The readers take over

Sometimes, newsletter members send in such rich material that I let them take over a column. The responses from last week's "stop sniveling" column were a bit off the wall but interesting.

Sue's comment - am I becoming too negative?

Sue, not her real name, said, "I can't seem to reconcile your positive, media-savvy presence in major TV network interviews with the negative turn your newsletter has taken."

My gosh, I thought. Has my newsletter taken a negative turn? I write about the realities older singles face. Most of the columns are based on stories and comments from the dating front lines, from singles who are in the trenches and walking the walk.

Sue continued: "You're better than a mere conduit for discontent, anger, and fear. Is after-50 dating all about avoiding Nigerian love scams, or about coping with rage because all the good geezers are taken?"

I think I'm more than a conduit for discontent. Three columns ago I wrote about keeping relationships fit and revealed personal information about my relationship with Greta. That column contained a pretty positive message.

And while I didn't force my recent "challenges when we're older" travel columns on readers, I gave them an option to read them on a separate blog. From reader responses, those columns provided positive, helpful tips, and were a big hit.

Also, I've featured several stories in columns from my recent book How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 book. Our readers enjoy success stories, but not ad nauseam, to the point of making them feel bad.

Sue added, "I note your empathy and concern for lonely people who can't distinguish good guys from losers, scammers, and depressives, but don't you think you're more likely to sharpen their instincts with encouragement than with scare tactics?

I decided to investigate upon which recent newsletters Sue based her comments. I was baffled to find out in the last six months she had only read last week's. That's it, one newsletter.

So I emailed her back pointing that out. Her response: "Don't believe everything Clicky and Google Analytics have to say. I've read lots more than one of your newsletters."

She didn't answer my question. Turns out she's got a website for seniors, which focuses on how wonderful dating is later in life; I believe her motivation was to draw attention to it.

Doug's comment - old photos

The second comment came from Doug. "After another internet-assisted first meeting yesterday, I've gotta rant a bit and post that many women are their own worst enemies due to a very common inability to come to grips w/the face - appearance - they present to the world.

"Yesterday was the third time in succession that I met a woman who was just barely recognizable based on her web-posted photo. I've gotta wonder at the cupidity - desperation(?) - that inspires women to post photos from their 'salad' days."

Doug's comments were pretty harsh but perhaps women can learn from them.

John's comment - what a hoot this one was

John, a former pastor, emailed, wanting to know if he could write a guest column for the newsletter, and/or advertise on the newsletter. I was curious and asked him for more details. Here's what he pitched:

"I am a few months away from releasing an autobiographical over-sized photo book for Amazon, tentatively titled "Older Man, Younger Bride." I am 64 and my new wife is 32. I went to the Philippines to meet and marry her. We are expecting our first child in November, which I am very excited about."

My response: "Congratulations on the new bride, upcoming child and new book. Your story would be more than controversial with my newsletter members, who are mainly mature, wise, and educated women. To mention a book--particularly an oversized photo book, written by a former pastor about marrying a Philippine woman half his age and then expecting a child at 64--would cause a defection among my members from which I would never recover.

The book would underscore what so many women loathe--older dudes who want younger women, let alone younger women from a foreign country. I cover my ears just anticipating what one of my esteemed readers--a woman we lovingly refer to as, "the wise bird of Manhattan"--would say. She would first run me through the shredder before starting on you.

I will maintain the integrity of my newsletter and website by passing on your offer.

And lastly, good news, from Joanne

"I'm divorced (14 years), age 65, and have used dating sites for 15 months with great success. I met wonderful men, though not necessarily the one for me. Five months ago I met a wonderful man (on Match.com) and am enjoying an exclusive relationship.

"There are many GOOD men and women available but we need to free ourselves from the past, embrace the present, and be excited about the future."

Weekly wrap: That's it. Thanks for the entertaining and insightful emails. Until next week.

© 2010, Tom Blake

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Tom Blake is an expert on dating after 50. He has appeared twice on the "Today Show" and has written more than 500 columns on dating and relationships. His "Single Again" column appears in The Orange County Register in southern California, is read worldwide and is often featured on msn.com. He is a professional speaker. He spoke at the national AARP convention in San Diego in 2002, and in Chicago. His book, Middle Aged and Dating Again, is a humorous account of his first year of dating after his third divorce. His second book is Finding Love After 50: How to begin, where to go, what to do. His latest book is titled How 50 Couples Found Love after 50. To ask a question or receive Tom's free weekly column on middle-age dating and relationships by e-mail, click on www.findingloveafter50.com or E-Mail.

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