to live. It looked like she would have to live in her car.

A man, 72, whom she had briefly dated, “rescued” her by letting her move into his log-cabin home with him. It became a nightmare for her. She asked for advice in that April 2 newsletter.

As you Champs so often do, you made great suggestions for her, which I featured in the April 8, follow up newsletter, titled “No Place to Live.”

Fast forward to the final newsletter in 2017, December 22, titled, “Five things I’ve learned in three years of retirement.” Althea responded: “I just finished reading your newsletter and felt very comforted by it. I don’t know why I felt comforted, I just did.

“I’m writing to update you on how my situation has turned out. I wanted to let you know, I have survived.

“The man who rescued me made living in his home a living hell. I endured that from January to August when, through my efforts of writing personal ads on Craigslist and in my local free newspaper, and asking anyone who was within earshot, I was contacted by a woman whose parents were both 80 and living on their own in their house in Yuba City, almost two hours away from where I was in Placerville.

“The woman’s father needed some live-in help with the mother who has dementia. After meeting the daughter and being interviewed, I met the parents a few days later, and, then, the following week I spent 4 days at their house, with my dog…they also had a dog…to see if it was a fit.

“Everything turned out okay. The man I was living with gave me the money for the movers. At that point he would have done anything to get rid of me! I felt the same way! There were no ‘goodbyes,’ or ‘I hope things go well for you’ from him. He said nothing to me as I drove away and I said nothing back. Good riddance I’m sure was felt by both of us.

“So, I am living in this nice house–nothing fancy and it is a bit old fashioned/slightly cluttered–with a big backyard for my dog. (their old dog passed away less than 4 weeks after I moved in, so my dog has been a good emotional replacement for them). They are the nicest and most generous people.

“It’s been challenging because I’ve never dealt with anyone with dementia, and there’s still the challenge of also living in someone else’s home again and not having a say of how things are run. I do miss being independent and having my own place, but this is what has to be–and I deal with it well–for the most part.

“BUT – I have a roof over my head, I didn’t have to give up my dog – which I NEVER would have done, and they are sweet, generous people who don’t make any demands on me. The husband gives me grocery money to shop and I make a third of the meals, sometimes more.

“I keep my rooms clean and neat, I go out to one of the 14 parks they have here and walk my dog four times a week and I just met two nice ladies a week ago (through Craigslist of all places!) with whom I’m starting to socialize.

“We met for coffee the first day last week and then I saw a movie with one of them this week (I was seeing movies every Tuesday by myself). I am doing all I can do and keeping mentally active (jigsaw puzzles, reading and crosswords) and being as physically active as I can.

“I’m on SeniorPeopleMeet and I’m still casually looking at the profiles, hoping to meet a nice man for companionship, dating and friendship but I’m not focused on it. It’s a long shot. There are less single men my age available in this new area.

“I’ve always known that a woman doesn’t need a man in her life to be happy or fulfilled, and I think the need gets less and less as we age…and there are plenty of other ways to keep from being lonely. Make a female friend!

“My motto has always been, keep a sense of humor and never give up.”

Tom’s reply to Althea: “You are very courageous. I will use your story because it is real life, a story of will, determination and guts. Any advice for our Champs? Also, just curious: What happens if one or both of those people you are care giving for pass away? Are you able to stay or are you out on the street?”

Althea said, “I haven’t asked, but I have thought about it. I’m not dwelling on it or worrying about it though. I figure if I made it this far and kept a roof over my head, ‘The Powers That Be’ will continue to keep me safe.

“I don’t believe that the daughter who hired me or her two sons would just cut me loose and not care about what happens to me. I don’t think about the what-ifs. I just live day-to-day, keep my fingers crossed and try to stay happy.

“Also, any advice from me? Well, I’m no expert, and all I can really think of to say to Champs would be: stay positive no matter what, and don’t give up on what you really want or need. “But don’t let it make you crazy. Know when to say enough is enough and move on to something else that makes you happy.

“Maybe my story will give some hope and incentive to someone else out there who is struggling with the same issues. Or worse ones.

As Althea says, things could always be worse

Althea ended with: “Staying positive and being proactive and never giving up is a good message.”