After reading last week's column, "Meeting good men a challenge," some men complained that I sympathize too much with women.
Before we delve into what men said, I have to confess that these days I do side more with women, but it wasn't that way when I began writing the "Middle Aged and Dating Again" column in July, 1994. A bit of history is in order.
On Xmas Eve, 1993, my wife of six years-unknowingly to me--cleaned out the house and moved out of my life. I was surprised, bitter, and angry. I inked those sentiments into a journal.
Soon thereafter, when I started to date, I became frustrated. I whined about being alone, the cost of dating, and that younger women wouldn't go out with me. Those frustrations were added to the journal.
Six months later, based on the notes I'd written, I submitted a proposal to the two women editors of the Dana Point News to write a dating-after-50 column from the male perspective.
When the editors reviewed my material, they rubbed their hands together and said, "Oh boy, this is juicy." They felt women would be entertained by my pathetic "poor-me, I'm-a-deserted-single-man, I-got-dumped," and "I-feel-sorry-for-myself" messages.
My first column was called, "Home alone with only the dogs for company,"-a real woe-is-me tissue filler.
The editors were right. Single women had a field day reading those early columns. One woman wrote, "Who is this sniveling puke?" Another said, "Hey jerk, try dating women your own age." It was Tom vs. the single women of Orange County, California.
Over the 16 years since, I've changed my tune from whining about single middle aged and senior women to sympathizing with their plight. Why? In pursuing partners, they have it much tougher than single men based on the numbers alone. At age 65, there are almost three single women to each single man.
I feel men who complain that they can't meet suitable mates aren't trying.
Responding to last week's column, Dan said: "Is it me or do so many women write about the same thing: 'Meeting eligible single men is a challenge for women 50+.'
"In defense of us with the 'other' chromosome, meeting eligible single women is also a challenge for men 50+. I'm out there following all of your good suggestions, enjoying life, family and friendships. I hope I will soon find the perfect mate to share it with.
"Oh, by the way Tom, WHERE are all the good women?"
Last week's column drudged up a decade of harbored anger from a guy named Don: "Since my divorce from a woman I was with for 22 years, who ran back to her ex boyfriend as soon as the kids were raised (ours and his), I have been in self exploration mode: How could THIS guy be so GOOD, and I, so screwed up, that she would leave me?
"I co-birthed both our children (born at home), helped her out of her messes. I worked for a jerk for our first 14 years to pay for the house she wanted, cars we needed, clothing and food, while she picked her hours (15 a week, part time) so she could spend time with the kids.
"I finally was laid off and started my own business, which I still have to this day. It bought the farm where she and I always wanted to raise our kids. On the farm we had some ducks - ee-i ee-i oh! And horses, and sheep, and chickens, and wabbits, and a lot of manure! And that's the part I got!
"Ten years went by, she bailed out, leaving me alone on the farm -to handle the bills, the animals, the memories; the RESIDUE of 22 years of Life 101.
"Am I mad? Well, any GOOD man would be, but after years of chewing on something, you either spit it out or choke to death - so I've gotten on with my life."
But has he?
Don dwelled even more about the dirt his wife dished him, before bashing modern-day women pretty thoroughly. I didn't include those parts of his email.
Don ended with: "So tell me dear female subscribers and fishers of men, WHAT is GOOD?"
As older singles, we've got to get over the dirt we've been dished in the past, and stop accusing the opposite sex for the current miserable state of singleness in which we may find ourselves. Lest we forget, it took two to tango.
We need to stop asking, "Where are the good men?" "Where are the good women?"
If we really, sincerely want a mate (men say they do, but many aren't willing to compromise), it's up to us as singles to find him or her without making excuses by blaming the system--or the opposite sex--for making the pursuit so difficult. Finding a mate is within our grasp, if we're willing to make the effort.
© 2010, Tom Blake