Don't sweat the small stuff

Seeking the male point of view

Two years ago, a new man entered Pat’s life, who has introduced her to new experiences and adventures. She never dreamed that in her mid-60s she’d be riding on the back of a motorcycle, but that’s what has happened. He owns a bike and they’ve traveled to many areas of the United States and Canada together, “having a great time,” according to Pat.

This summer, the motorcycle broke down in a remote area of Canada and had to be shipped back to the United States. The couple rode a bus for two days to cross the border, before renting a car in Bangor, Maine, to get home. “Another test of our relationship,” Pat said, “we passed with flying colors. Life goes on, always an adventure.” Pat and her 62- year-old boyfriend live 40 miles apart, are not married, but consider their relationship to be special. Being so close to each other while traveling for weeks at a time requires compatibility.

“But there is one thing that bothers me; he has never told his sister-in-law (late wife's sister) about me,” Pat said.

Pat explained, “She lives in another state and they have limited contact, usually she calls him 2-3 times a year. She called him before we went on our cross- country trip, he told her what his plans were but never mentioned me in the conversation. I was a little put out and mentioned it to him.”

He told Pat that although he isn't particularly fond of his sister-in-law and doesn’t have a good relationship with her, he would tell her about Pat the next time she called. But he didn’t.

Pat said, “I was very hurt but didn't say anything to him. A part of me felt that he has the right to tell her what he wants, but another part of me can't figure out why he has never said a word about me to her. Why is he so hesitant to tell her?” Pat wanted input from the male point of view.

I told her not to worry about it, and not to mess up a good relationship over a minor point. Her beau is most likely trying to avoid confrontation, rage—or whatever the sister-in-law’s reaction would be—particularly when he isn't close to her in the first place. It’s just not a big deal to him. He likely feels he can do what he wants with his life and doesn’t want to hear judgment from the sister-in-law. Men tend to think that way.

If he were close to his sister-in-law and cared about her, then Pat would have cause for worry. He would be hiding something from someone he loved. But he’s not.

I suggested Pat listen to rocker Bob Seger’s 1960s song “Roll Me Away” and then climb on the back of that big two-wheeler and hold on tight to her man, as they head off into the sunset on another later-in-life adventure. And to forget about the small stuff and what the sister-in-law doesn’t know.

And she did. Pat and her beau just got back from a four-day early November trip on the road. No mention of the sister-in-law and no problems.

Reader Comment: Lydia, “After a 30-year marriage, I find myself single. It’s comforting to read about others feeling the same emotions, having the same concerns and weaknesses as well as realizing there is hope, always.”

Are you hot enough?

Having written dating and romance columns for 14 years, I continue to be amazed at the things people do to try to make a buck off of the dating industry. Last Saturday, two press releases arrived by email that truly take the cake.

The first press release came from New York City. Its headline read, “Newest Online Dating Service Judges Solely On Looks.”

As a strong advocate of downplaying looks and focusing on inner quality in relationships, I was intrigued by the headline and irked by it at the same time.

According to the release, “Hotenough.org., is designed solely for those with above-average looks; 8.5 is currently the lowest ‘score’ among its initial crop of new members. The site will judge prospective daters on physical attractiveness alone, nothing else, most applicants not even making ‘the cut’ to become a member.”

As I first read this, I thought it was a joke, judging people solely on their looks, with no consideration of character, kindness, morals, interests, background and all of the other factors so important in finding a compatible mate, particularly for people our age.

But there was more. The founder of this new dating service stated, “Most guys, and women I know, judge heavily on looks alone. And initially, when you’re surfing an online dating profile, what more do you have to go by? Do you really care what the last book was that someone read?”

I said to myself, yes, I'm interested to know what people read, it reflects on their interests and personality.

Here’s how the process works: “Applicants submit three photos, including a full body shot, to the site for consideration. If the site administrators determine the applicant is “hot enough,” he or she is granted prospective member status and then moves on to the voting area. Prospective members must then receive twenty-five votes from other HotEnough.org members of the 8+ sort.

“After meeting the criteria and passing an initial audition set in place by the site and a panel of judges, those who come out with a score of 8-10 on the Hot-O-Meter will be honored with a free membership.”

Correct me if I’m wrong. Isn’t this about the most demeaning thing you’ve ever heard? Submitting a “full-body” shot to be judged by a panel of judges and a Hot-O-Meter?

Those who are “hot” enough to be selected, “are honored with a free membership. Members gain full- access to exclusive incentives including special offers from many of today’s hottest retailers, including VIP admission and drink specials from member area’s hottest clubs and restaurants.”

Can you imagine the egos of the people who would submit themselves to this site? I have no way of knowing, but I imagine this is a sham to get people to sign up, before bombarding them with spam and marketing offers. So much for compatibility.

And then the second email arrived. A woman named Linda who lives in Florida wanted me to be a guest on her radio show. You guys know me, I don't shy away from a little media exposure once in a while.

I pondered her offer for a second before reading the remainder of her email. “I am single, 55, and now live in a nudist resort, which makes it even more difficult to meet someone.” Her email had links to a nude boutique where people can purchase lingerie, clothing and other erotica for nudes. Made me wonder, if one is nude all of the time, why would one want to buy clothing? I declined the interview.

Single life for most of our subscribers seems pretty tame compared to what’s going on in the Big Apple and Florida.

A Little Bit of Soap

Nancy, a newcomer to the dating scene and this newsletter, wrote, “I have recently started to take dance lessons and going out to dance clubs. It’s a lot of fun, but some men seem to have no clue that women are very sensitive to smells and unkempt clothing. This is very important to a first impression, no matter what the gentleman looks like, how well spoken he is or how he dances. Have you addressed the topic of personal hygiene?”

I told Nancy I wrote a column a while ago titled, “Play Musty For Me,” but felt it was time to freshen the topic. Nancy provided her suggestions for men, adding that most of her tips apply to women as well.

Nancy’s Hygiene Tips

1. Take a shower and put on deodorant before you go out

2. No need for cologne or perfume (some people are sensitive to this). Overdoing it is way worse than none at all. Just smell clean

3. You don't need the newest or most fashionable clothes (or even totally matching). Just don't wear something dirty or so wrinkled it looks like you picked it up off the floor of the closet

4. Fingernails should be clean and if your feet and toenails are grody, DON'T TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF FOR ANY REASON

5. Brush your teeth before you go out. Using a mint for close up situations is nice, but if everyone is eating the same smelly food, I don't think anyone will hold garlic breath against you

6. Women who don't drink or smoke can smell alcohol and smoke on a man a mile away. Even if you use a mint, alcohol can reek from your pores. This is a major turnoff

7. A word about men's hair. A toupee is ok as long as it looks TOTALLY natural, same with hair coloring on men. Men should not rely on their own judgment for this and should ask a trusted friend (preferably a woman). For a man, if either of these things looks fake, a woman might peg him as shifty and insincere (fake). Gray is ok. A nice, short, updated hairstyle is the way to go and seems to make all men look younger.

Nancy’s hygiene tips make sense. However, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t comment on her tips from the man’s point of view.

  • The biggest thing that jumps out at me is the perfume. Women who wear too much perfume or funky smelling perfume make themselves as desirable as a circus elephant. Men and women need to cool it on the smelly stuff.
  • Sounds like the closet floor for storing one’s clothes is now out. This dating thing certainly burdens we men.
  • Regarding not removing shoes for any reason, I guess that means if you make love, you do so with your shoes on. I did that in college once or twice.
  • Pertaining to teeth, now that I’m a spokesperson for Fixodent, I am more aware of the issues denture wearers face. They should use a product like Fixodent Control (now in Scope-flavor to freshen breath) to firmly secure their dentures, particularly during conversations, romantic dinners and when kissing. Helps with the confidence while avoiding mishaps.
  • I agree with Nancy about the smell of cigarette smoke. Do people our age who date still smoke? That would chase me away. But the smell of alcohol through one’s pores would eliminate me from non-drinking women. I enjoy a glass of red wine with a meal.
  • And finally, regarding hair, I’m glad Nancy said that gray is ok. I was accused of being shifty and insecure by a few disgruntled women 25 years ago when my hair was dark. Now that it’s silver, Nancy hints that I’m no longer shifty, and that's a relief.

In all seriousness, Nancy’s tips are important. We have to make this mid-life dating experience as bearable as possible.

Nancy ended her email by saying, “The title you used for your previous hygiene column, ‘Play Musty For Me,’ with a play on words from the movie was quite clever. How about jumping off from a song: ‘Splish Splash,’ (I was taking a bath) or ‘A Little Bit of Soap’ to name this column?"

Hence, the title of today’s column.


Can the baggage we carry from a former relationship be so overwhelming that it ruins a promising new relationship? That’s the question Jeff raises in today’s column.

Jeff explains: “I met a really nice girl who went through almost losing her house since her ex stole money from her to support his losing business. She has this thing about money which she thinks is evil and that we come from two different worlds and therefore it would not work. Is this a mindset I should avoid and move on?”

Jeff said he knows she likes him a lot. “I guess she must still have some fear of losing her money again. She doesn’t appreciate the good things money can bring to a relationship and that it can help other people.”

Most of us harbor resentment toward an ex who treated us poorly. But over time, can that particular resentment—baggage, if you will—ease enough so we can trust new people who enter our life? After all, they had nothing to do with what happened to us previously.

In Jeff’s situation, is he going to act like his lady friend’s ex, and try to steal her money? Most likely not. Should her fear of that be a deal breaker? That’s up to her. It would be a shame to toss away a nice man she likes a lot because she carries the baggage of fearing a loss of her money.

I harbored resentment toward my ex-wife after she cleaned out my house on Xmas Eve without letting me know. Did that mean that the next woman who entered my life would do the same? Of course not. Did I have to lighten up a bit? Yes.

Did I have to be told, “I’m not your ex. Don’t put me in that category.” Yes. Was I finally able to get rid of that baggage. Yes again, but it took some time to get over that fear. I don’t dwell on it anymore, but I haven’t forgotten.

Or, let’s say an ex cheated on you. Does that mean every guy is going to do the same? No. Perhaps the best way to avoid that happening again is to be more careful in selecting a mate next time.

One man told me his new girlfriend broke up with him because he looked like her ex, who had treated her poorly. Wow, that’s letting baggage influence us to the extreme.

Blame, blame, blame. It’s easy to do when we get a raw deal. But each of us has to take some of the responsibility for what happened to us. Maybe it wasn’t our fault, or only 10 percent our fault, but we were still a 50 percent part of our former relationships.

If we want to move on to a new, rewarding relationship, we need to gain the maturity to let go of old baggage. For some, it’s easier than for others. Don’t let a potential wonderful mate slip through your fingers because of your insecurities. Get rid of the old suitcases.

Yes, we will be careful so that what happened to us won’t happen again. But, by trusting again, love will become bright again—if we allow it.

Don't Be Shy

Singles can improve their chances of meeting a potential mate by introducing themselves to someone desirable they encounter. They need to be mildly assertive (notice, I'm not using the word "aggressive.") These six words could break the ice: “Would you like to have coffee?” When singles fail to act, opportunity vanishes, as happened to Jackie.

Jackie was walking past the boy’s clothing section in K-Mart. She noticed a handsome blonde-haired man with his young son. “He walked through the clothing racks and stopped in the aisle as I passed. Standing frozen, he gave me ‘the look’ and softly said hello. I warmly returned his greeting. He didn’t stop me, but he made my day,” Jackie said.

She could have made her day even more by initiating a conversation. “Shopping for your son?” would have opened the door. But she didn’t.

Five years later, Jackie and her son were in the parking lot at Best Buy. She saw a man loading a box into his camper. Jackie said, “As he turned toward me, surprise overcame both of us. It was the same look and the same man from five years before. All that was exchanged was a hello and a smile.” They were obviously attracted to each other.

Yikes, two missed opportunities with the same man. What would have happened if either had said, “Care to have coffee sometime?” And yes I know he might have been married. Still, I feel Jackie should have said something, anything, to initiate a conversation.

Missed opportunities affect men as well. John shared his story: “I arranged to meet a date in Huntington Beach (Calif) at a curbside café near the pier. While waiting, a woman asked to join me since seating was limited. We spoke briefly and I enjoyed her company. Before I could think about giving her my number, the woman I was waiting for came and I left with her. It didn’t work out, we departed an hour later.

“When I returned to the café, the other woman was gone and subsequent trips to find her failed. I sensed there was a good connection between us. I regretted that I didn’t give her my phone number before my date showed up. I lost a spontaneous opportunity.”

Being assertive doesn’t always work out. One woman we'll call Jen, said, “At our summer concerts, I ran into a fellow from my writing class. I went and sat with him, and after that for the next three concerts, which was assertive for me. Thought we were getting to know each other.

“When the concert was over, he said, ‘Would you like to see my house?’ It was 9:40 p.m. I was very surprised and said I don’t think so. He looked sad and embarrassed. I didn’t know what to say. He got the wrong idea. Class started again in September and now I am a bit uncomfortable.”

It didn’t work for Jen, but it still might. The guy acted like a jerk. Maybe he’ll rethink the way he behaved, be a gentleman, and ask Jen out on a real date.

When women are assertive and introduce themselves to a man, the guy could be married, a dork, a loser or just not the right one. He might say “no.” But, he also might be the right one and what a shame to never find that out, as was the case with Jackie, and with John at the cafe.

Opportunities seldom come along. When they do, singles need to seize them, even if they’re shy. To be prepared, they only need to memorize six words, “Would you like to have coffee?” Granted, it’s easier to remember those words than to speak them in a live situation, but doing so could make the difference between finding a mate or wondering what might have been.

Inexperienced Widow feels sexual pressure

People who have suffered the loss of a loved one often try too hard to reenter the dating scene before they’re ready. They simply skip over the healing process, only to find later doing that doesn’t work. Plus, some have been married so long they are naïve about dating in the 21st Century. Such is the case with Elizabeth, age 50.

Elizabeth has dated only two men in her life until now. At age 18, she married the first boy she ever dated. They divorced when she was 29. “I immediately married my second husband, the only man I dated after my first marriage,” Elizabeth said. Now, she’s in a quandary.

Three months ago she was widowed. She has become friends with a man she’s known for three years through church. He’s 62 and has been a widower for 17 years. “I’ve noticed that my new ‘gentleman friend’ wants to pursue a physical relationship. I feel very inexperienced, but also know that my ‘gut instincts’ tell me a whole lot about life,” Elizabeth said.

The physical relationship aspect makes Elizabeth uncomfortable. “I am not interested in anything like that at this time because it has been only three months since my husband’s death and I do not feel that kind of interest in him. My question is: ‘Should I be concerned because he has pursued the physical aspect or am I being too guarded and should just let things happen as they might?’”

I responded: “You aren’t being too guarded. Don’t ‘just let things happen as they might.’ If you do, you will have sex with him because he will pursue it. It's too soon for you. It’s been only three months, you need time to heal.”

And then I added: “You are only 50, a young woman with lots of life ahead. You've only dated two men before this new friend. You need to get a little mileage on your tires, some experience being alone in your tank.”

I told Elizabeth not to blame the new man for seeking intimacy, after all, he finds her attractive. It sounds like he’s had his eye on her for three years.

But, since she has no interest in having sex with him—at least not now— why would she even consider it?

I added: “Intimacy with him would be wrong for you and likely depress you a great deal. You don’t need that added feeling of emptiness on top of the emptiness you must be feeling already.”

And then I told Elizabeth to follow those ‘gut instincts’ she referred to above. “Be open and honest with him. Tell him you like him as a friend, but it's too soon for you. He might wait until you're ready to be intimate with him—if you’d ever be—or he might shove on. If so, that’s out of your control.”

On my website, I have an electronic book titled, “After The Healing. A Guidebook for Widowers and Widows.” (See link immediately below). I suggested Elizabeth read it to help her get through this puzzling time in her life. Above all, she should not rush into a romantic relationship for which she isn’t ready.

After The Healing Electronic Book

A single woman's frustration

One of our new readers—we shall call her Ruth— is frustrated with the results of her dating efforts. She says she’s “well over 50” and has been married twice.

“Since 1999, I haven’t met anyone with whom I would consider spending the rest of my life. I haven’t felt a click with anyone,” said Ruth.

“All my friends who were single have found someone. They can’t believe (nor can I) that I haven’t. What am I missing here? The prospect of spending the rest of my life alone without touching and affection, let alone companionship, is becoming daunting for the first time. Any thoughts or advice?”

My first response: Ruth needs to realize that she isn’t the only woman feeling this way. Women across the United States find themselves in similar situations. Perhaps she’s feeling pressure because all of her single friends have found someone. She should stop blaming herself for being alone. It’s not her fault, it’s the system that’s broke for older singles. There simply aren’t enough men to go around.

It’s not that Ruth has had a dry spell since 1999. “I’ve had two relationships, one for six months, the other for eight. Both men I met in person. At church for the first man and my book group for the second. Both turned out to be great dates but were not relationship people.”

Ruth has tried Internet dating, “I’ve been on and off various sites.” That avenue hasn’t seemed to work for her. She tried one of the expensive matching services to no avail. Her friends tell her she’s attractive and intelligent and that perhaps she intimidates men.

Ruth lives near a major city where she often goes to visit museums and attend events such as book signings. but adds, “My community isn’t great for the singles scene.” She attends her grandchildrens' soccer games and gymnastics meets, “where I see young families and grandparents—mostly couples or other single grandmas.” Ruth also travels occasionally.

Ruth added that she sees single men when she’s out and about, but isn’t sure if they are married or how to make contact with them without appearing forward.

What’s my take on Ruth’s situation?

There is no city in the USA—of which I’m aware— where the singles scene is favorable for people our age. So singles need to create their own opportunities, which Ruth is doing to an extent.

I suggest Ruth do five things.

1. Stop worrying about meeting a mate. That only puts pressure on her and could be making her come off as desperate, which she isn’t. She’d simply enjoy having a mate—the same as nearly all older singles

2. Continue doing what’s she’s already doing: Getting out of the house, attending events and activities, and traveling. By doing so, she may meet someone, she may not. But she sure is improving her chances of doing so. It’s important that she goes out to enrich and enjoy her life, and not to meet a mate. Singles usually meet someone when they aren’t looking

3. Become a little more assertive. What’s wrong with saying, “Would you like to have coffee?” to a man she meets? I know that is foreign to most women, but who knows, the guy may be shy and thinking the same thing

4. Market herself locally. She might run a personal ad in her local paper and in an appropriate paper in the major city nearby. She can research which papers might be best. Plus, she needs to network, to remind her friends to keep an eye out for potential mates for her. Internet-wise, she might focus on sites for seniors, but make this aspect a minor part of her efforts

5. Maintain a nice appearance, smile, and have a positive attitude. By being friendly, she will reduce any intimidation she might be projecting

If Ruth does those five things, her chances of meeting someone will be greatly enhanced. She will be doing all she can to meet a mate. And the rest lies in the hands of fate, over which she has no control. It's important to never give up hope.

From Russia Without Love

Internet romance scams are abundant. Lonely and naïve single men and women get caught up in scams thinking they’ve found someone in a foreign country who is going to be their lover. Last week, I had the following email exchange with a 69-year-old man we’ll call Jack, not his real name.

Jack emailed: “I want to know if you think a 69-year-old man and a 30-year-old Russian lady could get along? What do you think of the age difference?”

I replied, “How did you meet her? What is her motivation to be with someone 39-years-older?”

Jack: “I have not met her in person, on the Internet only. She has a visa to come here. I told her my age, she thinks it won’t make a difference. I think she will try to come to California this week.”

I said, “Of course the age gap doesn't matter to her, it's your money she's after. Be careful. She may want to marry you and then she might leave you. Who is paying for her trip?”

Jack: “I paid for most of it. I will not marry her without a pre nuptial agreement. I don’t think she needs my house and what money I have.”

I wrote: “You're joking, right? She may not need your house or money, but she wants it. Are you planning to marry her?”

Jack: “I cannot answer that at this time. She will be here this Saturday if she told me the right scoop; she is to leave Russia Saturday. After I meet her, I can answer that.”

I said, “I get it, she's just going to pop over to Calif. from Russia for a couple of days and you'll just give her a test run? Be warned. She's not coming. She's only trying to take your money and assets.”

Twelve hours later, Jack wrote, “It’s all off. She asked me for $4,000 and I said no way will I send that much money. I like to gamble but this is not a gamble, it’s dumb.”

Jack’s situation wasn’t an age-gap issue, about which he originally asked. It was a romance scam filled with lies and false promises. She has no visa. How could she leave Russia and arrive in California the same day?

It’s unfortunate that Jack is out the $2,000 or so he sent her for plane fare. At least he didn’t send the additional $4,000. He was gullible and foolish. A woman friend said to me, "He got what he deserved for trying to be with someone 39-years-younger."

For insight on Jack’s situation, I asked Maryland resident, John Johnson, who married a woman from Russia, for his opinion.

John said, “There is no way any Russian woman could get here unless Jack submitted paperwork through the INS that is processed at the US Embassy in Russia prior to approval for her visit. They would have to meet there or in a country where she could get a visa before he could submit such paperwork. This is a common tactic women from many foreign countries use to get money from Western men.

“Russian women are not as desperate as many in the West believe. Any age gap more than 20 years is unrealistic. That gap decreases as the man’s age goes higher than 45 or his weight increases beyond 200 lbs. Common sense exists in Russia just as it does here.”

When you think about it, wouldn’t it be a heck of a lot easier if Jack pursued one of the 10 million nice American woman near his age? And he wouldn’t be out $2,000.

Note: Place cursor on the link below to visit the website of a free Yahoo! group website with more than 5,100 members fighting romance scams.

Place cursor here for Romance Scam Group on Yahoo!


Detecting Dishonest Daters

Janice, 58, has a new man in her life. They met online and seem to be well-matched. “He’s everything I ever wanted—looks, physical condition, sense of humor, financial stability, considerate--but, I’m concerned about information he has and has not revealed. He says his job is top secret and he can’t talk about it until later. Are there signs to look for that might indicate he isn't who he says he is?”

To answer Janice, I referred to a list of red-flag signals from my book, Finding Love After 50. How To Begin. Where To Go. What To Do, and added some new ones to the list. Here is a list of red-flag signals to watch out for.

Red Flag Signals

Lack of information. You don’t know where he works or lives. You’ve never met his family or friends and he doesn’t talk about them. You don’t even know if he has children. He reveals little about his past or present.

Too much information. He gives too much detail about a topic that doesn’t require it. For example, you ask, “Are you married?” Instead of replying with a simple “No,” he answers with a long-winded explanation of why his marriage didn’t work out, but he never says “no” he’s not married.

Not reachable or available by normal means. He’s not available on week-ends or each week on certain nights. He can only be reached by leaving a message on his cell phone, which he seldom answers. He calls you back later.

He’s secretive and evasive with his answers. He answers personal questions by asking personal questions, tossing the ball back into your court.

Contradicts himself. You catch him in a lie or there are inconsistencies in what he says. For example, he says he couldn’t attend a party with you because he had to work late, but later says he had the 24-hour flu.

Suspicious behavior. He’s shifty and avoids eye contact by looking away. Personal questions about his life seem to catch him off guard and make him nervous. He wants to meet in remote places or in dark restaurants in a dark booth. He always pays by cash, never by credit card. You’ve never seen his driver’s license or a photo I.D., even from a distance.

Makes false or grandiose promises. When it comes to delivering on promises, the action is postponed. He makes excuses and is quick to change the subject. Something is always about to happen. He’s awaiting a settlement, or a job offer, or a divorce. He makes promises like, “I’ll be coming to visit you soon. We’ll be together as a happy couple.” And then he doesn’t show. Then there’s another excuse. The routine repeats itself.

He’s in a hurry. He wants to move the relationship along too fast. He wants sex too soon. He talks about moving in or marriage in the early going. He calls you at the last minute and wants you to drop everything.

He's insincere. A little too slick. He could sell coast-front property in California for pennies on the dollar.

He asks inappropriate questions like this woman's experience. "Today I started corresponding with a man on the Internet. After several emails, with him pushing to meet me tonight, tomorrow, or Sunday, he asked me what kind of underwear I wear and do I match my lingerie." Get rid of him.

The most important thing for Janice, and for any of us who sense things aren’t what they seem to be, is to trust our instincts. You find something isn't right but you can't put your finger on it. The over-50, 60 and 70 dating world is full of scammers and flakes. We always need to be on guard.

Reader Comments

I know the two women mentioned below personally and feel that the services they offer could be a big help with people in our age group.

Christine, "New to Internet dating? Stuck writing your profile or posting a picture? Christine can help. (714) 792-0115 or www.The-Perfect-Day.com."

Gina, "I know now how important eating habits and lifestyle are to a healthy relationship. Find out why doctors, business owners, teachers, housewives and other professionals are getting involved in the Wellness business. Visit www.wellnessenthusiast.com or email me at Gjzinmaui@aol.com for information about a business opportunity for a nutritional product line that really works. Meet quality people who are happy and healthy. It's provided an added outlet for my social and business life."

Note from Tom: I've seen Gina recently and all I can say is, wow, her discipline and business involvement have worked wonders for her. She is trim and looking great.

Door Bell Date?

Should you allow a date to pick you up at your home?

When we were young, it was considered rude if the boy didn’t pick the girl up at her home when going on a date. But now that we’re dating again and older, that old policy no longer applies. Should a women allow a man to come to her house to pick her up? What if he’s a stranger, or perhaps someone she’s only been out with once or twice? Such was the situation with Joan.

Joan said, “I met on man for the first date on Wednesday. He had been married for 30-plus years and lost his wife six years ago. We had an enjoyable dinner together. He did seem a little controlling and I got the impression he was looking for a travel partner, which is OK.

“We left the restaurant and he walked me back to my car (He was not intimidated by my Jaguar, a big plus for me). He asked to see me again on Saturday and suggested a local Doo Wop show. He said it would be with friends (male and female) of his and that sounded good also. I said yes.”

So far, so good. Getting past that first date is a big hurdle for the over-50 dating set.

Joan continued, “He asked if he could pick me up at my house. I hesitated for a moment and then realized it would save time, as I lived closer to the show venue than he did, so I agreed. He picked me up and we had a great time at the show with his friends. We got along well and enjoyed dancing and being together.

“When he brought me home, he asked if he could come in for a moment so I could go over the directions for him to go home—I live in quite a remote area up in the hills. I agreed-big mistake!

“As soon as we got inside, he grabbed me and quite forcefully tried to have sex with me. I was alarmed and asked him to leave. He persisted for quite some time and I had to struggle to release myself. I insisted he leave and he became angry.

“As he left, he said, 'Well, you can’t blame me for trying.' I realized that this man is stuck 40 years ago in his mind. Thank God he left when he did, but I was quite shaken. In 15 years of being single, that has never happened to me. He seemed like such a nice, polite man.”

He called Joan for the entire following week, until she emailed him, telling him what she felt and thought. She suggested he change his ways with woman, that mature women know their minds and won't accept that kind of behavior.

“I’m lucky it wasn’t worse, and will be very careful as to who comes into my home too soon!”

In this day of meeting and dating strangers, women have to protect themselves. Until they know a man well, and can trust him implicitly, they should not reveal their last name, or where they live or work. They should not give out their home phone number, instead they should communicate via a cell phone or an answering service. They should not have their full names within their email addresses. They should never allow a stranger to give them a lift. This is a sad state of affairs, but protecting oneself has to be the top priority in dating.

In Joan’s case, it’s easy to understand her decision to let him pick her up, and to let him come inside for directions. In hindsight, however, she should have met him in a well-lighted parking lot somewhere down the hill from her home. She should have said “no” to his request to come inside for directions, but he could have forced himself on her outside just as easily.

Lesson learned: Do not let a stranger come to where you live and pick you up for a date.

Reader Comments

There were more responses to last week's discussion about whether I should stop sharing my personal stories and travels in the newsletter than I have ever received from a newspaper column or newsletter in the 13 years I've been writing on this topic. All of the responses said don't change except one.

Your comments helped me understand why you read this newsletter and helped me learn more about your thoughts on dating and relationships at age 50, 60, 70 and beyond.

I will not belabor the point, except to say that based on more than 125 responses, I estimate that 99.98 percent of you want the show to go on as before, with an occasional personal story and tidbit tossed in.

Responses showed an intelligence and depth among our readers. I'd like to share a few of the comments with you.

Paula, "I love reading your column with ALL its human parts. Thanks for enlightening the over-50 population with positive words and awesome insight about our world."

Mary Lou, "You put your heart into it. It adds a richness to what you do, because it's real life experience."

Liz, "Your mother is a wonderful role model for all women."

Marilyn, "I love hearing about Greta and your travels, or whatever personal details you choose to mention. It makes me feel like I know you personally. Even if I can't go to Hawaii or California, and don't have a partner, I can dream. And you make that happen by allowing me to see the world through your eyes."

Denise, "Your personal tidbits give me HOPE that I too will find love again over 50. You've never rubbed your joy into my face. Plus, I've gotten great travel ideas."

Z, "A columnist who is a conduit for readers' tales might expect and be expected to share some of his own life. Why should Tom be just a shadowy label, like some agony-auntie column that is written by unknown persons?"

Carlene, "Don't let these people stop the rest of us from enjoying the variety that you bring to your column. No one else is filling this void (are they going to step up to the plate and do it?)"

Mary, "Don't change a thing. When you stop and think about it, why would a man who is very happy in a relationship even care about singles now, much less spend an enormous amount of time, thought and energy on behalf of the 'still singles?'"

Suzy, "I was incensed that some people throw dirty water on your bright and wonderful spark!"

Laurie-Ann, "Part of the reason I read your column is you and Greta feel like friends. I get to know you through your newsletter. When I was alone, I found your personal stories were 'hope' that allowed me to dream. You gave me ideas about being single. I'm in a new relationship, happy, and still read it to connect with you."

Rushing Intimacy

Most women have had to deal with meeting a man they like and immediately he wants to hop in the sack, as was the case with our subscriber, Carol— not her real name.

Carol wrote to me in April: “My childhood friend introduced me to her cousin, who was widowed unexpectedly in December after a 14-year marriage. I’ve been divorced for 8-plus years. We’ve been on several dates and spent several evenings together.

"There is mutual chemistry between us and great physical attraction although we have restrained from making love. I feel he isn’t ready for this type of intimate relationship although he says he is. He is rushing intimacy.”

The widower was cooking dinner for her that weekend and she wanted advice on what to expect regarding intimacy. She also stated she was afraid of being hurt in the long run.

I told her to expect advances from him while under his roof and to stick to her guns about not having sex too soon. I also advised her to be careful dating him because he hadn’t had time to heal yet. Women who get involved in situations like that, often, not always, end up getting hurt.

In late July, Carol emailed an update: “We were dating each weekend. I was falling for him but knew that a physical relationship at this point would not be wise for him or me. He agreed we should wait.

“The next week he received a long-awaited death certificate for his wife’s death. He immediately tuned me out and after a couple of weeks, got involved with someone else. Dropping me completely. I was waiting for the optimum time for both of us and he was not willing to wait.”

Did Carol wait too long? When would have been the optimum time? Was she right to follow her beliefs? If she’d had sex with him, would he still be with her?

We can only speculate; he’s the only one with the answers. But I suspect that Carol was right, that he hadn’t properly healed—4-6 months isn’t much time— and he would have flew the coop even if she’d had sexual relations with him. Give her credit, she escaped with dignity and avoided that feeling of emptiness when a woman has sex with a man who then disappears.

If a man cares for a woman and wants her as a long- term mate, he’ll cool his sex jets until the time is right for her, as long as he knows it will happen some day in the not-too-distant future. She can help stretch the delay time by assuring him she’s not frigid.

Women, young or old, want more than sex-first with a mate. Another woman wrote, “I’m told by my friends that I am quite attractive. However, attractive for me is mental stimulation. I believe that the biggest sex organ is between the ears. I would love ‘romantic, magical, playful love' first and sex second.”

I'm not sure about the biggest sex organ part, but I understand what she's saying.

As men age, for the most part, they still want sex first with women. That’s rather a fact of life. Unless the guy is a flaming jerk, a woman should understand it’s at least nice that a man finds her attractive. But that doesn't mean she should comprimise her values.

Not mentioned so far is the most important consideration of having sex too soon: the danger of contacting a STD or HIV. Percentage-wise, the fastest growing population segment to contact STDs is age 50-plus. Sexual partners-to-be need to be tested before being intimate. The Centers for Disease Control website, www.cdc.gov, offers guidelines for protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

Don’t be rushed into intimacy—the possible downside is too great. A good man will wait, even if, to him, it seems like forever.

Summer Travels and ramblings

Last Saturday night, Greta and I went out to dinner. When we returned an hour and a half later, I thought there was something wrong with my inbox. It was filled with new subscribers to this newsletter, the largest number of signups in a short period of time ever.

Turns out Yahoo! featured the question & answer column I write for Yahoo! Personals on the home page of Yahoo.com--the most viewed web page in the world. My q & a column is linked to my website and wow, I've never had so many emails and orders in such a short period of time.

There were lots of 50-plus singles at home last Saturday night and many of them are receiving their first newsletter today. Welcome to all of you; I hope you'll share your comments about dating and relationships in your part of the country. My column was featured for about five hours on Yahoo! and then an article about Tiger Woods replaced it.

In the Yahoo q & a column, a 57-year-old man from Oregon who is the outdoorsy type was quoted as saying he can't meet any women who can keep up with him. Over 30 women emailed me and asked for his email address, including one from Finland and one from Sweden who works in Saudi Arabia. I couldn't help them because Yahoo! does not give me the email addresses of people who send in questions.

The woman living in Saudi Arabia says her company blocks my findingloveafter50.com website from being accessed from the company email system. Guess the topic of dating and relationships for people over age 50 is too steamy for the folks over there.

On the flight to Hawaii, we boarded a Boeing 767-400 and were seated in row 14, seats d and e. We noticed there was a bathroom on both sides of the plane at row 14. At first I thought, how convenient, I only have 24" to walk to the john. The plane had maybe 250 people and was full.

On the five-hour-plus flight, each toilet was flushed-- I estimated unscientifically--180 times. You could feel the vibration of each flush, so snoozing was out of the question. Not to mention the odor and potential for germs. Don't let an airline stick you in row 14 on a Boeing 767-400 aircraft.

We stayed at a hotel on Waikiki Beach. Hawaii is romantic and a great place to kick back. This old dude even surfed on two different days in front of the Royal Hawaiian for several hours. Every night we walked on the beach enjoying the tradewinds and a mai tai or two, and yes, holding hands. Dinner at Duke's on the beach was busy and fun.

I served in the Navy during the Viet Nam war. I wasn't prepared for the burst of emotion that came over me when we took the USS Arizona memorial tour. After a 25-minute movie explaining the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, we boarded a boat to go to the memorial site. Silent, emotional moments like that draw a couple closer together, it sure did us.

On the return flight, we were seated in row 13, again on a 767, so we almost escaped the toilets. There were three men seated in front of us with passports from Mexico. When we arrived at the gate at LAX, there were several police officers waiting, for whom we didn't know (maybe the engineer who designed the 767-400).

At baggage claim, there were six Spanish television stations waiting, with cameras drawn. Turns out the three men in front of us were the Mexican men who were allegedly adrift at sea for nine months, living on rainwater and raw fish. That added a little excitement to our trip.

Three days later, we went to northern California, to vist my mom in Sonoma County, an hour north of San Francisco, four miles east of Santa Rosa. She'll be 96 in November. She lives alone and still has a driver's license, but has curtailed her driving to within her little community.

One night over wine and dinner, she told Greta and me that she felt chemistry is the most important aspect of a relationship for couples--an interesting observation from a person her age. Now I know the source of my strong feeling for chemistry in relationships.

Mom said that all of the men who wanted to marry her after she became a widow 40 years ago are deceased. She attributes her longevity to keeping her mind active and eating lots of chocolate. She is a remarkable woman and I'm reminded every day of how blessed our family is.

Yesterday morning, Greta and I flew from Sacramento to Long Beach on JetBlue, a wonderful airline with lots of leg room, leather seats and no toilets across from any row of seats. We had been together almost constantly for two weeks; our travels had strengthened our relationship.

Internet dating - right or wrong for you

Internet dating is booming. We hear all sorts of facts and claims tossed around by date matching sites and Internet industry proponents. There are more than 400 matching services and the industry has grown tenfold in the last few years. Statements of success abound. Some sites claim to be the largest, others to have had thousands of marriages as a result of couples meeting on their sites.

But, for singles 50, 60 and 70-plus, is Internet dating all its cracked up to be?

On a positive note, the Internet allows older singles to easily reach out across America to meet other singles they wouldn’t have otherwise met. Some have met mates who live or work in the same city. The potential for finding a mate is real.

One of our readers, Linda, wrote Wednesday that she married a man she met online three months ago. “A younger man. I’m 57 and he is 53,” Linda wrote (her words, not mine). While the three months seems a little quick to tie the knot, still, she met her hubby online.

But the negatives of Internet dating are numerous, so numerous that many older singles have given up on it or are avoiding it altogether. One woman in her 50s who requested confidentiality shared her story. I’ll call her Sue.

Sue joined one of the large matching services and did what many older singles do, embellished her profile. She wrote she was two years younger and two inches taller than she is. A couple of years, a couple of inches, what’s the big deal?

She also wrote that she lives in an affluent city, but doesn’t. She works in the affluent city, but lives in a nearby city. Isn’t that the same? What’s a few miles among lovers?

Sue met a man who lives nearby. “We had an unbelievable three weeks together and were destined for a long-term/marriage relationship,” she said. Sounds like Internet dating worked for her and her new beau.

But then he learned of the profile embellishments. “He interpreted these as lies and said if I lied about these things, I would lie about other things and he never would have contacted me.” He told Sue that he hates the city where she lives.

Sue said the man kept asking about her past relationships so she constantly talked about them, which made him mad. And yet, “He talked about his relationships and had many, many pictures of women that he dated (200). The more he talked, the more I talked. He said I bring angry feelings out in him and he didn’t want to see me anymore,” Sue said. And that ended the relationship.

Sue’s story is just the tip of the iceberg on Internet dating negatives—people fib and masquerade as someone they aren’t. Not to mention that meeting someone compatible is difficult.

And yet there are enough success stories for people in their 50s, 60s and 70s that older singles continue to Internet date. Many of them in our subscriber base, like our motorcycle riding couple from last week.

Internet dating isn’t for the faint of heart. People who can’t handle rejection or rude treatment should avoid it. It shouldn’t be a single’s only avenue to try to meet someone. The Internet is a new ballgame for older singles, and a tough one in which to play.

note from Tom: Soon, I'll include a column on the importance of background checks when dating strangers, and how to order background checks, and which ones are the best. This topic is especially important because all we meet online are strangers.

Do Successful Women Intimidate Men?

Two women and three men comment

Recently, I wrote a column addressing a question that Joan, a single woman, asked: “Are men—even successful men—intimidated by successful women? Joan says its happened to her unwittingly numerous times; she feels it’s because she’s a partner in a company and drives a Jaguar X-type car.

Joan said, “It upsets me that I have to pretend to be someone I’m not to protect the male ego. I have even borrowed my daughter’s car to go on first and second dates and felt I had to lie about my job and the fact that I own my home. What is this with men?”

Recently, she met a man at a restaurant after corresponding with him online. “We got along well, talked easily and laughed a lot. There were indications he liked me and wanted to see me again. He mentioned places he wanted to take me etc,. I liked him and found him attractive.

“He asked about my job. I said I was in sales, but at one point (accidentally...as I try to avoid this) mentioned ‘my partner’ instead of saying ‘colleague’. He immediately picked up on the fact that I am a partner in my company, and I sensed a change.”

And when he saw her Jaguar: “He said, 'Is that your car? Right then I knew he was intimidated and his ego wouldn't allow him to see me again."

The next day he emailed, thanked Joan for “a very enjoyable evening,” said she was intelligent, interesting, attractive and sexy. And wished her good luck.

Another woman wrote: "As a successful, self-made millionaire, it’s very difficult to find a man who isn’t intimidated by a woman’s success. Either the wealthy become competitive or the middle to lower income look for a free ride. I have found very few strong men with the 'cahoonas' to step up to the plate who can have a healthy relationship.”

Three men shared their thoughts. Blake (not this Blake) emailed, “Successful woman don’t intimidate me. I find a financially stable businesswoman very appealing. My last relationship was with a mother of 3 and every day our relationship was filled with financial worries of today and tomorrow. A successful woman means I won’t have to deal with the drama of unpaid bills, and the fear that goes along with that pressure.

“There is a downside to successful women and that is they often don’t have the time needed to help develop a relationship. A happy medium would be great. A woman who can take care of herself financially, and one who has time for me and us. I don’t want anything from a woman other than her affection, trust and love.”

Larry wrote, “I’m not intimidated by anyone. It might be that women who have focused on business success do not have the kindness and softness most men long for. Most of us do not find it objectionable that we would not have to support a woman financially again.”

Chris, 72, said: “I dance on cruise ships. I have dated women and know women socially who are successful. The problem I find is they don't know how to stop being a boss and just being the lady you are dating.

“They can't stop telling you how to do everything. If I'm driving, don't tell me how to drive. If I'm painting a room, don't tell me how to paint it. If I'm cooking, don't tell me how to cook. I don't care if you can do everything I can, it bothers me when you think you can do it better. Why do women always feel they have to show you how smart they are?”

If successful women feel they intimidate men, perhaps they should ponder what the three men said. Allow time away from a busy schedule for a relationship. Be warm, kind, affectionate, and forget the boss-mentality. No one likes to be told what to do.

These same principles can be used by married couples to ensure they are making their marriages as special as possible.

Reader Comments

Deb, "I'm 53. I met a man recently and was crazy about him until he questioned why I had changed my name after my divorce and why I have a new puppy who requires a lot of attention."

Response: "Deb, if a guy's hung up on those two points, guess how bad he'd be if you had major issues come up. I'm glad you're no longer crazy about him."

Being Single Not So Bad

Last week’s article on why married people read this column generated a potpourri of comments by singles.

After a very difficult marriage in which she didn’t have the strength to get out for a long time, Donna, Illinois, said that she now sees great advantages to being single.

“Being able to make one’s own decisions and proving to oneself that you can pay the bills and handle life is very good for one’s self esteem,” Donna said. Although she’s had some “psycho dates” in five years of dating, she’s found a person who is nice, “but the idea of commitment or marriage is very scary and not in my vocabulary.”

Shirley, the wise bird of Manhattan (NYC), wishes married people would be more sensitive to singles. “Married people don’t invite single friends, especially women, to parties, the theater, eating out, especially during the evening hours. We singles know how to pay our own way, and it isn’t embarrassing. We don’t have to be escorted, we’ve been traveling alone for some time.

“One married friend told me outright that she can’t invite me because she’ll slight her husband in conversation during an evening activity. She is insensitive and very limited—her behavior is no reflection on my worth or charm—she is too rigid and socially incompetent, so we meet for lunch.”

Shirley added that in retirement communities this goes on all the time. “I’m told by friends who live there; single women are NEVER invited to dinner, which sounds crazy, to say the least.”

Shirley feels that singles can enhance the lives of married people. “We need all kinds of friends, and being a couple is not the universe,” she said.

Loneliness seems to be the toughest aspect of being single. Most over-50 singles never expected to be alone at this stage in their lives. Some think a mate will cure all. When I make speeches, I say, “Be careful for what you wish because you just might find it.”

Too many singles meet someone and commit too soon without knowing the person, thinking they’ve cured their loneliness. Then the little secrets and idiosyncrasies of the new mate start to emerge—he’s a control freak or too set in his ways, for example. In months, the person realizes that being single wasn’t so bad, in fact, it was pretty darned good. Over the years, women readers have shared their reasons why:

One said, “I’ve been married and unhappy and single and unhappy and single and unhappy is better because I can more easily do something about my situation.” By that, she means she can get out and involved in activities she enjoys. But when you’re married and unhappy, to get out means going through the divorce train wreck.

Another said, “Why should I live with a man? I already have a job.”

A third said, “I never knew true happiness until I remarried, but then it was too late.”

Background check a must before dating a stranger

“The only sure protection against fraud by someone you are involved with is to look deep into their past BEFORE they look deep into your eyes,” says Rhoda Cook, a spokesperson for CUFF (Citizens United to Find Fugitives), a non-profit company that deals with sweetheart fraud.

When older singles venture out into the dating world, most potential mates they meet are strangers, about whom little or nothing is known. Before becoming romantically involved, singles need to protect themselves by learning as much about the stranger as possible.

Barbara, not her real name, shared her experience of getting involved with a stranger she knew nothing about.

Like many older singles, Barbara was lonely, bored and looking for love. “I sent out those signals,” she said. Barbara went to a dance and met a man who was an excellent swing and ballroom dancer. “He seemed so nice, polite, and was tall, good looking, younger than me, and wow!”

He told her he was from another state and staying in a motel while looking for an apartment to rent. Barbara said, “After a week of hot pursuit, he ended spending the night, then the next, which continued into the weekend. From what he said, I thought he was leaving on Monday when I went back to work.”

Much to Barbara’s surprise, when she came home from work that Monday, he had purchased groceries and cooked her dinner. “Before I knew it, he was living there,” Barbara said.

“After two months, we began arguing constantly. I did a little computer research, and what I found out astounded me. He had a rap sheet in another state.”

Barbara asked him to leave. “He insisted we could work things out, he loved me, he cried, and yes he was persuasive. Then, another four months of constant arguing. In February, I was able to get him out, but it’s been a nightmare since.”

Barbara has a restraining order against him. He has harassed her family, friends and her at her work. “Now he’s in Central Jail in Los Angeles on a skipped felony arrest warrant,” she said. She fears he will be released and come after her.

Barbara admits she was foolish, that loneliness clouded her thinking. No one would debate that. But the point of her story is: had she had a background check done on this man before allowing him to spend the night, this nightmarish experience could have been avoided.

What are the options for singles seeking background checks?

Cook feels private investigators are the most reliable sources of background information. She said, “Because there is no national database of criminal records, civil judgment cases, or sex offenders, the information must be ferreted out by a competent investigator who knows how to sense inconsistencies in the subject’s information.”

Vern McGarry, a private investigator, (www.blueskiesdetectiveagency.com), says, “Make two background inquires at a minimum in the counties the person has lived in for at least the past ten years. A criminal background check and then a civil background check. Unlike credit reports, criminal and civil records are public information and do not require waivers or permission from the subject in question to be run.” McGarry says the cost for both reports should be no more than $150

Mark Simon, Orange County, Calif., another private investigator, msimoninv@cox.net, says, “Databases available to private investigators allow us to gather information necessary for a complete and accurate investigation. This data was not available in the past at the affordable price in today’s market.” Simon’s company charges $75 for a basic check without a written report.

A search on Google reveals hundreds of services that conduct background checks. Which one to choose? A company called Consumer-Guide did a thorough study of services offered online and recommends the ones they feel most reliable on their website: consumer-guide.to/Background.Checks.

CUFF’s website, www.straightshooter.net, provides a comprehensive search for $59 that includes criminal and civil case searches nationwide.

For older singles, the money spent in checking the background of a potential mate could be the wisest investment they ever make.

Older Woman, Younger Man

Grandmother 67 meets younger man on Internet. Keeps arms around him much of the time.

The above sounds like a headline from a tabloid. But it isn’t. It’s a story about one of our newsletter subscribers. There so much to like about it that I want to share it with you.

Pat, 67, Shickshinny, Pa., and Len, 62, just returned from a 26-state, 67-day, 14,000-mile, trip from Pennsylvania to California and back. On a motorcycle!

Pat and Len met two years ago on BikerKiss.com. That’s right, BikerKiss.com. Pat explains, “I went to that site as sort of a joke, a girlfriend had just bought a motorcycle. Len and I emailed back and forth for a while then met for lunch, talked for 3 hours. 2nd date we spent a day together at a Victorian town about halfway between our homes with lots of talking and laughing. Had a great time. 3rd date we met again for lunch which turned into dinner also; then he wanted me to meet his family and the rest is history.”

Three things I like about this story already: It’s an Internet-meeting success story. It’s an older-woman- dating-a-younger-man success story and it’s a people-in-their-60s-pursuing-adventure-and- appreciating-life story.

I asked Pat how each one keeps his or her sanity when traveling so intimately together for 67 days.

“For us it's a matter of laughing a lot, even when things are not going as smoothly as we would like. For example, we were low on gas in Nevada at the intersection of Extraterrestrial Highway (not joking) and US 6, in a ghost town. From the map it looked like there would be something there since it was an intersection with a U.S. highway. There wasn’t. The nearest town was 50 miles away. We had a guardian angel, a kind-hearted young man, who drove 100 miles roundtrip to get gas for us. We had water, a shady spot to sit and there was a breeze, so we just waited.

“Many people would have placed blame about being low on gas. it turned out to be a good day after all. Beside the laughter—which we do a lot of— everything tickles us. We respect and like each other in addition to being in love.”

Other things I like about the story: they respect and like each other and laugh often.

Pat added, “At our age why get nit-picky about things? This is our time and both of us realize how lucky we are that we met someone to share things with. Len loves being able to share the travel, gorgeous scenery and the freedom of riding. We both adjusted quickly. One evening we were watching TV and he started to laugh. When I asked him what was so funny, he told me that he was just so happy that he couldn't help but laugh.

Pat feels that people over 50 need to accept each other’s habits. “Much of your mail has to do with people wanting their partner to change. It ain't gonna happen. You have to accept people as they are—unless they are abusive, addicted, that sort of behavior—otherwise, count your blessings and realize that you're not perfect either. If you can't do that. Walk away.”

I also like Pat’s statement about accepting people as they are and not trying to change them.

Pat finished by saying: “Len and I are able to sit in the same room, reading books, no conversation, but just content knowing that we are together. It’s very simple, why complicate things?

“I feel blessed and privileged to have this terrific man in my life. My family loves him. They think he is the best. His family and friends have been wonderful to me, warm and welcoming and I have been told that he is happier than he has been in many years. And that makes me feel good.”

And the last thing I love about this story is how appreciative Pat is for having met Len. I hope men read it and realize that dating an older woman can greatly add to their lives.

Get a Life

“My girlfriend of over two years sometimes makes me feel as if I am the least important thing in her life,” said Ed, a widower, who started dating Doris eight months after his wife of 29 years passed away. Ed added, “She’s independent and has told me she doesn’t need a man but wants a man.”

When Doris—a widow of three years—and Ed were introduced by a friend, he had no intention of dating. That soon changed: “She was very fun and a great comfort to me. I soon fell in love with her," said Ed.

What does Doris do to upset Ed? “She has a great need to stay in touch with all her friends. She has many, many of them. Even when she meets someone for the first time, she calls them her friend. She is usually with several of them two or three times a week. She has a real fear of missing out on something if she isn’t with them when they go out.”

Ed didn’t discover Doris’ love of friends until six months into their relationship. “We were at a family function of mine when she said she had to leave early to be with her neighbors. I was enraged and wanted to end the relationship at that point. I soon forgave her by didn’t forget. She has since done the same thing several times.”

Ed’s dilemma: “I try to tell her that if I’m so important to her, she would want to be with me. She says I can’t accept her independence. I tell her she doesn’t know what a true relationship is. She insists she loves me but her friends mean a great deal to her. We are great together when we’re together. I feel I’m just a fill-in when she doesn’t have other plans.”

Ed and Doris have argued over this issue for a year and a half. She tells him he doesn’t know what it’s like to have a close relationship with friends. Ed has friends of 35-plus years but hasn’t socialized with them. “My friends are true friends who will take me back into the fold no matter how I long I am away. But, I have chosen her over them because she’s special. Why can’t she do the same for me?”

Ed says because of Doris’ behavior he’s losing his interest in her, that they can’t have a long-term relationship. “I don’t trust that she would want to be with me if I couldn’t get around in the years to come,” he said.

“Why continue to see Doris?” I asked. “Because she’s so much fun to be with, but if I met another woman who feels like me about relationships, I’d leave her for the other woman.”

This is a pretty pathetic story. Ed just doesn’t get it. He wants what he had for 29 years, another woman to be loyally at his side and to heck with friends. He wants someone to take care of him if he gets sick. Doris probably left Ed’s family party because she was bored out of her skull. And that’s why she keeps repeating that behavior.

She’s out and about with friends while he’s wallowing in self-pity. Ed needs to get a life. He needs to reconnect with friends and stay connected with friends. If he wasn’t so clingy and desperate, perhaps he’s be a more inviting partner to Doris. Mid-lifers and seniors need to have friendships with people other than their partners.

In no way is Doris going to be caught up in a smothering relationship. He’s got little to offer her except companionship. That’s not going to change unless he changes, and I don’t think he will. Ed needs to read that book we recommended two weeks ago by Dr. Susan Jeffers, “The Feel The Fear Guide To Lasting Love.” (See link below) Susan’s book will force Ed to look at the core of the problem—himself.

Get a Life 2

Last week’s newsletter about Ed the widower dating Doris—who left Ed’s family party to be with friends—triggered responses from across the board. So many and so diverse that I’m compelled to respond.

Surprisingly, it was only the women who defended Ed and thumped me hard, saying I was too harsh on Ed. I suggested that he get a life beyond Doris.

Lisa wrote, “This is the first time I don’t agree with your response. It was rude for Doris to leave Ed’s family gathering to be with her friends.”

Anne said, “You were too hard on Ed. Treating someone harshly makes you look bad. Maybe it sells books.”

Deb wrote, “I’ve been a ‘silent’ member for a year. I perceive a marked difference in your tone in the last two weeks. You refer to Ed as pathetic, clingy, desperate, smothering that he wants a nursemaid, wallowing in self pity, and his family is boring. You were pretty darn harsh.”

And Elaine added, “I disagree with you. Doris reminds me of a very shallow person, not capable of a long-term, exclusive relationship.”

Okay, maybe I was a little harsh on Ed. And I agree with Lisa, it was rude for Doris to leave Ed’s family party. And yes, Elaine, Doris is a bit shallow and excessive in the friends department for my taste. But the column wasn't about Doris, it was about Ed.

Here’s where I didn’t explain my position properly. Doris left that party at the six-month mark of their relationship. Ed added, “She has since done the same thing several times.” My issue with Ed is primarily this: Why has he remained in the relationship for another 18 months while Doris continues to ditch him for her friends?

I can’t believe the number of singles I hear from who complain about the way they’re treated in their relationships and yet remain in them. Perhaps I took my frustration out with this subject on poor old Ed. When people are treated poorly in relationships, they need to take the responsibility to change that aspect of their lives and get out for their own good.

This week a woman wrote me and said that when her boyfriend drinks too much—8 beers or more—he verbally abuses her with trash-mouth profanity and twice has held a loaded revolver to her temple. She said she keeps going back to him because she’s addicted to him and wanted to know what she should do to change him. Egad, man.

An additional newsletter topic came from last week’s issue. Many of you picked up on Ed’s clinginess and related experiences of your own where you were involved with someone who smothered you.

So, next week I’ll do a column on the issue of both people in a relationship needing air to breathe and friends of their own. Too many new singles who were in wonderful, long-term marriages desperately want to recapture those feelings and end up being needy, clingy, and smothering, characteristics which drive potential mates away.

I appreciate your inputs and even a little Tom-lashing to keep me in line. However, if I started writing newsletters that no one disagrees with, boredom would soon follow.

Verbal Intimacy (lacking)

Last week, I wrote about Karen, 51, who has many positives in her one-year-plus relationship, except verbal intimacy, which she says is “sorely lacking.” Karen said: “Our relationship can be likened to two buddies who have fun together over the weekend with a benefit of sex.”

I suggested Karen needs to communicate more with her boyfriend and recommended a book to read that will encourage her to take the initiative. Some women didn’t like my advice.

Linda said, “I found your response to Karen to be rather cavalier and inconsistent with your usual comments. Perhaps you’re still basking in after-vacation-calm. Your advice seemed to imply that she settle for what she’s getting.”

I didn’t suggest Karen settle, I would never say that. I suggested she communicate with him. I found out later that they have never discussed each other’s expectations, their relationship (other than agreeing in month three to be exclusive) or seeing each other during the week. What is “sorely lacking” is communication.

Another woman said, “I don’t much care for your answer to this woman.” But, she didn't elaborate.

Lucy said, "I was quite unhappy with your advice to the first lady. It sounds as if you are telling her to shut up and be content because she will never find anything better. Why shouldn't she look for the man and relationship she wants?"

She should, but she's got a pretty good one already that is meeting her needs except for in one vital area--and they haven't even discussed it. Told her to shut up, I don't think so.

Julie, who spent 18 years with an emotionally unavailable man, had advice for Karen: “You have an exceptional man who can bring you great joy in a day-to-day relationship of activities and friendship. You also have a man whose lack of emotional connection will bring you tremendous grief unless you can accept his distance as part of the deal.”

Other women felt differently. Mary said, “I will take him if Karen doesn’t want him. He sounds like a pretty good guy. I learned from my father that men have trouble expressing ‘love’ in words.”

Jan says, “Tell Karen she needs some good gal friends, and enjoy the sex and pal-hood with the guy. I’d love to have a good man pal and sex buddy.”

A couple of men chimed in. Mason Grigsby, co-author with Nancy Collins of Love At Second Sight: Playing The Midlife Dating Game, (see link to Mason's website below) said, “I have a chapter on this kind of relationship in my book. This is a classic ‘Backup” relationship (from his point of view.) Karen has to decide whether or not she wants to be a backup to him. He may change over time, but for now, it’s just a comfortable relationship that he will probably continue indefinitely, if she wants it to.”

Joe added, “This one is so easy! Tell Karen to be grateful and happy to have a stud and buddy. Next, get a dog or two--like most women these days--for all her emotional needs. Problem solved.”

So there you have them, opinions across the board. Most of all, Karen and her man need to communicate.

Reader Comments

Pam, "I recently met a man at the grocery store. He gave me his card. I called him a couple of days later. He said he was glad I called. We had a good conversation. He said he would like to take me to lunch. I said great, that I'd like to do that. He said he'd call the next day. That was a week ago and I haven't heard from him. Should I give him the benefit of doubt and call him. Maybe he lost the number?

Response: "I wouldn't call him again. If his address is on his card, send him a cute card, with a light and funny message, something like "Sometimes telephone numbers get lost." A card is stronger than a phone call, but less invasive. If nothing results from the card, forget him."

Sex Buddies

A 51-year-old woman described her one-year-plus relationship with a 52-year-old man:

  • We clicked from the time we met
  • The chemistry is there
  • We have a lot in common
  • He's an easy-going guy
  • We have fun together and get along well
  • We enjoy each other's company
  • We see each other almost every weekend
  • We talk on the phone 3-4 times a week

Most women would enjoy a relationship with those characteristics. But Karen—not her real name—says she’s in dire need of advice. She described the problem.

“He’s never been the type to utter the verbal language of intimacy. At the very beginning yes, I’ve heard him say I love you or I miss you on occasion. Now, I seem to be the only one who says those words. I sometimes get a response.

“Our relationship isn’t going forward as it should be; it seems to be stagnating. Something is missing. Our relationship can be likened to two buddies who have fun together over the weekend with a benefit of sex.

“I deserve more. I need someone that I can express my true feelings with, grow with, lean on and have him reciprocate. I want romance/intimacy and don’t feel I’m getting this most important facet from this guy. How should I proceed to solve this dilemma?”

It’s a good thing she asked me and not Dr. Laura Schlesinger about her dilemma. Dr. Laura likely would have bluntly told her that she created the problem herself by having sex with a man without being married, and might have added something like, “Why should he pay for the cow when the milk is free?”

I asked Karen if she’d ever communicated with him about her concerns. As of this writing, she hadn’t responded.

I suggest she have one of those lets-hold-off-on-the sex-for-a-few-minutes-and-discuss-an-important- issue talks. She may find her sexual buddy thinks their relationship is perfect. Heck, it sounds like a pretty good arrangement to me.

And for once in my life, I might even agree with Dr. Laura: the problem is Karen’s. I suggest Karen read Susan Jeffers’ book, The Feel The Fear Guide to Lasing Love, particularly chapter 4, about people holding up a mirror to discover what they’re doing to make themselves unhappy. (See the link below)

It’s not his fault that Karen’s deeper needs aren’t being met, it’s hers. Either, she’s got to figure out a way to express her feelings to him and grow with him, or, she needs to move on, to find someone more suitable.

I suspect if she moves on she’ll soon realize that she had a great relationship with him and the new men she meets will fall short in areas where her sex-buddy excelled. She’d probably end up being sorry she left him.

The answer? She needs to work on herself and not screw up what sounds like a damn-good relationship. Step one: Karen needs to get Susan Jeffers’ book. The Feel The Fear Guide To Lasting Love

Reader Comments

Janice: "I've been going through a nasty divorce for the last two years. My ex hasn't talked to me since the day he left. I don't know where he lives. We were married for 36 years. I am in an all-time low and would like to meet a nice man who wants no commitments but friendly companionship at first. Do you have advice for me other than my living on tranquilizers. I can't work until the divorce is over."

Response: "I understand your hurt and frustration. Get Susan Jeffers' book and study it cover-to-cover. You need to help yourself get through this, her book will help you start. You might also seek counseling."

(Editor's Note: Did you catch the last eight wods of "Janice's" letter? Very tellling.)

© 2006, Tom Blake

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