Senior Dating Follies

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter March 31, 2023

Senior Dating Columnist Tom Blake

I was amazed at how many Champs responded to last week’s “Mom’s Books” eNewsletter, in which Victoria, a former neighbor, helped me downsize by finding homes for my mom’s books. Like Victoria, many of you are book lovers. And a few of you mentioned how the article inspired you to put other downsizing projects near the top of your to-do lists.

Today’s topic: Senior Dating Follies

Today we focus on the realities of senior dating. It’s one of those “spraying to all fields,” articles, as the incomparable San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen used to describe articles that covered a plethora of different topics all in the same column. Caen, of course, was referring to a baseball batter who could spray hits to right field, center field, or left field–scattered all over the place.

Champ Dyana emailed, “I was happy to find your website because dating at my age can be daunting. I have a profile on and am starting to meet a few people.

“The struggle within myself now is wondering how much, and how important is physical attraction (senior chemistry). Can it grow if it’s not there at the start? I hear tales of that happening. Of course, aside from that, attraction for a person’s character, mind, and values are imperative.”

Tom’s response: “I suggest, Dyana, that you make your own priority list of characteristics wanted in a mate. If physical attraction is a lower priority for you, move it down your list. Perhaps “availability” and “geographic location” are more important. From your photo, I see you have a wonderful smile. That’s an important asset in the senior dating world. For me, physical attraction tops my list. Sort of frightening, at my 80+ age, but that’s how I’m built.

Francine emailed, “Senior dating online is not for the faint-hearted. I’ve been doing it on and off for 10 years. My favorite husband (#3) passed away 11 years ago and then eight months later I met Bob on We dated for five years until his untimely death. Both men were in their late 60s.

Tom’s comment: Francine’s losses made me think about a grief-sharing workshop I attended last Monday night. At the suggestion of a woman Champ, I attended a session of senior grief counseling at a local church. I had no idea what to expect. I went there to try to help ease the pain of losing Greta. There were eight women and two men “grievers” there, plus two very savvy, caring, and empathetic women counselors.

I was astounded at what the other grievers are going through. Losing children, spouses, lovers, and often more than one loss at about the same time. Their stories helped me understand what I am dealing with. I learned how grieving can affect one’s life such as trying to accomplish too many projects at once, not sleeping enough, and not eating right.

Back to Francine’s comments: She added, “Senior dating is not easy, but I’ve been lucky. I’m 76, look 60, and have the energy of a 40-year-old. How come? I work at it. I refuse to get ‘old.’ I still work out and live my life. We live every day. We only ‘die’ once.

“No one should ever judge what’s right or wrong with a griever’s behavior who is trying to move forward in life. That applies to judging Tom as well. If volunteering is your thing, do it. If dating is your thing, do it. Being oneself is the only way to go. I’ve met men online, in supermarket lines, banks, trains, planes, buses, etc. There are many ways to meet people. Perhaps take a course at a local school—a great way to meet people for both men and women.

“How soon after a loss to put oneself out there? Everybody’s different. As was mentioned last week, don’t be critical of someone’s actions if you haven’t walked in that person’s shoes.”

This week, I interviewed Kathryn Coduto, a Boston University assistant professor who has done recent research focused on dating apps technology. She said, “Only 28% of people ages 55 or older feel they can find a soulmate using dating apps.

“Americans doubt dating apps are the best way to find a successful relationship and certainly don’t trust them—but they’re apparently unwilling to give up on apps like Match, Tinder, and Hinge in the search for their true soulmates.”

I’m certain Ms. Coduto will share more sage thoughts for us going forward. Oh my, there is so much to learn in senior and online dating.

Champ Cheryl said, “It takes courage and perseverance to find a loving partner online, but certainly the chances of success are much greater than waiting for the goose ‘to lay the golden egg in our yard!” Cheryl is saying put yourself out there. Don’t sit around at home.

And finally, from Mary Lou, “Men sign up for sites like Our Time and Zoosk but never respond to my profile/photo beyond the initial ‘like.’ They often take selfies in their bathroom, are heavily bearded, and want to play golf as an introductory activity. Why does a man even put himself out there as it is a waste of my time to even respond? What am I not getting?”

Tom’s response: “Isn’t senior online dating a hoot? If a guy’s photo shows him in a bathrobe or bathroom and with a heavy beard, he’s a quick delete. And play golf as a first date? What a joke. It’s bad enough to have a coffee date that is a bust for maybe 30 minutes. But playing golf, even nine holes could take an hour and a half. That could be brutal if you can’t stand each other. What if he tries to kiss you in the golf cart? You might fall out trying to escape! Write those dudes off. 

I am new to this senior online dating world. I am shocked by the bogus photo trick. Guys tell me they see some women’s pictures and then meet them and think they are with the mothers of the pictured women. My pics aren’t a day at the beach, but all are current except one. The two below don’t count.

Try finding a mate when you’re in your 80s. How does one make chicken salad out of chicken manure? Just chalk it up to this senior dating game. 

Send me a short bio and a photo. Who knows? We might meet for golf on a first date, as long as it’s at a miniature golf course and there’s a cocktail lounge near the first tee.

I mentioned that today’s article might be “spraying to all fields.” It did, but it was fun, and written with a smile. And thank you, Herb Caen.

Three-dot journalism

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 26, 2019 – Three-dot journalism – Spraying to all fields

by Tom P Blake – Orange County, California, columnist

Today’s e-Newsletter reminds me of former San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. He was a San Francisco icon, who wrote columns for 60 years. His was the longest-running column in the United States. He wrote between five and seven columns per week, totaling–in the neighborhood of–16,000 columns. He often referred to his columns as “three-dot journalism.”

I admired his “three-dot journalism,” (as he defined it), style of writing. His comments were often not complete sentences, but crisp, clear and interesting. He was a gossip columnist. If he mentioned you by name, you’d be famous in maybe a good way, or a not-so-good way.

His mention about people patronizing San Francisco’s Victoria Station restaurant, the restaurant chain for which I worked eight years, virtually launched Victoria Station into becoming the fastest-growing chain in the United States for a period of time in the 1970s.

On occasion, Caen would describe a column as “Spraying to all fields,” which referred to hitters in baseball who would hit to all fields, meaning his column that day was all over the place, covering a plethora of topics or comments, often not related to each other, with three dots…between items.

1994 photo of Herb Caen with one of his famed “Loyal Royal”  typewriters, upon which he typed 16,000 columns
(photo courtesy of Nancy Wong)
At the end of today’s e-Newsletter, there is a link to Wikipedia’s description of Herb Caen.Today’s column reminds me of one of Caen’s “Spraying to all fields” columns; it covers five different items. It’s dedicated to Herb Caen.

               1 Helpful online dating tips from two Champs

Champ A – Cheryl, “I want to add one note about groups. They are not always free. Some are held in facilities that require rent, some serve food, etc., and those places ask for a contribution, although it’s usually minimal.”

(And a reminder from Tom: is not a dating site, but a great place to meet and make new friends. And then, who knows where those new friendships might lead?)

Cheryl added, “Another tip about long-distance relationships: People should maximize the time it takes to know someone by communication through face-time, and telephone a LOT, between in-person visits.

Champ B – Chris, “I have been reading the letters from your Champs, about the problems and questions they have when meeting someone, a distance away. As I read the questions, I kept thinking: Why don’t they just Skype the other person?

“Then, you can better see what and who you are dealing with. I know over my long life (Chris is 84), I more than once have fallen in love with a voice, only to be disappointed because the voice didn’t match my vision of this person.

“I’m wondering, could it be that some of our Champs don’t know about Skype?

First, let me tell them, IT IS FREE! Yes, FREE (after some possible, minimal, set up costs mentioned below).

“Tina (my partner of 14 years and now my wife) and I have been using Skype for over 10 years. When she is in England, and I am in the states, we Skype every day. I call her at 12:30 p.m., my time, and she is sitting waiting for my call at 8:30 p.m. her time. We can see each other and talk for hours. It is almost as good as being there, except we can’t touch.

“This would be the answer for your Champs who are talking to someone on the phone, but still are doubtful about what to do and how to handle the situation.

Setting Skype up on a computer is easy, and it only costs about $25 for the camera and the wires. (Most new computers already have built in cameras). After that it is free. I have it on my computer, and, Tina has it set up on her Ipad. My daughter has it on her cell phone; she and I talk that way when I am in England.

So, my advice–to the lonely widow who has met Mr. Wonderful on line, or, that lonely old guy who is sure he has met the love of his life–is: after you’ve spent time talking on the phone, or emailing, and you are thinking about travelling a good distance to meet them, or sending them money for a plane ticket, start Skyping them first.

“You will learn a lot about the person you are in touch with, when you see them while you talk. You could be pleasantly surprised or you could save yourself from a major disappointment.”

               2 Popular dating site warning

From a male Champ who requested to remain anonymous: “After reading last week’s e-Newsletter (about senior online dating sites), I simply felt responsible to relate what I and several friends have encountered on a certain senior dating site, upon which my membership has been long-since cancelled.

“This website has the most hackers and scammers of all of the dating sites. When I was on the site, a hacker took over my profile, presented himself as me…messaging women, asking for their direct emails, then going after them for money…so many grisly tales of attempted scams…

“Many of the women and men on the site are not the actual person whose picture is posted on the profile.

“My computer guru installed a new super security program on my personal computer due to the scammer hacking my personal computer.

“The site is a dangerous dating site Tom ….

“A caution is simply to never provide your direct email. If, and when, you are persuaded this person is real, you can talk on the phone. Unfortunately, often the person barely speaks English. Plus, a red balloon is when there are misspelled words in their messages and/or incorrect sentence structure.”

While our anonymous Champ was referring to a specific senior dating site–he requested not to mention it by name, even though we’ve identified it previously–what happened to him on it could happen on any dating site. For gosh sake, please be careful when online dating, regardless of which site you use.

                          3 Why wait so long to meet in person?

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a widower who was planning to meet a widow face-to-face who lived 845 miles away. Many of you suggested he meet someone closer to where he lives.

About the same time, I heard from a widow in New York state who lives a little over an hour away from him, and, I suggested to her that she contact him. She did. Now, they talk on the phone and plan to meet face-to-face in late June.

My question: why wait so long? That’s two months away. At the least, do what either Chris or Cheryl suggested above. See each other via Skype or face time on the phone. That might save disappointment before they meet in person.

However, I guess there is no rush to meet in person, IF,  just being in contact with the other person eliminates the loneliness they both feel. Then, maybe it doesn’t matter to either what the other one looks like, or how they present themselves, or that the other person may not even be who he or she claims to be.

                                      4 Next week’s e-Newsletter

I am planning to write about whether it’s important or not for senior singles to have a written list of the qualities they seek in a mate.

Plus, perhaps, some daters may even have a separate written list of the habits or characteristics in a person that would be deal-breakers. Smoking, for example.

If any of you want to share your list(s) or your thoughts about having a list, I’d love to hear from you.

5 Herb Caen and three-dot journalism information…

Link to Wikipedia’s page about Herb Caen…


One more item about Herb. While I was married to a woman named Debbe, she became Herb Caen’s secretary. That was pretty heady stuff. People would say, “Your wife is Herb Caen’s secretary? Wow…”

As I recall, it wasn’t always a dream job. He was pretty demanding…

…Here’s to you, Herb. We are toasting an Irish Coffee to you at the world-famous Buena Vista Café in San Francisco, where the Powell /Hyde Cable car turns around, and the view from there of Alcatraz, and where it’s rumored that you had more than one or two of those Irish Coffees…