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 Chicago in 2006. His book, Middle Aged and Dating Again, is a humorous account of his first year of dating after his third divorce. His new book, Finding Love After 50: How to begin, where to go, what to do, is hot off the press. 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 See Archives 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003.

Man 54 marries for first time

Switching gears a bit today. Our feature is about a man who had never married, a woman who had given up on dating, and a guy who married them who had never conducted a marriage ceremony. Photographs are included.

Also, in the Mailbag section, we summarize the responses to last week's column about the woman in Arizona who is in love with her boyfriend of 30 years prior, who resides in Maine.

Keep the stories and questions coming.

54-year-old bachelor marries

What do a 54-year-old bachelor who's never married, a beautiful cancer survivor, and the publisher of this newsletter have in common? They were the three key parties in a wedding ceremony last Saturday night.

Yup, I swapped my columnist title for a new title: Deputy Marriage Commissioner. I married Phil and Laurie at a ceremony in the historic mission city of San Juan Capistrano, California.

This June, when Laurie and Phil asked me to marry them, I was surprised and honored. "How would that be possible? I've never married anybody and besides, I'm not a man of the cloth nor am I ordained," I said.

They said they wanted someone who knew them to marry them, that it would be more meaningful and personal. Laurie had done research and found out that Orange County will issue a "Deputy Marriage Commissioner" permit pending the County's approval of submitted paperwork. Although the permit is for only one wedding on a specific day, it's a serious matter, I was sworn in to uphold the Constitutions of California and Orange County.

I met Laurie, a real estate loan broker, eight years ago. In 2003, she confided in me that she was going through a painful divorce; she declared a moratorium on dating for "at least a year."

At a party later that year, she met Phil, now 54, one of Orange County's most eligible bachelors, who had never been married. They talked for a half hour. Phil said, "I thought she was gorgeous and sophisticated."

In their first email, Phil told Laurie she reminded him of Ursula Andress.

"That's a new one, never heard that before," Laurie emailed back.

Phil also said, "You missed your calling as a Breck hair commercial model."

"Flattery will get you everywhere," Laurie responded.

They discovered they shared a passion for dance music and 70's-80's music.

Laurie's self-proclaimed one-year dating moratorium ended after only a few months. Isn't that the way it goes? We meet someone when we are relaxed, not looking, and least expecting it.

But her new-found bliss took a tough turn at the end of 2003 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I told Phil that it might be better to not see each other. I didn't want him to feel obligated to stick around. I also was not looking forward to having anyone-especially him-see me sick, bald and at my worst. I tried to push him away but he would not budge," Laurie said.

"Although he had a beautiful home in Laguna Beach with gorgeous, ocean views from nearly every room, he moved in with me in my little apartment. He went home periodically to check his mail and make sure his cat was ok. I didn't realize he had moved in to my place until he started complaining that he needed more drawer and closet space!" They tackled the cancer as a team.

Three years ago, they purchased a home together. When a neighbor couple found out that Laurie and Phil were getting married, the couple offered their estate as a location for the wedding and dinner afterward.

Saturday night, I married Laurie and Phil before 150 guests in the most stunning wedding setting I've ever seen-the back yard of the neighbors' private, breathtaking estate. Upon entering the home, the original artwork, painted ceilings, statues, and polished marble reminded me of a recent visit to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

The ceremony

In keeping with their shared love of music, one of their favorite groups from the 70's and 80's, their friends Alan Parsons, of the Alan Parsons Project--a popular, progressive, British rock band--and his wife Lisa, were among the guests. A disc jockey included Parsons' hits Sirius and Eye in the Sky in the play list.

I had read that Alan had helped produce two Beatles albums, which I asked him about. He said he had been an assistant engineer, not an assistant producer, on the Abbey Road and Let It Be albums. "Had I been an assistant producer, I'd be a very rich man," Parsons said with a grin.

In a toast, Phil said, "When you meet the right person, whether at age 15 or 54, you know it's the right person."

For Phil, getting married for the first time at age 54 was worth the wait. He smiled and said, "Laurie is that right person."

So, when you meet someone who has never married, don't write him or her off. That confirmed single just might be waiting for the perfect person, and you might be the one.

Responses to Arizona woman's situation with Maine man

Jan, "Money would not be the biggest issue, but rather their disparity of life style. He marches to a different drummer; she would come to resent that, especially if she continued to work full time while he didn't. Or worse yet, she didn't work and their combined life styles used up her investments. If he is wildly in love with her, why doesn't he move to Arizona?"

John, "How do EACH of you feel about the inequity money-wise? Can you limit your activities to things that EACH of you can afford? I have strong doubts about this."

Anabela, "It has nothing to do with money. The relationship is based on sex, and sex without commitment (someone has to relocate) will vanish like the fog in the morning."

Roger, "He's broke, lives with his mother, and likes his freedom to hunt, fish. Oh, come on. She has saved a pretty good nest egg. If she keeps on with this 'lothario,' she will soon be out of money."

Lynne, "Sounds like trouble. Lots of people have worked while married, raised two children, etc. and still manage to not have to live with their mothers. He sounds like a potential sponge."

Betty, "If you relocate to Maine, you may lose respect for him. Your best bet is to continue as is. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and you don't have to argue about finances vs. love. You would miss the weather and your family in Arizona. Spend more time with him in Maine (like a month or so) and get a better feel of the matter."

Barb, "Tell her, 'No, love does not conquer all.' Think hard before you leap. Your savings will not go far, it is much easier to make those kinds of tough decisions beforehand."

Tom's opinion. I agree with Betty. Do not move, but visit Maine for a month, perhaps in the heart of winter. Trust me--I've been in a similar situation--your money will run out, and when that happens, the relationship will fizzle.

He's broke; I'm not

Originally, my intention for this week's column was to feature many of the responses to last week's story about John who keeps hoping for a love relationship with Carol, a woman he has known for 30 years.

However, so many of you were in agreement about John's situation, I decided we could condense the comments into the Mailbag section at the end of the letter.

Inspired by John's 30-year trek, a new "old flame" story came in about another budding relationship that's been 30 years in the making.

But unlike John's story, where there was no chemistry, this week you need a fire extinguisher to cool the chemistry. Today's story is from a woman's point-of-view. She asked for your advice regarding relocation and money. Should the latter be a consideration in her plans?

Plus, in the "Life certainly takes interesting twists" category, tomorrow night I am marrying a couple--a first for me. I was usually the one on the getting- married side of the aisle. No, I'm not an ordained minister, but I'm authorized for this one wedding. I'll tell you about it next week.

Keep the stories and questions coming.

Does money matter in a relationship?

The anonymous woman wrote about her new love, "I am deeply in love (which is truly wonderful), and yet---

"We dated 30 years ago for a year and stopped when he became too serious. We married other people. I divorced after 25 years and decided to find him. I did not expect a hook-up; I genuinely cared about him, and just wanted to reconnect.

"His wife had died five years earlier, and he was just coming back into the world. He had not dated anyone.

"We talked for over two hours the first night, continued with emails and then I decided I wanted to see him. He wanted to see me.

"All of our old chemistry resurfaced, and we developed our yearning for one another over the six weeks it took for me to get to Maine, where he lives. I live in Arizona.

"Our time together was the most sensuous, sexual, loving, wonderful time I have ever had. He felt the same. That was a year ago. We have made 7 trips back and forth since then, lasting from 5-12 days each. I feel like he is the love of my life, and I am grateful to be feeling this way, since I will be 60 soon. He is 55.

"THE PROBLEM? I am not sure what is right on the financial front. He has no money. He worked full-time when married, owned his home and they raised two kids.

"After his wife died, he sold the house, lived off that money throughout his grieving. Now he works only enough to live week-to-week (saving meager amounts), and enjoys his freedom to hunt, fish and hike. He says he wants to enjoy his life and not be so stressed.

"He recently moved out of his apt and in with his mother, who needed to have someone there with her, especially in the winter. She (73) is not an invalid and has a busy life. He lives in the basement when he is there. He is a college graduate, but now tends bar on weekends.

"I do not have a lot of money, but I do support myself as an adjunct faculty and have about $150,000 invested. I don't own my home.

"My question is: I am confused about the importance of having the money be more equitable. Am I feeling so much in love that I am not seeing a crazy future in front of me?

"He would not move, he loves where he is. I don't think I could move completely because I have two daughters here. I just am not sure what to do. I do not need to do anything right now, but I don't know how long I can do this back and forth. I love him, and know he loves me. Does love conquer all?

"I don't know if I could work there. Maine is very beautiful-I just do not know if I could live there all the time. I feel very at home there, however. Whenever we are together, it is like we are on vacation, wherever we are.

"I treasure a very deep connection with him and want to proceed in a way that is good for both of us. We have not really talked details about living together. I do know his mother is planning on moving to CT to live with a daughter eventually, but wants to stay in her home a bit longer. I would not live there with her.

"I truly value what we have in our relationship. Maybe money is the question--but maybe it isn't. I want love to see us through, but will it? I know there are no certainties in life, but want to know I'm going in a good direction."

What would you advise this Arizona lady?

Responses to John's pursuit of Carol

Dena, "John needs to focus on meeting new women and hopefully finding one that WILL be interested in a long term relationship with him. (And make it easier on himself by trying to find a lady that lives in close proximity!)"

Evelyn, "John should call and on the telephone make his true interest known. If she responds positively great. If not, stop torturing yourself John and turn your interests elsewhere. Get closure one way or the other."

Marta, "I would suggest John not live in limbo any longer, by speaking his mind and accepting the rejection if it comes. Like pulling off a bandaid quickly, it hurts less than dragging it out."

Pat, "At 61 there are just so many good years to share with the right person, move on. he will find a more receptive woman!"

Edie, "John needs to tell Carol of his interest in pursuing a relationship with her and ask how she perceives/what she wants from their relationship. That beats the agony of playing cat and mouse."

Peggy, "John provided his own answer when he said 'she is clearly comfortable with her new life.' Move on, John. Don't waste anymore time pursuing her."

Betty: "John and Carol are both adults and need to be open up about their feelings. Why keep a desire alive without knowing the end result? We are too old to play games."

Dan, "Sometimes the obvious isn't. Why doesn't John just talk to her? From his side of the story; he seems to have the answer but doesn't want to admit it. Only she knows what she is thinking and he owes it to himself to ask the tough questions."

Does she care about him?

When a man and a woman have known each other for 30 years as "just friends," and now the man would like a relationship with her, is an obligatory, sibling-like hug enough to sustain his interest? Or, is he wasting his time? Does she even care? You be the judge.

In from the mailbag: reactions to last week's column regarding the woman who got scammed.

John's Dilemma

One of our members has a dilemma and seeks your advice. I promised we'd change his name to John.

John, 61, said, "Carol (a pseudonym), 54, and I met in Southern California in 1978 while employed in the same field but for different organizations. I vaguely recall asking her out, but she declined. We became friendly colleagues who talked about business and occasionally our personal lives off and on for the next several years. Both of us married others in the mid-1980s but we stayed in touch. I divorced in 1994 and have remained single.

"Around 1990 Carol's family moved out-of-state. For the next 17 years there were occasional holiday cards or an email, but I recall actually seeing her only once, when she was here on business around 2001.

"In late 2007, a mutual friend told me Carol had recently divorced and moved to the Bay Area. I got in touch; she seemed pleased to hear from me. That started a series of occasional messages and phone calls, with both of us playing it safe - i.e., not getting too personal."

This February, John visited Carol. She had been in an auto accident so he helped her run errands. They also had brunch. John feels they got along well.

He continues: "For the next four months, we exchanged occasional messages and phone calls. None of it was personal, just staying in touch, with the promise to get together the next time one of us was on the road.

"Carol was in SoCal on business in June, staying at her sister's house about ten miles from me. I picked her up and we drove to the home of our mutual friend, where we visited for three hours. When we returned to her sister's, I stayed for another hour to talk. I felt myself getting more interested."

During the next few weeks there were several lengthy phone calls; it appeared to John that Carol was becoming more comfortable with him, although they never discussed their social/romantic lives.

John said: "In late July, I was in the Bay Area again, staying with old friends who lived 45 minutes from Carol. I invited her to join us for dinner and spend the night with my friends, sleeping in her own room. We had a great time with my friends for the next five hours. Everyone went to bed about 11 pm.

"Carol left early the next morning, as planned. Looking for some indicator of future interest, I suggested we get together again in a few weeks. She declined, with a perfectly valid reason. But she offered no alternative plan, leaving me discouraged as she expressed mild thanks for 'a nice time' and drove off."

Three weeks have passed, John hasn't heard from Carol. She had been silent for a week or two before, but that was prior to the increased contact between late June and late July. He's reluctant to contact her for fear of appearing too eager.

John added, "I would like to pursue some sort of relationship with Carol, but she hasn't provided any encouragement. I'm the one who has initiated just about everything, from phone calls to emails to our several visits.

"Although Carol offers information about herself in conversation, she seldom asks anything about me. Other than the obligatory, sibling-like hug when we meet, Carol has never touched me, even if we're sitting next to each other. No light touches on the arm, nada."

What should John do?

"Should I continue to pursue this, even cautiously, as I have up to now? I don't want to repeat getting turned down by the same woman twice, 30 years apart. That would have to be some sort of unfortunate record.

"Carol has always been reserved and laconic. I tell myself her apparent hesitation to proceed is a result of that, and I should just be patient. Another explanation is her separation and divorce--less than two years old, and she isn't ready to date. But that doesn't hold up, as she is clearly comfortable with her new life.

"So what is it? We clearly enjoy each other's company, and I've made it clear I'm ready to move things along, although slowly, but she hasn't reciprocated."

What would you tell John?

Mailbag - reactions to last week's scam story


Michigan woman: "I admire this woman for daring to bare the truth--BUT."

Jon, "I once got an email at work where someone was going to drop off a box with 14 million in it for me. I was off to a meeting so a co-worker said he would pick up the box at reception if I would give him half. Never saw the cash."

Midwest woman: "This article haunts me. I read it several times--and get something different each time. First, she is blaming HIM for manipulating HER, "because I was vulnerable". WEll--she knew that, so why not be EXTRA careful? Second, she knew this was a scam. Third, widows need to NEVER loan money, not even to their children, without a signed and witnessed note, and even then, expect to not have it paid back, and certainly not to someone they have NEVER met."

Canadian woman: "This sad story is not about "dating scams" at all. It is more an illustration of how lonely and emotionally needy people may live in fantasy to the point that their behaviour becomes self-harming."

Anatomy of a scam

Today, one of our members shares her story on how she got scammed. She had the guts to lay it on the line. She knows she was foolish, but she's also willing to try to help others so it won't happen to them. Thanks to her for bravely stepping up.

Sue got scammed.

You may find yourself judging Sue--not her real name--as her story unfolds. But, keep in mind her situation at the time, which Sue describes, "Having lost my husband two years earlier, I was very vulnerable, lonely and easy pickins, just what scammers look for. He manipulated me emotionally."

Sue was on a site called Singles-Net when she met Edward Hayes, screen name "immortalhayes." He was on Yahoo and liked to be called Eddie. They begain emailing right away.

Sue said, "I am a Christian, he said he was too and he played that angle well. He posted an attractive photo along with an interesting profile."

After two weeks, they started to live chat on Yahoo. "We chatted back and forth for sometimes most of the day for over one month. We also talked on the phone almost every day and he was big on text messaging.

"I was getting way too much attention but at the time was flattered and enjoying it. He told me I was beautiful and that he loved me and really wanted to meet me.

"He was never lewd or off-color, just really sweet with a great sense of humor. I trusted Eddie and felt like we were getting to know each other well."

Eddie told Sue that he was a 50-year-old contractor working in Nigeria on a two-year project building an oil refinery that was just wrapping up. He was Irish and his wife and two children had been killed in a car accident in London seven years before.

Since then, Eddie had poured himself into his work and was wealthy. He claimed to have houses all over Europe. On his profile, he said he lived in Temecula, CA, on a horse property.

"Eddie was coming back to the states soon and wanted to meet me. He talked about marriage and said I was his true love. He was incredibly romantic, even saying the same things my husband had said to me, it was unreal.

"I agreed to meet him when he finished his project. He had me book a hotel for him near where I live for two weeks. He also wanted me to start looking for real estate for him. He wanted to spend $ 3-5 million. He acted like royalty and said money was no object. He wanted to buy me a couple of cars and also give me the $200,000 diamond ring he had given his wife.

"I am not a person that bases relationship on money, but I was willing to try it. It was all too good to be true and I thought it was either a miracle or a scam but wanted to believe it was real."

As the date got closer for him to come, things started getting complicated. He told Sue he couldn't leave when he originally planned because he had to wait to get paid on the project. Then he said he was having problems with the authorities and the corruption in Nigeria. He had a Nigerian driver he went every where with, and felt safer with 'Frank' around.

Sue continued, "Things dragged on and then he called and said he needed money to board the plane, as he would not be able to cash his check until he got to London and then he would wire me the money immediately. I told him I didn't want to give him any money and thought he was scamming me. He assured me he would never do that and would pay me back. I sent him the money through MoneyGram; I think it was about $2,500."

Then Frank called and said that Eddie had been nabbed by the police and the police wanted to be paid off to let him board the plane. Eddie got on the phone and pleaded with me, crying and all, afraid of what they might do to him.

"This time, he needed $8,000 and again he would pay me back at his first stop in London. He pleaded with me and told me he loved me more than anything and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I borrowed the money from my equity line of credit and sent it through MoneyGram.

"Then he called and said they still wouldn't let him get on the plane, and the drama continued! They kept telling him he could get on the next plane and then the next and on and on it went."

This went on for two days. Sue was awoken at about 2 AM by her phone ringing. It was a big, mean, scary voice asking if she was Mrs. Hayes.

Sue said, "I said no, but he said Eddie said I was his wife. At this point I started shaking and my heart was beating fast. The voice told me if I wanted to see Eddie alive I would have to send $48,000 as soon as possible. They were going to kill him. I told them I didn't have that kind of money and that I had sent him all the money I had."

Sue knew at that point she'd been duped. She sent no more money, although Eddie and Frank kept calling. They told her $24,000 would be ok.

"I was scared. I called the police the next morning and they came over and took a report and said their was nothing they could do and that I was out the money and people get scammed falling for different schemes all the time."

The officer told Sue that eventually they would stop calling. Eddie called again and said he'd mail a check and asked for her address and last name. He also promised gifts. Sue didn't bite.

"He called one more time and I answered it because I really did like him, whoever he was. He tried to suck me back in one more time and when he knew I wasn't going for it, his voice changed and he didn't sound so sweet anymore! That was the last time I talked to him."

The scam lasted a month and a half. Sue filed a report with the FBI and reported it on her taxes.

"It was one expensive lesson, but it woke me up out of my stupor and will never happen again. I joined a dating scam support group that was helpful, I found out I wasn't the only one it had happened too. Some got scammed for a lot more, some a lot less. I was in the mid-range. It took longer to recover from the emotional trauma than the realization I was out the 11 K ($10,500 + $500 in misc. expenses.)

'This is it in a nutshell, one big NUTshell."

If you are Internet dating, and you hear the word Nigeria, delete the message. If something sounds too good to be true, it is. You can't fall in love with someone you've never met. Never send money to a stranger. Don't be naive, don't be gullible.

Responses to man musings

Last week's column that featured Rich's musings about dating from the man's point of view brought so many responses I could barely read them all.

Most women agreed with Rich. They liked his candor and humor. Today we share some of the comments from both women and men. Many of the comments contain valuable dating advice.

Here's what some of you said about a gaggle of Rich's topics

On paying for dates

Joe, "A shopping mall is a great place for that initial meeting. Taking a stroll around sure beats sitting in Starbucks drinking expensive coffee and it avoids the issue of who pays. You get exercise and it gives you both a chance to see what the other person looks like. At this stage of the game, we want to waste as little time and money as possible. If the person is unable to get around, or so dislikes exercise, it's good to know up front."

Marta, "I think Rich is spot-on when he says women should offer to pay their half and that he might expect a home cooked meal or picnic after a couple of weeks of dating the same lady. It is passé to suppose that men ought to pay for everything, even on the first date."

Jane Ann, "I would never expect a gentleman to pay my way. Why on earth should he? At my first meeting with my Rich, I stated up front that I prefer to pay my own way in order to maintain my freedom and independence. Since I am not much of a cook, I always share the bill. That is only fair, AND makes for more eating out at the same time."

Lynne, "I could not find anything to quibble with in Rich's comments. He sounds like a reasonable guy. I was bemused, however, by some of the women he has come across. Why on earth would someone object to only coffee, or to paying for herself on the first meeting if she's really interested in making a connection? Sheesh!"

Pat "There is nothing wrong with meeting for coffee/a drink/lunch; it costs less for the man and is a comfortable way to talk with someone. If there is no connection, it's easier to cut the time short and make a graceful exit."

Jennifer, "I recall one man who insisted on dinner and I later regretted accepting, since he was an extremely overweight bore who considered himself an epicure and wanted to talk about food all night. The first meeting should be short and sweet."

A gaggle of women

Betty wrote, "Rich is "right on" with what he shared about women huddling together and talking like a group of chickens non-stop, it does intimidate men from walking up to talk to them.

Judith, "I laughed at Rich's comment about 'gaggle,' because that's the term I use. I stopped hanging out with a group of women.

"Now, while by myself, men ask why I'm no longer with that group and sitting alone. I state I am tired of being with a 'gaggle' of women-no fun. The men laugh, understand and say hello more frequently."

Lillian, "In fairness to some of my sisters who still cluster in 'pods,' it is usually because they are either unsure of the singles scene for themselves (me, for instance), or they might be newbies and need moral support from friends. One of the worst experiences I ever had at a singles function was being invisible."

On women misrepresenting themselves

Karen had advice for women, "Stop putting up false pictures of yourselves. It's hurting the rest of us."

On rear ends, butts and fannies

Rich's comment, "Perhaps men and women should have talking points. One of my favorities is, 'Yo, nice fanny!' I haven't had much success with that but it certainly gets their attention," created a stir.

Andrew: "I'm sure he would get attention outside the USA with that line, and probably thrown out of the building."

Jon, "I can see why Rich's comments about butts hasn't gotten him very far. Women are very sensitive about looks and figures. Even if I think that someone is exceptionally attractive, I avoid making anatomical comments and simply keep it to something like 'You look nice tonight.' It gets the point across and they don't feel they are being hunted."

Marcia emailed, "His 'Nice fanny' line will bomb."

I know Rich and I doubt if he's ever said that to a woman. He undoubtedly thinks that way, however, as most red-bloodied guys do, including me.

Rich's explanation: "Thank you for explaining my humor. I'm sure there will be objections, especially to the 'fanny' and 'anatomy' jokes, but that's OK. I is what I is."

Women from Florida, Indianapolis, the Midwest, and Texas said they were sorry Rich lived in California, they'd like to meet him.

Patti summarized, "It was nice to read a man's point of view that was realistic and not filled with disappointment and bitterness."

Musings from the male point of view

One of the complaints I hear from single women is that we don't hear much from single men. Today, we address that issue.

I have a friend we will call Rich. At the end of this article, he explains why he didn't want his real name used. I will say he lives in Orange County in Southern California. Rich emailed in response to a number of recent newsletters. He didn't have any axe to grind, nor did he focus on any one topic. He just shared some of his rambling thoughts on being single from the male point of view.

Before you judge Rich too harshly about his comments, let me say this: He is an intelligent man with a keen sense of humor, so dry and quick it can throw you at first until you get to know him. Inside, he is a caring, warm and solid human being, somewhere in his late 50s.

Regarding the recent newsletter about couples ashamed to admit they met online, Rich said, "I can understand some reluctance in talking about meeting online, but not to the point of lying. It's no one's business but it's nothing to be ashamed of either. I often ask people how they met. I'm always looking for fresh ideas."

Rich commented about his online dating experience. "I gave it my focused attention for four months (several days and/or nights a week). I met some very nice ladies and unfortunately met too many who misrepresented themselves. Too many times I met someone who did not resemble their photograph or had misrepresented themselves in other ways.

"Online dating isn't perfect, but it's much better than staying home or not trying. There is someone out there for all of us!"

On the cost of dating for a man, Rich said, "Going out as often as I did, I found it too expensive. I finally suggested we should meet for coffee or a cocktail only. There is no sense in wasting each other's time. (Editor's comment: Or, wasting money on a dinner date where the relationship isn't going anywhere).

"Some women found that coffee suggestion to be very objectionable. Needless to say, we did not meet. I never suggested it but perhaps a woman should insist on paying for her half at that first meeting. It might make them more comfortable and give them a different perspective."

In a case where a woman doesn't have money to spend taking a guy out, Rich said, "After dating the same woman for awhile, it would be nice to have a home-cooked meal, or, a picnic, or something to show she appreciates me."

Rich commented on two singles functions he attended last week: "I don't normally go to these things but did to 'stay in the game.'

"I noticed at both events the women were clustered together. Now personally, I love the challenge of invading the herd, pod, gaggle, tribe, school, flock, etc., but I couldn't help but wonder if this clustering didn't make it more difficult for some men.

'I often read in your articles that women complain about not meeting men, where to meet men and that no one talks to them. Perhaps men and women should consider how approachable they are and have a few 'talking points' they can use. One of my favorites is, 'YO, nice fanny!' Admittedly, I haven't had much success with that but it certainly gets their attention."

On instant chemistry, Rich has an opinion: "I strongly believe in it. I'm talking about meeting that certain someone that you just instantly feel comfortable with and the hours fly by. It doesn't happen often but when it does it's like finding a soul mate. As time passes, I may learn things about the woman that are not for me but there is something to be said about the initial 'click.'"

Where does Rich stand at the moment? "I'm done with online dating but it was a good experience. I learned a lot about myself and will continue to look for that special someone with chemistry. OK, maybe biology or better yet, anatomy?"

And the reason for his anonymity: "Please don't use my name if you find fodder in this message. I'm still on the hunt!"

Perhaps inspired by Rich, other men will speak out.

From the Mailbag

I've mentioned that I am writing a book about how age-50+ couples have met. The purpose of the book is to provide information, ideas and hope that will help others find love.

The response from our members has been wonderful. Many of their stories will be included. I will keep you posted on when the book will be published. Hopefully, late this year.

A romance 30 years in the making

Last July, after a Sunday service at her Newport Beach, Ca., church, Leslie was on the church patio greeting visitors who had attended the service. She had done this often in the 36 years she had been the choir director and often organist of the church.

One of the guests was Bob, a handsome man standing by himself. During their conversation, Bob surprised Leslie when he told her he had seen her at the Calexico Airport (on the US/Mexican border) over 20 years before and had been attracted to her then. He had recognized her from the church he sometimes visited. At first, Leslie told him she'd never been at that airport.

Then, she remembered. Leslie said, "I had been there with my husband, who was doing dental work in Baja in conjunction with the Flying Samaritans, and we had stopped at that airport for customs. Bob said he had just watched me from the other side of the small airport. He had been there on assignment with the Marine Corps Reserves.

"I was surprised by this ancient memory of his, but it was obviously still current in his mind. There was a definite connection between us.

"As we were getting acquainted, several other ladies came up to introduce themselves--as a good looking, middle-aged man is a hot commodity at church! I was gracious about that, but secretly wishing they would take a hike! Bob bid adieu and was gone."

Leslie didn't see Bob for three weeks, when, lo and behold, he appeared on the patio again. He's a private pilot and had been away at AirVenture, an aviation fair in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

She stated, "I went up to him and said, 'You came back!' This time our connection was more intimate, I told him I had a grandson named Charlie living in Santa Rosa in Northern California and would be traveling to see him soon. Again, we were interrupted, and he exited without us exchanging phone numbers. As he left, however, he ran his hand across the small of my back, which I can still 'feel' today!"

Two days later, Bob called the church office, making an excuse to get Leslie's phone number. Usually that information would be confidential, but the church secretary was Leslie's best friend, and she had already heard about Bob from Leslie.

"That day, he called and left a message, saying he owned a private plane and would be happy to fly me to Santa Rosa to visit my grandson. I returned the call saying I didn't need a ride to Santa Rosa and thanked him for the offer, at which time we set up a date for the next evening. That was nearly a year ago and we've been dating exclusively since."

After they'd been dating for awhile, Bob told Leslie that in 1978, he used to chat on the same patio after church with her ex-husband but never had the courage to talk to her, that he just admired her from afar. Leslie said, "As he put it: 'I had the hots for you in 1978!'"

A relationship could have happened. Both Leslie and Bob were single; she had two young children. But he was intimidated by her being the choir director and organist.

The following year, Leslie started dating a man who sang in the church choir; they were married in 1980, until his death in 2003.

Leslie gave an update, "On July 22, we are flying to Oshkosh to attend AirVenture, only this time I'm a student pilot! In January, I decided I should take some type of pilot training in order to 'save us' in the airplane, if necessary." She attended three months of ground school, took and passed the FAA knowledge test, and is accruing hours to earn her private pilot's license--not anything she expected to be doing in retirement.

"I had just retired from a 30-year teaching career when we met, so the timing was perfect. And now we have this great shared passion and enjoy going to wonderful places together via the wild, blue yonder!

"Bob never married and was never engaged. One of his regrets in life is that he didn't have children. So I've enjoyed introducing him to my daughters and grandson, and he's now a part of our big, extended family, which includes my ex-husband and his two sons, who are like my sons, too. Bob and Leslie's ex are still friends despite the new arrangement.

She added, "Before Bob, I had been on match.com and had dated about five guys, one fairly seriously. But once I met Bob, they were history, as was match.com!"

"About 10 times during the past year, Bob has said, 'I should have married your ass 30 years ago and had babies with you. We'd have made beautiful kids!' That statement warms my heart!

"In reality, I wouldn't have been ready for a guy like Bob 30 years ago. He'd have been way too macho for me then. Now, I love that about him, and I love his passion for the Marine Corps and for flying and just for life in general."

Three life lessons from Leslie and Bob's story

First, good things happen when we least expect them, especially when we maintain a positive attitude

Second, timing and fate take their own course. Hooking up wouldn't have been right for Leslie and Bob in 1978, or in 1980. And yet the seed of attraction was planted. Their time for each other was 2007, and they are making the most of it

Third, after we retire from long-time careers, it's important to remain active, and to be willing to develop new interests and hobbies to keep us fresh and thinking young.

Above all, it's one heck of a romantic story.

New book on how couples met after age 50

Last week I mentioned that I am writing a book about how age-50+ couples have met. The purpose of the book is to provide information, ideas and hope that will help others find love.

The book will be limited to stories of 30 to 35 couples. Today's story about Leslie and Bob will be one of the stories included. Six more of our members submitted their stories this past week. There are a few openings left.

If any of you feel your stories would be helpful, and you're willing to share them, please email me. We will be using first names only. Don't worry about editing, I will take care of that.

Ashamed of Internet dating?

I am writing a book on how couples age 50+ met. Most couples who've found love in their later years are eager to share their stories. And these days, often the way they met is on the Internet.

But some who met on the Internet don't want that fact to be known. Recently, at a post-wedding dinner, the groom was addressing the guests and said they met via a business encounter. My partner and I were surprised because we know them well and knew they met on Match.com.

Jeanne shared a similar story, although not involving the Internet: "A male friend told me abut meeting his wife while skiing when she fell at his feet and he helped her get up. For Christmas, I gave them a cute figurine of a skier in silver on top of a crystal rock. His wife looked confused and asked why I got that as she didn't ski. Turns out, they had met in a bar."

Should people be ashamed to share with the world how they met? I put the question to members of our group.

Marta emailed, "I met my husband-to-be on the Internet and feel no shame about it. I speculate people don't like to think that they were 'looking' for love, that they had to go online to meet someone.

"Admitting we were looking breaks the myth that love 'arrives out of the blue,' as in some kind of a romantic film. They might feel like a loser. My life isn't like a film; I'm no loser. I had to look for love and am glad I had the guts to do it. I was online four and a half years before I met my sweetie.

"People ask me all the time how we met; I tell them with a smile and encourage them to try Internet dating."

Christine said, "As a professional wedding planner for over 20 years, I've had the pleasure of coordinating seven weddings for couples who've met through various Internet dating sites. The majority have been very comfortable with everyone knowing. In fact, one couple mentioned how they met as a part of their wedding ceremony."

Christine said that couples who were uncomfortable admitting they met on the Internet said they didn't want to appear desperate. She added that one of the reasons she started teaching an Internet dating class was to discuss what a wonderful option Internet dating is for singles to meet each other.

Christine added, "Tony and I just celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary and yes me met through the Internet and tell everyone who will listen."

Jon said, "There is nothing wrong with telling people you met online. It can take a long time before someone you are interested in comes along. It isn't like the ads on the tube where you change your hair color and suddenly bikini-clad blonds start climbing all over you."

"What's wrong with meeting on the Internet? I don't get it," declared Brenda.

Terry shared, "Why care about how people met? The important part is that they did meet."

Gail said, "The chances of meeting a suitable person increase with a wider area to search. When I find my next life partner, I don't care where I find him, and I don't care who knows. I will be so very happy."

When people ask John how he met his Russian wife, he is happy to share that they met online. "I get more acceptance about Internet dating from people who travel, especially to Europe, than from others, and of course, from couples with foreign brides or grooms."

Meeting on the Internet is accepted publicly in the Big Apple. Shirley pointed out that some New York Times wedding announcements mention that couples met on the Internet.

Lynn added, "If everyone would share their success stories about Internet dating, many more available and sincere people would take the chance using it. It is stories like theirs that encourage me, and make me more determined to never give up."

Mary made a strong case for including Internet dating in one's plan of attack: "The Internet sites are new venues and open considerably more opportunities to meet people that we would otherwise have a chance to meet."

Should couples be ashamed that they met on the Internet, or in a bar, or on a trip, or at work? I don't think so. However, as many of you pointed out, it's their business how they met and they can say what they want.

But, revealing how they met could help someone else find true love. At our age, we'll accept all of the help we can muster.

Be a part of the book

I mentioned at the beginning of today's newsletter that I am working on a book about how age-50+ couples have met. The purpose of the book is to provide information, ideas and hope that will help others find love.

I am selecting 30 couples whose stories will enrich the book. Already, 20 couples have agreed to share their stories, including 15 of our members. I've got room for 10 more couples and would love to have them also come from our group, which is so diverse, educated and enlightened-as the number of intelligent comments in today's column substantiates.

If any of you feel your stories would be helpful, and you're willing to share them, please email me. We will be using first names only. Don't worry about editing, I will take care of that.

15 years of girlie stuff

"Why do you write about girlie stuff?" a male reader new to our group asked. "Shouldn't men our age be out playing tennis or golf instead?"

I love questions that open doors to column ideas, which his did. And how appropriate for this week, which marks the start of the 15th year of writing about finding love after 50 and beyond-far beyond.

Some of you who've subscribed to this newsletter for years know the story of how I got into the business of writing about mid-life love. But, over the last couple of years, we've had many new subscribers who've been curious about the same thing.

On Xmas Eve, 1993, when I was 53, my wife of six years, without revealing her intentions, cleaned out the house, took what furniture and belongings she wanted, and moved out of my life.

Before you get out your crying towels, let me say in retrospect that she did me a great favor, although at the time I did not see it that way.

After she left, I put my golf clubs and tennis racquet in the closet, replacing them with pen and notepad. You see, I was really pissed at her and needed to organize my thoughts on paper and formulate a plan of action. Writing about the experience was cathartic.

After the divorce-she had pre-planned that also-I started dating, thinking it would be a breeze. After all, I was certain that I had so much to offer women that there would be a queue of single ones at the door of my Dana Point, California, deli, waiting, not for a sandwich, but to ask me on a date.

When no lines formed and women would reject my advances, I'd run home to my journal and whine in it about how hard and unfair dating after age 50 was for this poor single man.

The journal grew, filled with woe-is-me love failures. I wrote about boring dates, bad dates, blind dates, getting stood up and spending too much money on women. After the journal exceeded 100 pages, I took it to my local newspaper and said I could write a story about how this single man was being so mistreated by women.

At the time, the Dana Point News, my hometown newspaper, had two women editors. After perusing my material, they felt that the single women of south Orange County, California, would be so nauseated by my pathetic whining that the paper had a hit on their hands. A column, "Middle Aged and Dating Again," was born. Soon, it was running in a syndicate of ten newspapers.

Over the years, I didn't take the tennis racquet or golf clubs out of the closet; I was having too much fun writing, making speeches and appearances. Very few men write about finding love and romance, even fewer about finding it in the later years. And since women are curious about the male point-of-view, they read my stuff, (but don't always agree.)

In 14 years, the number of newspaper articles and newsletters written exceeds 1,300. I keep writing because people tell me that the articles help them get through the older years when dating is so difficult. Many have said that my advice led them to love.

Again and again, I've been reminded that opportunity arises from adversity. In September, I'll be returning to the AARP national Life@50 Expo for my fifth appearance. I've authored three books and have been interviewed by Matt Lauer on Today and Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America.

I've shared the opportunity message with thousands of wounded singles who've had relationships turn sour.

And, I've still got my deli in Dana Point (Tutor and Spunky's Deli). Why? Because it gives me a life purpose and keeps me thinking young. Besides, I love to eat. Lots of our subscribers have stopped in-it's a thrill to meet them.

What have I learned about finding love after 50? That one should never give up hope of finding it.

Ten years ago tonight, I had a first date with a woman named Greta, who, three days prior, had ordered a fresh carrot juice in the deli. When I saw her at a table waiting for her juice, without hesitation, I walked around the counter and asked her to dinner. We've been together since.

Tonight we are having dinner at the same restaurant--a place called the Claim Jumper--where we ate that night. We plan to sit on the same two barstools and both order Kendall Jackson chardonnay as we did then.

As for those golf clubs, well, they're still in the closet and that's where they'll stay. I've got another book to write, another newsletter to publish and another sandwich to make-you know, "girlie stuff."

Responses to Shannon advising her brother

Karen, "Shannon cannot fix her brother, nor make him happy. He must do that on his own. Advise him to get counseling right away! It sounds like he doesn't like himself very much and that he needed these women to complete him and that is a recipe for disaster.

"When I figured that out and realized that a man could not complete me nor make me happy, that I had to do that for myself first-Wow-What a difference my life has been. I love myself and apparently it seems, makes it easier for others to like me as well.

"In addition, I've stopped feeling that I'm sooooo lucky to have a man correspond with me, when in fact, we are both lucky. I also agree with you about the internet dating for her brother, but perhaps after he has worked on his self-esteem first."

Suzanne: "The big problem in our society today is the desire for instant solutions to the big issues in our lives. At 32, after making two big mistakes in his love life, I am sure he is beating himself up. It was hard for me at 60 to understand that sometimes you just need to let time be the healer.

"But, as the sister is so far away, I think suggesting counseling is the best way around this. I also think he shouldn't try dating for a while, what he needs is friends to hang with. There are so many chat rooms on the internet, maybe he should try special interest chat rooms."

Brenda, "Shannon should continue being supportive of her brother, no matter how tiresome that it may become. Two nights ago, I was on the phone for over two hours listening to a friend who was going thru a tough time, even though I was tired after a long day's work, and she was repeating herself, and I had to let a call from my boyfriend go to v-mail, I was there for her in her time of need. I know that it meant a lot to her that I was there for her, listening, supporting, caring, etc. She has done the same for many times.

"Staying busy is important. He could joining Meetup.com - not a dating site. It is a free-to-join, interest-based activity group website. They are world-wide. If there isn't a "meetup" for any of his interests in his area, then he could start one of his own. It's a great website that brings together folks who have similar interestes, such as biking, hiking, sailing, kayaking, dining out, night life, book clubs, fishing, camping, etc. You name it, it's there! He never has to be bored or lonely again, unless he wants to. And of course, meetup also provides the possibility of meeting someone nice with similar interestes who could turn into more than just friends.

"Also, he should slow down a little. He seems too quick to marry. What's the rush??

Advising a loved one

This week, a woman wants to know what more she can do to help her brother who is reeling from his second divorce. She reveals his story and how she's tried to help him so far. If he were your brother, what advice would you give him?

Why is a sister's concern about a 32-year-old brother a topic when the title of the newsletter is "Finding Love After 50?"

Because at our age, relationships aren't just about finding love for ourselves. They are about loving family members and friends and stepping up to help them when they face adversity. Most of us have helped a sibling get through a difficult time and/or a sibling has helped us. Such is the case with Shannon, Colorado, who is worried about her brother, but wonders if it's time he moves on with his life.

She wrote, "My brother is 32 and is going through his second divorce. He is sooo hurt right now. His first wife cheated on him, but he still loved her dearly and wanted to get counseling, but she already had her mind made up."

"A few years later, he met a gal with cute twin girls and they got engaged after six months and married at one year. This seemed like disaster from the get go, but I kept my mouth shut.

"It appears I shouldn't have, but that's water under the bridge. He felt sorry for her trying to make it on her own with two little ones to raise. He wanted to care for her too much. She seemed to marry him for support. He walked right into a trap.

"After two years, they're divorced and he is in pain and of course, missing those girls he so dearly loved. The divorce has been final for two weeks. He really wants a family of his own and he thinks with two divorces at age 32, he won't ever meet anybody and have kids."

Shannon says her brother has had a tough year. He went through the divorce and then two and a half months ago, out of necessity (he had lost his job in Arizona), he moved 1000 miles away to take a new job in a small plain states city. He loves the job.

"He is feeling very alone right now. I just listen every day that he calls, but it's kind of wearing on me. I wonder if his calling me, sometimes twice a day, is a little overboard. I'm starting to sound like a broken record and wonder if I'm hindering his ability to heal because he has become so dependent on talking to me when he's down," Shannon said.

"Is there a point when I need to say, 'Quit feeling sorry for yourself and get this gal out of your mind?'"

Shannon says he is going out and doing things with friends, "But almost daily, when work days are slow, he breaks down and cries and gets real blue. If he ever took his own life, I would never forgive myself. He hasn't mentioned this, however.

"Do you have any advice I can give him or what role can I play to help him get through this? How do I convince him there's a rainbow on the other side?"

I understand Shannon and her brother's close friend feeling like they want to tell the brother to stop feeling sorry for himself and to get over his ex and move on. But, in his current fragile state, and Shannon's concern about his stability, now is not the time to be too harsh on him.

Instead, she should convince him to seek counseling--and soon. The most important thing he needs is to learn to live and be happy on his own. He needs to stop worrying about meeting a replacement wife and having kids of his own. That will come in due time. At 32, he's just a pup. He needs to understand that often, out of adversity, comes opportunity.

He needs to analyze with the counselor what went wrong with his two marriages and work on not letting the same thing happen again. He seems to be selecting the wrong type of women for him. Shannon said he argued often with both wives. She added that he married both women based mainly on looks. He should make a list of important characteristics he seeks and put more emphasis on heart, soul and kindness.

I don't know enough of the details to understand why he's so blue, but part of the reason has to be that he's living in such a remote and isolated part of the country. He's not meeting single women. At night, he's got too much time to think.

The chances of meeting women where he lives are slim. He needs to reach out beyond his geographical area. The best way to do that is through online dating. When he gets that going, his entire outlook could change from feeling sorry for himself to meeting someone with whom he could make a new start.

At first, I thought a group like Parents Without Partners might be a good place to start. He would meet others dealing with similar loses. But after thinking about it, perhaps that's not what he needs. Because, there, he might end up meeting another woman with children and slip back into the same situation that he was in during his second marriage.

Members of this group have gained 50+ years of experience from living life. Is there anything that we've learned that would help Shannon guide her brother through his dark days. What would you say her to?

Is romance possible in Texas?

It all started so innocently. Charles, an ex-Brooklyn, NY, resident, wanted to know what he was doing wrong in trying to meet women in Texas.

Two weeks ago, we featured his story. Among other things, I suggested he needed to devote more time to dating. He responded; I included his comments in last week's issue.

He said I had treated him too harshly and that a Texas guy friend with 15 years of Internet dating experience-although never married-told him "women always seemed to be gold diggers."

I figured that would be the end of the topic, but readers wouldn't let it rest.

T, a Texas male, 66, wrote, "I am getting married in September to a Texas lady I met on Match.com two years ago, but we only met in person in March. She is 47.

"If Charles mentions in his bio that he is from NY, it will hurt his chances in Texas. Second, Craig's List is the trash dump of dating.

"I don't know what he looks like but many men that age don't visit the barber. He needs to have his ears and nose well trimmed, nails cleaned, clean shirt and khaki slacks, boots polished (yes he needs to invest in a good pair of Western boots)."

Note from Tom: T is probably right about the footwear-when in Rome, wear cowboy boots.

T added, "I hear stories of Yankees that migrate to Texas and guys in their 50s and 60s wearing baggy sandals and white socks on dates. Also, he needs to have a good photo taken and posted."

What's T's formula for success with Texas women? "I am 66, short, fat and bald. But if you are honest and present yourself in a positive light, you will find thousands of older Texas ladies of quality on Match.com. If not there, try Yahoo Personals. Between those two sites, I got about 90 matches a week."

Since T says there are thousands of older Texas ladies of quality on the Internet, why is he marrying a woman 19-years-younger? But, that's a different issue.

Of course, a multitude of women responded to Charles' comments.

Brenda said, "I am tired of the whining men out there. What they want can be bought at 'Mattel.' It's called 'Barbie', it's plastic and always has a smile on her face, is always a size 2, wears fabulous clothes and never expresses her opinion. And he never has to buy her dinner or take her flowers."

Lissa wanted to know: "What is it that Charles brings to the table? Nothing that I can find in your newsletter. Dating takes time and money."

A California woman, Mary Lou, emailed, "This guy is so busy defending himself, he is missing your message. No wonder he is alone. And his mentor guy who has never been in a relationship? What a pair!"

Even Shirley, formerly of Brooklyn, wrote, "As for the 'golddigger' rant from his friend, I suggest the two men pack it in and move in together, for they have one idea about women and nothing will change their minds.

"The word 'golddigger' is very old fashioned, and these two guys are emotionally, sexually, financially and personally constipated."

And speaking of hackneyed expressions, the bottom line to the discussion about Charles' fate in Texas is that next week we will mercifully change the subject.

Being a freemale not so bad (in England)

Living alone and hating it? Thinking how wonderful it would be to have a man in your life? Before you get too down on yourself, I want to share with you what is going on with older single women in England.

This past Monday, returning from Italy, while changing airplanes at London's Heathrow Airport, I noticed a picture in the London Daily Mail newspaper of Sir Paul McCartney sitting next to Yoko Ono at a charity benefit.

But it was a column unrelated to the picture, positioned directly under it, titled "Rise of the freemale" that piqued my interest.

The column was written by Gwyneth Rees and Lucy Ballinger.

The first paragraph stated, "The number of single women has hit an all-time high, a study has shown - and most of them aren't looking for love."

And since the title of one of my books is Finding Love After 50 of course I was curious about what more Rees and Ballinger had to say.

Paragraph two stated, "They (single women) apparently choose to be alone, and rejoice in a life where they can spend time and money as they wish."

And then Rees and Ballinger explained the term freemale: "This new breed of singleton has been dubbed a freemale, because she chooses her freedom over a family."

True, the two women columnists were speaking primarily of women between 25 and 44, but not entirely. "Older women too, it seems, are also enjoying living alone," the article stated.

"A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council found that women over 60 who live alone rate their lives as happier and healthier than if they cohabitated," the next paragraph added.

Rees and Ballinger continued, "And recent research showed that some two-thirds feel that they can enjoy a happy and fulfilled life without a partner."

Is this just a temporary state of affairs? Not so, according to the article: "The trend looks set to continue. Single-person homes will be one of the huge social trends of the next decade or so, accounting for 70 per cent of the growth in households in 2026, official forecasts have shown."

Will the same trend happen in America? I'm no expert, but my guess is it will for two reasons. Women are far more self-sufficient and independent now when compared to years ago, and there is a shortage of available, quality men in the 60+ age range.

The article further stated that a relationship psychotherapist named Paula Hall indicated many women had been put off relying on relationships for their happiness.

"'There's a cynicism about the benefits of long-term relationships because people have seen lots of them break down,'" Hall stated in the article.

For our women members, the most significant quote-in my opinion-from Hall in the article was: "'If you're busy and fulfilled with lots of close friends, then relationships may seem a bit irrelevant, emotionally high-risk and a lot of hard work. There is also less of an economic need for women to be in relationships than there used to be.'"

On our Italy trip, I was amazed at the number of travelers who read travel guru Rick Steves' books, which he writes as a result of scouring the globe looking for travel hints and tips.

I felt a bit like him as I was also scouring the globe looking for hints and tips within my specialty-love and relationships in later life-and just happened to find this tidbit of information at the airport in London. Now, if I refer to the term freemale, you'll know what I'm talking about, and will probably think I stayed in Italy too long or had too much chianti.

I promise I will never address you as a freemale.

Last week's newsletter

Last week's newsletter was about Charles, the Brooklyn expatriate who lives in Texas, and who wondered what he is doing wrong regarding meeting women. Charles replied and I feel it only fair to share his reaction.

Charles said, "I feel I am being judged a bit harshly here. Yes I am hesitant about who I trust around my 14 year old child especially a girl. Don't you read the papers? Before I start being a parent to someone else's kid how about we establish a relationship first.

"As for as my time commitment I would make time for someone if there was something to make time for. Whenever I have responded to any ad be it Craigslist or any other web site, I always suggest a public place of their choice I leave the time ( day or night ) up to the women. I also always suggest they bring a friend if they feel nervous. something you left out.

"When it comes to the major online dating service, I took advice from a friend. Yes a native Texas. Yes same age as me. Yes very computer savvy. Yes very well off, no he has never been married. This man has been dealing with computer dating for 15 years he has had many many first dates, a few second dates, and no third dates. When I asked why, he felt that Internet dating is very flawed. The women always seemed to be gold diggers. Just because the people who you are dealing with are the 50+ does not change anything.

"So I took the advice of someone who had 'been there done that'. I was brought up to believe that relationships are a two way street that there was supposed to be give and take. And I may sound jaded but who made that way. There is a old Indian saying "Lord let me not judge a man til I have walked ten miles in his moccasins".

Single man in Texas

This email got my attention: "Had you told this 51-year-old man 30 years ago that some day he would need advice about women, he would have laughed at you."

But advice is what Charles, Austin, TX, wants. He provided background to clarify his situation.

Charles said, "The problem is I am a Yankee, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. To a lot of people in Texas, that's not good. You would be surprised how I get prejudged by some of the ladies not being a native Texan."

But to Charles, being from Brooklyn isn't his only problem: "I am a single parent of two daughters, one 18 in the service, one 14 at home.

"I have met women who have children of their own but I do not want to be involved with their kids and I don't want them involved with mine."

Other issues for Charles: lack of funds and time. He added, "I am hesitant to go to one of the big computer dating services. It seems like a large investment of time and money of which I have neither and I feel women are just looking for men with money."

And then there's another issue Charles raised. "I recently discovered 'Craigslist.' And even though there are plenty of women 40 to 50 plus, saying they are overweight, they say they judge a man by his character and are not looking for wealth.

"But when I have responded to them, they all seem to want what they themselves are not: looks, money or someone who is going to take care of them in their old age."

Hoping to meet new people, Charles looked into joining some groups.

He said, "I am not a very religious man, but I did find a church group for adults over 40. The trouble was the group had been long established and I was treated like an outsider which I guess I was to them.

"The local Parents Without Partners was of no help because I could not devote the time they wanted from me. My job does not give me a great amount of free time."

And finally, Charles commented on his personal characteristics: "I am five feet seven and a little overweight. I've been told that I am not that bad-looking for my age; most people think I'm in my early 40's. I've been told by many women what a sweet guy I am (mostly by women way too young for me.)"

In frustration, Charles ended with, "Tell me what I'm doing wrong and why I'm alone."

I suggested Charles reread his email; the answers to why he's alone lie within it.

He doesn't want anybody to be involved with his daughters, and since the 14 year-old lives with him, nobody is going to be involved with him as long as the daughter lives under the same roof. Either he changes that thinking, or he's going to be alone at least until she moves out of the house.

Not to mention, he doesn't want to be involved with anybody else's kids. That eliminates many of the women he might meet.

And then there's his lack of available time. If one doesn't have the time to devote to dating-or to be with a potential mate-well, that's a major problem. What woman wants a guy who is never around?

As far as being a foreigner in Texas, I won't comment.

Responses to seeking boat captain in Phoenix

  • "Most of us in Phoenix are from somewhere else and I am sure that there are more than a few men that may be able to drive your boat. We have a number of retired military here as well. Look onto Yahoo Groups for one source and maybe Craigslist for another. You can always look at an over 50 site for someone. At the very least you may find someone to share the driving duties with you."
  • "Maybe she should go to the local mens' shelter and try to find a guy who's too poor to buy his own boat but who would be willing to double as her boyfriend/chauffeur/escort."

What is Shirley to do? You've got to be kidding. She needs to get a life, a real life. Owning over 5 boats, the newest being trucked to Phoenix from the Bay area, and Captain Bob going to Phoenix to give her boating lessons?

  • "Is there any red-blooded single American man in his right mind who wouldn't take her up on that offer, especially a man who also needs to get a life or who may be down on
  • "Like many of us out here, Shirley is looking for love in all the wrong places. Instead of a captain, she's really seeking a second mate to drive her boat."
  • "Shirley sounds like quite a gal, dynamic, capable, financially self-sufficient and full of energy, so here is my thought: Become a skipper now - take the lessons and very likely she'll meet a gent who is doing the same."
  • "Tom, I think the Italian sojourn may have affected your judgment. Heaven knows that Italy can do that to a man in love!

"Surely, Shirley can't have the most serious (or interesting) problem in your reader mailbag? Tell her to be grateful that she has her health and the financial means to relocate closer to family members that love her.

"I daresay that the Phoenix marina ought to have a list of captains-for-hire. Most of your readers would agree that it is enough of a challenge to find someone to love, that loves you back. Perhaps if boating skills had not been a prerequisite for her companions over the last 13 years, she would have someone to sit in the deck chair next to hers now."

What is Shirley to do?

Dateline-Sorrento, Italy

Shirley's question is one of those questions best answered by our readers. I'm over here in Italy and have a few thoughts about her situation but know that our readers will have comments that might help or at least enlighten her.

Her email to me is presented almost word-for-word, except for some minor editing by me. While her situation is quite unique, she, like some of you, has relocated, later in life. Starting over in a new city is never easy. What comments might you care to share?

Shirley said, "I'm a 63 year old single lady, I retired in San Francisco to relocate in Phoenix, AZ. where I manage my daughters home and to be close to my grandchildren.

"In San Francisco I lived on my boat for many years, having a great social life in a Marina or Yacht club setting. I had one of the larger boats, perfect for entertaining, so everyone wanted to party on my boat. I am a good cook and love to entertain.

"I have had five boats in the last 13 years and was always able to get someone to drive the boats while I was the happy hostess. Now I have sold the big boat and bought a 280 Sea Ray Sundancer 32 ft. and had it trucked from the Bay Area to the new Marina near Phoenix. and realized I don't know anyone in the boating community to drive my boat, so I had Captain Bob from the Bay Area come to Phoenix and give me boating lessons.

"I can drive the boat, and I'm terrified of docking, what are the chances my guest want to float around on the Lake! I have been out of a relationship for three years and I'm ready to make a new friend, but, how do you find the right new friend that just happens to have boating skills? Most already have their own boats.

"To top it all off my family can't wait to go out on the Lake. See where I'm going with this? Soon I'll have to confess.

"In all my years of boating I was told to always skipper your own boat, I should have listened. Any thoughts?"

So, that is Shirley's story. Perhaps there is a guy among our readers who wouldn't mind moving to Phoenix to skipper her boat. We'll see.

Arriving in Italy

Dateline-Rapallo, Italy

My partner Greta and I are celebrating ten years of being a couple with a 23-day trip to Italy. Last Friday, May 9, we flew from Los Angeles to Milan. With the euro hovering around $1.60, European travel is no longer inexpensive like it was in the old days. We needed to tighten our belt and using frequent flyer miles helped.

After 19 hours in transit, our saga with new challenges and adventures began when we landed at Milan's Malpensa Airport, in northern Italy. For our first week, we had secured a timeshare condo in Rapallo, an Italian Riviera city about an hour south of Genoa.

Since our plan is to travel within Italy by train, we had pre-purchased Eurail passes that allow us unlimited train travel on eight different days. We took an express bus from the airport to the Milan Central train station, the largest train station in Europe.

On the 90-minute train ride to Genoa, we shared our berth with a honeymoon couple from Australia They obviously hadn't read travel guru Rick Steves' book about packing light. They had two monster suitcases, each bag larger than our two roller bags combined. The new husband kept shaking his head and saying, "It's mostly her stuff."

In Genoa, we boarded a local train to Rapallo. The train passed through tunnels chiseled out of coastal rock, through six small towns perched above the water. Although we were exhausted and travel weary, it was a breathtaking beginning to our trip.

Although our condo was only a couple of miles up a steep and curvy road from the train station, getting there was an adventure. When we hailed a cab, we didn't see the name "Mario Andretti" painted on the taxi door.

Our driver helped us understand why Italians are such good race car drivers. He tail-gated a car a good share of the way up and tried to pass on a curve, but backed off when the car gunned it. This small stretch of our trip couldn't end quickly enough.

Although dog tired, it was too early to go to bed. Besides, we needed to lay-in some provisions. We caught a local bus back down the hill to town.

It was Saturday night in Rapallo, the downtown was buzzing with activity. Sidewalk cafes were full; people on motor scooters darted here and there. Teens were text messaging or on their cell phones. We shopped in five different stores for tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, Chianti (of course), fresh Italian baguette, cheese, proschuitto, olive oil, and freshly ground coffee.

We found a different cabbie and negotiated a safer cab ride back to our condo. We ate dinner on the patio overlooking the Mediterranean. The view is worth a million euros.

We were on the Italian Riviera. Bread and olive oil were on the plate, wine was in the glasses. This mid-60s couple toasted to love, travel, happiness, and to being in the most romantic country in the world.

It's unanimous: Judie should not lie about where she lives

Last week, Judie wanted to know if she should lie about not owning her own home, after a man she was dating abruptly changed his attitude toward her when he saw that she lived in an 851 square feet apartment.

Judie mentioned that the man, who wore Italian silk suits everyday, was a no show for a date he had made with her for the next night.

We asked for opinions and boy did we get an earful-more than 75 responses. Everyone agreed that the guy was rude and a jerk for being a no show.

And everyone agreed that lying about where one lives or home ownership is ridiculous. No one sanctioned that. Jeri emailed,"Do people think they are going to find a sincere, genuine relationship when they have to lie to get the person to be interested in them? Why would you want a relationship that is paved with eggshells and landmines?"

Jennifer, California, said, "No, of course Judie shouldn't lie about her housing situation. The guy was probably a gold digger and when he saw she didn't have much money, he left. Mr. Italian Suit may fancy himself a gigolo and is probably looking for someone to keep him.

"It's a good thing she didn't spend much time on him. The purpose of dating is to find out about the other person, and she found out fast. Sometimes, it's hard to accept that there are cold-hearted people like him in the world."

Other issues surfaced as well

Lying about age remains ok with some. Jane Ann, Michigan, said, "I endorse not telling the truth about age in a profile." Irene: "Lying about age is not as serious." And John, Maryland, said, "Lying about age is a different thing and sometimes understandable as well as forgivable."

Liz, Illinois, "How he responded to Jane's apartment had everything to do with him and nothing to do with her." Marta emailed from Lima, Peru, "TO HELL WITH HIM!"

Several asked if Judie ever saw his place, including ML, who added "I wonder if the guy is as well off as he claimed. Perhaps, he's looking for a gal with money to support him?" Jeanette added, "Maybe he lived in the back of a camper and was looking for a rich lady to take care of him."

Dan put a humorous spin on the topic, "Life teaches us a few things. Lying? Why bother? I can't remember too many things already, why add to the list?

"I wonder if there was something else that scared her suitor away. The dungeon room perhaps? Hundreds of candid photos of him taped to the wall? Maybe that special doggy sunk his teeth into Mr. Dog Lover when she wasn't looking?"

Dan's right. Perhaps there was something about how Judie kept her home that was a turn off to him. But, I can't imagine that a woman wouldn't have her residence in immaculate condition for when a man she's interested visits. Plus, Judie sounds like a pretty together woman so most likely it was where she lived that didn't sit well with him-his loss.

Living in a Greenwich Village apartment she considers the center of the universe, Shirley, said, "No one has to apologize for living in any place. I pity all those homeowners these days with mortgages they cannot afford and lifestyles they cannot sustain. This American myth that one gets married and buys a home is nonsense. Never apologize for who you are and what you own."

Peggy experienced another jerk: "I once met a man (through It's Just Lunch) who walked out after 30 minutes when he found out I had a Saturn VUE. He said he had a Mercedes. Good riddance! In light of the present high cost of gasoline, I hope he's enjoying his Mercedes."

Rebecca added, "Perhaps he figured Judie would have little to offer financially."

Kathryn summed it up well for Judie: "Be patient. A decent, loving man will not care if you rent or own. My guess is he might be a tad concerned if your homemaking and housekeeping skills are intact, far more than if your name is on the dotted line."

It would have been helpful to have the Italian-suit man's point of view. But, my instinct tells me he would have taken the Fifth in light of his behavior. Can you imagine if he knew that today, a couple thousand of you have him under a microscope? And what you see isn't pretty

Should Judie lie about not owning her own home?

Last month, we featured a column on whether women should lie about their age on their Internet profiles to improve their chances of meeting men. Now, Judie wonders if women need to lie about not owning their own home.

Judie rents a condo, earns $42,000 a year, but struggles to save money. Purchasing a place of her own isn't financially feasible.

Judie said, "I recently met a nice, warm gentleman. We spoke up-front about what we both wanted in a relationship. I told him I valued kindness, warmth, respect, and truthfulness."

She described the man: "He is respectful, doesn't go to bars or nightclubs. Also, my friend knows his son and ex-wife, and states they are good, nice people. He owns his own business - wears custom-made Italian suits daily."

Judie initially met him twice at a neutral site, wisely keeping her identity private until she felt comfortable with him. "We got along great. I was definitely interested in him. I feel he was interested too," Judy said.

They had a mutual love for dogs-she had a puppy and at one time, he had owned five dogs. During their second meeting, they scheduled a date for a Saturday night.

Sounds like the beginning of a successful mid-life relationship with mutual attraction and similar interests.

On Friday, he telephoned Judie, asking if he could stop by to see her on his way home. Judie said, "I agreed. Our plans were to meet at Trader Joe's, get wine and something to grill; I had already prepared a salad. He purchased wine, crackers, and a dip (not asking my preference)."

According to Judie, when he saw her home, his demeanor changed.

"He looked the place over with disdain, yes it's small (851 square feet, but nicely furnished, beautiful art work, etc.) - he was not impressed with my place - beautiful area and grounds, with all the extra amenities - he kept calling it an apartment," Judie said.

She added that Mr. Dog Lover wasn't impressed with her dog either. "I felt a chill in the air," she said.

At 8:00 p.m., after a platonic evening, he told Judie he needed to get home to go to bed. She said, "I saw no problem with that, he was upfront about needing sleep (he's 68, works long hours, 50-mile drive each way). He would stay up later on weekends."

For the Saturday night date, he was a no show and never called her again, prompting Judie to ask, "Is the size/location of one's residence that much of a priority to single, available men/women looking for a relationship with a good person? I feel my rental residence had a lot to do with his suddenly 'dropping me.'

"Should I lie and state I own? Find a condo rental in a more prestigious unit? Go out on a limb and buy more, new, expensive furniture?

"I guess money/designer clothes/a huge home are too important for one to see the real person. Oh yeah, I may not own, but I do have two excellent retirement plans."

Judie concluded that the Italian-suit man isn't "the one" for her: "But wow, what men will say is great on a first or second date, and then reality sets in," she added.

Should Judie lie about not owning her home? I have my opinion, but let's hear what readers think.

There are always excuses

It seems that whenever I plan an extended trip, there are excuses that arise that make me question whether I should go or cancel. This year was no exception.

My partner Greta and I have been a couple for ten years. We feel blessed for those glorious years together and are celebrating our commitment to each other with a 23-day trip to Italy in May.

As many couples do when they first meet, we talked about countries we'd love to see and compiled a list of hoped-for future destinations. Italy ranked near the top. Planning to go there began over a year ago.

Then the excuses started to surface.

Twenty-three days is a long time to be away. I think, how in the world will my deli survive without me for that long. And then I think, what if something happens to someone dear to me while I'm so far away.

But that length of time was a choice we had to make. Virtually on the same day, a timeshare we had requested was confirmed for one week and friends who are renting a villa in Tuscany with eight other couples invited us to be couple number 10, starting a week after our timeshare week was up.

That left a week in between. Greta said, "No problem. We'll stay in Italy for three weeks."

And then she added, "The deli has done just fine without you during our previous trips. Stop worrying."

Another excuse arose. Friends said, "You're going to get butchered by the cost of the euro."

Five years ago, when we were in London and Paris, the cost of a euro was 93 cents.

Last year, while we were in southern Europe, the cost was $1.23.

We just purchased euros for more than $1.70, making the cost of going to Europe nearly double what it was five years ago. But our feeling is we should go even though it will be expensive. By next year, who knows what a euro may cost?

And then there is the international-unrest excuse.

I think about a trip four years ago that we nearly cancelled. Greta and I had planned a trip to Spain traveling by train throughout the country. Three weeks before we left, a terrorist group bombed Madrid's Atocha Train station, the very station from which we were scheduled to depart. The news shook us up, 191 people died and 1,755 were injured.

I wrote a column titled, "Should we go or should we stay home?" and put the question to newspaper readers. Overwhelmingly, they responded with "go," saying that if we didn't, we were letting the terrorists win. We went but rented a car instead.

Our main reason for taking this trip trumps all of the excuses: do so while we're healthy enough to travel. Last Thursday, John and Cory, friends of mine, had lunch in my Dana Point deli. John, 54, has been battling prostate cancer for a year. Fortunately he's on the mend. John looked me straight in the eye and said, "You take that trip. Let me tell you, life can change in an instant-go while you can."

And then he winked and added, "Besides, Cory and I love reading about your travels and I know you'll write about it."

And there are other friends we know and love who have serious health issues-five I can name right off the top-who insist that we go while we can. Even my mom, at 97, encouraged us, although I know she'll worry the whole time we're gone.

Our dream to explore a country by train will finally be realized. We purchased Eurail passes and will travel between Italian cities riding the rails.

Whether single or as a couple, travel broadens one's horizons in so many ways and making new friends is a big part of that.

As we adults move into our 60s, 70s and 80s, we need to appreciate what we have, stop making excuses, and live life to the fullest, taking advantage of opportunities that are available now.

I'll keep you posted.

More on romance scams

Last week, we mentioned romance scams in the comments section. Today, we add a bit more on this ever-growing problem among seniors who use the Internet to meet potential mates.

Three years ago, a website was founded called Romance Scams Its purpose was to provide a place where people who have been scammed could share their experiences and ideas. Since then, the site has had more than 30,000 members.

Barbara Sluppick, who is one of the key site operators, said that among more than 800 members who have reported their losses, those losses total more than $8 million.

I recommend people involved in online dating check out the site. They have photos posted of suspected scammers. Many scammers have ties to Africa and always seem to ask for money in one way or another, or they may ask a favor, such as forwarding or shipping a package.

The site is filled with tips and red flags. Don't be gullible or the victim of a scammer.

New Stats

The Census Bureau released stats in March that affect us. There were 37.3 million people in the USA age 65 and older in July, 2006, 53% of them married, 32 % widowed. (Editor: That would leave 15% never married or divorced.)

The number of men 65 and older for every 100 women is 72. For those 85 and older, the number of men drop to 47 men per 100 women.

Long distance relationships can work

Long-distance relationships, usually the result of meeting online, can be trying if not impossible. They present so many obstacles that many couples decide they just aren't worth the effort.

Most couples want to be together on a daily basis. Not around the clock necessarily, but they want their main squeeze to be home with them at night. For a long-distance relationship to achieve that goal, one of the pair needs to relocate.

Often, singles are so entrenched with jobs or family and friends that moving to another city is out of the question. Hence, the LDR sputters and fades away.

But not for all couples. If the love and determination is strong enough, somehow they make it work. Dominique, mid-50s, San Clemente, California, is proof of that.

Her husband died suddenly a little over four years ago when he was 53.

Dominique said, "A year after my husband passed away, my sister encouraged me to go online to meet someone. I hadn't dated for 32 years so it was a little scary for me. I wasn't sure what to expect.

"I was busy with my life and children (one at home, one in college, the other, moved out and working) but I was missing the companionship of another adult at home.

"After going out with a variety of men, some good, some so-so, I was about to give the Internet a rest when Tom, from Sacramento (about 500 miles north of San Clemente) started writing."

"We wrote back and forth for a week and then he asked for my phone number. By then I felt safe giving it to him. We talked for over five hours the first time," Dominique said.

Tom and Dominique didn't let the long-distance hurdle get in their way. After all, Sacramento and Orange County are just a little over an hour apart by airplane.

"He came down here and stayed in a hotel. We visited and walked on the beach, etc. I still was going out with other people for a while," Dominique said.

For two and a half years, Dominique and Tom traveled back and forth between San Clemente and Sacramento, getting to know each other and falling in love.

They knew they wanted to be together on a daily basis, so the "Who's going to move question?" needed to be answered. Because Tom was scheduled to retire within a year-and Dominique planned to continue working for awhile--it was easier for Tom to relocate. Plus, Dominique's children and her mother live close to her.

So, Tom acquiesced to live in San Clemente. Not that leaving Sacramento, blazingly hot in the summer, and moving to a city on the Pacific Coast that advertises itself as having "the world's most perfect climate," was a difficult decision.

Tom knew that Dominique would not be comfortable simply living together without marriage, but he gave her the option anyway.

"He asked me to marry him or, if I wanted to live together. Guess which one I chose?" Dominique said.

Tom and Dominique were wed on March 14.

Now they have a long-distance marriage, but just for a few more months until Tom retires. Then, he will move to San Clemente to be with his new bride.

Tom and Dominique didn't let being 500 miles apart get in their way. All it took was a click on the computer, a couple of years of flying back and forth, and a couple of "I do's" at the altar. If only it were that simple.

Beware of online scams. Losses rose last year.

A recent government report revealed a dramatic increase in online scams. Last year, losses exceeded $240,000,000 and online dating contributed a large amount to that total. Average loss for people over 60 was $760 per scam and the amount of loss increased with age. For more info click here

Also, this from the "if you must know" department, a state-wide search for the most eligible gay bachelor is being conducted. In July, at the Gay Pride Festival in San Diego, the winner will receive a $25,000 match-making package. To read more click her.

Finding Love At Mid-Life: I have received some wonderful stories from our members on how they met their partners later in life for my new book. If you would like to be considered for the book, email me your story. The book should be published this fall.

Are men 55-plus afraid of commitment?

Are men over 50 afraid of falling in love? Kathryn--formerly from Philadelphia, now living in California--thinks that's the case.

She wrote, "Oftentimes, men are not looking for a LTR (long- term relationship) or a committed relationship, but an occasional movie/dinner date. They are attentive, show gentlemanly behavior while on date, but the end result is they might take a month before they ring you again.

"Is this the nature of the 'beast' in the dating world today, or is it more indigenous to California singles?"

I responded by telling Kathryn that it's not solely a California thing. It simply depends on the man. Some are dead set against a relationship that ties them down; they will never commit. If Kathryn is seeking commitment, she should avoid dating guys who feel that way, even though she might be attracted to them.

It's human nature to tend to want what we can't have.

But most--not all--men I know would love to have a permanent relationship with the right woman. But, until they find her, if ever, they're not going to get roped in.

Recently, I wrote about John and Marsha, who met on the Internet last fall, and plan to marry in July.

During their early dating stage, Marsha, fearing John was anti-commitment, wanted to know why he had not been involved in a serious relationship in the 20 years since his divorce.

Without hesitation, John said, "I refused to settle until I found the right woman for me. And you're the one."

In another case, Kathy, mid-60s, New Orleans, described a man she met: "Peter is the most awesome man, the first I've considered marrying. He sends me flowers, wonderful cards with wonderful words written in them. Brings gifts, etc. He floods me with all of those things and then I don't see him for two or three weeks."

She didn't know what to do so she decided to be "very, very patient."

Kathy added, "I knew he was the man for me. However, I continued to date other men and not be 'too available' when he called, no games though. I might see him on a Saturday and Sunday and then he would be scared and back off and I wouldn't see him for another three weeks."

That went on for 18 months. And then, in June, he asked Kathy to marry him. Even confirmed bachelors can have a change of heart, especially when they aren't pressured.

Kathy's advise for single women: "The trouble with a lot of women is they ask, 'what can I get out of this relationship" and not 'what can I contribute to this relationship.' I never made any demands on him. However, I continued to date other men."

Another important point from Kathy: "I made sure that our times together were joyous so that when he wasn't seeing me, he felt the loss."

To answer Kathryn's initial question, it's not just California men who are hesitant to commit; it's men from all over the United States. Most want a relationship, but they want to be darn sure they make the right decision.

A confident woman who has her own life increases her chances of reeling in that elusive guy, whether he's from California, New Orleans or Philadelphia.

Member comment about helpful website

Pat, "A wonderful thing showing up in pockets around the country is www.meetup.com. It offers lots of special interest groups, including just "senior singles" and "dining out" -- and you can join for free, check out an event with no further obligation, and see if you meet any interesting people.

Here in the Raleigh, NC area there are lots of groups. Events range from game nights to movie nights, from singles mixers to dining out, volunteer activities, daytrips, travel opportunities, and discussion groups on being single, politics, spirituality, metaphysics, business, and on and on. And if you don't find a group you like, you can start one!

I have personally met many wonderful people, made deep friendships, and significantly increased my sense of community. If I happen to meet someone to date along the way, then I have icing on the cake, and I have a better feel up front of whether he is a person with whom I might have something in common.

You would be doing a lot of folks our age a great service if you could check this out and share the information. Many people in my age group and locale think meetup.com has literally changed their lives.

Italy bound

My partner Greta and I will be visiting Italy in May. Of course, the newsletters will continue during the time we're there and I may even toss in a travel column or two. I mention this because I will not be doing any administrative work such as subscription renewals or shipping books while there.

When members' subscriptions are due for renewal--and when newcomers' free trials run out--I send an email (or two) alerting of this situation. If you receive one of those emails and intend to renew, I would appreciate your doing so in April, which will help me and guarantee that you receive the newsletter without interruption.

If you have not received a subscription notice, your status is current. Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

New book

I am writing a book on how mid-life singles found love. I intend to include 25-35 success stories describing how people met-via the Internet, networking, simply being out and about--and the trials and tribulations they went through being single.

The purpose of the book is to educate and inform older singles on how others have found love later in life and to give those singles hope.

I will use either first names only (no last names), or, if people prefer, fictitious names. Ages of each person, how they met (Eharmony, Match, JDate) cities involved will be important. Lessons learned and advice for other singles is sought.

If you are interested in having your story included, email me. If your story has already been featured in the newsletter, and it's ok to use, let me know that also and give me permission in writing.

The book is scheduled--at this time at least--for a November publishing.

Remuneration for sharing your story, a complimentary autographed copy when the book is released.

Men respond to the age lying issue

Last week's column, "Should women lie about their age." brought rare responses from men. Usually, responses come from women; men don't respond nearly as much. In the 14 years of writing about midlife and senior dating, I can't recall receiving more responses from men than women to a column-until last week.

Today, we share five responses, the majority from men.

Larry #1 said, "I am 61. I have met three ladies online who claimed to be 62-63. Many people seem to think that they look much younger than they really do. In each case, I could immediately see that they were closer to 70 than 60. I went ahead with our 'date,' but never had a further date with any of the three."

Donna emailed, "This article was upsetting to me and also thought provoking. I am 60 and thinking maybe I should fib to improve my chances."

Jon wrote, "I only date within a few years of my age (61). I was 'matched' with a psychologist who started by saying she was 61, but her profile later stated she was 71, and only lied to get men to read her profile because they (supposedly) wouldn't be interested if she didn't lie. I thought that was a bad way to start off a relationship. I deleted it pretty fast."

Shirley emailed, "As for lying about one's age, it is almost imperative (for women). You wrote about men who accept 'the news' about a woman's age, but I haven't found it so. "What I find disturbing is that when a woman lies about her age, she has to do arithmetic about facts in her life during those first few dates, and lies are compounded.

"In my long and dreadful dating life, I have found very few men who can accept my age and my education, which I don't flaunt (I have a Ph.D.).

"It is very wounding to reject someone face-to-face about. We (women) are more than that. In dating, honesty doesn't reap rewards."

Another man, Larry # 2, stirred the pot and undoubtedly will agitate our women members with his comments, "Please run this response because it reveals a real problem. Lying about your age (as well as your body type) creates the possibility of immediate rejection upon the first meeting. Why should women embarrass themselves as well as the man?"

And then this statement from Larry: "I have dated women 10-23 years younger for my entire life and would not want to meet a woman my age. Having perused the dating sites now for 3 or 4 years, virtually all women listed think they look much younger than their age. Let me assure you they don't.

"Fortunately, Larry explained, "I still have the physique of an athlete and younger women continue to find me attractive."

Reader Comment

Maureen: "What is the kindest, most straight forward way to tell a guy who has been emailing, then calling you, that you don't want to meet him? Something in the communication was a 'tip-off' that it wouldn't work."

Tom's response: A simple "No thank you" is the kindest. In your case, the delete key may be the wisest.

Should women lie about their age?

Two weeks ago, this column featured a story about John and Marsha, an Orange County, Caliornia, couple who met online after Marsha lowered her age by seven years in her online profile. With her age listed as 62--her true age--she was only attracting "old guys," men she had no interest in dating.

Encouraged by friends who told her she looked far younger than her true age, Marsha went from being 62 to 55 with a few keystrokes on her computer.

Last autumn, within an hour of her new age appearing on Match.com, Marsha received an email from John. Her strategy worked, she and John are getting married in July.

Had Marsha not changed her age, she likely would not have met John, and likely would not be getting married this summer.

Rhonda, 59, responded to the column: "The article about internet dating was a lovely story. The only thing that bothers me about it is that Marsha had to lie about her age to get the ball rolling. That's sad since I'm a widow who will be turning 60 my next birthday. I look young for my age too but I hate to think that no one will know unless I initially lie about my age."

Is it unethical for older singles to improve their chances of meeting someone by lying about their age?

I'm sure that Michael Josephson, the Character Counts ethics professional, wouldn't approve of stretching one's age. In the past, when I've raised the question, some singles have scolded me for even broaching the subject. They've said, "A lie, is a lie, is a lie."

And they often add, "If people lie about their age, they will lie about other things as well. Relationships that start off on a dishonest foot are doomed."

In Marsha's case, when she told John she had fibbed about her age, his reaction surprised her. He said he was thrilled that her age was within three years of his because they've have more in common.

I responded in an email to Rhonda. "I applaud your ethics and don't condone that people lie about their age. However, when the purpose is only to improve one's chances of meeting someone, and not to deceive the person for the long term, I don't find that offensive or unethical, particularly for older single women, who constantly face age discrimination from older single men.

"I must add, in the same breath, that it's imperative to clear the air soon and reveal one's true age. And, it goes without saying that the age fib should be the only lie ever in the relationship."

When I met my partner, I thought she was probably eight years younger than I--not because she fibbed, she didn't--but because she looked that much younger. I didn't know her true age was within a year of mine until after the hook was set.

Would it have mattered if she had shaved seven years off her age to get my attention? Nope, I'm the luckiest man alive.

One of our members who did not use her true age wrote, "I live in a VERY small town! I have been with my SO now for four years, and he is exactly 7 years younger. At our very FIRST meeting--I was bowled over--and the first thing I did was to tell the truth about my age and real name. I asked if he would have looked at my bio had I been truthful about my age. He said, "Maybe." Anyway, do what works best for you."

Should older single women lie about their age? That's an individual decision. But, it might improve their chances for finding love.

Comments dating with a medical condition

Comments from four of our members follow:

(1) "To put it delicately, just because that part of Joe's body doesn't function doesn't mean he has to look for someone who doesn't care about sex. Viewing sex as only the act itself is pretty limiting. Maybe now is the time to get creative. There is all kinds of intimacy."

(2) "I had breast cancer diagnosed in 1988 and a mastectomy with reconstructive surgery, which I was not too happy with because it doesn't look anything like a normal breast. I divorced in 1989 and shortly after that I began dating again. It didn't become an issue until I met a gentleman that I fell in love with.

"After a few dates, I told him that I'd had a mastectomy and he could have cared less (and I mean that in a good way). He said he loved me and the issue of the mastectomy was irrelevant as far as his feelings for me. We married a few months later. Unfortunately, he passed away two years after our marriage. If you really enjoy someone's company and want to be with them, then it's very wise to let them know in the beginning what your health issue is. If it's a problem for them, then move on. I am a senior lady and the furthest thing from my mind at this stage of my life is having sex, but that doesn't mean I'm not romantic and wouldn't enjoy having a partner/companion (without marriage)."

(3) "It is sad that so many older men think that sex can only be satisfying via one method. They need to learn something about real love-making. I've had a couple of fantastic lovers who were innovative, creative, plus we used adult toys. There is lots of reading material out there on how to be creative,"

(4) "Please tell the man who had prostate surgery that according to an expert on sexual matters who is an older woman and has a weekly TV show on the subject, only 13% of women who enjoy sex can reach an orgasm from intercourse. The rest of us (87%) do not require an erection to enjoy a wonderful sex life. I am over 70 and have had several very fulfilling experiences with gentlemen who were impotent.

"There are many other things you can do that do not require the man to have an erection. My latest gentleman friend is only 55, has heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes but we enjoy each other (sexually) very much. The man who wrote you DOES NOT HAVE TO RESORT TO A WOMAN WHO DOES NOT WANT SEX unless he, too, has lost all interest in that form of intimacy.

Finding love when one has a medical condition

An older single man who would like to have a relationship has a medical condition that could turn off women. He wonders how soon he should reveal his condition after meeting a woman online. Due to the personal nature of his situation, he requested to remain anonymous, so we shall refer to him as "Joe."

Joe wrote, "Last spring I underwent prostate cancer removal. The result is that I am a survivor but that I am virtually impotent. I have come to terms with this because I had to. On the other hand, how does one address this sort of issue in the dating environment?

"Prior to the surgery I was dating a lot. I was seeking a compatible lady with whom I could join as 'retirement partners,' with or without marriage.

"I am now well enough to begin the search again. At what point do I bring up the subject of the cancer and the results? I have posted an online ad in which I state that I am a recent cancer survivor. The ad is not getting much response."

I don't feel Joe needs to reveal upfront that he is a cancer survivor. Surviving cancer is a miraculous, positive thing, not something he should think of as a negative and have to reveal as a condition of establishing a relationship.

Rather, since Joe's condition affects his ability to have sex, he should reveal upfront that he is seeking a woman who places little or no importance on the need for sex.

By revealing the no-need-for sex issue up front, he won't waste his time or the time of women who feel sex is mandatory for them.

There are women who would be perfectly happy having a non-sexual relationship with a man.

One woman said, "My (dating) experience found only men that were interested in a relationship that included sex. Because I never took Estrogen, which reduced my libido, I found it uncomfortable to constantly have to reject men and decided it was unfair to them to even begin to 'date,' as it always turned out that what they 'really' wanted was sex with or without marriage."

Meeting a partner who doesn't want sex as part of a relationship could be difficult for singles. But now the Internet can make that challenge easier.

Prescription 4 Love.com is a date matching website where singles with infertility and impotency issues can meet.

But Prescription 4 Love isn't limited to sexless pursuits. It specializes in 22 kinds of special health issues that can be awkward to divulge to a potential mate: cancer, diabetes, HIV, herpes, STDs, epilepsy, obesity, arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Lupus and HPV. In addition, quadriplegics, paraplegics, little people and recovering alcoholics can post profiles.

The site was founded by Ricky Durham whose brother wanted a partner but had Crohn's disease.

On the Prescription 4 Love website, Durham explains his brother's dilemma: "He also had a colostomy bag. It was hard for him to disclose his disease to anyone, but it was really hard for him to tell someone he had a colostomy bag.

"When do you tell someone that you have a colostomy bag, the first time you meet? The first date? The second? So I thought if he met someone at a website where everyone had the same condition, there would be nothing to disclose."

For Joe and his impotency--and others with special medical conditions--the Prescription 4 Love website may be just the ticket to finding a mate without worrying about what a potential partner is going to think.

Comments about our personal ads test

Here are comments from seven of our members who placed personal ads:

One woman described in detail her encounter with a scammer from Nigeria. We may share in detail her story next week. She said, "This ended up being rather traumatic for me and I absolutely would want to spare anyone that. I hope my experience helps. I know I was more fortunate than many out there."

2 said, "I was going to write you about this problem. What strange emails I was getting!"

3: "I have had several replies from my ad asking for money and one man would like to, quote 'meet me between the sheets.' His address located in the Far East."

4: "I told you I had found someone and am happily coupled now, so this does not apply to me.

"Having said that, I don't think taking down the personal ads from your site is the answer. The risks are the same as any site that has personal ads. It is something we all must deal with when we are seeking love via the Internet. The "risk" per se, does not exist if you ask me - you have given out warnings.

"We are all at risk if we are foolish, put aside our natural caution, or imagine we have relationships without meeting the person, but this is the same risky behavior we can indulge ourselves in, in any part of our lives.

"Certainly you are not responsible if anyone on your site is naive or behaves without thinking first. I think we are all adults and can assess risk intelligently, no matter which site is offering the personal ads.

"I respect that you may want to protect your good name and as well, any naive souls that may have put their ad on your site."

5: "Thanks for taking the profiles off. I received one response to my ad and it was DEFINITELY a scam."

6. "I have had many of the same emails, especially Nigerian. The people that have responded to my ads have been much to young and ready for a relationship before I even respond. I have stopped responding completely. I doubt that I will continue with my profile."

7: The experience has not been positive. I have received several letters only from Nigeria as well and one even this past week asking for money. Surprisingly nothing locally.

The wrap up: I have decided to end the personal ad test and leave online matchmaking to the big sites. However, I still believe the Internet is a viable way to meet other singles. I've heard many success stories.

Internet Love

Today's story features a man I've known for nearly 20 years. During that time, he dated often but just couldn't find a compatible mate. At first, he sought younger women.

But after some advice from the old pro, he decided to seek a woman closer to his age. And that's when his life changed. He saw a new woman's profile appear on Match.com. A few days later he and the woman met in person.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

In the comments from readers section, Wallace comments on last week's electronic evidence column.

Internet Love

Many older singles have given up using the Internet as a mate-finding tool, saying it's too impersonal, too dangerous, or they just haven't had any success using it. And yet, enough mature adults have found their partners online that the use of the Internet for meeting someone should not be dismissed altogether.

John, 66, has been a customer at my Dana Point, California, deli (Tutor and Spunky's Deli) for more than 15 years. During that timeframe, he and I have had many conversations about the frustrations of being single after age 50. John has been divorced for 20 years, dated often, but had not found the right woman for him.

When he and I first met, we both agreed that we'd like to settle down again if the right woman came along.

For me, that happened ten years ago, when a woman named Greta ordered a fresh carrot juice at my deli. I asked her out and we've been a couple ever since.

But, for John, finding a compatible mate was more elusive.

A few years ago, John started using Match.com on the Internet to search for a mate. In his profile, he stated he wanted a Christian woman who liked to have fun. But he was hung up on that age issue that irks the hell out of women. He was seeking someone 49-55.

One day in the deli, I told him to be more realistic in the age range he was seeking--to consider women who were closer to his age. He adopted that strategy.

Meanwhile Marsha, a woman living in Newport Beach, about ten miles away, was also using the Internet to seek a mate. On her Eharmony.com profile, she listed her true age of 62, although people who knew her told her she looks much younger than her age. She wanted a fun-loving Christian man. But the only responses she got were from "old guys and pastors," according to John, who shared this story with me last week.

To improve her chances of meeting more men, Marsha decided to shave a few years off of her age on her profile, but Eharmony refused to let her lower her age on her profile. So, Marsha switched to Match.com and listed her age as 55.

"I emailed her last August, within hours of her posting her profile," John said. Wasting no time, they decided to meet in person at Proud Mary's, a restaurant in Dana Point Harbor, after exchanging only two emails. There was instant chemistry on both sides. John couldn't believe his luck; he thought Marsha was absolutely beautiful and down to earth. They laughed a lot and sparks were flying. They shared Christian beliefs.

But-and there's always a "but" in new found, mature romance-Marsha had to fess up to John about her age. It was the old "We need to talk" discussion that new couples often have to have to clear the air of muddy issues.

When she told him she was actually 62, she was shocked at his reaction. "That's great," John said, "I want someone closer to my age." His enlightened thinking about age had worked for him. Had Marsha not lowered her age and switched to Match, she and John may have never met.

And Marsha had one concern about John: Why hadn't he hooked up with anybody in the 20 years since his divorce? Was he not relationship material?

John tackled her concern head on: "I refused to settle. I waited for the perfect woman for me and you're it." She sure liked that answer.

So what's happened since last August? John and Marsha attend the South Shores Church in Dana Point together, they have great fun, and they will marry on July 19 near the home they will share.

The Internet brought two people together who lived just 10 miles apart, but who likely would have never met. John and Marsha didn't give up on Internet dating; they are grateful they didn't.

It's time to heal a myth?

Last week, we wrote about Patti, who broke off her engagement to a man who tried to rush her into getting married. She stated that he was a widower who had started dating within months of his wife's death.

Red flags started to appear within four months of their becoming engaged. His behavior toward Patti went downhill from there. Four months after ended the relationship with him, he married someone else. Three months after that, he divorced her.

The newsletter ended with a warning to singles not to rush into marriage and to proceed cautiously with someone who hasn't properly healed, particularly widowed people.

Our members are educated, bright and willing to share their opinions. Such was the case responding to Patti's story.

Several of you took aim at the topic of getting married later in life. Jane Ann said, "At our age-who needs marriage anyway? I am all for a "friend with benefits" relationship. So much simpler-but a woman must stress in the first few dates that she will never be a 'purse or a nurse," which is what most men over 65 want.

"I will be 77 tomorrow and consider myself lucky to have found just such a friend. After four years, we seem to get better and better."

Tammy wrote, "Why are people so desperate? So not-complete without a mate? Why can't people (at this stage in life) be content on their own? We're not looking to get married and have babies, are we? With all I have going on in my life, I can't even fathom having a man 24/7."

Note from Tom: Tammy has a man in her life but he's not 24/7. From what she says, he's probably 12/3, or so I'm guessing. She loves their relationship and considers herself to be "very lucky." But no marriage is in the forecast.

My long-time (very long) friend Wallace addressed the aspect of dating someone who hasn't had time to heal. As a widower, he speaks from experience.

"Given that we humans are all different, it follows that after the death of a loved one we will all grieve and heal in different ways and at different speeds. Patti seems in hindsight to take a judgmental, 'I told you so' view of her widower friend, who, she says, began searching around on Match.com within '4 months of his wife's passing.'

"Yet this apparent eagerness to move on does not explain his excessive drinking, his anger, mood swings and the other red flags."

And then Wallace hit the nail on the head: "Was the widower's erratic behavior a sign of inadequate 'healing' or a symptom of more serious emotional problems unrelated to his wife's death? His behavior seems more the latter than the former, especially given that Patti did not even meet him until 18 months after his wife's passing, and he was still wrestling with his inner demons.

"A successful marriage that ends with the death of one partner can serve as the basis for a second successful relationship, regardless of the amount of time that passes between the end of the first union and the beginning of the second. It all depends on the widower-or widow-as the case may be; it definitely does not depend on what others might think is an appropriate period of solitary reflection one must endure before rejoining the world with another partner."

Thanks to Wallace for his keen insight. Too often, in my writings, I conclude that relationship problems are caused by widowers or widows who haven't properly healed, when as Wallace so succinctly points out, the real cause may be other underlying issues.

Stepping Around Widowers

Patti is a recent subscriber to our newsletter. The newsletter three weeks ago about Sharon's experience dating a widower inspired Patti to share her entanglement with a widower. Patti is an excellent writer. I let her story flow from start to finish with minor editing and comments from me.

Patti began by saying, "Although I met a widower 1.5 years after the death of his wife,he had started dating within a couple months of her death and moved into a relationship two months after that with someone he met on match.com--4 months after his wife's passing.

"After we'd dated a few times, I gently, but in a straightforward manner, asked him if he felt that he'd given himself enough time to grieve, feel whole and emotionally stable. He enthusiastically assured me that he was fine and was looking forward to moving forward with someone else. He said the failure of the earlier relationship was due to the shortcomings of that particular woman and had nothing to do with starting a relationship so soon after his wife's death.

"We continued to date and fall in love, which led to becoming engaged. The red flags started soon after the engagement. They were few and far apart and I made excuses for these 'sidebars' to his regular behavior.

"As time went on, the periods of teary eyes or crying at the mere mention of his wife's name, turned to anger, drinking too much, making cruel remarks to me.

"It would seem from reading this that one could say, "Hey it's a no brainer, a smart woman would walk away." The problem is that real life isn't that clear. During the rest of the time, for long periods, he was happy, sweet, kind, and generous.

"But I also noticed that apart from the darker episodes directed at me, he started complaining about lots of things nearly every day. The weather was too hot, too cold, too sunny, too cloudy. Generic groups of people were labeled 'dumber than dirt.' Those who didn't think or believe the way he did were 'idiots'.

"I wondered how this man who had been a successful executive, was worth many millions, could think so narrowly. He purchased a very large house that was to be our marriage home. He became controlling. I was not allowed to rearrange or comment on anything that had belonged to his deceased wife. I was not allowed to have any input whatsoever in the decorating of the new home.

"I tried to talk with him about his negative attitude, his need to be controlling, his anger and excessive drinking. He said he was perfectly happy with himself and if I didn't like it, the problem was mine. He said he would not consider counseling.

"I finally agreed that he was right - the problem was mine. And only I could solve it. For my self respect, self worth and what eventually would have been my own sanity, I chose to leave. It was not easy and I stayed longer than I should have.

"In the beginning of the red flags, I wanted to make sure I wasn't jumping to conclusions or making wrong assumptions. I am patient and forgiving. But I believe it is never o.k. to repeatedly invalidate another's worth or show cruelty, even during times of anger.

"I am thankful I made the right decision before getting married, but it was not easy. In fact it was painful. I hurt. A lot.

"And it's natural to want to put off pain and hurt. It's also natural as we get older to think about the time we invested and when the relationship ends, about the time that is lost. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw an older woman who had more wrinkles, body parts that had slipped further south, someone who needed to use the bathroom more often and who was feeling a little less confident and not very optimistic.

"However, the old adage is true. Time heals. I realized that the time spent with the widower was not wasted time. I learned more about red flags, more about time being needed for healing from a loved one's passing.

"In living with someone whose attitudes and actions I did not like, I learned more about what was not good, not healthy for me. In time, the learning led to my becoming stronger and more confident. It helped to further define myself and how I would look at the next potential serious relationship whether with a widower or a divorcee. However, for the time being, I am stepping around widowers!

"I moved out of the relationship in mid November. In January he met a woman on EHarmony. On March 30th he married her. Four months later he divorced her. He met, married and divorced her within 7 months.

"In our relationship he kept pushing me to marry right away. I wanted us to know one another real well, which in my opinion, took time. It seemed to agitate him that I wanted to take the time to make sure that this would be a solid relationship.

"Learning about what he did after me reassured me that I had made the right decision."

Lessons from Patti's experience:

  • Be careful when meeting someone who hasn't had time to properly heal
  • Heed red flags. Trust your instincts. The red flag behavior will only worsen
  • Be in no hurry to remarry. Being in a bad marriage is worse than being alone
  • Don't co-mingle funds. Patti was smart by not buying the home with him
  • Avoid controlling personalities and people who belittle others
  • As Patti said, "real life isn't that clear." It takes guts to leave

Love on the North Shore

In 2006, I published a memoir titled, "Prime Rib and Boxcars. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station?" The book was based on eight years in my life in the 1970s working for the train car restaurant chain Victoria Station, which in its heyday had more than 100 restaurants in the USA and Canada. Link to Victoria Station book.

The most gratifying aspect of the book project was hearing from nearly 400 former Victoria Station employees who shared their thoughts on working there. Many of them said it was the most exciting time of their lives.

One of the respondents was a woman named Holly. She had been the executive secretary to Victoria Station's president. We had been out of touch for 31 years.

Holly joined our newsletter group a few months ago. She was single and starting a new phase of her life living on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii.

In the last four months, Holly's life has changed and she agreed to share her story--in person, a week ago tonight--at a restaurant called Kaneohe Joe's, in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Greta and I were visiting Greta's daughter, Tammi, and her husband, Stephen, who live on the Marine Corps Base at Kaneohe Bay, a half hour from Honolulu.

In October, 2006, Holly met a man named Jack on Match.com. She said, "He was 59, a firefighter on the North Shore and had lived in Hawaii over 30 years. He had been separated for a few months and decided that week to go online and check out the dating scene.

"He signed in on a trial basis. I wrote to him; he was surprised because I was the first person he'd heard from. We exchanged photos, talked on the phone a few times, and then got together within a week.

"I was babysitting for my newborn goddaughter all weekend when he drove over to see me. I couldn't go out anywhere with the baby, so we sat on the beach across from my condo and talked for hours. Nothing had ever felt so natural for me. It was as if I'd known him forever.

"We saw each other a lot the next couple of days, and everything went great. He said he couldn't believe how right we felt together. He took his profile off Match.com."

Although Jack and his estranged wife were good friends, they had no plans to reconcile. The separation had been her idea. When Jack told his wife about Holly, the wife had a change of heart and wanted to get back together. Jack told Holly he needed to give his marriage another try.

"I was terribly disappointed. He apologized, I told him I understood, that of course he should try to save his marriage. I told him not to contact me unless things didn't work out and he was divorced. I didn't want to interfere with their reconciliation and I couldn't go through that hurt again," Holly said.

During the next 12 months, Holly popped into the fire station one time to show Jack the goddaughter. Another time they also ran into each other at the grocery store. But that was it.

Holly said, "That year was very difficult for me because everyone I dated I compared to him. My girlfriends were surprised because I had never liked anyone else that much, and we had 'dated' such a short time.

"I received an email from him a year later. The subject line said, 'Jack is back.' He was separated again and his wife had already met someone else.

"I wasn't going to see him at first. But a couple of my girlfriends said: 'He was just doing the right thing for his marriage. Give him credit for being honest and having the courage to admit it didn't work out.'"

They met for lunch in late September. "We talked and talked. I was surprised by his sensitivity and honesty. He said he'd thought about me a lot, but he gave everything he had to try to make the marriage work; and it just didn't.

"He wanted to see me again, and this time we could actually go out on a real date because I didn't have a baby to take care of. We've been together ever since."

Jack and his wife divorced amicably in December.

Holly officially moved in with Jack two weeks ago. "I have no idea whether marriage is in the picture for us. It doesn't matter. I was happy the last few years when I was on my own, but I am even happier now," said Holly.

Their story is the second romance-found story among our Hawaii newsletter members in the last few months. Carlene and "the man in the kilt" were featured last May. Perhaps, it's something about the air in Hawaii. Jack and Holly

Louise found love in Texas

Four years ago, I was contacted by Louise in Texas who requested a one-hour personal consultation with me over the telephone. Because Louise had been burnt by "two scoundrels," she was having trouble trusting men. She is a bright, down-to-earth person who teaches and does research at the University level. At her position in the university ranks, she wasn't meeting any men of her culture. She is of Asian decent and was looking for an Asian man.

I told her to be patient, that someone would come along and suggested ways for her to expand her reach by socializing and networking more, including subscribing to this newsletter for ideas, which she did.

As I do with most of the people I've consulted with, I try to stay in touch. Not often, but I like to know how they are doing in their lives. This week I emailed Louise. She responded with an update.

Now 53, Louise met Richard two and a half years ago. He will be 61 next week.

Louise said, "Richard is not an Asian, but he was stationed in a couple of Asian countries for 8 years while he was in the Air Force. He went outside of US military posts and learned about local Asian languages and culture. He is fluent in Thai and understands and speaks some Japanese. That is why I feel so comfortable with Richard because he is quite Asianized. We met through a mutual acquaintance who knew that Richard and I would be compatible because of Richard's Asian history."

We are very comfortable with our relationship the way it is. I am not into marrying (been there, done that) and my crazy work hours would not be good for married life. Richard says he is satisfied with being able to spend time with me.

Louise says the most important element in any relationship is trust, and she trusts Richard: "I would not go out with any guy who is constantly on the lookout for a greener pasture or doing double-or triple-dipping. I am quite comfortable with who I am and am not afraid of being alone."

Louise added, "As a single parent, I have raised a fine young man. He is graduating from a med school in May and he and I have a wonderful relationship. My ex-husband was a serial womanizer, and Richard's ex-wife was not a faithful kind. So, that history of ours helps us see the importance of trust in our relationship.

Are Louise and Richard a perfect fit? Not in every aspect, their beliefs differ in some cases.

"He is such a gentleman, and I have lots of respect for him despite our differences in some political and social issues. I have learned to tolerate his conservative stance on some issues, but we still engage in discussing the issues. He tells me that he has learned from our discussions many facts that he had not known before. He is totally with me on gay marriage (we are all for it!) and other social issues."

Note from Tom: Couples don't have to agree politically. Look at Governor Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver. He endorsed John McCain; she endorsed Barack Obama.

Louise continued, "My son likes Richard a lot, saying that he is an honest guy with lots of integrity, and Richard's son likes me.

"We have common values and lifestyles-no tolerance for debt; hard-working; clean body and environmental hygiene, and food preference. I have received at least 20 times more cards and flowers and little but caring gifts from Richard than I had ever received in my 20 years of marriage plus the two years of dating another guy.

"Your newsletters are very helpful and informative, and I think you are doing great service for all of us readers/subscribers with your insights and advice. (You see, I have no problem being called a subscriber.)"

It's nice to hear about positive relationships from within our group.

P.S. Touch your cursor here for information on : consultations with Tom

From the mailbag

At the Sundance Film Festival, an impossible ticket to secure-unless you were a celebrity--was to a movie called "U2 3D." The movie is a live-action concert in digital 3D by the four-member Irish group U2, whose lead singer is the incredible humanitarian Bono. A week ago today, "U2 3D" opened on the IMAX big screen in Orange County, where Greta and I live.

Since we had been left off the guest list for the movie at Sundance, I decided on a "spur-of-the-moment date" on opening day. I left my deli early so that Greta and I could attend the 5 p.m. showing. Inside the theatre, you pick up a pair of 3D glasses with which to view the movie. Oh my gosh, what a treat, watching it in that theatre was better than being at the concert. If you like U2, even remotely, it's a don't-miss event. At $12 for seniors, it was an incredible entertainment value.

To top off our "spur-of-the-moment date," we had dinner after the movie at P.F. Chang's Chinese restaurant. It was a special night for a couple who has been together ten years.

Married but feeling like a renter: Another "dating a widower" disaster

Hopefully, today's story about dating a widower will prevent others from making a similar mistake. At least that's Sharon's hope. She wrote to say she is dating again after a "disastrous" widower dating relationship.

Sharon spoke of her widower, "He was married for 36 years; has 3 kids - very happy marriage. His wife had breast cancer that went to a brain tumor, causing her death. This will be five years in March.

"We knew each other from work in the 70's; bumped into each other four months after she died. He said he was ready - I had doubts. Although he is very emotional I believed he was ready to move on."

How can someone who was happily married for 36 years be ready for a relationship four months after losing one's spouse?

Sharon and the widower dated for a year and married--a year and a half after the widower's wife had died.

Sharon continued, "The first year was ok, but he started regressing. Anytime he thinks of her or talks about her (which is often) he cries-sobs. He started to move away from me and his adult daughter who looks just like her mom started to take her place as far as companionship goes."

Sharon was a fill-in person who provided companionship for the widower during the time that reality for him started to bubble to the surface.

Sharon said, "I tried to get him to go to counseling; he refused. The second time (six months later) I asked him again to go to counseling he strongly refused saying he wanted a separation. I moved out; he served me with divorce papers and he's still crying about the loss of his wife.

"He is on Match.com trying to find a replacement for his first wife. It is sad, because I do not think he will be happy until he deals with his issues. Tomorrow is our court date. I am not asking for anything, but he is afraid I want money. I will be happy to get this over with because for the last 1.5 years it was like being a renter; I paid rent, paid his medical; did the yard and house work.

"And, as a side note, I was nowhere on paper other than the marriage certificate. Hard lesson for me: make sure they are ready to move on."

Sharon says she's learned from her experience. "I also am now trying to pay more attention to those red flags that we usually dismiss during the first year of dating. If I had only listened, I might not be in the widower mess. (Not too mention, if she hadn't been in such a big rush to marry the widower).

"I also have learned from many relationships that it pays to become friends first; get to know the person's good and bad traits. The men I was friends with first are life-time friends, the others are history."

Comment from Tom. Sharon rather blindly jumped into the marriage without protecting herself. She knew there was risk involved with marrying this widower. But, beyond that, she should have made provisions to protect herself financially in case the marriage (to anyone, widower or not) didn't work out. She must have wanted to be married so badly that she didn't negotiate a decent bail-out strategy.

Friends, don't make the same mistake. Remarrying at our age should include the protection of both parties in case it ends poorly.

From the mailbag

So what's up with naming the members of our group? Nothing much. Some have said they don't want to be labeled. Fair enough. On occasion, I may refer to you as friends because that's what you are to me.

Sundance Film Festival

My partner Greta's daughter, Tina, and her family, live in Salt Lake City. Greta loves movies and knows I enjoy skiing. Those three factors inspired Greta to schedule a trip for us to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

The festival was started 27 years ago at the Sundance Resort, in the Wasatch Mountains, about an hour from Salt Lake City. It struggled for three years until Robert Redford put his name behind it.

The festival has grown so much that now most of the activities take place in Park City, a bustling ski resort closer to Salt Lake City. This year, 120 films were shown, often multiple times each, in theatres in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, Provo, Kimball Junction and Sundance.

The venues are small so tickets are hard to come by, particularly during the opening week-end when celebrities and movie stars descend on Park City. Sundance is about more than movies, it's the celebrity parties and social events that keep reporters and TV stations buzzing.

On Friday, Tina, Greta and I drove to Park City. The ladies strolled the streets while I skied for the first time in five years.

Park City was teeming with people. Everybody is on the lookout for celebrities. Looking gorgeous, Greta and Tina were asked if they were in the movie industry and in what movies they had appeared. People took their pictures.

Celebs were hard to spot. Bono and Paris Hilton were there, but Greta and Tina didn't see them.

Tina managed to get tickets for us for Friday night. We took in our first festival movie called Young@Heart. It was a documentary about a chorus composed of senior citizens-ages 73 to 93-from Northampton, Mass. They perform unique renditions of punk, rock, and rhythm-and-blues songs in concerts in the USA and in Europe.

When the movie opened, I thought it was going to be a bore-a full- length movie about a bunch of old folks singing and dancing, who had to learn six new songs for a concert in seven weeks. But soon, the director had the audience's attention, including mine, as an appreciation developed for these elderly folks who dealt with serious health issues and the challenges of learning new songs.

Can you imagine a 90+ woman screaming the opening lines of the James Brown song "I Feel Good?" Or, the group singing Sonic Youth's punk song "Schizophrenia?" And David Bowie's "Golden Years?" A 93-year-old woman sang The Clash's, "Should I Stay, or Should I Go?" Those are the type of songs they tackle and they do them well.

The group performed for prisoners at a Massachusetts correctional facility. The prisoners were deeply moved, especially by the message of hope when the troupe sang, "Forever Young," a Bob Dylan song about lost youth and fallen friends.

Many members stated that they lived for going to practice and being a part of the troupe. The movie delivers a powerful message for seniors: Have a purpose in life, get out with people, never give up, stay positive, and endure during times of difficulty.

A unique aspect of the Sundance film festival occurs after each movie. The producer and director take the stage, talk about the film and answer questions. This happens at all Sundance viewings. It makes one feel a part of the festival. The movie comes out in April.

On Saturday, Greta's son-in-law, Todd, grandson Chad, and I drove to the Brighton Ski Area and skied for five hours. Bless this resort, they don't consider people seniors until age 70, and that's when the senior discount for lift tickets kicks in. I'm not there yet, but the young cashier winked at me and gave me the senior rate: $10 for an entire day of skiing.

From a weather, snow conditions and camaraderie point of view, it was the most enjoyable day of skiing I've ever had. The legs burned, the knees ached, but oh my, how exhilarating!

Even though the heaviest snowfall in four years blanketed the area on Sunday night, Greta wanted to catch a movie at the Sundance Resort. Monday morning, we put the skis on top of the car and drove up-it was still snowing, but cleared as we neared the resort. Greta and Tina got into a movie, and Chad and I skied 17" of fresh powder. Wow, three days of skiing in four days, proving that old folks can still navigate the bumps.

If attending the Sundance Film Festival is on your wish list, book your accommodations in Park City far in advance. And then start working on securing tickets via the ticket lottery. Unless, of course, you're connected with Bono, Spielberg, or Paris Hilton, or some other celeb who can make tickets happen for you.

From the mailbag

Rita emailed, "I have been going to the casinos, ski trips, and just out for drinks. and have been to my surprise meeting men, even younger ones. They are not right for me, or half right(ha) but i feel my confidence going up, and having fun. Being 46 this year isn't so bad, I have a lot to offer otherwise.

One man even joked about adoption if I couldn't have a child (he was stoned drunk though!) but fun anyway. Keep up the good advice.

Tom's reply: "At least you're meeting men, something that would not happen

if you were sitting at home. Remember, it only takes meeting one, the right one. The important thing, you're having FUN. At 46, you're still a young pup. Glad you didn't take seriously the drunk guy's offer.

Message for single women: Don't overlook the blue-collar guy

Some women (not members of this group) have told me they want to meet and fall in love with a successful white-collar guy. A doctor, dentist, lawyer or Fortune 500 company CEO would fit the bill nicely. Some have even gone so far to say that any less of a profession would be settling for them.

It seems with the shortage of men as we climb the age ladder that this is a short-sited attitude. There are some pretty terrific guys out there who don't fall into the above categories. Many work in blue-collar jobs.

But these women would never consider a blue-collar guy for a relationship. However, a man who works in a blue-collar job just might be a more suitable mate than one of those white-collar sharpies.

A man named Ryan pointed this out in a recent email: "I just came across an article you did about white-collar women and blue-collar men. I know it was a rather old article but being a 'blue-collar' guy, I found it very interesting."

Note from Tom: I wrote that article more than three years ago; it's buried somewhere on my www.findingloveafter50.com website. And that's where Ryan found it. I thought Ryan must live in Orange County where I'm a columnist, but where he resides surprised me also.

Ryan wrote, "I think the stereotypes people place on one another is a shame. I work in the Texas oilfields in Perryton, Texas. When I'm off from work, I live in Amarillo. I have actually dated mostly white-collar women. And I do take an exception to a few things that the women said (in your column) about blue-collar guys. Such as: 'working a low-level job.'

"I have friends from every walk of life. And several of my very close friends would be considered white-collar guys. I have a friend who is an attorney. And honestly, he is a much bigger beer-drinking sports fan than I am. He hates nice restaurants and even hates classical music more. And, he isn't one of the smartest people I know. I enjoy classical music and even opera. Yes, I like country music more on a regular basis."

Ryan is right. Just because someone is a lawyer, doctor, or high-level executive doesn't mean he would be a better mate than a guy working a blue-collar job. Men in white-collar professions might earn more money, although there's no guarantee of that, but that doesn't mean they treat women better or would be more suitable mates.

Some women think, "Oh, the man I met is a doctor, so he makes a lot of money, I want to marry him." But, when reality sets in, the high-society guy could be a real pain in the ass to live with.

Ryan added, "I think people tend to let their careers play way too much of a role in 'who' they are. I am of above average intelligence and could probably pursue just about any field I wish. I have held several white-collar sales positions in my time. And while I was very good at it, I absolutely hated every minute of it. I just prefer what I do now.

"I didn't move to a trailer park and start beating my wife when I changed careers. And over the years, I have dated teachers, pharmaceutical reps, insurance agents, real estate agents, nurses, bankers etc. And, I made more money than almost everyone of them. Not that it matters. The two PhDs I dated made less than half of what I did."

Ryan works two weeks in a row, and then he gets two weeks off. One would expect a guy with a schedule like that would play or pursue hobbies for the two weeks he's off. But not Ryan. "I am using my time off to start a custom concrete business," he said.

Ryan shared some advice for women who only seek white-collar men, "When 90% of the girls I dated got away from their work friends, they actually let their hair down and began to live a little. Most of them told me that they could 'be themselves around me.' And they couldn't around their peers. So, I urge people to just find love where they can because it's rare enough without us letting our jobs--which most people hate--interfere."

I like this "blue-collar" guy's message. I wonder how many of our group would pursue him if he lived near them?

From the mailbag

This naming of the group is more difficult (and fun) than I thought it would be. I'll share some of the responses from you members, er, subscribers, er, clubies, er, troops, well, I'm not sure.

Let me explain what I'm trying to do. This would be a more personal way for me to address you instead of as subscribers or members. Those terms are so stark. The name would be an affectionate nickname of mine for you when I address you all at once. I'm not trying to be cute. I think it should be just a one-word description.

Julie, doesn't want to be labeled. She said, "I really dislike the idea of being labeled [wink wink] a Sharpie, Silver Eagle or any other cutesy title. Makes me want to unsubscribe and find another web site!"

Note from Tom: "Yikes, Julie, don't do that. It's not that serious!"

Julie continued, "Please leave well enough alone. We're a great group of interested people over the age of 50 who subscribe to your newsletter and have formed a community. I like being called a subscriber, member, reader, or friend versus any other [dare I say corny] name that could be dreamed up."

Rebecca, "I definitely vote NO against anything silver. This is Finding Love after 50 and certainly not all of us consider ourselves silver. (Some of us pay money to avoid the silver!) How about "adventurers" or even "explorers". Includes the sense of those willing to branch out of their comfort zone and take a risk.

"My favorite has been Blake's Boomers."

Tom agrees: Nothing with silver in the title. And Tom says, "Nothing with "Blake" in the title.

George, "A cute name for members is a problem for you don't want to sound campy or corny. That would undermine the integrity, maturity and character of the members. In addition avoid names making seniors sound like a bunch of play-out over the hill has-beens. Personally I don't even like the name seniors."

Joan, I vote for the name " Sharpies". Everyone likes them, from kids to adults."

Wes, "I like 'Blake's Boomers' because we are boomers and it's your column! and we are grateful for your column. I look forward to your newsletter every week, like a letter from a dear friend."

Jennifer, "How about "Saavy Singles" or "Saavy Senior Singles" or "Saavy Supersingles". or just plain "Contributors" or "Members" or even "Partners.

June, "I vote for SHARP SEEKERS or does SHARPER SEEKERS change the meaning of your intent?"

Nancy, "How about 'Blooming Boomers' or 'Sage Seekers.'"

And this one from Joyce: "Foxy Retreads." (I love it but am sure Julie would unsubscribe).

It took some time but the first man posted his personal ad. Ten more of you signed up but haven't sent in your information yet. Camera shy?

Dating around but not sleeping around

Last week, we mentioned Joe's dilemma. He's new to dating and wants to date around: "I put my profile on e-harmony and within days had over 100 matches within a 30-mile radius. I filtered the matches down to 10 that I contacted. Some friends tell me this is unethical, that I should only contact one person and make my decision before contacting another."

Being an honest guy, he told the first lady he dated he'd likely be meeting other women. Joe said, "She told me 'Goodbye - and don't come back until you are finished looking and want me.' I felt like I had done something wrong. Are there rules I should know about?" Joe asked.

Seven of you gave your opinions

Lynne said, "I don't see anything wrong with someone seeing more than one person at a time. Maybe Joe's mistake was announcing it. When I was young, you went steady with someone only after you had sampled what was out there. Is it the norm for older people to 'go steady' immediately? Doesn't make sense to me."

Betty was direct: "Tell Joe he should date as many women as he wants - as long as there are no commitments. May the best woman win."

Marta said, "Anyone who expects exclusivity after one or two dates is too needy. Joe should run in the other direction. I'd rather know the fella had a good look around before he settled on me as the most interesting woman he's met."

"I've dated men who thought I was Madame Wonderful right away. It was almost insulting. They didn't know me at all. These fellas want any old gal, they are lonely and anyone will do. No thanks. I want someone who knows me with all my foibles and still thinks I'm the most interesting woman around."

Kate shared, "I'd say Joe has just seen the warning sign of a possessive woman. Going to lunch once with a woman is not enough to know if you're ready to forego other dates and getting-to-know-you activities. Keep going and find a woman secure enough to develop a friendship with you before getting exclusive."

Jennifer, "Most people who use a dating service are meeting and talking with multiple people simultaneously, just like one would do at a party or a singles event. People are under no obligation to become exclusive with someone they just met.

"Online dating is an introduction, not an offer of a relationship. If people were to date only one person at a time, it would take 20 years to meet everyone in the database who is a match. The key word here is dating around, not sleeping around. Sleeping with multiple partners at the same time is wrong.

"Joe's lunch date was insecure and naive and she seemed to be expecting a premature show of interest from a man she had just met and didn't even know yet."

Jon added, "I get bad vibes from the lady who told Joe to get lost. Her attitude should have been less possessive and simply accepting of the fact that there are a lot of fish out there and we are all fishing."

Sandra, "We list on Internet sites to meet many people. She sounds much too possessive to me."

Most older singles agree that it's not only okay to date more than one person at a time; it's a good idea to ensure compatibility. It's a nice option to have. But once a commitment is made, the looking should stop. And while we have members who feel differently, most feel that sleeping with more than one person at a time is a no-no.

From the mailbag

Last week, I wrote, "I'm searching for a name to call our subscribers and want your help. "Newsletter readers", "subscribers" and "members" are descriptions that are too bland. We need something more lively, positve and descriptive, like "silver eagles."

Here are some of the suggestions. "Silver Eagles" got two yes votes and one no vote. "Silver Foxes." "Searchers." "Seekers." "KeenAgers." "Troopers." "Blake's Boomers." "Live Wires." "Silver Wires." "Single Pals." "Lafers." "Colleagues." "Super Seniors."

Those are good but not quite there. I like "Sharpies" because that's what you are: sharp and colorful (please no comments about drying up if we leave the cap off).

Or perhaps, combining two of the above: "SharpSeekers." Not only are you sharp, but you seek more than love after 50, you seek knowledge, mental stimulation and life enrichment. Your thoughts please.

It took some time but the first man posted his personal ad. Ten more of you signed up but haven't sent in your information yet. Camera shy?

Enjoying the domestic side of life--briefly

As often happens, one person's story in this newsletter strikes a chord with someone else who has had a similar experience. Such was the case with Rich's story of two weeks ago. He dated a widow, she professed her love, he fell in love, it was a storybook romance--and then unknown to him, she went on Match.com to date other men.

Jane, not her true name, wrote, "About five months ago, I started seeing a guy who has been separated for two years from his wife of 22 yrs.

"I met him online, and then on our first date, we had a great time, hours flew by, great conversation and connecting. He e-mailed me to say what a great time he had and wanted to do more because our interests were the same.

"I wrote him back expressing some concerns, one being that he's from Canada and his family lives six hours away, and what if he got homesick for them and wanted to move back there to live? Also, his marital status, what was really going on here?

"He assured me that he's here to stay, his family is in full support of his being here and that his divorce was pending because he owed his attorney money and that was all that was needed to get the ball rolling."

While Jane intended to proceed slowly with him, she rationalized that she too was once in the same position as Rich: separated, heart ready to move on, but a legal system that can take a long time to finalize a divorce. "I have seen his divorce papers so I know that he's working on the final stuff and was being truthful with me. I gave him a chance because I too had someone take a chance on me while I was waiting for my divorce to be final," she said.

"We've had a wonderful, awesome, four months together. He helped me do some remodeling to my townhouse, met my family, we spent a weekend away exploring galleries, hiking and having great downtime together after work, making dinner with each other, enjoying the domestic side of life.

"Then all of a sudden, the rug was pulled out from under my feet. Now he's telling me that his 'head says one thing but his heart says another, that there is a wall up.'"

Jane said he e-mailed her about how he fell madly in love when he was 17, with this 'heart- pounding, cold-sweats, can't-think-of-nothing-but love' feeling, but the relationship didn't happen. Apparently, that experience set the standard for him on how a relationship should be (although his marriage wasn't like that, Jane said his wife was abusive).

Jane continued, "When his company transferred him to the states, he met someone at work, fell madly in love with the same feelings he felt at age 17. She turned him away. It took him 1 1/2 yrs to get over that and then he meets me! So very much compatible, but he isn't apparently getting the 'heart-pounding, cold-sweats' feeling. He thinks if you have to work at it, then it's not the real thing.

"He is bewildered and confused by his feelings, due in part to a lack of dating experience. This guy hasn't 'found' himself yet."

Jane explained that the newsletter two weeks ago helped her realize what she's been experiencing the last three years while waiting for her divorce to be final. She dated a confirmed bachelor and feels she dated him because he wouldn't commit and therefore she was safe from getting involved. "I was answering my 'call of the wild,' she said.

"As for my relationship with this Canadian, I just have to let time take care of things, I care for him, but only he can find himself.

"He feels badly that he has hurt me and thinks I'm angry with him. My anger dissolved quickly; I let him know I'm here to talk if he wants. It could take him a year or more to figure things out and I'm not going to sit around and collect dust. His being in my life has been a positive thing; I have experienced how wonderful it was to have someone REALLY treat me like a woman, something I haven't experienced in a very, very long time!"

Perhaps that's true, but he didn't treat her like a woman for long.

From the mailbag

Joe, "I put my profile on e-harmony and within days had over 100 matches within a 30-mile radius. I filtered the matches down to maybe 10 that I contacted via "guided conversation." Some friends tell me this is unethical, that I should only contact one person and make my decision before contacting the second person.

"After I had lunch with the first lady, I told her that I would likely be meeting other women on E_H. She told me "Goodbye - and don't come back until you are finished looking and want me." I felt like I had done something wrong. Are there rules I should know about here?

"My take on it is that it is like being at a party with a number of women present. I'd like to circulate around the party and meet a number of them before I decide to zero in on one. Is there something wrong with that? I would like to be developing friendships with several at the same time."

Dating new singles can be unpredictable

Last week, I wrote about Rich, a 67-year-old man, who had dated a 62-year-old-woman for close to two years. They were in a committed relationship, got along great, traveled together and talked about marriage (her idea). When they met, she had been widowed for 21 months, after a 37-year marriage.

Then, out of the blue, she revealed she was dating other men she met on Match.com. The news caught him totally off guard.

Several of you speculated why recently widowed/divorced people, including the widow Rich was dating, act unpredictably when first dating again.

Lynne said, "I am a 58-year-old widow of just over two years. I was married for 23 years. When you become a widow after a long marriage, (especially if you are relatively young and active) something weird happens. As devastated and upset as you are, you also discover yourself again, and you go a little bit nuts.

"As nice as Rich may be, there is the call of the wild for a woman who has been with one man for so long. It's part of finding out who you are now, after being a partner for so long.

"Rich should know that the breakup was, most probably, not about him, but about she trying to identify herself."

Edie wrote, "I have been in that exact same situation. The person you are dating doesn't have to be a widow or a widower to experience the 'match.com thing.' I am experiencing this dilemma right now with a man I'm seeing."

Jon said, "She doesn't know what she wants and he shouldn't be part of her experiments. This is typical behavior for the newly divorced. It has happened to me several times."

Pam added,"Rich is lucky in a way - he saw her change before they married. My experience with a widower was similar - only his true colors didn't show up until after we were married. We started dating less than six months after his wife died, dated only five months before we became engaged, and married less than six months after that. The marriage lasted one year and 9 months, a terrible mistake from day one!"

Peggy shared her experience, "This summer I met a man, 63, on Yahoo! Personals. He'd been widowed six months, so I knew to take it nice and easy with him. We were getting to know each other; I was his first date since his wife died.

One evening he said he was dating another woman. We had tickets to a concert that Saturday, I offered to buy them. He said I could have them, so I invited a girlfriend.

Well, the @#$% showed up, with a date. He almost fell off the balcony trying to look for me and then following me with his eyes when I took a break at intermission. I'm sure his date noticed; they didn't stay for the whole thing. I sent him an email the next day telling him how uncouth that was.

Shirley said, "Both men and women who are recent widowers discover Internet dating and are so dazzled by opportunities that they lose judgment. After being married for many years, we don't expect much attention or opportunities to meet others, and lo and behold, there are these websites, photos, and come-hither profiles.

"The widow is now in adolescence, thrilled that men are interested in her, and she will do this for some time---until she realizes that she 'lost a good one.'

"We women are very cautious about dating recent widowers, even the best of them, for they are not capable of commitment without qualifications and problems."

When dating someone newly single, be prepared for the unpredictable. And even though everything seems peachy-keen, remember Lynne's words from above, beware of the call of the wild.

From the mailbag

Jon, Washington state, "My new girl friend, a recent divorcee, likes my 5 dogs and 2 cats, and is looking forward to the arrival of the llamas, maybe in Janurary."

Note from Tom: I asked Jon to send us photos. He reported that people who once thought owning llamas was the cat's meow, are now abandoning them. He is stepping to the line and adopting a pair. The members of this group are an interesting lot.

Nick, 83, gets realistic

"Thanks for helping me resolve my question about being realistic at 83 (Nick had asked me about the prospect of dating women in their 60s, I told him to get real), I realize how important a role one's health plays in starting another relationship.

"I'm a widower after a happy loving marriage of 62 years. ( I took care of my wife for 11 years with Alzheimer's disease.) We are in a very vulnerable age for serious health problems. I have a severe hearing loss and wear hearing aids which would turn many prospects off.

"This made me realize that there would be other health problems of even a greater concern. I decided that what I have been doing is probably the best solution--if there is any. I attend senior activities weekly (dancing, lunch etc)at a local Senior Center. I live in a large apartment complex of mostly seniors and do my best to meet the single women at social events and I work out daily in our workout facility.

"So far, however, I haven't met anyone I would like to develop a relationship with. So I will continue to attend social functions and other activities where I can meet single OLDER women. Your newspaper articles and newsletter have been very helpful. I have asked Santa to bring me my ideal woman (like my wife was) for Christmas."

Beverly, "I am a 2nd/3rd generation female of Chinese descent and prefer to date Chinese or Japanese men. I live in OC and work in LA. Any hints on where to meet 55 plus males? Are your members of such races? If not, what other sites might I join to meet people? I am open to dating foreign nationals if they speak some English. My Japanese and Chinese is not perfect."

Tom's answer: You can do a Google search from the home page of my website www.findingloveafter50.com Click on that link and you will see on the right hand side a short way down the page the google search box. Type in your search words there.

When the results pages come up, it helps me if you click on Google sponsored ads at the top of the page. Of course, you will want to also click on other search results that show on that page as well.

You might want to enter different search words to keep trying to find leads that help you.

Older men get hurt too

I often warn women about dating recent widowers. Not that widowers are bad people, they aren't. It's just most have a heck of a time recovering from their loss and aren't ready to make a fresh commitment.

But it's not only widowers who can be risky to date. Widows often have similar issues, as Rich, a personal friend of mine in Southern Orange County, experienced.

I met him through my Dana Point deli. He's a solid guy, tall, handsome, in shape, sense of humor, financially set. A man I'd feel comfortable introducing to a woman friend.

Rich, 67, met "a beautiful woman," age 62, while having breakfast two years ago at a coffee shop. She'd been widowed two years after a 37-year marriage. "I was very aware of the dangers of being the first relationship after her husband," Rich said.

With that in mind, he started dating her. "I believed that we connected. Her mother, sister, brothers, and friends really liked me, blessed the relationship, We had a number of wonderful trips together to Hawaii, Florida, Wisconsin and Las Vegas.

"We developed a relationship that I thought would end in marriage. These were her words and I thought her true intentions. I felt we'd be one of your great success stories of the years," Rich said.

With all of those trips together and the blessings of others, who can blame Rich for thinking they had a future together? But, unknown to him, the widow had issues.

Rich explained, "Sometime this spring, something changed within her, and without my knowledge, she went on Match.com. That, of course, created problems for her as she contacted and met different men, and continued to see me while hiding the other activities.

"It all came to a head on Labor Day weekend; she walked away from this very loving, caring, and affectionate man." When Rich was at her home, she got a call from a man. When she hung up, he said, "What was that about?"

She replied, "I'm seeing other men." The news shocked him. "Later that weekend, we talked, she told me she wanted to put our relationship back together. And then even later that weekend (it was a three-day weekend), she abruptly changed course."

Rich suggested and offered to pay for counseling, thinking perhaps she hadn't properly grieved. But, by then, she was already dating two other men.

He's puzzled: "I don't know the reason she chose to break the relationship. She was the only widow I ever dated. I'm not sure if it was bad luck or bad timing. It was something she was missing, but could never articulate what needed to be adjusted, changed or fixed." He doesn't know if it was the "never healed" issue, or if there was something she felt he lacked.

"Nobody likes to be deceived, betrayed, and lied to. At this age, I truly thought the games were over," Rich said.

So what's next for Rich? Two months ago he said, "While I hurt like hell, I am convinced that there is a terrific, loving woman out there that I will connect with."

I saw him this week. He's recovering nicely. He's able to laugh at himself and even at the relationship. She's trying to make amends but he has trust issues with her. Perhaps she realizes she lost a good man. We don't know her side of the story and I've never met her.

"What do you think?" Rich asked.

"Even if she can prove to you that she's corrected the issues that caused her to seek other men before, be very skeptical of putting your heart at risk again," I said.

There is nothing more damaging to a relationship than breaking a mate's trust.

Rich promised to keep me posted.

From the mailbag

Margaret wrote, "In a recent column, one of the men said he wanted to be a 'friend with privileges.' What does this mean? Is this a code way of saying 'condoms all the time' or condoms come off after so many months of consistent intimacy or something else?"

Tom's response: Condoms, I suppose, could play a part of it. But, it's easier than it. Quite simply it means, the guy wants sex with no commitments attached. If I'm misinterpreting the phrase, I'm sure someone will set me straight.

On being quoted in the newsletter

Recently, in one of our newsletters, I quoted information one of our members had emailed to me. He had sent in information on numerous occasions before, which I had used. I assumed, perhaps erroneously, that he was aware I might use his most recent info., just as I had previously, which he'd had no problem with. I did not ask for permission to quote him this time.

He was upset, saying I had violated his privacy and had a few other choice words for me. I apologized twice but he didn't respond. I haven't checked to see if the member unsubscribed. But this brings me to my stance on quotes.

This is a newsletter where we encourage member participation. It's the members' stories that enrich the newsletter. When people send me information, I assume they are willing to be quoted. When sensitive information is sent, I ask for permission to quote. When, in my opinion, the information is innocuous, I usally don't ask. I never use last names, only first names and a city.

If you send information and don't want it used, or want to be anonymous (no name, no city), tell me. I get many emails each day from our members. If I have to get permission to use the information within those emails every time, most of them won't make it into the newsletter because I don't have time to ask for permission and then wait to get it back.

Unlike a newspaper, where columnists are required to quote verbatim, I don't always do that in this newsletter. Often I will edit a word or two so that the sender doesn't get embarrassed by spelling or grammatical errors or something that will reflect poorly on them.

Some emails sent to me run one or two pages, with no paragraph breaks. I have to not only insert paragraphs, but I have to cut back on the info. sent. I would never consciously change the meaning of what was sent in.

Those things being said, today we are including a variety of members' comments on a plethora of different topics. You continue to amaze me with your knowledge, wit and insight. The members of this group are indeed, a very special lot.


"You can roar, if you like!" said Shirley. "My last on-and-off romance, or whatever one calls it, was with The Aging Peter Pan, who at 75 told me I was his oldest playmate (I am a year older), and he repeated the old games of his youth when he abandoned his young wife and two very young children to 'find himself!' Though he was charming, attractive, sexual, I stunned him by writing a 'Dear John' letter when he assumed that sweet talk, disappearances, and little time spent together constituted a courtship. Let's call dating A COMBAT ZONE!"

Kathy, "I lucked out with men who did not lie about their age. I saw more the fiction they wrote about themselves. I guess when we've been out of the dating scene for so long, we forget what it was like in our teens and early twenties. There were games then and it doesn't change. It's Golden Rule time folks. If you can't be honest at the beginning of your relationship, which should be the easiest time together, it only gets harder. I met a great guy via the Internet. This is not to say I didn't have some problems to get to this point. It takes time."

John, "Granted that age is a major factor in evaluating criteria for successful relationships, but the fixation by some on age is sometimes more than reasonable. A person's appearance, health, and mental attitude reflect the positive essence of someone more than a number on their driver's license.

The concern for age is something our society puts importance on. When I was single and still dating, I met women both younger and older who focused more on age than I did despite the obvious compatibility we had. Age was not one of my components for evaluating a successful relationship and I hope many of your readers can move beyond it.

Integrity in a person is more important than what age they give for an initial meeting and Internet profile, but there will always be pros and cons about whether to list an actual age on any profile. In some situations, there are no correct answers, just the consequences of the choice we made. The inner person is the greatest gift for relationships.

Marsha, "Women lie about their age. Men lie about their HEIGHT, they shrink!"

Lynne, "I just don't get it. What is the point to lying about your age and posting old pictures? Do these people think that, if they meet, they are miraculously going to look like their bogus pictures?

"I think the person really worth getting to know is the person who contacts you knowing about and seeing all your bumps, warts, crows feet, double chin, etc. Now, that's a fellow worth knowing."

Edie, "I have put my current age in my profile at times and a little younger age at times (6 years max) to see the comparison (all in the name of social science you understand <smile>) The profile and the photos (current within 2 years) remained the same. It is amazing the difference in the source (ages, etc.) of the responses I have received using different ages.

"Interestingly and fortunate for me, most men I have told didn't care after they met me, found it rather amusing to be dating an "older woman" and said I looked better than my photos. Sometimes the men I have met looked older than their photos by 10 years and their profiles listed activities they had not done.

"I believe that other issues (besides age) are much more important for couples to be truthful about, i.e., health issues, etc.

"I have just turned 66 and am presently dating a man almost 61 who just ran a marathon, kayaks, cooks, is a chemical engineer working for a pharmaceutical company on cutting edge research having gotten his degree when he was 47. So there are good things that happen for people who are single."

Comments about the "Eight Men Vent" article two weeks ago

Anonymous, "Dave #2 is not correct. Most men I meet are the ones who want a commitment. They seem to need a woman to take care of them. There are many women out there, myself included, who are not looking to get married. We are looking for a GOOD relationship where we don't feel used."

Sandra, Texas "A lot of older men do not use computers. It is a shame that men & women have such a hard time meeting others.

"I have a large group of single women friends. We are financially secure but would like to have a companion to be a part of our lives. The big problem is meeting potential men.

"The thing that I enjoy about this column is that when I start thinking that nothing is going right for me, I read every Friday that someone else is going through a similar situation or something worse."

Anonymous: To Doug: "I never answer an ad or an email that is in any way blatant about sex and intimacy and most sensible women wouldn't either.

"That is not to suggest that I am without interest in these areas but 'too much information' in the beginning is not only a turn-off, but enough to make most of us run in the other direction.

"It sounds like you wouldn't answer an ad or respond to a woman that didn't just about offer sex up on the first date, although you say you are just asking for their company at dinner. You are probably missing out on some great gals because it seems that all you want is a partner for physical intimacy."

How new widower will spend New Year's Eve

The most frequently asked question I receive from single women in the 50-to-80 age range is "Where are the men?" Today's heartwarming story gives an indication of what becomes of older men after they become single again.

I have a friend I've never met in person named George who lives in San Francisco. We established a common bond while sharing stories and experiences of living in the Bay Area in our younger days, primarily having to do with the restaurant chain Victoria Station.

When I published the memoir, "Prime Rib and Boxcars. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station?" last year, George told me of his days frequenting the original Victoria Station in San Francisco.

But our friendship bond grew stronger as George related to me that his girlfriend of many, many years was battling cancer. My appreciation and respect for him grew as he kept me informed of her ordeal.

He married her to ensure he could provide her the finest love and care during her final days. On May 2, his beloved Laura passed away.

George would share with me the low times, of which there were many, and the up times, little bits of healing he started to feel. He had a beautiful headstone and monument created for her. This week he wrote, "Having the monument completed and installed at the cemetery has given me some measure of closure - but I still miss the entity which was Laura."

Thinking it might help him ease back into the single world, I offered George a complimentary personal ad on the finding love after 50 website.

And here is where the example comes in of what happens to many new single men: women find them fast. Some men adopt a restaurant or pub where they often go just to get out of the house. They feel comfortable there and get to know the staff by name. They can have a drink and/or dinner, and it gets their mind off the pain they're dealing with. They aren't looking to meet somebody--they know they haven't properly healed-it just helps them pass the time. Such was the case with George.

In response to my personal ad offer, George wrote, "Thank you for your generous and kind offer but I met a very charming woman at a local Mexican restaurant while waiting to be seated."

George described his San Francisco restaurant routine: "Celia's #1 on Judah Street at 45th Avenue (this is where I go for my two evening cocktails), but I go to Wo's Chinese restaurant - right next door to them - for an under $5.00 meal-on-a-plate dinner. It costs less to eat there than to shop and cook your own - and their menu is very nicely varied in its repertoire because they have big steaming bowls of Vietnamese Pho and Japanese Udon noodle soups (great on a chilly evening). They even make Hung Tao Yee Foo Wonton soup for me even though it's not on the menu (10 large deep fried wontons in an egg flower chicken base soup - $4.75)."

And with Laura always on his mind, George added, "Laura once said that the two features of the scent of San Francisco are the aroma of Chinese food being cooked combined with the salty smell of the fog coming in over The City."

And what about the woman he met while standing in line at Celia's? "She lost her husband to leukemia about five years ago and has two children. We give each other comfort during the holiday season and have a date at the parties. We met just before Thanksgiving and it just sort of blossomed into a very warm friendship with hugs and kisses."

George is a realist. He knows he hasn't had time to heal, he's not rushing into anything, he's just happy to have met someone who has shared a similar loss as he.

Here's what he's cooking up for New Year's Eve.

"The lady in question will be spending New Year's Eve with me at my place (her son will be in Hawaii and her daughter is also going on a trip with some friends). I will be preparing a standing rib roast with pan roasted potatoes, white asparagus with prosciutto, salmon caviar canapes, king crab with avocado, and Veuve-Clicqout-Ponsardin La Grande Damme '96 champagne (got it at $95.00 - normally it's $135.00) - it's been a while since a festive occasion has entered my life so I'm doing a little something special this year. It's been more than 5 years for her - it's about time, eh?"

Where are the men? Women find them and grab them fast.

Happy New Year to George and his lady friend. And Happy New Year to all of you. May your New Year be filled with hope, happiness and new opportunities.

© 2008, Tom Blake

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