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 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003.

Don't sweat the small stuff

As many of you know, last month I published, How 50 Couples Found Love After 50, a book featuring a diverse group of older singles-some in their 70s and 80s-who had found love later in life. One of the rewarding aspects of writing such a book is getting to know those people as more than nonfiction characters. Many of them I have met in person and we've become friends.

I consider all of the people in the book as family. After all, they shared with me personal information about themselves and their relationships. For participating, each couple received a complimentary copy. Most emailed me an acknowledgement.

But I hadn't heard from Leslie--who lives nearby in Irvine, California--which surprised me. During the book-writing process, we had met in person.

Her love story was unique. She had originally met Bob in 1978, when the seed of attraction was planted. But they didn't become a couple until 2007, nearly 30 years later. Bob had never been married.

In the book, a lessons-learned section is included at the end of each chapter. In Leslie's section, I wrote: "Good things happen when we least expect them, especially when we maintain a positive attitude," which describes Leslie to a "T." For 36 years, she has volunteered at her church as a choir member and organist.

This week, I found out why I hadn't heard from her. She wrote: "I was in a very serious car accident on 8/28 and just got home from the hospital and rehab. I shouldn't be alive, as a lady ran a red light at 50 mph and T-boned me in the driver's side.

"I was alone in the car, on my way to exercise at 7:45 a.m., and had just entered the intersection, when life as I know it completely changed!

"I went from running 100 mph (figuratively speaking) each day with a totally packed weekend of various musical events and fun things in store, to not moving at all and not being able to put any weight on my left leg for three months.

"After five days of excruciating pain, a surgeon operated on my shattered pelvis. He put 10 screws in, along with a plate, and I've been gradually able to move the leg a bit more each day, and to feel like I'm a real person again.

"I'm going to attend church tomorrow morning in a wheelchair, with my two-year-old grandson sitting on my right leg, while being pushed by my daughter who is helping me learn how to be a handicapped person in my own home."

And then Leslie' positive attitude surfaced again:

"All is going well, and my life has changed forever and for the better. Never again will I take friendships, loved ones, and the beauty of life for granted, and I will always remember to not sweat the small stuff anymore - because after what I've been through, it's all small stuff!"

Can you imagine? Less than three weeks before, Leslie suffered a pelvis-crushing accident that could have killed her. She was in the hospital/rehab for 19 days. Her view of it all: her life has changed for the better.

Leslie added, "And Bob? For a man who has never been married or committed to a woman in his entire 61 years, he has wowed me with his love and loyalty throughout my hospital and rehab stay. This has given our two-year relationship a whole new meaning and depth, which neither of us expected, and it's wonderful.

"Two Presbyterian songwriters whom I've known for 38 years composed a song for me way back in 1978, and it's been sort of a motto ever since. It's called, "Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Easy." My church choir sang it to me over the phone while I was in rehab, which meant a lot."

I said to Leslie, "If we were printing the book now, we would have to add that good and bad things happen when we least expect them. But what stands out is your positive attitude. Your years of giving to the church have made you a strong and resilient person."

Leslie's words are worth repeating: "Never again will I take friendships, loved ones, and the beauty of life for granted, and I will always remember to not sweat the small stuff anymore - because after what I've been through, it's all small stuff!"


Blogs are the rage these days. Some of you have asked for my opinions about blogs. Here's a quick take on them.

A blog is like having any online diary. But also, having an online blog is like having your own mini-website, particularly on blogspot.com, where anyone can create a personal blog at no cost. I decided to create a blog to highlight a property I own in Santa Rosa, California, that I've decided to convert into a vacation-rental property.

Why use a blog instead of a website? My thinking: Why spend the money and/or time on a website or paying a web designer when all I needed was a couple of pages to feature the property. To see what you can do with a simple blog, go to Santa Rosa Vacation Rental website.

Oh, if any of you would like to stay in our place, in the heart of Sonoma Valley wine country, email me. Hotels and spas in Sonoma County can run $400 a night or more; this is a much nicer alternative, at about half of the cost.

Women protect your money

Today's newsletter is an appeal to single women to protect their money.

It arises from last week's column, where I mentioned that a woman's Facebook account got hacked into. The scammer, posing as that woman on Facebook, convinced one of the woman's Facebook friends that she and her husband were stuck in London. The friend wired $4,000 by Western Union, and is out the money.

Karen reported a woman friend got scammed last week in a similar way, although she only knew the man by email. He told her his paycheck couldn't be cashed in the country where he was on a temporary work assignment, that he needed a money order sent so he could leave. (We did a whole column on a similar situation a year ago; one of our women members spent $11,000 before realizing she'd been scammed.)

Karen said, "We begged this woman not to do it, but because he kept calling her and assuring her the check was good and he was going to give her a percentage of the check she did it! She's out $4,000.00."

Susie shared her story of meeting a man who said he was 62, but turned out to be 66. "He is well educated (except he can't spell) charming, and writes e-mails that are like love letters. He says that he has a nice home and a yacht in Florida. He states that he is a partner in two corporations; one in entertainment and one in construction."

He treated Susie well, spent time getting to know her family, and even went to church with her. They made future plans together.

"From the beginning I saw red flags," Susie said, "but chose to ignore them. When I let my guard down, he stole blank checks from me and forged them. This man is a con and a pathological liar. Little he told me was true.

"He does not have a car and appears not to have a job. Right after I discovered what he was doing and ended the relationship, he was back on Yahoo! looking for someone else.

"It hurts to realize that I did not mean anything to him. It is hard to accept that people are so evil but that is a fact of life. I have been very embarrassed and angry at myself for allowing this to happen. I think this type of thing happens to a lot of women but they are too embarrassed to file police reports."

Susie filed a report and the man served more than a year in prison. He is now out on probation, and will strike again.

Most of you are aware that I have been investigating the case of Ed Fitzgerald, a Dana Point, California, yacht and sailboat broker and charter boat operator. He was a respected and trusted friend to many people over the last 25 years, including me.

He disappeared on July 17 with ostensibly more than $2 million of investors' and friends' money. While he betrayed a cross section of people, he zeroed in on women, particularly single moms.

In this down economy, it's tough to find an investment that pays more than a percent or two of yearly interest. People look for a better return. He convinced a single mom to invest $32,000 for a month and paid her $35,000 a month later. Wow, a return of approximately 10 percent per month, or 120 percent per year. The loans were supposedly secured by boats that were being sold. The next month, he held on to the principal, and just paid her the interest.

She couldn't wait to tell her single mom friends. Before long, her two friends were investing. The high rate of return was getting them through difficult times.

The three single moms were ostensibly into Ed for more than $500,000--and loving the interest they were making every month. That was last year. Mind you, they weren't the only ones; there were also 20-30 other investors involved.

Another single mom took out a home equity loan and dumped in over $100,000 in June of this year. But she didn't know that the interest payments to the other three women had stopped in January. Plus, there was no payback of the $500,000 of the single moms' principal.

In total, those four single moms are out more than $600,000. There were no boats to secure those loans. And like Susan above, they are devastated, embarrassed, and of course, very angry. Remember, Fitzgerald was highly respected and trusted in the community.

So, all single women, protect your money. A good rule of thumb is to only loan money when you don't expect to get it back. Anything that seems too go to be true, most certainly is.


Janice, "I've been internet dating for a while, and have encountered many of the same issues as most of your readers. I've stayed away from long distance relationships, but recently have tried a few by using Skype to communicate rather than Email/phone calls. Skype is a free video conferencing service, and all you need is a PC and a webcam.

It enables you to actually 'see' and have a 'face to face' conversation with whomever you are interested in. Although the true chemistry test is when you meet a person real time; it's a great way to prevent falling in love with an on line image, and helps flush out some of the 'lies' about appearances.

I would highly recommend the use of Skype to your readers who are online dating.

Note from Tom: I am not endorsing Skype, and this is the first time I've heard about it. The biggest problem I foresee is not many people have a video cam. But, what a great service.

The concept sounds like it would work to screen out undesireables, assuming the guy on the other end is truly who he says he is (and not his 30-year-old son). Skype is owned by Ebay, and will go public next year.

Internet dishonesty, advice and being sized up as a steak dinner

Jennifer, "Why does it take so long for people to wake up to reality? Singles on Internet dating sites may or may not present a real image of themselves. Anybody who falls in love with an online image is a total fool, apt to get used. People who live in fantasies tend to get screwed by reality. Your long-distance lover will never be what you expect. If he was that great, he would have married a local girl.

"People lie about themselves online and in person ALL THE TIME! Do you believe every line you hear?

"Women have to stop being prisoners of their hopes, and start to take a hard look at reality. If the guy won't or can't meet with you in person, forget it. He's probably married, or some kind of misfit, or a loser looking for a free ride.

Anonymous, "The reason women lie about their age is that men are not searching for women their age. Women are eliminated from searches by men on dating sites if they put their correct age. The vast majority of men are searching for women who are much younger. If women do this they are called 'cougars' while men are applauded for having a much younger woman on their arm.

"I would never want to start any relationship based on a lie, so I stay away from internet dating sites for I would be forced to lie about my age.

"I met a man in person and he was quite attracted to me until I told him how old I am (late 50s). Even though he was a year or two older and was attracted before knowing my age, he said his upper limit was 50 and that was that!

"I have no problem dating men who are 15 years younger. Perhaps that generation was raised to be more open minded? I would prefer to date someone my own age, so wake up men! Stop judging a potential partner only on age!

"Also in terms of internet lies - none of which are good- I do think that age is pretty minor compared to those that hide their psycho stalker status!"

Cydne said when she corresponded with prospective dates, some would ask her weight. "That would be a red flag for me. I would always respond the same way: 'If I tell you how much I weigh, will you tell me how much your total financial worth is?' If he laughed, I knew he was a good prospect. If that ended the conversation, I knew he was not. Don't ask questions of people you meet on the internet that you would never ask of a stranger you meet on the street.

"Age, well, that is sensitive to some women. It does not bother me to tell anyone I am turning 56 this November. But don't ask me my weight. That makes me feel like I am being sized up for the next steak dinner.

Robin, "A lot of people are afraid if they tell the truth about age, weight, etc., they won't have any matches. While single and dating through the internet, I found way too many 'players' who were not long term dating material, nor even short term dating material, using the internet as a way to score.

Still, if used with caution, the Internet is a great way to add to your pool of possibilities."

From Tom: There has never been a doubt that the women of this newsletter speak their minds.

Facebook Scam

I don't know about you, but social networking sites are still a bit of a puzzle to me. I am on Twitter and Facebook but admit I don't utilize them as much as I probably should.

This week, AOL ran a story by Terrence O'Brien about a Missouri woman who got a message on Facebook from a friend that said the friend and her husband were stranded in London and needed financial help. She eventually sent a total of $4,000 via Western Union to her friend and husband to help them return home. Wouldn't you do that if you knew a personal friend was in need?

Turns out, a hacker had gotten into her friend's Facebook account and was posing as her friend. The woman lost the $4,000.

In his story, O'Brien said to never wire money to a friend "without speaking directly (on the phone, not via e-mail or Facebook)" to that friend.

O'Brien added if the friend does not have phone access, ask them questions that only they could answer: "Don't ask about birthdays or hometowns, facts that could be readily asertainable online, but instead ask where the two of you first met, first boyfriends, or high school mascots."

On networking sites, remember, everything you post (unless you restrict who can read those posts), can be seen by the world. The same cautions you take with regular email have to be taken on social networking sites.

Internet dating

Dateline -From a humid, hot, and smoky Southern California

Today, comments from our readers regarding Internet dating.

Robert, "Your article of August 25 regarding meeting people on the internet describing the meeting of the Doctor from New Zealand and the South African woman reminded me that we really do not know the other person we are meeting no matter how much we may have corresponded.

"What I personally have found is that many of the women I have met have lied about their ages by from 3 to 12 years. A person's age is easy to check out on the Internet once one has her full name but prior to a first meeting that is rare, for reasons of safety

"I also notice profiles of women I already know on dating websites who lie about their ages. Many women I have met also misrepresented their weight by substantial amounts. I suggest "caveat emptor" applies when meeting any stranger.

"Misrepresentation is rampant on dating sites."

On the other hand, a woman in the upper Midwest, said, "I read your piece warning women especially, of being in love with an image. I've done that twice. One man I married; the other, bliss turned into a nightmare before we married.

"That special feeling of being loved by the person you love is intoxicating. Everyone should experience being in love with love at some time in her life. Being afraid of failure is robbing you of what might really be true bliss. If someone special came into my life now, I love the feeling of truly being loved-even for the moment.

"If you have any friends in my neighborhood, you know where I am."

Anonymous woman, Ohio, "Had to add a comment about putting too much faith in an image-especially medical credentials. I'm a well-educated widow and have been using a popular internet dating site to help me meet people of similar education and lifestyle.

"I received a friendly note from a gentleman who held himself out to be a divorced medical practitioner who was delighted to be communicating with someone having similar education and interests. After a few preliminary communications, we agreed to share private e-mail addresses (I keep a separate anonymous one for Internet match correspondence) and arrange a meeting.

"In his first private correspondence with me, he used his real name and mentioned that he once practiced psychotherapy in a nearby city. I checked with a search engine and the state medical bureau and discovered that he had his license revoked several years ago for inappropriate relations with patients. The public medical board stated that he had been diagnosed with a sexual addiction and a borderline personality disorder.

"While I understand people can change over time, I certainly was not ready to take on this challenge! I reported the facts to the Internet dating service several weeks ago but never received a reply, and, to date, he is still active on their web site. It never hurts to do a little background checking."

Tom's two cents worth: I agree with Robert that misrepresentation is rampant on dating sites, and I agree with the Ohio woman about checking people out before meeting them. It's just damned important. And I would hope that the woman from the upper Midwest would not fall in love with another image, even if the feeling is intoxicating. It's just too dangerous.

Those things being said, the Internet is a wonderful tool for older singles to reach out beyond their local area (and, sometimes, even in their own cities) to meet potential mates. In my new book, How 50 Couples Found Love After 50, about half of the couples featured met online. So, it does work for people our age and it's not just luck. Finding a mate later in life usually takes a great deal of effort, similar to finding a job in a down economy.

You just have to be very, very careful when using the Internet as a dating tool.

Old flames reunite

The timing of today's old-flame love story, which features a couple who've reunited after 41 years, seemed appropriate to me.

Beckie, Raleigh, North Carolina, signed up for this newsletter after attending a presentation I made at last year's AARP National Event & Expo in Washington, D.C.

Three and a half years ago, at age 56, Beckie's husband Rick died, having lived with ALS for five years. They had married 39 years before while attending Colorado State University (CSU).

Beckie said, "I had never lived by myself so that took some getting used to. My son had moved home to help take care of his father, and spent the first 10 months with me afterwards. Being alone had become my new normal. But I did not want to spend the rest of my life alone.

"Finding someone online seemed unlikely. Instead I thought about Ray, a man I had gone out with my freshman and sophomore years at Colorado State. We had lived in the same co-ed dorm."

Beckie found a picture in a yearbook of Ray playing a guitar while she and a group of students looked on. "I was adoringly looking at Ray, mesmerized. Even in the grainy yearbook picture you could see how smitten I was! He had taken me home to Chicago for Christmas but we broke up when we got back to CSU. (Neither of us can remember the reason)," Beckie said.

In the summer of 2008, she found Ray on Google, thought about contacting him, but wasn't ready. After Christmas, she emailed him, which started an email correspondence.

"The more we corresponded, the more we found we had in common--a similar sense of humor, values, love of words, how we handle money and various likes and dislikes. In January he called. We talked for 1 1/2 hours. The time flew by. I was nervous, pacing around my kitchen bar; conversation flowed easily.

"On the first Saturday in March, he flew to Raleigh, took me out Saturday night and left on Sunday. We found we still had chemistry in addition to the strong friendship we had been building."

Now, they communicate daily. They've spent numerous long weekends together. In July, they were together for 10 days. "We had lunch with his father and mother who live in a nursing home and he introduced me to his co-workers. We celebrated our 60th birthdays together. He is three weeks older," Beckie said.

"My children are happy for me. I know Rick would be happy too. During his illness he had jokingly said a number of times that he would pick out my next husband for me. He would surprised that he actually knew the man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life. After Christmas, I will put my home on the market in preparation for moving to Chicago to be with Ray.

"Our relationship grows stronger as the days and months pass. We are both practical people. We have looked for but found no red flags. Being together is natural. We are truly thankful we found each other again.

"I would never have believed it if I hadn't lived it."

Seeking romance with Richard the lion-hearted

I often hear from women who've met some guy online and who've created an unrealistic image of him before meeting him in person. Some tell me they've even fallen in love with that person (image). When I tell them to cool their jets and get real, they think I'm being negative. Granted, some of these based-on-an-image relationships work out. The people meet and it's love at first sight.

But most don't. Today's newsletter is an example of one that didn't. You may recall the newsletter from May 15, which was titled, "Email etiquette: Behind the doctor's mask."

It was about Doctor RJ, a widower, 66, who was living in New Zealand. He had tried the free trial to the newsletter and had emailed what I considered to be an abrupt comment to a follow-up subscription solicitation: "Thank you for the 4-week trial. I didn't find love nor any advice as to what to do about it. So, thanks, but no thanks."

Instead of telling him to take a hike, I tried to salvage communication with him and sent him a conciliatory email. He responded and admitted to being lonely and "a bit desperate" since his wife of 30 years had died.

His email made him sound almost angelic, he was setting up medical clinics in New Zealand. He said single women equated a physician with money and he was hounded by them.

He wrote, "I'm not street wise--rather innocent, or even worse--naive. Meeting the right lady is where the tyre strikes the tar! Where, good man, where? I'm not the pub-crawling type. I'm an alien in this wonderful country."

He added, "I'm living in New Zealand, although I'm as African as a lion.

The day after the newsletter was published, I received an email from Janet who lives in Africa. She wrote, "Your newsletter was forwarded to me by a friend who thinks the doctor and I would be a perfect match. He sounds like just the guy for me. I'm a widow and was married to a doctor. Can you put me in touch with him?"

I notified the doctor and he contacted her. "She seems to be a very nice person," he wrote.

On June 23, Janet emailed, "Happy to let you know that the doctor and I have corresponded and he is arriving in South Africa from New Zealand next week for us to meet."

I thought, wow, the power of this newsletter, bringing people together from those two countries.

"How great," I responded, and sounding more like a father than a columnist, added, "Remember, Janet, he is a stranger, even if he is an African lion, don't get your hopes up too high, and be careful."

Last Sunday, Janet emailed, "Dr RJ visited for one month; we realized we have way too far personality differences. He left. To be honest...he is not a nice person. He changes personality various times in one day. Too reckless in what he is saying/inconsiderate."

So, there was no merger between New Zealand and Africa.

Let today's message be a reminder note of caution about falling in love with an image: don't be naïve. And when meeting a stranger, be very, very careful.

Children, grandchildren (and great grandchildren)

Last week, we featured a story about Harry, 55, who loves spending time with his "big, noisy" family, and Alice, 44, his girlfriend, who has no children and resents Harry's dedicated involvement with his family and friends.

You'd think that after writing close to 1,800 columns on dating and relationships over 16 years that I'd have a pretty good handle on any topic that comes up. But I blew it on this one.

A San Clemente, California, resident commented that I sided with Alice when I wrote that Harry should back off of his family somewhat and pay more attention to her.

I should have known better. My partner, Greta, has eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren. I know how important family is to her. If I resented her spending time with her family, we simply wouldn't be together.

It is wonderful Greta spends so much time with them. I am very fond of her family. I should spend more time with them, but being a columnist, owning a deli, and having been a caregiver to my mom until she passed away this Wednesday at the age of 98 and 1/2 (comments below), it has been difficult to do. Greta understands that and doesn't badger me for more time with her offspring. We are comfortable with each other's roles and are happy if we can turn out the light together when we hit the sack.

People who have never had children--including me--need to realize the importance that their mates' children are to their mates. Many others made me more aware of the importance of family vs. lover. Here's what some said:

Patrick: "I had a similar situation in a short, second marriage. My wife resented my life, my friends, and my communities. The marriage lasted a year. There was a lot of passion but she began trying to isolate me from my friends, business and family. Tell BIG AND NOISY to move on before it hurts anymore."

Dave shared, "Alice--not ever having children--seems to have built a barrier to enjoying Harry's children and grandchildren. Family is the very essence of life living! There is no fix here, Harry needs to move on.

Lynne: "Alice is the needy one, not Harry's kids. Harry should not have to choose, especially since his family is willing to include her. Alice wants exclusive rights to Harry's time, and that just does not fly.

Gail: "Harry doesn't have a mature girlfriend; she obviously has jealously issues, these are usually from low self esteem. She will always be jealous of his family. Harry should find a woman who feels good about herself and won't be threatened by his family, and want to be a part of it. She is insecure."

Liz: "Harry and Alice need to look for other partners who fit in better with their personalities. Why should Harry give up a life full of people he has loved for many more years than he has loved Alice? Better to move on (sad as that might be) than try to make something work that has little chance of succeeding."

Cris: "Harry needs to tell Alice he chooses his family. Family should always be a priority. This is a time when Harry should be a doting 'grandpa' not a father. My daughter-in-law's father started a second family at the same time she had a child of her own. It's sad that her father is so exhausted raising these kids that his own grandson is missing out on time they will never get back."

Lynn: "This sounds like a classic mis-match between two people who are at different stages in their lives. Harry needs to find a mature woman who would appreciate and accept his family.

Advice to Harry: Stick with your "big noisy family."

Personal note from Tom: Mom passed away Wednesday. It was a blessing; she was suffering. All of her children were with her at some point during her final days. She had requested to stay in her home and we honored her request. The Hospice home care staff of Santa Rosa, California, were incredible. I appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers, but please no flowers or donations. Just be friends.


CJ, "I recently met a man online; we exchanged a few e-mails before agreeing to meet at a restaurant on a Sunday afternoon. In the next 4 weeks we went on 4 more dates-a conservatory, art festival, sporting event, and then to dinner.

"About a week and a half later, I got an e-mail from him saying he didn't feel the connection/chemistry was there and didn't want to see me anymore.

"I haven't e-mailed him back and wonder if I should. I really did like him and thought there definitely was chemistry. Is there a next move on my part and any chance of seeing him again?"

Tom's response: Been there, done that (on the receiving end). It's hard to figure. Not much you can do. One, don't respond and see if he rethinks his decision. It's a good stragedy but may not work, so be prepared to have that be it.

Or you could write him and say you are happy he feels that way, that's what you were thinking also. This is game playing but so what.

Do not write him and tell him how much you care. Forget that.

Or (another game), tell him you inherited a million bucks and had planned to take him to Europe, first class all the way, but an old boyfriend just showed up and you're taking him instead.

Be thankful it was only a month. Sure, it hurts, but it was only four dates; you'll bounce back quickly. If it wasn't meant to be, there's nothing you can do.

Big, noisy family

Harry is 55; Alice is 44. They've been together three years, having met while he was going through a divorce. Harry said, "We get along on so many levels, intellect, hobbies, movies, fine dining, cooking, nature, and many other personal things, including our intimate lives. We once spoke of marriage and maybe a child of our own."

With all of that compatibility, it sounds like a match made to last. But-and there always seems to be a "but"-there is a major incompatibility in their relationship.

Harry explained, "I have 4 grown children 19-25. The kids accepted my partner pretty much right away. Alice never had children. Therein lies part of our problems.

"I lived a big life with my kids, very involved, traveling baseball, private Catholic education for all 4, soccer, football, vacations (often with just me and the kids,) and I have truly been close to my kids from day one! Still am!

"I have a daughter 24 who is a single mom with my grandson who I adore and is 5 years old. He often visits.

"I have 4 brothers most of whom I played softball with, fished, etc. and we enjoy each other's company, along with Sunday dinners with my mom who is 88. In general, we have a big noisy family, that enjoys each other's company and when I met my girlfriend it was just the two of us much of the time."

It's obvious that Harry is a devoted family man. He tells us Alice has trouble fitting into the family.

"As time went on, Alice thought I had needy kids, especially my daughter with a kid, and wanted more structure as to how often I spent time or how they showed up at our home (they never barged in, always called first). My kids no longer ask for money, or live with me, or cause either of us any trouble. Alice has stated many times, that they have been nothing but kind to her, but she does not want to hang with them or be real close to them.

"She feels under appreciated and unwanted when I go away to work in my home town for a day or two (which my work allows) and spend time with family as well. I have made it no secret: I like to get away and she takes it personal."

Harry went on to say that he's tried to welcome Alice into his "big, noisy, family," but Alice is shy and instead sometimes gets irritated and feels uncomfortable and left out.

Harry said, "I am nagged and confronted in negative ways when I am away. I am increasingly finding this to be our deal breaker. Is there hope for us?

"I am in real estate sales and part of that is very social, combined with family, other friends, etc. it does stretch my time with her.

"Lately she is driving me to where I feel I have to choose family or her and my response is why not both? But, it increasingly seems that my time away from her bothers her."

And then Harry admitted that Alice may have a trust issue with his being away. "During this rough patch, I had a drink with a former girlfriend and even though nothing happened, Alice found out and I sincerely view that as a mistake and will never do that again, as it was inappropriate and I admitted that to her. However, the problem with family existed long before that incident and I don't want to exclude my family and kids."

"I told her I would celebrate another kid in my life but increasingly believe this might be a mistake as I think she would be doting much of the time over our new child."

Another child to add to his "big, noisy family?" Is Harry nuts? That would be a huge mistake. Besides being too old, how would Harry find the time to raise the child? It would take him away from his "big, noisy family." And he is concerned she would be a "doting" mother.

Harry said, "We both are ready to give up which is sad, because I love her, but need space for all the others I love. Perhaps there is not room."

Perhaps not, Harry.


Comments to last week's article about the woman torn between her elderly gentleman friend and her family who lives four hours away in another city

Shirley said, "Abandoning her lifestyle, daughter, grandchildren, job for this man is not the way to go, whatever she feels about him. He has not accommodated her in any way, and whatever they have together is flimsy, in my book, because it is based on proprty and his preferences.

"And, because I'm older than she is, I wonder who will help her when she can no longer take care of herself, having spent too much on housing to be near him, and being too far to be cared for by her family. It's a real consideration these days, and it is necessary to think ahead."

Mary, "My thoughts and comments come from similar experiences and I am just a couple years younger than this lady.

"She does not mention any intimacy. It is not important that the readers know about it, but I thought the omission was a little strange. As for moving again to be near her daughter and grandchildren...they have lives of their own.

"As the children get older, they, too, will have lives of their own. She may not be so integral to their lives as she wants or thinks she will be. Her role with them may actually diminish over time - or as, heaven forbid, her health deteriorates...Wonder if she has discussed her dilemma with her daughter and her family?

Dreaming My Dreams

I was overwhelmed by the comments I received from our readers in response to the passing last week of my mom, Frances Pardee Blake. I was reminded of how special you all are--compassionate and caring individuals, bonded by dreams of happiness and a passion for life as we tackle the issues of relationships and aging together.

Today's column isn't about Mom, or about me losing a person I loved dearly. It is, however, a little off topic so bear with me this week.

I use her passing only as background for a bigger picture: life, the search for happiness, pursuing dreams, the losses and issues we incur along the way, and the importance of friendship. It's about the good in people we don't always see on the surface.

Over the final couple of months of Mom's life, I was camped out often in Santa Rosa, California, where she lived for 33 years. I met a lot of folks during that time who went from being just people with titles-doctors, caregivers, nurses, neighbors, volunteers, funeral home owners--to people who blossomed with depth of character, caring and warmth. A lot of new people enter your life during an event like this.

One of the promises my brother, sisters and I made to Mom was that we would keep her at her home until the end. A month ago, when I told Dr. Bisbee--her physician of 25 years--that that was our wish, he asked, "Are you prepared to have her die at home?" I gulped and said "yes," realizing he knew her days were numbered. Then he added, "She will pass in dignity, which you are providing for her."

Those words by her doctor were reassuring to us that we were doing the right thing. And during times like that, family members need to be reassured that they are doing the right thing.

Your comments made me realize how many of you have lost one or both parents, a child, or a spouse. Our member Susan sent hugs and said, "My dad died this past May 9; my prayers are with you."

Ruth wrote, "I lost my mother in April at 83. It is so hard." Ruth is still reeling, and yet she took the time to write. As you all did, Ruth drew upon her grief, and her experience, to reassure us that life for us would go on.

Leslie said, "My mother died in May at age 89 of Alzheimer's Disease, and it's affected me much more than I thought it would, and like you, was a relief to both her and me."

And it's not just about losing a parent. It's about losing anyone you loved. Debbie shared, "I lost my husband two years ago. I was 50. I haven't started to date, but the information obtained from your newsletters will be very helpful once I'm ready." God knows, we have a lot of widows and widowers among our members-they've walked the walk. They know the pain. They know the importance of friendship and helping others.

I also learned that care giving for parents has consumed the time of many of you-and will consume the time of many more. My only advice: seek help as soon as you can.

My brother Bill lives in Dallas, sister Pam in San Diego, sister Chris in Mill Valley (just across the Golden Gate Bridge-yet an hour from Santa Rosa)--and I'm in San Clemente, 450 miles away. We realized we couldn't take care of Mom on our own, neither from a time standpoint, or a professional standpoint. We did our best to administer oxygen and morphine and help her with her personal needs, but it wasn't enough.

So, we turned to Hospice home care for help. I learned quickly that it takes a special person to work in that field. The nurses and aids were so caring of Mom. I found out from your comments that we have Hospice nurses and volunteers among our members. Jan said, "I am a hospice nurse here in Orange County. You and your family gave her a beautiful gift to honor her final wishes to stay in her home, instead of a noisy hospital." Jan's comments were reassuring to my siblings and me when we needed reassurance.

Connie added, "We lost our Mum on June 3rd and she was in Hospice care as well. They are the true unsung heroes among us," and she is right.

Diane said, "I lost my Mom 2 years ago and we worked with Hospice also. They are a gift."

Liz said, "I have been a hospice volunteer for 10 years and I would have been honored to have met your mom and cared for her." Liz's words summarize the attitude that these Hospice people have. They strive to make end of life honorable. What incredible individuals.

Other caring people are the Meals On Wheels folks. One volunteer came in and gave Mom a peck on the cheek each time she delivered.

Zoe, one of our members from Glastonbury, England, wrote, "I shall light a candle for her." Think of it, someone I've never met lighting a candle for Mom in England. How powerful is that?

In a time like this, words said aren't what matter. If you have a friend who loses someone, never worry about what to say, just be sure you say it. It was hearing from you that mattered, what you said simply personalized it.

Holly, who worked with me at the restaurant chain Victoria Station 30 years ago, said, "Take a few hours or day, whenever you can steal them and just sit under a tree. It's a huge relief, and a big loss. There's something significant that happens to and with us when our previous generation departs. It's the time we appreciate who we lost, and the significance of whom we still have in our lives."

Holly is right; my partner Greta has been at my side and given me space when she felt I needed it during this ordeal; what a blessing.

John warmed my heart with these words, "I've never met you, but you have contributed to my life through your newsletter and book."

Nancy, another Victoria Station co-worker, emailed, "My Dad is 94 and Mom is 89. I pray when their time comes, that it is peaceful." My response to Nancy, which applies to any of you who has a parent still living, was this:

"It is really important to have them get their assets into a trust, or to include you or a sibling as a trustee on bank accounts, etc, to avoid Probate. Not sure about Florida law, but in Calif., to avoid Probate, real property assets have to be less than $30,000 and total assets less than $100,000."

Also important for those of you with living parents: ensure a good will is written, designating an executor. Insist on that now. Know where the original copies of documents are located. We had Mom put assets into a trust two years ago; wrapping up her estate will be much easier, faster and less costly than going through Probate.

And it's important for us--our generation--to put our estates in order for the benefit of our children and family members.

Final thoughts: Music is a powerful force in our lives, particularly mine. Three years ago, I wrote a memoir that covered eight years of my life during the 1970s, titled, Prime Rib & Boxcars. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station? As indicated above, several of our members worked for Victoria Station.

I ended the book with Dreaming My Dreams, a song by the late Waylon Jennings. I hadn't achieved my hoped for goals at Victoria Station, but it had been an incredible experience and that song summarized my feelings.

It's an eerily, haunting, song, very beautiful, lots of steel guitar, about having a goal in life, but falling a bit short of it. It's about loss and remembrance of a passion you lived for. Now, with Mom's passing, that song has taken on a new meaning for me. The words, "Someday, I'll get over you, but I'll always miss, dreaming my dreams with you," are how I will think about her. Here is a link to it on You Tube, listen to the words closely:

God bless you all. We are in this thing called life together.

Another reason for not having sex with a man too soon

Karen suggests a reason for not having sex with a man too soon.

She shared her story, "I met a great guy on Singlesnet.com. He is 58; I will be 55. He said he chose me because my profile was different from most women's.

"I'm a woman who doesn't put out because a guy buys me dinner, which has cost me a lot of 2nd and 3rd dates. I explained this to my great guy and he was fine with it."

Karen said she had major neck surgery in April, and couldn't have had sex even if her body, heart and mind had wanted too. She gave him a way out before the surgery, telling him she would understand if he left. But he has been by her side through her ordeal. "What a mensch you might say, right?" Karen said.

I told her he sounded like a pretty decent guy. That's what she had been thinking also. But, things have recently changed.

Karen explained, "It's been three months and now he's getting very demanding--understandable if things were normal but they aren't--I have not healed.

"In three months, you get to know a person OR not know a person, what they like or don't like. Apparently what he liked was that I haven't been able to do anything or go anywhere."

She said he doesn't talk about himself at all. He always pays in cash, has met her family, but she hasn't met his. He told her his daughter is married to a famous actor's son, which the daughter acknowledges, but each time Karen has invited them over or suggested they get together for a movie, there is an excuse why they can't.

Karen says, "It's pretty strange; red flags are starting to pop up. I invited him to the desert (Palm Springs) to my dad's to lie in the sun and go in the pool all week-end. We get there and he hadn't brought a bathing suit or shorts because he doesn't like the sun!"

When Karen asked what type of movies he likes, he said, "I don't like movies." He told Karen he raises capital for films, but she has no proof of that.

"I'm beginning to say to myself 'What do we have in common?'" Karen said.

"He wakes up about 4:00 a.m. seven days a week and wants to go to sleep about 8:30 p.m. I'm just the opposite, which I told him on the first date. I also realize now that on the week-ends he sleeps most of the day. My 80-year-old dad is more active.

"Here is my point: it takes awhile for the 'honeymoon' to be over and the demands to begin--and, if you've jumped into bed too soon just to placate or have someone around, it isn't worth it!

"After reading your article a few weeks back on the dangers of having sex too soon, I suggested testing for diseases and he was outraged, saying, 'I was married for almost 30 years.' I reminded him of the women he'd been with after the marriage.

"The only reason I didn't break it off last week was out of guilt, because he has been there for me through my surgery and recovery, but it is eating at me. When that lady wrote you saying that it's ok after a few dates to jump into bed, I strongly disagreed with her and once again go with your advice, Tom.

"What has bothered me the most is his temper about intimacy, saying I'm treating him like a friend because I won't do all I can in the 'cuddling' department.

"Then, there is his unwillingness to discuss things in person. He only wants to do it through text messages or reluctantly by phone, which I won't do. Then, he keeps bringing it up for days.

"It's sad how in the beginning some men lead you to believe they are someone they are not! I am not just speaking about the 'um, 'celebrity' status, but about the likes and dislikes they profess just to keep you around."

I hesitate to say it because I'll get flak from some men, but I think Karen makes a valid point.

Later-in-life marriage? Take time to think it through

Many older singles tell me they want to marry again. Widows and widowers in particular remember the wonderful times they had and want to recapture similar feelings. Some rush into marriage within months after meeting a new love.

Eventually, most divorced people get over their bitterness and some decide they like married life better than being single. If you are one of those people who want to tie the knot again, and you are in a rush to do so, take a deep breath.

In response to last week's column about Karen, who met a guy on Singlesnet.com, one woman said, "Thank God you did NOT marry this man. I met a guy...4 months engaged... married after knowing him 6 months. He turned out to be a very jealous, controlling, verbally abusive man after almost 6 years of marriage. You (Karen) are a free bird to fly away from this dysfunctional person and find a great man who will bring out the best in you and love you unconditionally."

However, still seeking the taste of marriage, she has reconnected with her ex-husband, but promises she is "going slow."

In another case that took place in a Northern California retirement community, where single men are rare, a widow accepted a widower's proposal to marry after five months of dating, fearing if she didn't accept, he'd move on to the next widow.

She moved in with him. He was a cantankerous old man and from the get-go she had that sinking feeling in her stomach that she'd made a mistake. He ordered new carpeting. After the carpet was laid and he'd signed off on it, he decided he didn't like the color. The carpet store said tough luck. He then cut a piece out of it and blamed the store for the hole. They told him to take an even bigger hike.

Shortly thereafter, his new wife, tired of that type of behavior, moved back to her home, grateful that she had kept it.

In a third situation, a woman met a man online on a religious site. They lived on opposite coasts. She moved to near where he lived. A few weeks later they met in person. Within months, they married.

A couple of years later she realized he wasn't "as advertised." He had little money and didn't have a job and had become a financial burden on her. They are going through a divorce.

Let me say this in defense of marriage later in life. Many work out so I'd be out of line to pooh-pooh later-in-life marriages. Besides, if I did that, I'd be shooting myself in the foot. In my new book, How 50 Couples Found Love After 50, which is being released at the end of this month (details below), 60 percent of the couples featured in the book went on to marry. So what do I know?

I'm simply suggesting to take it slow before making a later-in-life marriage decision.

Conflicted: Choosing between her man and her grandchildren

A 71-year-old widow has a dilemma. She has had a relationship with a man of 85 for five years. Four years ago, he decided to move to another state and wanted her to move there also. She agreed. He bought two houses and she moved into one of them.

She said, "I moved because I wanted to get back into a house, and he offered to buy the house and allow me to buy it from him as I was financially able to. We preferred to have separate living conditions. Rent payments also go toward the purchase of the home."

She says they are both very active and healthy; they enjoy doing things together and share many of the same interests while still maintaining individual activities.

She said, "In the process, my feelings for him have grown, and the importance of owning a home has diminished. I love him in a deep friendship way because I can't imagine anyone taking my husband's place (40 years) in my heart."

She described her dilemma: "My daughter and her husband live in the place I moved from. A little over a year ago they had a wonderful baby girl, my one and only grandchild. I make the 4 to 4-1/2 hour drive to see them every two weeks (sometimes more). Besides being able to visit them, I also do work in that area and sometimes spend several days there.

"The drive is beginning to wear on me. I'm rolling the dice every time I make it. I am also missing my old 'home,' (which was only an apartment), the convenience of being close to the work I do, and mostly my daughter and granddaughter.

"My daughter is pregnant again. I feel I should be closer to help out. They don't intend for me to become the grandmother that raises their children, nor do I intend to. I have a life."

But what about her gentleman friend, who will be 86 soon?

She said, "I would have to leave him; I know he loves me and would miss me. He says he would not want a long-distance relationship; he doesn't have the time. I don't want to hurt him, I love him too much.

"His eyesight is failing, which he won't admit. Many other things I do for him-happily-but he has become somewhat dependent on me. He is a survivor and would do well without me."

And what about her investment, the home she has been paying on for four years?

She added, "He has willed this house to me, I would lose that. He has other family that would inherit his estate. I suppose I am conflicted as to whether I am staying with him for him or for the house.

"I have paid a good sum of money toward the house, which he has said he would give back to me if I decide to leave. I would never be able to afford a house in the city where my daughter lives.

"I also know that he may not live too much longer, although he seems healthy and active. It bothers me that I even think about inheriting the house when he dies. I don't want to be like that."

I reminded her that the house is why she moved in the first place, that it is not wrong for her to be concerned about losing it. After all, it was an investment. Is she certain he will return the money she invested? He might change his mind and keep the money, figuring she had free rent for four years.

And then there's the possibility that she would have to become a caregiver to him. What was their original agreement on that?

She concluded, "Here I am, wanting to move back to be with my daughter and her family, but knowing I would miss the life I have here--a lovely home that is paid for, a loving and generous companion, and many activities and interests I enjoy.

"This is really tearing me up. Do you have any thoughts on this?"

I suggested she fly between the cities instead of driving. She said she tried that once, but has to have a car where her work is. Maybe she could leave her car at her daughter's. Sounds like her gentleman friend would be happy to pick her up at his airport.

I also suggested she live away from him for a month or more to see how she feels about leaving permanently, that the decision might become clear during that time. She should think long and hard before giving up on him and the home she has worked four years toward. There must be a compromise in there somewhere.

"That's a pretty good idea," she said.


Social networking. We sure hear that phrase tossed around a lot these days. Two of the sites are Twitter and Facebook. To many people in our age range, there is a lot of confusion about these sites. "How do I join?" they often ask.

It's simple. For Twitter, you just go to twitter.com and sign up. You can post short messages that will go out to people who sign up to follow you. Or, you can sign up to follow people who are tweeting on Twitter. For example, search for my name and follow my Twitter posts, not that you'll learn anything earth shattering, but you will have someone to follow. You can post your photo on Twitter.

To join Facebook is also easy, just go to Facebook.com and sign up. Then start searching for your friends by typing in their names. You can type in my name and request to become a friend. I will receive the message and confirm you as a friend. Or you can write on my wall, or anybody's wall. It's that simple. I have been amazed at the number of people I've lost track of who I've found on Facebook.

You can post your photo and your favorite photos on Facebook.

Now, a word of caution. When you post on most social networking sites, most messages can be seen by the world. So, don't reveal stuff you don't want other people to know. Be careful of scammers. If something seems not right, trust your instinct.

These social networking sites can be wonderful, but please use good sense and be careful. Now, get out there and tweet or find some friends. Cautiously.

Love after 50 and beyond (far beyond)

Two of the hotter topics among mature singles are (1) older women dating younger men and (2) whether to marry or not.

I'm often surprised by the different groups of people who read these middle-age relationships columns. It's most often people in their 50s and 60s who are recently widowed or divorced and trying to get in the swing of dating again.

But, lots of married people read the column as well. They say it inspires them to appreciate their spouses more when they hear of the frustrations older singles experience.

I have to admit, the following email caught me off guard. I don't receive emails from 95-year-olds very often.

Ruth, not her real name, wrote, "Your column in the San Clemente Sun Post News on June 25 inspired me to write about the man who doesn't approve of women dating younger men.

"I was 48 when I met our neighbor, Ted, who was 35. My girls and I got to know him pretty well, a nice clean-cut man, never married. I was divorced.

"Eight months after we met, Ted asked me to dinner. It was delightful. We went out a lot, traveled a lot, went on cruises, tours, etc. This went on for 16 years.

"One day he asked me to sell my house and he would sell his house, and we would buy a house together. Thirty years ago we bought a nice house and have been together 46 years."

Ted and Ruth have never married, Ted said, "What can you do married that you can't do unmarried?" He's got a point there.

Ruth continued, "I have never regretted a thing, this man is so good to me, and he treats my girls like he is their father and they love him! All of our friends think he is such a nice man, and they know he is so good to me. So kind, never a nasty word.

"I am almost 95 now and he is almost 82. We've had many wonderful years together. He never complains. For my age, my health is great, I have just one prescription and that's for eye drops."

Although Ruth is 13-years-older than Ted, the age difference doesn't bother them. The never-married Ted was a little deliberate in courting her. It took him eight months to ask her out, and 16 more years to get a house together. He still hasn't gotten around to asking Ruth to get married. It's looking more and more like he may keep his never-married streak intact.

At 95 and 82 respectively, they are still together and loving life.

After all, isn't an age difference between women and men just a number? And marriage just a piece of paper? Ted and Ruth think so.


How do women really feel about dating a married man?

Karen said, "Women do not want to invest the time nor energy into a relationship with a married man. Time after time the man says, "I am so sorry, but I'm going back to my wife; we've worked things out!" A separation gives the man or the woman the license to cheat. We do not want to be a part of it."

Jan, "My policy is not to date a separated man, period! It doesn't matter that he thinks he's emotionally divorced from his wife. He isn't. There is something about going through the divorce process itself that changes things.

"I won't date a man until he's been divorced for a year. He has been through a traumatic time in his life and he needs to heal from that. He needs that year to take care of himself. If he jumps right back into a relationship, he will never take care of his healing. All the relationships to come after will more than likely be doomed to fail."

Marcia, "Most women who want a relationship don't want to deal with someone separated and bitter, nor do men for that matter.

Mary Lou, an attorney, said, "In my law practice, I see how someone who has not been through the divorce yet would be undesirable and emotionally unavailable in a new relationship."

Adjusting to the shock of becoming single

When I became single in my early 50s, I thought dating and finding a replacement mate was going to be a snap. However, I found out quickly that it was going to be difficult and I had to learn how to play the dating game all over again.

Mike, age 61, finds himself in a similar pickle. He has been married 26 years and is getting a dose of reality. Mike said, "I'm separated from my wife with mutual jubilance for a year, and have ventured timidly into the internet scene. I've had brief online conversations with several women who seem to be interested, but the conversations suddenly stopped when it became apparent I don't have much money.

"I'm employed, stable, and have most of what women say they want and not much of what they complain about (being needy, dishonest, etc.). Yet, it seems that what women my age want most, or even only, is money. Is that accurate, or is my perception based on my experience inaccurate?"

I asked Mike how the subject of money comes up so quickly. I also stated that women want a heck of a lot more than money from a man and perhaps he wasn't in a position to offer those things. Also, I told him women don't want to date a married man, even if he is gainfully separated.

Mike responded, "My wife is 12-years-younger. We met when she was in college. We began living together two weeks after we met. No normal woman could have lived with me; no normal man would have tolerated her. But we have two spectacular kids, now grown; and our time together has come to an end.

"I am on Yahoo, got there sort of accidentally last year when I was looking for support or a place to vent after the separation. Sometimes I message the attractive women there, since I'm paying for it and I'm lonely. Nice, brief messages. Mostly I get no replies. But sometimes there are a few pleasant messages, and then they just stop writing. Never gets to arranging a meeting, or anything that heavy.

"Either they are bored or I'm not a catch, which is OK, but sometimes the issue seems to be that I don't have money (especially after I talk to single women friends of mine who say without hesitation that money is their quest). My income is shown on my 'profile,' but I'm convinced that some modern women do investigations that reveal financial problems in years past, when my family was very poor."

I told Mike that yes, women initiate background investigations on men. It's a good thing for them; they avoid getting involved with a financial dud, a scammer, a fake, a person with legal or moral issues--and any other undesirable qualities.

Mike continued, "I have been so emotionally divorced from my wife for so long that I never thought being still legally married is a consideration. After you wrote back, I looked into it. Found out that becoming involved with a 'separated' man is a big issue for women! The divorce process should be simple and amicable, so it has now moved up from the bottom of the priority list to the top.

"This is a time of turmoil for me, fitting into my place in life. I vacillate daily between the views that women are essentially evil and manipulative to the thought that they can love and may sometimes just be cautious and defensive. Obviously I have a hard road ahead, and I'm looking forward to the nuggets of wisdom I may find in your posts."

Welcome Mike, to the reality of single life in the 21st Century. As most people have to do when they first become single, you need a personal makeover, beginning with these seven actions:

  • Get divorced. For women, a guy being married is a deal breaker, regardless of the conditions of the separation. You shouldn't date until that step is accomplished
  • Ask yourself, "What do I bring to the table?" "What do I have to offer?"
  • Work on your finances. Remove your stated income from your profile, and improve your finances and credit report. Women do not want to get involved with a man with little money and a bad financial track record
  • Open your mind. You're emailing "attractive" women. That is putting your focus on looks. Yes, all singles would like to be with someone attractive. Instead, focus on more important qualities: kindness, pleasantness, caring, being considerate, thoughtfulness and fun loving. Forget the beauty queen. She won't be interested anyway
  • Improve your attitude toward women. Focus on the "they-can-love" quality, and drop the "evil and manipulative perception" thought
  • Expand your search beyond the Internet. Get out and involved in activities. Meet new people locally. Join a group such as Meetup.com to start socializing again
  • Fix that part of your personality you describe as "no normal woman could have lived with me."

Yes, it's a time of turmoil for Mike. Most of us go through it. Securing a divorce won't automatically make life wonderful. He needs to work on his personal resume before any quality woman will give him a second look.

Older women dating younger men: go for it

I must be a prude. At least it sounds like Andrew in England thinks so. In response to last week's newsletter, he emailed, "Surprised you didn't chastise the woman who is with a guy 9-years younger, or is it only when the ages are reversed that you get upset?"

I need to set the record straight about my position on women dating younger men.

Andrew was referring to this quote by Cougar Woman in last week's Mailbag section:

"I am currently in a committed relationship with a younger man (9 years) and we had sex on our third date, our intimacy continues to be wonderful and our relationship keeps growing. When the chemistry is there, it is hard to ignore. I was dating men my age or even older and found they had too many issues, from impotency to other things. I was attracting men younger than me and finally decided to give it a try. I have not been disappointed."

For the record, Andrew, my position is this: I don't care what the age difference is between a woman and man. The most important thing is that they are happy together. When two people become a couple--regardless of their age difference-- that removes two singles from Loneliness Boulevard, which is what I hope for.

That being said, let me add: when the age difference is 12-15 years or more, I see the potential for problems. We don't have room in today's newsletter to elaborate on those problems (I elaborate on this in my e-book, "Dating the Age Gap," which is currently removed from my website while it is being updated).

I do have a concern when someone tells me he or she had sex on the third date. That's a little risky, which we covered a couple of weeks ago, because you don't know your mate's sexual history. And trust me, I was not always lily white in this category myself. Instant chemistry is strong temptation.

But back to the Cougar woman, who explained in a follow up letter this week why she dates younger men. I like her candor and respect her tenacity.

She said, "My boyfriend and I were both born in the same decade--the 50s. I dated one man 15-years younger and another 20-years younger, what a great time I had! The 9-years age difference (with her current boyfriend) is hardly noticeable. There has been a double standard for too long; no one blinks an eye when men date younger women.

"Common interests and compatibility are most important along with a match in the bedroom.

"I met my guy on Singlesnet. He was honest about his age and I had lied. He admits we would have never matched had I not lied. After we met, I asked him my age on the second date and he guessed 48; he is 49. So he felt I was a year younger."

Other members of our group had praise for Cougar lady. Dan said, "Regarding the Cougar. Good for her, you go girl! It has taken me too long to realize that my body will tell me pretty quickly during our first kiss if the magic is there. If it isn't, it is time to move on.

Shirley wrote, "Bravo to the woman who found a younger, more suitable lover. I wish I had had the courage. Men and women are often mismatched, especially those who stick to the conventional rules. And, how wonderful to read a message from a forthright woman who claims her sexuality and makes choices suitable for herself."

Older women dating younger men? Whatever works, I'm all for it. So, Andrew, no chastising this week. I'll wait for one of those older men trying to date younger (considerably younger) women illusion-of-grandeur stories to let it rip. And there will be plenty I'll hear about.

From the Mailbag: Reader comments on last week's article.

We had more than 30 responses to last week's lead article, about the woman dating a widower who lives two hours from her. He's the one who asked her to sit at the end of the dining room table because the cleaning lady always sits across from him.

The majority of the responses were direct: get rid of him, he hasn't healed, he's "not that into you," and the driving distance isn't worth it.

A couple of you suggested having a direct heart-to-heart with the widower to see if the relationship is salvageable before pulling the plug.

From Barb's comments, I think she's already made her decision to move on. She hasn't been treated with respect and at our age, we don't need that in our lives.

Dating a widower: Should Barb pull the plug?

Barb is involved in a long-distance relationship with a widower and there are some issues that are starting to bother her.

Barb said, "I met a man on eHarmony; we have been seeing each other twice a month for a little over a year. He lives two hours away. He visits here and I visit there. The problem: His wife died six years ago and he still has her 11x14 picture in the dining area where we eat and drink coffee. He likes to kiss and hug me in front of the picture. I told him it makes me uncomfortable.

"Two different times while I was visiting he took the picture down and put it away. The last time I was there the picture was back up on the wall. I didn't say anything, so it is still there.

"Also he has a lady that comes to clean once a month. The night before she was to come, he said he was going to tell her I was his sister. I was sure he was just kidding me. But the morning before she came, he asked me if I could sit at the end of the table instead of across from him, because that is where she sits.

"He said she started cleaning his house before his wife died. He said they sit and drink coffee for about an hour before she cleans. Her husband retired from the same place that he did, so they have a lot to talk about. I didn't feel threatened or jealous of her, but didn't like the idea that he asked me to sit at the end of the table. When we left so she could clean, he told me what a great gal she is and that he loved her.

"This has been festering inside of me for a week. It will be hard for me to tell him, but I think I need some time. Do you think I am making a mountain out of a mole hole?

"Also, I told him I am 70 and he is 71. How much longer will we be driving the two hours to see each other? I think I need to meet someone on my side of the state."

Tom's response: As I see it, there are three issues Barb is dealing with.

First: the picture. Having it still on the wall isn't the issue. Many widows and widowers have pictures of their deceased spouses in their homes. But enjoying kissing Barb in front of it is a bit strange. I wouldn't like that either. And then taking it down to please Barb, and then putting it back up is puzzling.

Second: the cleaning woman. His telling the woman that Barb is his sister and asking Barb to sit at the end of the table are insults to Barb. The nail in the coffin is saying he loves the other woman.

Third: the long-distance relationship. Two hours one way is four hours round trip. Barb must ask, "Is it worth it?" It wouldn't be for me.

Yes, Barb should find someone on her side of the state. But, that won't be easy either. At 70, that's tough for singles. However, she should be back on the Internet now, and not wait until they break up.

Hard to break the news to him? Why? He's the one acting like he doesn't love her. She should stop seeing him. Or, not drive to his home anymore. Maybe that would make him rethink his relationship with her--and possibly change his behavior.

From the Mailbag: Reader comments on last week's article.

One woman wrote, "I have to comment on the "Sex Too Soon" topic... I started dating about 8 months after I lost my husband, I dated one guy who made us wait for a very long time before we had sex. I was ready long before him.

"In retrospect, the sex with him was very bad and one sided. It was all about getting him to were he wanted to go, when I had a request or need, he was not willing to step up to the plate, and always promised, "next time." Well, I finally wised up and knew there would never be any, "next time." Even though he was a good guy in so many ways, I could not continue a relationship with someone so bad in bed.

"I feel a good sexual relationship is very important and would not be willing to wait for anyone for a couple of months! If I were a man and I felt sex was important to me, I would move on if the woman I really liked was not willing to be intimate after a few months. Because of my personal experience in this, the wait WAS NOT worth it!!

"I am currently in a committed relationship with a younger man (9 years) and we had sex on our third date, our intimacy continues to be wonderful and our relationship keeps growing. When the chemistry is there, it is hard to ignore. I was dating men my age or even older and found they had too many issues, from impotency to other things. I was attracting men younger than me and finally decided to give it a try. I have not been disappointed.

"Just call me a cougar.."

Sex Too Soon.

Sex is an important part of most new relationships for the love after 50 generation. However, one of the challenges single women face is dealing with men who insist on having sex too soon.

Sharon wrote, "I'm in my 50s, attractive, and capable of passion with the right person. Is there a point in a new relationship when most men expect to see signs of physical affection beyond good-night kisses and hand holding?

Many men have disappeared because I was not cuddly and showing at least an indication toward sexual willingness by the third date."

Jeannie said, "A lot of the men I meet somehow or other project 'sex' into the conversation or want to make out on the first date. A kiss is sweet, but not a tongue down the throat and a hand somewhere else. The men who quote the Bible verses are the first ones to jump on the wagon. I'm not trying to give off vibes or encourage them."

Rebecca has dated a man for two months. She wants to wait to have sex until they've both been tested, and she is certain she wants a committed relationship with him. They've talked about going away together for the July 4th week-end. She says they have to be tested beforehand and have he results back.

But he's getting impatient. He tells her she's frigid and not affectionate. She's feeling uncomfortable, pressured and unsure of what's right.

Are these three women being old-fashioned?

Not at all. And it's not just an issue of "giving in" too soon. They don't know where these guys have been sexually or with whom. They don't know if the men they're dating carry a sexually transmitted disease, including HIV.

According to the Centers for Disease Control website, the fastest-growing segment (percentage-wise) of the population to contact STDs or HIV is age 50-plus. True, that is a percentage figure, not an actual number, but still, there is a risk to having sex with a partner one knows little about.

Before an older couple becomes intimate, they should be tested for diseases and educated about safe sex practices. Guidelines can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website.

Having sex with someone who hasn't been tested is like playing Russian roulette. Some men protest that the numbers for our generation for HIV are so low I'm alarming folks. But it's not just HIV I'd be worried about, herpes and other STDs aren't exactly pleasant either.

Whenever I read a heart-wrenching story about a woman who had been sexually careful all of her life, only to enjoy one night of intimacy-sometimes with an old acquaintance--who then ends up with HIV, it breaks my heart.

Women tell me there are lots of men who make sexual innuendos or sexually suggestive comments over the Internet or telephone before meeting in person. Those men are only looking for sex, best to delete them.

When a couple is first dating, and both are interested in establishing a relationship together, they need to have a conversation early in the game about sex. A meeting of the minds can avoid awkward and frustrating moments in the heat of passion. There's nothing wrong for a woman to let a man know that she desires intimacy, but that she won't be intimate until both are safely tested and they use safe-sex practices.

Jerry, 68, a widower, made an important observation: "If a woman thinks it's too soon, she should let the guy know. If he's interested in her, he'll be willing to wait for the right time. If he gets upset and disappears, she hasn't lost anything and is probably better off."

If a man pressures a woman for sex too soon, she needs to walk away. There are too many risks.

From the Mailbag: Facebook, Twitter and blogs

Lots of our generation are confused by these terms. Here's a quick description of each and links to have you reach them. These sites can be an effective way to expand your online business. The only cost is the time you invest.

Facebook is a social networking site. It's easy to join and there is no cost. And once you do, you can start reaching or acquiring friends. It's very cool. You can post your bio and pictures. I have heard from long-lost friends. You can join groups, like the Finding Love After 50 group, or start a group. Link to Facebook. In the Facebook search box, type in "Tom Blake" and invite me to become a friend, or, type in "Finding Love After 50" and join our group.

With Twitter, you find people whose posts you want to follow. Let's say it's an influential business person. I follow Dan Poynter because he is an expert on book publishing and marketing. Often, his posts have links in them that I click on and read. I've got a Twitter account, and a few people follow me. I plan to post brief updates 3-4 times a week. Free and easy to join. Link to Twitter

Anybody can create a blog. A blog is simply having a journal online that people can read. You can update it and publish it as often as you wish. I use blogspot.com. Go to my blog and you can create your own blog in the upper right hand corner of my page. I put a few columns up there--some old, some new. Link to Tom's blog

One word of caution. Be careful what you post on all social networking sites. Remember, the entire world can see everything unless you follow steps to make your posts private or designate which friends can view your material.

Some people are more careful about picking out drapes...

Last week, we wrote about Bobbie, twice widowed, who, at age 73, has a "wonderful" relationship with a man she met online over a year ago. He lives a half hour away from her. But because he is still married, she has not met him in person and is waiting until his divorce is final.

There are other issues: His wife is fighting the divorce, holding out for everything the man owns. He has nine children and he blames his wife for his son's suicide. To many of you, the man's situation sounded very messy.

Bobbie asked for the opinions of our group. Women responded in droves. We share the comments of 10 women.

I hope Bobbie takes the comments in the spirit in which they were intended: They are not met to be critical, but constructive, to help her avoid being hurt or scammed.

Lynne: "This is not a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie. She is already hooked; she keeps referring to the fellow as 'my guy.' Some people are more careful about picking out drapes than they are about picking out a potential mate."

Jane Ann: "Difficult to understand why they have not met, or that she has not at least done some detective work to find out if his story is true. Intelius.com can show her his address, neighbors, and run a search on his background--criminal, work history, family members. What is she thinking?

Judie: He lives 1/2 hour away? One year and you haven't met? That's only 15 minutes to meet in the middle! 15 minutes - an average drive to work - or a shopping area - or the movies - or a church! I bet he (and his daughter, if that's who she is) have long ago checked out where you live, work, your assets, etc. Time to get real and leave 'fantasy land.'"

Celia: "That is one of the strangest ones I've heard yet! A half hour away and she hasn't seen him! I think looking in one's eyes is one way to judge him."

Kathy: "This gal needs to step back and reexamine her own reasons why she is not willing to meet him, when time and accessibility are so convenient. She doesn't want to be disappointed."

Judith: "Bobbie needs to meet this fellow before she goes any further. A meeting in person will tell her a great deal. She will know whether to continue her communication with him or not."

Mary Lou: "Is Bobbie kidding? She might be six feet under by the time all this comes to fruition. My radar is up, up, up. I don't think this lady wants to have anything more than what she has - an internet relationship."

Ruby: "Hard to ignore Bobbie's gut feelings that she has had success on so I hope she is right. However, the one clause that got to me is the one where the stepdaughter gets involved making a negative comment about her step-mom.

"That comment makes it sound like this may be a dad-daughter scam team looking for a woman they can bleed. His excuses and explanations don't feel good as they could be inaccurate depictions of what is really going on."

Shirley: "We've all had long email correspondences where we've built up an image made of wishful thinking. I have, and it is a myth to think that you can know anyone by relying on email or any other kind of communication.

"Why and how she is in contact with this man's children to receive all this information about the present wife's complaints? As a stranger and outsider, it is not her business what went on and what goes on. Give it up, Lady, and get on with your life.

Marta, "I would meet the fella. We need to feel another's presence, be in their presence to know them. I'd feel less worried about her if she could say something like this out loud, so she can really hear herself. "Because I choose to live within my values which say 'no contact with a married man,' I am currently living an illusion."

"That his current wife is blamed for his son's suicide I find disturbing. There are big problems in this family. If I were 73, I would not want to take those problems on, or put in time waiting for this man."

Ten women have spoken--let's hope Bobbie listens--for her sake.

From the Mailbag

Last week, commenting about Scott's profile, Joan knocked profiles of men who include "enjoy walks on the beach" in their ads. And although Scott said nothing about having a dog, Joan commented on mens' profiles that include dogs or references to dogs also.

Several women disagreed with Joan, saying they like romantic men who talk about walks on the beach and men who love animals, especially dogs.

Barbara said, "Joan speaks for herself. It isn't a turn off to me if a man's profile picture is with his dog & I love the beach. I have a dog of my own."

The six red flags of loving an image

"Loving an image" is one of my favorite topics. It amazes me how many older singles get caught up in it.

The definition of "loving an image" is pretty simple: Convincing yourself that you are in love with a person you've never met. You don't love a real person; you love what you imagine (and hope) that person to be.

Internet dating is the culprit. You meet someone online, but for any number of reasons, you can't or don't get together face-to-face. A relationship by email is started.

Let's take a real "loving an image" scenario. It comes from Bobbie, 73, one of our members, who has willingly shared her story and welcomes your feedback on it.

Bobbie says, "I was widowed twice, the first time in 1979, then again in 2002. I was a caregiver for both husbands for many years. I have aged well and continue to work full time--money is not a problem. I know what issues I'm dealing with in the online romance I'm about to describe.

"I have been in an online relationship with a super guy I met on SeniorPeopleMeet.com, well over a year ago. We have not met, although we live just a half hour from each other, due to my wanting to wait until his divorce is final, which is being held up because his wife will not accept any settlement he offers."

Red flag 1: Although the man lives only a half hour away, she hasn't met him, and there's still a wife lurking in the weeds.

But, to Bobbie's credit, it's her choice they haven't met. "I'd rather wait until my guy is free to meet," she said.

Bobbie continued, "His daughter told me there is a lot at stake and her step-mother is trying to take everything her dad has. He's willing to give her a nice settlement but she wants it all."

Red flag 2: The guy's wife won't relent until she "has it all." That might take a long, long time--if it ever happens.

Bobbie wrote, "She (the step-mom) raised his children after his first wife died from breast cancer and they have been married over 30 years. He says she is the one responsible for his son's suicide two years ago, thus the divorce."

Red flag 3: Wow, that's a pretty heavy accusation. If I were Bobbie, I'd stay out of that aspect of the divorce. Maybe staying away is the wisest thing?

Bobbie said, "We have a wonderful relationship so far."

Red flag 4: They have a wonderful online relationship. Of course it seems so, they haven't endured the day-to-day issues couples face. They don't even know if they have chemistry, which can't be determined until people meet face-to-face.

Bobbie continued, "He says she deserves half of their assets since she raised his 9 kids, and he has no problem giving that to her, but he doesn't want to end up with nothing."

Red flag 5: Nine kids? Can you imagine, having to contend with your mate's nine kids? I tried to contend with one kid in the two relationships I was in and it was more than I could handle.

Bobbie said, "We connected early in our emails, I am also a 14-year, breast-cancer survivor. He lived not too far from me when he lived in my state and we went to the same Catholic high school-he to the boys and I to the girls-and we graduated one-year apart.

"We have feelings for each other that will only grow stronger once we meet. They say 'anything worthwhile is worth waiting for.'"

Red flag 6: Feelings will grow stronger once they meet? How can Bobbie be certain? What if when they finally meet she doesn't like what she sees?

I know of a similar online romance. A man from Philadelphia was going to marry and merge his two children with a woman from California and her two children. They thought they should meet in person once before tying the knot. He flew out for the weekend.

It was pre 9/11, when you could still meet people at the airport gate. He was so disgusting in appearance and hygiene, she ended the relationship before they got to baggage claim.

I think Bobbie needs to see this guy in person now before investing too much more time. Yikes, he only lives a half hour from her. She needs to find out if her image of him matches the reality of him.

Bobbie sees it differently. "I'm very sensibile and I've told my guy that it will take us almost as long to get to know one another in person as it has taken us to meet. We are not going to rush into anything until we both feel the time is right. I have a very good feeling about our situation."

Bobbie has proven that she is a patient person, having been a caregiver to two husbands. She's very confident about this man. We'll see if I'm right--about not wasting more time--or if she's right to wait it out. Bobbie added, "I've always gone with my gut feeling--with my marriages that both lasted 19 years."

She promises to keep us posted.

From the Mailbag

Regarding last week's profile about Curt the single guy from Anaheim:

Joan said, "Just one word of advice for Curt: The 'older' women I know who talk about male profiles on this dating site hate two things that men say and do:

"First is the part about walking on the beach. Men think women want to hear that because it's supposed to be romantic, so it's become a cliche and women get turned off hearing it.

"Second, many men post pictures of their dogs alone or with the man; that's also a turn-off."

Tom's comment to Joan: Might the following be a double-bonus male profile:

"Love romantic walks with fido on the sand. Here is a photo of us at Salt Creek Beach waiting for the green flash at sunset. Just think, ladies, you could tail along with us. BTW, that's his name "Green Flash." He's even got green eyes. Isn't he a cutie!"

Reminder to men: Send in your profile with photos, but, only if you are serious about meeting someone; you will get responses. We will post them for free (but dogs are extra).

Email etiquette: Behind the doctor's mask

To keep this newsletter financially viable, I need to continually add new subscribers. Hence, I offer a no-cost, four-week trial to people who land on my website home page. Several people sign up for the trial every day. Converting them to paid subscribers at the end of the trial is a challenge as we see from the following email exchange between a guy named JR and me.

JR wrote, "Thank you for the 4-week trial. In all honesty, what do you try to achieve with your newsletters? I didn't find love nor any advice as to what to do about it. So, thanks, but no thanks."

When that email came in, it made me angry. My gosh, the trial is free. I felt JR's email was a personal attack, and I was tempted to respond with a zinger. But what good would that have done? I thought, how do I keep this guy as a reader? So I emailed back:

"I'm sorry you were disappointed. I'm not sure what you are looking for; thank you for taking the time to express your viewpoint. If you have suggestions on how to improve the newsletter, I would appreciate it."

JR responded, his demeanor had changed: "The loneliness is a reality. What can be done about it? As a Physician, it is not difficult to get a date! But if you are not a womanizer, where do you find somebody to love, to be loved--not for what you are, but for whom you are? On the internet? Unfortunately not. For many women, Physician = money = prey [own experience].

"This is not a vendetta against your newsletter. I'm possibly a bit desperate. God made us in 'pairs' and since the death of my wife I'm living as a single."

I realized his initial abrupt salvo had nothing to do with the newsletter or its content; it had to do with his own frustration.

I hoped to engage him more so I answered: "A physician-widower combo would be a special find for a woman. When were you widowed? Where do you live? You aren't desperate; you'd simply like to be with a special woman.

JR said, "Thank you for your kind words. I'm 66 [28 in my mind] and living in New Zealand, although I'm as African as a lion.

"My wife died in 1994 after 30 years of marriage. I was 'married' after that, but the lady wanted more than one gent in her life and walked out on me. That will never happen again. I will stay single and take the pain of being lonely rather than go through a divorce again.

"I'm in the process of registering with the New Zealand Medical Council, to enable me to do locums in this beautiful country. I have attached a photo."

Surprised by his change in attitude, I emailed, "I've traveled to New Zealand twice. The country and people are beautiful. My guess is you will meet a kind and caring woman in NZ and your loneliness will become a thing of the past. I hope you allow that to happen by not being bitter towards women."

JR wrote back, "Your letter added to the quality of my day. I'm not street wise; rather innocent ,or even worse, naive. Meeting the right lady is where the tyre strikes the tar! Where, good man, where? I'm not the pub-crawling type. I'm an alien in this wonderful country. I can't just go up to the first lady and volunteer: 'Excuse me, I'm very lonely. Are you interested in getting to know me?"

I replied, "That's precisely what you need to do. You know very few New Zealanders. Be assertive when you see a single woman you're attracted to because that may be your only chance to meet her. But, be realistic by focusing on women relatively close to your age."

Lesson learned

I'm happy I didn't lose JR as a reader and learned a couple of things about email etiquette. First, people shouldn't be rude or abrupt by hiding behind the invisible shield of the Internet. Since JR felt the newsletter was of no value to him, he should have simply unsubscribed or said nothing.

Second, on the email receiving end, people shouldn't judge too harshly others' opening comments or first impressions. By me not striking back, a beneficial email exchange and friendship resulted between two people in different countries, thousands of miles apart.

Communication is so important in the world. Be kind, be gentle.

Head-spinning, whirlwind relationship

I receive about 30 emails a day pertaining to mid-life romance. One recent flurry of emails from a divorcee left my head spinning.

Bonnie, 53, wrote that five weeks ago she met a 58-year-old widower of seven months on Match.com and had dated him "full-time" since then. They live in the same small town. He had been married 38 years; she was the first woman he had dated-other than his deceased wife-in 39 years.

When they met, the widower told her he was seeking a lover and a woman to move in with him.

Bonnie commented on that, "I want to get married again; I told him so in our first few days of dating. I told him I wanted to wait to have sex too. He thought I was a bit old-fashion.

"His daughter and family told him over and over he was going too fast and they did not like that I had been married five times. She told her dad I was probably a gold digger. His brother says he should date several women."

Bonnie reported that five weeks into the relationship, they had sex. Two days later, he dumped her, telling her he didn't want to hurt her, but he had to date at least three other women before making a commitment.

She said, "I am so hurt. I'm not sure he will ever realize how great we could be together. Can you send me any wise success stories so I can stop the pain in my heart?"

Seldom--in the 16 years I've been writing newspaper columns--have I been at a loss for words. What was I to tell her?

Five marriages? Gold digger? Maybe he didn't like the sex? Maybe he listened to his family's warnings? Maybe he hadn't healed yet?

I emailed her back and said that since the relationship had been for only five weeks, she'd likely recover soon, and asked her for more information, including why she had been married so often.

She replied, "Because I didn't want to 'live in sin' while raising my son. He is back on match.com and I have had maybe seven hours of sleep in the past 5 days. I decided today to go back on match. I have no clue how long it will be before he dates these three women and when he intends to let me know if he has found whatever he is searching for."

I figured that was the end of our correspondence. I hadn't helped at all; I had just listened. But she emailed this update the next morning:

"We got back together. We spent the entire day and resolved all of the issues we were having with his daughter who is worried about the silver and the crystal more than anything. Then the issues with a brother who thinks he should go out with several women. I feel better that we are back together. I am planning on living with him soon."

I thought, ah, another couple works out the differences through effective communication, moves in together, and lives happily ever after.

But it didn't exactly turn out that way.

A week later she wrote,"We broke up again. This time for good. I believe his drinking was a factor."

Scratching my head, I had nothing left to say-not that I had said anything of value in the previous email exchanges with her-other than it was best she found these things out before investing too much more time or emotion.

Can you imagine if she had moved in with him? And they had wed? Chances are it could have been divorce number six.

Lonely divorced woman seeks answers

Kathy has been divorced for nine years. She is 51 and lives with her 18-year-old son in San Diego County.

Kathy said, "I have a small circle of true friends but they are all married. I've had one long relationship of 2 1/2 years since my divorce. When it ended, I knew immediately that I did not want to spend the rest of my life alone. The loneliness is awful. I started to feel desperate and signed up for a couple of Internet Dating Services. Met a few nice men but mostly a bunch of creeps whose intentions didn't go beyond the physical.

"I took my profiles off of the dating sites and resigned myself to being alone. What an awful feeling - big pit in my stomach.

"I guess if there's someone out there for me, we will eventually cross paths. Not too optimistic about that. I'm not the type of lady who goes out alone, with the exception of a movie now and then. I don't know where to go by myself to meet singles in my age range. There's also the financial matter. I'd love to go on one of those singles cruises but just can't seem to be so frivolous when I live so meagerly. Do you have any suggestions?"

Tom's response to Kathy

Of all the dating-related questions asked of me in the 15 years of writing columns, "Where should I go to meet quality men?" is the most frequently asked. The answer hasn't changed during that time:

There is no place in San Diego--or anywhere across the USA, at least to my knowledge--where single men congregate for the purpose of meeting quality women age 50-plus. Places like that simply don't exist.

Well, that's not entirely true. There are clubs and bars where older guys go, usually to meet young honeys, but women like Kathy wisely avoid those places, knowing they likely wouldn't meet a quality man sitting on a barstool sipping a martini. So, where should Kathy go?

The book I'm publishing this summer--How 50 Couples Found Love After 50--will shed light on the answer. The book's purpose is two-fold: to explain how singles over 50 found love, and to give hope to singles like Kathy that love can be found.

Half of the couples in the book found love on the Internet. The other half found love elsewhere: at a bank, writer's group, restaurant, deli, wedding, on a bus, at the vet, at the dentist, walking on the beach, volunteering, on a cruise ship, networking through friends, at Parents Without Partners, at their places of worship, while antiquing, and at parties and outdoor festivals.

Where should Kathy go to meet someone? Everywhere and anywhere. The key: Get off the couch, out of the house, and involved in activities she enjoys. Meet lots of new people.

Sounds like work doesn't it? It is! Kathy has to rid her vocabulary (and mind) of words like "loneliness," "resigned myself to being alone," "feeling desperate" and "pessimism." At age 51, she's still a pup and much too young to be giving up.

Instead, meeting new people must go to the top of her priority list. Plus, she should get active to enrich her life. (But, not for the sole purpose of trying to meet a mate. When singles do that, they come off as looking too hard--even desperate--and other singles sense that and will avoid them.)

By opting out of the Internet, Kathy has excluded one of the most prolific ways older singles find each other. In spite of the negatives of internet dating, there are endless success stories of how older singles met mates on the Internet. It should be at least a small part of Kathy's mix of activities.

Brenda suggested a way to begin, "Try www.meetup.com. It's not a dating site, but a site organized by activities and zip code: hiking, volleyball, theater, dance, biking, pet lovers, movies, travel, foreign language, religion, books, sports (lots of men in the sporting-related ones). Whatever your interest, they'll probably have a Meetup group for it. If not, you can start your own. There is no cost to join.

"By joining, you'll get emails (or not, if you prefer) on upcoming events in your area that you can RSVP for. You'll meet lots of new like-minded people (both male and female) this way."

Other places to go

A different Kathy (one of our subscribers) said, "The golf course! Get out there and take golf lessons, buy clubs to get you started. Municipal courses are more affordable for lessons and to play a round of nine holes, and go for lunch after-a Mecca of men and lots of golf-related opportunities like Friday night dances and golf dinners that won't break the bank-usually the weekend things are well-attended by those guys who go home to an empty house.

Pat joined a local ski club and started going on organized ski trips, attending club meetings and participating in club activities. "Within a year, I met my husband," she said. "The secret is to get involved! I saw women make the mistake of going to meetings with their girlfriends and sitting at a table, talking only to them. No man is going to approach a table full of women, talking among themselves and select one to dance or ask out. It's too intimidating!"

Kathy can get rid of the loneliness, and meet someone special, but only if she gets active and out with people.

From the Mailbag

Janet wrote, "I am 60 and living in a small town. There is a shortage of men that are desirable, i.e., not into drinking and such. Do you have any suggestions on what to do? I have joined a couple of dating sites but the only responses that I get are from men who wanted:

To know if I had a garage so he could store his chain saw collection

Me to become like his late wife

Someone to kiss and watch TV with

Another guy has been single for 38 years because he didn't want to raise children that weren't his own, and he does not have a relationship with his own and he wanted someone that didn't have a relationship with their children.

Several were so fresh out of a marriage through death or divorce that they were not ready.

I am looking to find a relationship with friendship.

Introduction services do not come as far as where I live. It is lonely and I would like to have an honest relationship.

Tom's response to Janet: If your garage is big enough, maybe go ahead and store his chain saw collection. Poof, just like that, instant lumber-jack man in your life. Or instead, meet one of those golfers that Kathy #2 talked about and tell him you'll store his golf cart in your garage. On second thought, just follow some of the suggestions in today's main article and be sure you're getting out and about.

What you want in Internet Dating Sites

Last week, I asked what you look for when choosing an Internet date-matching site.

Apparently, I didn't word the question clearly; many of you responded with the qualities you seek in a mate. Your responses were terrific, but I was looking for what you seek in a site.

However, enough of you answered to provide insight into what features you want or, would like to have, in a site. We share the important features today:


Seniors want sites to comply with their requests. Women 65 don't want to meet 30-year-old men; sites shouldn't send poor matches that are not within the specifications requested.

Sue, New Jersey, said, "When I searched for men within 20 miles of my zip code, the site returned men 50-100 miles away."

One Orange County, California, man said, "I am canceling my dating-site subscription. I'm 5'2," the site tried to line me up with women 5'6" to 5'11. Not that I have a problem going out with someone taller, but for the most part, the women don't appreciate it. The site also sent women far away and in the 30-45 group. Why pay for a subscription that wasn't providing what I asked for?"

Carol, Minnesota, said, "Location of the members and demographics that the site caters to play a huge part on whether I join the service and pay to see the current listings of its members. Some sites are focused in California, others in Florida; why join them when I am in Minnesota?


Irene, Massachusetts, said, "I have been on Match.com, Eharmony and many others off and on for the last six years. I posted some great photos and have written a very honest bio. I've only met one person in all these years.

"I spent serious money on these websites and have been very disappointed with the responses. One person that sounded perfect said that our distance was too great. His town was 15 minutes from me. I question the integrity of some of the people so I just took myself off these sites."

Sue shared what she's looking for: "How about some dates! Where are the men 48-57?"


Mark, Southern California, emailed, "What do I look for in an Internet dating service? One word: 'free.' If I could get a successful match, I'd happily pay 100 times what the subscription sites charge, but I'm not willing to pay anything for the CHANCE at a match, because the chances are exceedingly small. About the same as winning the Lottery, I'd say, and playing the Lottery is more fun.

"Since there are now several completely free sites, there isn't any need to pay."

Shirley, New York City, disagreed, "None of the existing Internet websites is geared for truthful guidance and referrals; it's all about money, and if it is cheap or free, the worst results occur.


Barb, New Hampshire, would like, "The opportunity to be able to email with whom one desires, not the company limiting who you are 'so-called compatible with,' and thereby limiting who you can email or connect with."

Cydne, Washington, said, "The simpler the better. All of this so-called 'matching' by the more expensive sites does not impress me, and frankly gets in the way of meeting folks."

Shirley thinks lengthy, personality-profile tests for seniors are nonsensical. "Those who 'passed' their test received the most inappropriate referrals."

Tom's comment:

As more senior success stories surface, more seniors will Internet date. In June, I am publishing a book titled, How 50 Couples Found Love After 50. Of the couples featured, 55 percent found love by using the Internet. Some couples are in their 70s and 80s. The key for most: patience and persistence, although a few found love on their first search.

From the Mailbag

Shirley, "Though woman are often picky and demanding, I must say the older guys are frozen in ideas about gender roles, and are very judgmental about a woman's appearance, personality, former marriage(s), and even their children. So, alert the guys to give us women a break! It's not a secret that older women today DO NOT want to be the little woman, nurse, psychiatrist, and housecleaner---especially the second time around."

Don, Washington: "I haven't embarked on the Internet-dating ship (yet)... If things get any more bleak, there's always the possibility. How does Don define "more bleak?"

"If the fishing goes sour, and the Harley falls apart, and my bow shoulder blows out, and I panic at the thought of living in continued peace and serenity, and aloneness."

Hey Jude

I hadn't thought much about last week-end. It was my partner Greta's week-end, her 50th reunion of St. Anthony's High School in Long Beach, California.

She had been on the planning committee and had worked hard making the name tags with pictures on them and had helped with the organizing and decorating.

Her only request of me: show up wearing a nice suit. Of course, I wanted to be there for her, after all, over the 11 years we've been a couple, she has attended lots of my events, including my 50th reunion a couple of years ago. I didn't anticipate that the week-end would affect me.

But, I was wrong. The events took me by surprise. They made me appreciate the incredible era through which our generation has lived.

We arrived an hour before the start. Greta needed to set up the reception table so I strolled around the banquet room. The planning committee had prepared several posters that were mounted on easels. Looking at those posters is when revelations started to strike me.

One poster had pictures of the singers who put their stamp on our era. What a tragedy that we lost so many of them early.

There were Ricky Nelson, Bobby Darin and Sam Cook. And the one that had devastated me the most: Buddy Holly, along with fellow Crickets Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper who died with Buddy in the same plane crash. There were Patsy Cline, Mama Cass and Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers.

The poster also had a picture of Johnny Cash, in his early days, long before I had the pleasure of knowing him.

I checked on Greta a few times while people were signing in. It was fun to see people saying, "You haven't changed a bit," or, "I didn't recognize you," and not be worried that I wouldn't recognize anybody because it wasn't my reunion.

One guy said to me, "Remember when we were sent to detention together?"

I said, "Yea, but it was your fault." Of course, I had never seen him before; I was in college in Indiana in 1959.

After dinner, the planning committee did a cute dance routine on stage to "Sh-Boom," known as the first popular Doo-Wop song. It was a huge hit in 1954.

Then, the music started. I drove Greta nuts by identifying song after song on the first or second note, belting out the words while dancing. I said, "I've always believed that Bill Haley and the Comets started rock and roll with 'Rock around the Clock,' from the movie Blackboard Jungle. The disc jockey played it a couple of minutes later.

And then he played "Heartbreak Hotel," the song that introduced us to Elvis.

We danced a lot, and really got to shaking during "At the Hop" (Danny and the Juniors) and "Come Go With Me" (the Dell Vikings). There were lots of single men dancing with single women. Reunions are a must for singles hoping to meet someone.

As we drove to our hotel, I told Greta how much I had enjoyed her reunion and how it had reminded me of how special our era was in which to grow up. But, we weren't done with the memory-filled week-end.

On Sunday, we went to the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles for the matinee of "Rain," a musical tribute to the Beatles. Rain is the name of a Los Angeles-based Beatles tribute band that has been performing since the 1970s. I wasn't prepared for the nostalgia that their performance triggered in me.

I loved the Beatles as we all did. But I didn't realize how much they had touched my life. And speaking of identifying songs on the first note, "A Hard Day's Night," begins with a powerful, distinctive, one-note twang.

The music was enhanced by videos on large screens of significant world events that occurred during the Beatles' reign. Music is the glue that keeps those memories fresh in our minds.

During the Sgt. Pepper set, the group dressed in those colorful, psychedelic outfits (the Beatles never performed Sgt. Pepper before a live audience).

If you were even remotely a Beatles fan, you'll love "Rain." I enjoyed it as much as "Mama Mia," (Abba) "Jersey Boys," (Four Seasons) or "Movin' Out" (Billy Joel).

The show ended after two adrenalin-pumping hours. But the audience, of course, insisted on an encore. And wow, what a finish. The character of John Lennon sang "Imagine." And then, the quartet played "Give Peace a Chance." The grand finale: a ten-minute, on-your-feet, arms-swaying version of Paul McCartney's song, "Hey Jude." More than 8 million singles of "Hey Jude" have been sold.

On the way home, I said to Greta, "Thank you for being in my life, and for this week-end that made me appreciate how fortunate our generation has been to have lived through the 1950s and 1960s."

Widow needs to get out with new people

I hear from lots of lonely older singles. I wish I could match everybody so people wouldn't be alone later in life. Some singles take the bull by the horns and aggressively try to meet someone. Others, such as Cathy, hope Mr. Right will simply appear at their door.

Cathy wrote, "I am a widow who loves church and the Christian stations, hoping to be noticed but new to the cyberspace form of miracle mating. I belong to a small church, not where you would meet someone, but a place to worship and I am happy there.

"I do not function well eating alone or not having a travel companion. I am not needy but need a special someone to spoil.

"I do not want to put myself out front for the world to see but must find a social circle appropriate to my needs. I do not like websites where young men write and older men don't.

"I found your website and hope that someone out there doesn't find 65 too old to be looking for a soul mate. It is not pleasant searching but I must face rejection because I am 65.

"I like to spoil and be a friend to my certain someone. I only need the right person to find me and I will not disappoint him.

"If there is divine intervention and the Lord Blesses us, then it will be a perfect way to start.

"I will keep the faith that I will be blessed someday."

My response to Cathy

My website (Finding Love After 50) is not a date-matching service. I do not introduce people; there are now hundreds of sites that do that.

Rather, I provide information on how to find love, how others have found love, what to be careful of and to answer questions that singles and even married people ask about relationships for people 50 to 80.

I share people's success stories and their stories of woe and frustration. I try to be a voice and a sounding board for older singles. But a matchmaker I'm not.

People get rejected in Internet dating at all ages. The rejection is what keeps many older singles from even trying the Internet.

Age 65 is not too old. Recently, I heard from a widow, 68, who met a man while volunteering through her church by helping widows and widowers get through their grief.

You mentioned divine intervention. I suppose it does happen in dating, but what occurred with the 68-year-old widow was not divine intervention. Meeting her mate happened because she was volunteering and helping others.

People who wait for divine intervention to meet a mate are leaving the work to a Higher Power. Older singles who want a mate need to be involved in activities outside of the house.

You said you like to spoil and be a friend to a man. I agree with the being a friend aspect. But most modern men don't want to be spoiled. Most will run the other way at the thought of being fawned over. Most modern women feel the same way.

If anything, older singles are becoming more and more independent as they age. Yes, they'd like to meet someone, but not at the cost of being shackled or smothered.

I suggest you become more proactive in your search by taking two courses of action for you: First, join Meetup.com. This is not a dating site, but a site that profiles thousands of special-interest groups throughout the United States. You could likely find a widower-widow site for people who enjoy church as much as you.

Second, sign up for my weekly e-newsletter at Finding Love After 50.com You will learn how people are meeting others.

Will you meet someone? There are no guarantees, but at least you won't be at home awaiting a knock on your door.

Woman Korean War Veteran finds love on the Internet

Last week, in my infinite wisdom, I wrote how older singles should take it slow and not rush into anything serious, especially marriage. And then, four days later, along comes a story from a woman, who at age 74, did just that: rushed a relationship and married and it has worked out beautifully.

Her letter was a coincidence, she had not read the newsletter. Here is her story:

Barbara wrote, "I found your site while researching an English writing class assignment. (I'm a 76-year-old 'college girl.') I am also the daughter and sister (4 times) of sailors, one son Navy, and 4 grandsons all military, besides having served in the Marine Corps myself during the Korean War.

"A native Californian, I was widowed in 1999 after 42-1/2 years of happy marriage to a 25-year-Navy man, while living in his hometown in Alabama. My grown kids lived in the area, and while we are close, they had their own lives.

"It really got lonely - especially at night. In 2003, a friend talked me into signing up on Match.com. I met and kissed a few toads while looking for my prince! I was really beginning to wonder if it was hopeless.

"Then in May of 2005 (at 73), I had a contact from a man living in Louisiana - a retired Sr. Master Sgt. from the Air Force - originally from Vermont (where my mother was from).

"He sounded nice, so I answered him. We corresponded for about 6 months when I finally asked him if he would let me analyze his handwriting. I e-mailed what I wanted him to write and he sent it to my P.O. Box.

"Once I analyzed it very carefully and knew he wasn't an axe murderer, I called him and gave him my unlisted phone number and my street address. Then we started talking every day as well as e-mails.

"We discovered we are only 6 weeks apart in age - him Sept 1932 and me November 1932, and we both graduated from high school in 1950. He came to visit me twice after that, and he and my kids hit it off right away.

"I made a trip down to Louisiana to visit him in July of 2006, and he proposed to me on the 4th of July. He was preparing to move to North Carolina to be near his son, and that was perfectly agreeable to me. I felt that it would be best if we started out as a couple in a new place where we formed new friends as a couple.

"In August, 2006, I drove to North Carolina and we went house hunting, signed the papers on a house, then we drove to New York to his brother's house, and he and his wife went with us to Niagara Falls and stood up with us.

"Then we went to Vermont to see his daughter. What a blessing this marriage is! I love his 2 children - as far as I am concerned they are mine too. (Their mother is deceased.) He loves my kids and they love him too - they know how good he is to me.

"I just feel that I am so very blessed, and the best part is that he thinks he is the lucky one! With our ages being so close, and our military backgrounds in common, we really hit it off so very well.

"We just don't have those old 'set in our ways' problems that so many people our age have. We both love to travel, and are saving right now to drive to New York, across Canada, and up the Alcan highway to Alaska this summer. We have been married for over 2-1/2 years now, and we both delight in seeing the surprise on people's faces when we tell them we met on the Internet!"

Give Barbara credit for attending college while in her 70s, taking the bull by the horns to meet someone well suited to her, using the Internet to do so, researching his background, relocating far away, and having the grit to purchase a home and marry him.

Goes to show I don't always know what I'm talking about!

The rush-to-decision generation

Two weeks ago, we wrote about Judi meeting a man at a convention, who lives 2,000 miles from her. She'd like to get to know him but spending time together is difficult due to the distance. Many members responded to her situation by warning her not to make a quick decision, something that they had done, which came back to haunt them later.

Don identified our generation's problem, "We're ALL looking for love; it's a sad comment on our culture and our times." Don is right. Our generation tends to rush decisions regarding love.

I hear all too often from singles in their 50s-60s-70s who are so lonely they jump at nearly any chance for romance--including marriage--without investing adequate time to get to know the person. They rush into these situations, and regret them later. Here are two examples of rushed decisions that backfired, provided anonymously by our own members.

Anonymous #1 said, "Sorry to have to report the bad news, but my marriage almost made 6 years. My husband is divorcing me and for the better. The biggest lesson learned: NEVER EVER marry someone when you have only known them six months. I do not care HOW old you are. Get to know the person, and even then, it's still not a guarantee that it will last.

"Six months is a very short time to get to know someone. One to two years is a better plan. Even if you know someone two years, people change. Always be aware of the very best communication between one another; if you need counseling, do that too. We went to four different therapists. The last one said we were a mismatch and could help us walk thru the separation and divorce. GO FIGURE!

"I chose to ignore red flags and made excuses for his behavior. So now, I am single. Not really looking but always available for Mr. Right, if there is one.

Anonymous #2 said , "After moving lock, stock and barrel (and my animals) into the home of my 'interest' after 1.5 years of twice-a-month dating (and the romantic vacations), I was shocked to see just how anger and jealousy rose to the top of this man's personality.

"I was expected to check in at every moment, go directly from my new workplace to his to help him finish up his day, and I caught him spying on me during my lunches. It was a nightmare. I had no notion of this beforehand.

"Things that may seem simple like having only one bathroom were a major hardship for an over-50 couple getting used to living together, as was my not getting to 'meld' some of my belongings into our living space (as I was told would happen, but they were relegated to the garage).

"Thank heaven I kept my home and was able to get another job after my three months of jail. I strongly suggest Judi take a two-month stay at his house so she can note and discuss the items that may be a problem.

"Discuss, discuss, discuss and then try it all out before ANYONE moves ANYWHERE!"

Lots of you offered advice, but Shirley nailed it, "One has to be very desperate or unhappy to make such a move without first getting to know another person very, very well, because it is PREMATURE..

"Internet dating and access to other ways of meeting people who live far from us encourage us to dream about potential hookups, but at 61, it is not easy or rational to hop into bed with someone who may be a passing phase. Uprooting oneself from a life has to be done for a better reason--only time, closeness, level-headedness (and having discretionary funds in the event of a mistake), should be counted on.


Don added to his earlier comment, "Is Judi ready to sell her home and move? Of course not. Nor is her beau. The problem is rife with us sixtysomethings/fiftysomethings."

Advice to singles who have met someone: Although it's tempting, do not rush into a situation you may later regret, whether it's to get married, relocate to another city, or just move across town into his digs. It's just too risky and foolish.

Take your time, it will work out for the better.

Be careful at singles events

Two weeks ago, the leader of an age 55+ singles club asked if her group could have a party at my Dana Point deli. I was happy to have the business and the exposure.

When I offered to invite Orange County people who are on my email list-including several who receive this newsletter--she eagerly accepted. At least ten of our present or past members attended. It was a fun event, the largest turnout the club has had in months.

A couple of days later, a man phoned the deli and said he'd left a canvas bag at the deli with door prizes he'd won at the party. We told him there was no bag. He left his name and phone number in case it turned up.

On Saturday, the same man came to the deli and wanted us to double check for the bag. Two of my employees went to the office to look. He followed them to the office and attempted to step inside. They told him to wait outside the door. Again, no bag.

On Sunday, I was in the office preparing the bank deposit from Saturday. Receipts were missing from one of the cash register drawers. I asked the cashier and she told me she had put the receipts in the same place in the office as always. But the money wasn't there.

Then, I noticed the money was also gone from the change fund. From the two locations, a pretty good sum of money was missing. I filed a police report.

The office is supposed to be locked at all times. I was able to narrow the time down to when the money disappeared: between 4:30 and 4:45. But who did it? I trust my employees and cursed myself for allowing a suspicious thought to creep into my mind wondering if one of them had done it.

At the bank on Monday, the bank operations manager said, "My family and I had another great meal Saturday at your deli."

"At what time?" I asked.

"Late, around 4:30."

I told her what had happened. Her face came alive. "Oh my gosh," she said, "I saw an older man come out of your office about that time. I had a bad feeling about him."

"But that's not possible. There isn't another old guy around. I'm the only one"

"For sure, I saw him and thought it was strange."

"Could you identify him?"

"Yes, I watched him for quite awhile."

The police investigator interviewed the single's club chairman. She said no one belonged to her club by the name of the guy who came looking for the canvas bag.

Darn! How would we find the guy?

And then it came to me. I wondered if he was on my email list and came to the party as a guest and not as a member of the singles club. Oh my gosh, he was.

He had been a newsletter member in 2006-2017 and had requested to stay on the south Orange County list to be notified of singles events. He had even entered his address, phone number and the city where he lives so he wouldn't miss a party. The phone number he'd left at the deli matched his phone number.

What a shock, a former member of my very own newsletter group had possibly ripped me off. How violated did I feel? Lots. It should be noted, he is not a current member.

On the day before I left for South America, the sheriff investigator told me he feels the man will make a confession when confronted with the facts. If not, he'll have to appear in a police lineup before the bank operations manager.

I told the investigating officer that if he returns the money, I will not press charges.

How did he get into the office? He saw my employee remove the money from the register and watched her go into the office. Then, when my workers were in other parts of the deli, he took a chance that the door was unlocked-- which it should not have been--but was. Obviously, stepped up security measures are now in place.

There's a lesson for all of us in this. When you are out and about, be careful of strangers, even when in the comfort of a singles group. Be aware of everything that is going on around you at all times. Do not leave your purse behind when you hit the dance floor. Can you imagine that this guy is lurking among the singles of Orange County?

It's a shame we have to be so careful.

2,000 miles between them

When older singles are involved in a long-distance relationship, it's most often a result of finding each other on the Internet.

But it's not always the Internet that spawns these relationships. You can meet someone who lives far away from you on a plane, train, trip, or at your friend Sally's house, when her brother visits from Oshkosh.

Long-distance relationships--regardless of how they originated--are good-news, bad-news situations. Good news because you've met a potential partner, something that often eludes mature singles. Bad news because bringing them to fruition is so challenging.

When you meet someone who interests you, and who lives far away, you enter the inner sanctum of the long-distance relationship, with its delights, frustrations and challenges.

Judi finds herself there. She said, "I'm 61 and met someone 62 at a national convention. We 'hit it off' instantly and share many common interests and personality traits.

"Since the convention, we have stayed in contact via phone and computer at least twice a week. The problem is we live more than 2,000 miles apart. I am semi-retired and own a house; he is still employed and lives in an apartment.

"I am 'close' to my adult children, who live within a two-hour drive of my house; he is somewhat 'distant' from his adult children, who live in his same hometown. My friend and I would love to get to know one another better and to spend quality time together, but this seems unrealistic.

"Have any of your readers had similar experiences or can anyone share advice? Am I wasting my time hoping that something 'permanent' may grow out of this?"

Before singles dismiss a long-distance relationship for fear they will find themselves mired in a seemingly impossible and frustrating experience, as Judi is in--I must say that lots of couples have endured similar challenges to emerge as in-love couples living under the same roof.

In my upcoming book, "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50" (May, 2009), 30 percent of the featured couples met on the Internet and began their relationships from afar. Granted, not all were 2,000 miles apart, but they were far enough away so they couldn't see each other on a daily or weekly basis. However distance was a factor. Flying to Sacramento from San Diego is a heck of a lot easier than flying to Chicago.

For a long-distance relationship to work, that is, for the couple to be together on a daily basis, it's a pretty simple solution: somebody has to relocate.

For Judi--on the surface, at least, without knowing more of the details of her situation--it seems that her guy would be the logical one to move. He lives in an apartment; she lives in a house. She's 'close' to her children; he's 'somewhat distant' with his kids.

But it's not that easy. He has a job that he'd have to give up--risky in these tough times. She's semi-retired, perhaps it would be easier for her to move, but then they'd live in an apartment instead of a home and be near his kids and far away from hers.

Any option is risky. Let's say he comes to live with her and once he's moved in, he doesn't like it, or doesn't like her, and/or, she may not like having him living with her, or like him. Then what?

Before any decision is made, they need to spend time together, not just on short visits, or on a romantic vacation, but for an extended time living together where they face the day-to-day routines. Only after that should they decide to relocate or not.

Is Judi wasting her time? No, as so many of the couples featured in my book discovered. Will getting together with him be difficult? You betcha!

What would you tell Judi?

Tough talk for a tough situation

Last week, we featured Sue's story about dating a widower whose 19-year-old daughter was sabotaging Sue's relationship with him. Readers responded.

Carlene dated a widower who had a similar situation with his only daughter (age 35): "There was no way the daughter was ever going to allow her father to have a committed relationship with another woman, let alone live a life separate from her.

"He provided a house for her and her husband/children, where he got a room upstairs in exchange for paying the mortgage.

"There were times we had plans and she would call with some 'emergency' (I am late, pickup the kids), just to spoil a night out for us. It was no wonder she put up 'walls' of resentment and laid on the guilt trips. She got what she wanted and didn't care about anyone else.

"It was clear this was never going to change and was one of the reasons I called off the dating. He had lost 'the woman of his dreams' and was unwilling to do anything that would cause his only daughter to also leave him."

Lisa, a therapist, said, "I think Sue and the widower should talk it through, maybe with the help of a therapist, and come to an agreement about the terms of their relationship. If they are both ok with keeping it the way it is, why not? If they can't come to an agreement, call it quits and move on."

An anonymous woman said, "Terminate the relationship. I dated a widower with a 42-year-old son named Harold and it was the dad who could not let go.

"The widower cooked for him, babied him, poured his coffee, fixed his lunch and took the son's car in for repairs. I couldn't figure out why the son never moved out and said 'ENOUGH, dad.' The son had a good job and no financial pressures, but of course lived with no rental payments.

"When I suggested a trip for the widower and myself, he replied, 'What about Harold?' I bailed out; it was the best move I ever made."

When Dave started dating a woman 18 months after his wife died, he experienced a similar situation with his 33-year-old step daughter.

However, Dave and the step daughter attended grief sessions together. "She heard me talk about her mother being a part of who and what I was and will ever be," Dave said.

"Eventually she began gaining an understanding that she needed to deal with her obsession with my not dating. Through dual grief sessions and sessions alone, this life-living barrier was resolved.

"I recommend the widower initiate grief counseling for himself, and then invite his daughter to go with him. Speaking to and through a 3rd party elevates issues especially when the grief counselor can insert relevant and soothing thoughts, comments."

MJ said, "I also had the same problem because of completely different approaches to children; I had to walk away from my 2nd marriage. I don't believe Sue's significant other will ever change and it will be a contention in their relationship always."

Joan, a psychologist, wrote, "The problem this 19-year-old has may not be about losing her mother; it might be about learning disabilities or chemical imbalances that haven't been detected. People never think of these things; they blame circumstances or 'parent indulgence' or blame the child for acting like a spoiled brat. The truth is that often these kids need psychiatric help.

Jennifer suggested the boyfriend send his daughter off to a residential college.

Irene advised Sue: "Stay out of the situation with his daughter: You haven't been in his life that long to suddenly come in and make suggestions on how she can move out so you can move in. She is only 19 and too young to leave and live on her own especially in this awful economy."

Joyce said, "I went through the same thing two years ago. I was 70 and he was 73. The 'children' in my scenario were 42 and 46 (both non-working alcoholics) who returned home after their mother died 'to help him adjust to being without her,' and who were living with him in his house and financially dependent on him.

"Consequently, despite a comfortable retirement income, he could not afford to hold up his financial responsibility to me. I ended up spending more and more on our entertainment which consisted mostly of movies and eating out in addition to cooking our meals. His 'children' encouraged him to spend as much time with me as possible, so he lived with me 4-5 days a week.

"They had the freedom to drink as much as they wanted while he was away. This infuriated him and for a year he promised he would stop enabling them and tell them to move out. He never did. I started seeing him as a weak and indecisive man. I lost interest and broke it off. Two years later, he still hasn't moved them out."

Don said, "Sue and her man should seek a professional together who works with widows/widowers on a regular basis."

Shirley had an opinion, "With so much resistance and different views on child rearing, this romance is doomed. Repeating over and over again her disapproval of a daughter is not the way to go. It's time for Sue to move on, for she will not get her way and she is harming this man who has to cope with parenthood, loneliness, and how to proceed in reinventing his life.

"I do not recommend anyone get involved with someone whose children resist or cause serious turmoil. It's a waste of time to pursue this connection."

Mary added, "The man is crippling his daughter's ability to grow into a self-sufficient person and mature, functioning adult. I foresee her as being a life-long problem to the relationship and a huge obstacle to a happy marriage."

It's unanimous: Action is needed for the relationship to survive. Sue should begin by sharing today's newsletter with him. We would welcome him as a subscriber.

Widower's wife loves her man

Melissa, "I married a widower and it's the best thing I ever did!

"Were there problems to work out? YES!! It has taken me two years to make their home OURS. I even had to help send his late wife's belongings to charities- after rejecting his offer that I could use some of her things!

"I would strongly advise moving into a house the two of you can call yours- otherwise it will always be 'hers.' Our situation was complicated by a 26-year-old daughter who had grown up in this home! I started feeling like a bull in a china shop as I finally-determinedly--made the house over and put my stamp as the WIFE on it.

"And yet, even when we still vacation at 'their' timeshare condo, or my husband and I tend 'her' rose garden, or I work downstairs in 'her' craft room, I adore this man... for the love he has for me and still has for her, all the things they shared and her 'teaching' him to be a great husband.

"I am the very lucky recipient of a man who spent 26 loving years in a great relationship with a wonderful wife who was gracious enough to tell him before her death that she wanted him to find another lucky lady to share the remainder of his life!

"Give me the baggage of a widower any day over the pitfalls a divorced man!"

What to do when adult children get in the way

When people become single later in life and decide to date again, their children often have a problem dealing with it.

Sue, not her true name, is in that category and has a dilemma. She and the widower she's dating have many things in common, love one another, and enjoy their time together. But, a 19-year-old daughter of the widower is putting a strain on the relationship.

Sue said, "Our relationship, while great in some ways, has its issues. He feels sorry for his youngest child, spoils her, and doesn't expect her to do much at all, since she lost her mother at age 13.

"While I sympathize for them both, he is doing her and me no favors by treating her like a wounded princess. For this reason, I doubt if we will ever live together. His daughter lives with him, and while she complains about living with him, neither of them seems to be moving in a direction of helping her to become more independent."

Sue feels as if the widower and daughter are married and she's the outsider.

"You have written columns about widowers who have not gotten over the loss of their wife--I think he has processed that--but I think he is not able to let his daughter go through any pain, and spoils her in order to make up for her loss of a mother, which is a different sort of inability to let go," Sue said.

She doesn't want any child to have undo suffering, but sees the daughter as manipulative and lazy. She tries not to comment about the situation, but says it leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Sue has read online that taking care of and spoiling adult children is a common problem with widowers.

"Although my significant other and I have discussed this issue many times, it is a sore spot for us. We both know we can't move forward while his daughter lives with him.

"He talks about he and I living together in the future, however, I predict his daughter will live with him, at least off and on for many years to come, because she does not know how to take care of herself (doesn't clean, cook, work, goes to community college, but after two quarters is ready to 'take a break'), Sue said.

Sue cited specifics: "The daughter uses anger (yelling and swearing), as well as eliciting his pity (crying over small things) to get him to give her what she wants. This lack of responsibility in my significant other's daughter is very difficult for me to accept.

"I have thought about going to counseling on my own to sort out whether to leave or stay with a good man whose way of relating to his adult child is very different than my own-- my adult sons (ages 26 and 29) knew how to cook, clean, and be respectful by their early teens.

"I made sure they learned the basics of caring for themselves as well as a house and its belongings, because I wanted them to eventually be partners/husbands who could effectively pitch in."

So, what is Sue's choice? Either she accepts the situation or terminates the relationship. For now, she stays because of their strong compatibility in other areas.

Sue said, "For now, I am mostly satisfied with what I term a long-term, dating relationship. In most ways that is fine with me, since I have my own house, career, friends, family and hobbies."

Have you experienced problems with children? What would you tell Sue?

More on adult children

A second anonymous woman said, "I've been dating a widower (widowed for 19 months) for four months. He won't tell his children (in their 30's) that he's dating. It bothers me. Should it? Or, should I leave it alone and go with the flow?"

Tom's comment: I told her to go with the flow for now, but tell him that you'd like to meet his family--when he feels comfortable introducing you. One of these days he'll do it--we hope!

Women respond with their first-date turnoffs

Last week, we listed a half dozen first-date turnoffs that irritate men. Women responded--as we knew they would--with turnoffs of their own.

Marg said, "I read the article with much amusement. As a participant in the internet dating pool, I can assure you without hesitation that all of the turnoffs you listed can fairly be attributed to the male gender as well.

"Add showing up with, and even worse, keeping that baseball cap on your head. Unless you are at a baseball game, save that for boy's night out.

"Also, do not profess that you want honesty and no game playing when you lied about your age, income, etc. If there was any spark there, you just put it out because you killed the trust and played a silly game."

Sarah defended first-date questioning of men, "I ask lots of questions on the first date as a means of getting men to talk about themselves, not as a means of qualification, but rather, as a means of communicating and learning about them, often leading to discussions. I wonder if this would be misconstrued as 'having to prove himself.'"

Lying is Laurel's beef: "One of my peeves is guys who fib about their height! It's happened way too many times. If someone claims 5'11" and they are barely taller than my height of 5' 5", it's NOT OK for me, rather an immediate turn off. (I like my dates taller than I am). If guys are 5'8", it's OK, and, men can lose height as they age, but 5 or 6 inches exaggeration is too much!

"I have a guy friend whose Match profile states he is 5'11"--he's NOT. He shared with me that a woman he met commented, 'I thought you'd be taller.' He didn't get it! And, I couldn't think of a diplomatic way to tell him to change the number."

Lynne took issue with my suggested response a woman might say to a man when he asks her why she divorced. I had written, "...if you really want to know, when you've got ten hours or so, we'll sit down and I'll fill you in on what a scoundrel my husband was."

Lynne said, "If I were a man and someone said this to me, I would be inclined to think that this was a bitter woman with a heap of invective to spew. There may be two sides to a story, but he is obviously going to get only one side, and in ten hours? Run away, mister!

"A better answer might be: 'We just didn't get along. I'll tell you about it sometime.' Something more toned down like this would make the woman seem less like she is carrying a big bag of complaints around with her."

I said to Lynne my attempt at humor had missed the target.

Rebecca added, "My first date turnoff (among other things) was after lunch, with the food still on the table, he took his nose spray from his satchel and sprayed into his nose and sniffed deeply several times. No concept whatsoever that this is an unappetizing move for the date."

And finally, Karen said: "While on my first date, men have thanked me for looking exactly like my picture. Please ladies stop posting 'ancient memories.'

"I don't commit any faux pas, and am not guilty of any of the problems on the check list. However, my problem in obtaining second and third dates is that I won't--how do I put this?--'put out' after being bought dinner."

In summary, here are five first-date turnoffs of which men are guilty from the female point of view:

1 Killing trust by lying about anything, especially height
2 Wearing baseball caps they never remove
3 Using nose spray at the table during a meal
4 Expecting a woman to "reward" the man because he paid for the meal
5 The same issues men listed about women, only reversed

Visiting Los Angeles on Grammy week-end

It was by coincidence that my partner and I were in L.A. on Grammy week-end. We stayed at the London Hotel at the intersection of San Vicente and Sunset Blvd. We noticed in the hotel lobby on Friday night lots of hip, young people, some with Grammy backstage access badges around their necks. A valet parking guy told us there were lots of Grammy celebrities at the hotel, including singer Chris Brown and his girlfriend Rihanna.

Other than Neil Diamond, U2, and Paul McCartney, we probably wouldn't have recognized any of the performers anyway. I had heard of Coldplay, but didn't know who they were.

Late Saturday afternoon, a bunch of photographers were taking pictures of a robust woman in an alcove off of the lobby We thought she was a dress model posing for a magazine photo. We walked past her, watched for 30 seconds, and then walked back into the lobby. We didn't ask who she was.

Back home on Sunday night watching the Grammies, we about fell over when the same woman--Adele--performed and won two Grammy awards. She was wearing the same black dress.

When Coldplay performed, Greta said she was certain she'd seen their lead singer Chris Martin on the elevator.

We didn't see Chris Brown or Rhianna at the hotel. They canceled their Grammy show appearances. He had been arrested for allegedly assaulting her in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Facebook test update

We've established a Finding Love After 50 Group on Facebook. It's a week old. As of yesterday, we had 62 people in the group. People have posted nice pictures. Our group is going to grow by leaps and bounds.

On Facebook, people can post messages, pictures, videos, and gain contact with friends and members of this group. If you are a member of Facebook, type in "Finding Love After 50" in the search area. If you don't belong to Facebook, and want to be in our group, you will need to join, which is free, easy to do, and takes perhaps a minute.

We are joining the modern world of communication via the Internet--the kids have nothing on us.

Six first-date turnoffs

In response to women asking for more of the male point-of- view on dating, Scott's comment from last week, "I am not remotely interested in proving myself on the first date or two with a ceaseless verbal qualifying exam as if I am claiming a prize," hatched today's topic on men's first-date turnoffs.

One first-date turnoff came from Rich: "If you haven't gotten over being hurt by past relationships, try not to use that as an 'opener.' Let's look forward to what might be."

If I may expand on Rich's answer. Invariably you'll be asked on a first date about the circumstances surrounding your divorce or breakup. Any mention of how poorly you were treated by an ex-spouse or ex-mate should be tabled.

A good answer might be: "There are two sides to every story. So, why don't we just leave it at that for now? However, if you really want to know, when you've got ten hours or so, we'll sit down and I'll fill you in on what a scoundrel my husband was."

Doug mentioned a first-date turnoff he experienced: "On the two occasions, where my badgering was successful in obtaining a first date, I achieved the foundation for my hypothesis-female fantasy vs. reality -through encounters with women many pounds and years removed from the svelte damsels of photo display. They knew, and I knew-though left unsaid-that their representations were pure fraud and untruths."

Larry had first-date pet peeves as well: "I have a big smile on my face as I reflect on at least the half dozen women I've met for the first time from internet dating sites. They have a pre-conceived check list and just one point can disqualify a potentially great partner. It is comically like an un-smooth job interview and not very romantic.

"Perhaps had they been smarter, a second, third or fourth meeting would have more graciously brought out their wanted information. These women have obviously not looked into a mirror regarding their own lifestyles, family history, spending habits or desired spending habits and their mannerisms including lack of manners."

And then Larry candidly admitted, "Fortunately or unfortunately, I/men have a check list also, but, I usually allow two or three strikes before they are out."

And if I may jump into the fray, I put arriving late as a bad wait to begin a first date. True, unforeseen events can happen, such as freeway traffic jams. But being late is rude and an indication that the culprit doesn't consider the first meeting all that important.

Another first-date turnoff: Not shutting down your cell phone beforehand. Worst yet, answering your cell phone, and even worse yet, talking or texting during the date.

And another: Not listening to what he has to say. Instead, you just obliviously drone on and on.

And the ultimate turn off: poor etiquette at the table. Hauling your compact mirror out, then adding lipstick and/or makeup is usually a second-date killer. The dinner table or barstool is not the bathroom.

And in case you haven't completely turned the guy off by now, the nail in the coffin might be, on the way out, you grab a toothpick and start removing the spinach from your teeth.

No wonder people are nervous on first dates, there's so much to remember. Here is a summary of six first-date no-no's from the male point-of-view:

6 first-date turnoffs

1. Avoid drilling him with a check off list
2. Don't bash your ex
3. Don't entice him beforehand with out-of-date photos or false premises
4. Leave your cell phone in the car
5. Sincerely listen to what he says
6. Use Emily Post etiquette

* * *

PS Comment from Tom: I hope men continue to share their opinions and experiences. Single women say they want to hear the male perspective.


We've had several requests from our readers lately to discuss the problems and issues of caregiving many of us face with elderly parents. Some say their dating has been put on hold so they can help their parents. Others speak of the strain caregiving puts on their own lives.

If you are currently involved in caregiving of your parents, or have done so in the past, what are the issues you've faced? If you were married, did it affect the marriage? And what are the solutions?

If we get enough input, we'll consider doing a newsletter on the topic.

Single Man Expresses Dating Views

Last week, Catherine asked why I don't write more stories about middle-aged single men. She said, "We need to get the male perspective out -- partially to dismiss the myth that older males are inarticulate fossils holed up in a back room somewhere."

Several men responded. Some were a bit put off by her comment and emerged from their back-room holes long enough to express their reactions. Scott's commentary was the most thorough. We'll share other mens' words in future newsletters.

Scott wrote, "I am 52, formerly married for nearly 20 years, have a graduate degree, a decent income and net worth, and have had disappointing dating experiences. I live in the greater Los Angeles vicinity.

"I don't want to impugn women or invite the invective (editor's note: those words should dismiss the inarticulate fossil myth) should a woman take offense with my experiences. I have found expectations from women unrealistic. I understand that some women are seeking security (a concept that is not entirely gender-based), but a self-sufficient man meeting the other qualities women are seeking in a mate should suffice.

"Even though I meet the income and financial requisites women seek, I'm not interested in meeting someone who is either so focused or delusional (depending on how you view the expectation) about their entitlements."

So what is Scott looking for?

He said, "Most men my age have experienced the joy and disappointment relationships and/or marriages can bring. I'm open to a loving, kind, smart, strong feminine woman. I am looking for a partner in life--someone mature and sensitive enough to be vulnerable to combining two lives and two histories and share the good and bad on our planet."

What does Scott not want in a woman?

"I am not remotely interested in proving myself on the first date or two with a ceaseless verbal qualifying exam as if I am claiming a prize."

Will Scott have to wait until, as Johnny Mathis sang, "The 12th of Never?"


He said: "Unless and until I can locate the woman who is truly looking for an equal, I'm content with activities, a career, and the possibility of being alone. Having said that, I still believe that she is out there....and if she is, perhaps this response will help me find her."

Matchmaking falls outside of my job description. We've tried it with this group but the results were marginal. But maybe we can accelerate the finding-a-mate process for Scott by making an exception in his case.

If you're interested in contacting him (remember, he's 52 and in Los Angeles, which places him in the long-distance category for most of our members), and you won't grill him about his qualifications on the first date, email me at TPBlake@aol.com. Give me permission in the email and I'll forward it to him, if I think it's a reasonable match.

Where's Scott's picture?

Hidden deep in the archives. It's up to him to share that with you.

There's one catch: You'll have to tell us later what happened.

* * *

PS Comment from Tom: I hope men continue to share their opinions and experiences. Single women say they want to hear the male perspective.

Single men inarticulate fossils?

Catherine didn't mince words. She wonders why I don't write more about men.

She said, "While I appreciate your newsletter, do you ever receive any questions from men? Statistics suggest that up until the 70's there are pretty much as many single men as women, the media always seem to focus on the plight of older women.

"Women do need to be educated not to be taken advantage of, but doing just that makes for a boring newsletter after awhile. If men don't actually send in questions, why not get out and interview some to find out what they are up to?

"I think for the common good we need to get the male perspective out -- partially to dismiss the myth that older males are inarticulate fossils holed up in a back room somewhere."

Catherine's right--partially

I agree with Catherine on one point: :it would be nice to hear more from single men.

As far as getting out and interviewing men to find out what they are up to, I do that on nearly a daily basis in Tutor and Spunky's, my Dana Point, California, deli. But the truth be told, there aren't that many unattached men over 55 out there and even fewer of them willing to share their stories and opinions.

When older men become single, they either get quickly gobbled up by women or they want nothing more to do with women. And that's why I don't hear many stories from them.

Ken, 60s, is a single guy. I talk to him every week in the deli. He's tall, handsome, in shape, retired, and financially secure. He dated a woman for whom he cared. But she had a roving eye and played around on him. It hurt him; he had hoped for a permanent relationship with her.

Instead of moping and feeling sorry for himself, he started country dancing at the Swallow's in San Juan Capistrano and Tijuana's Long Bar in Irvine (both in Orange County, California).

Before Ken knew it, he had so many dance partners he could barely sit out a dance. He didn't dwell on the breakup, he got out, involved in activities and back in the game quickly. He's hardly an inarticulate fossil holed up in a back room.

Statistics tell the story

Catherine's statement, "...statistics suggest that up until the 70's there are pretty much as many single men as women..." isn't true.

Based on the 2000 Census, at age 60, the ratio of single women to single men nears two-to-one. Between 65 and 70, it's closer to three-to-one. By age 75, it's between four-and-five-to-one.

These ratios are the primary reason why meeting unattached men is so difficult for women as they advance in age. Not impossible, just difficult.

I heard Dr. Ruth say, "The ratios are a fact of life. But, if women have a nice appearance, are willing to get out and involved in activities, and are friendly and approachable, they will level the playing field and shrink those ratios."

Catherine added, "I sympathize with your plight in digging out the 70+ guys but what about the 50-70-year-olds? I see lots of them on the street apparently leading normal lives, although under the media radar screen."

It's not the media's job to dig out the 50-to-70-year-old men. If women want to know more about them, when they see them on the street (and how would you know if they are single?), women need to be assertive (not aggressive), introduce themselves, and ask these men to join them for coffee (and the women pick up the tab). Ballsy? For sure, but it might just work.

Older single males I know are out enjoying life--dancing, playing sports, volunteering, enjoying grandkids, and making the most of their time. If approached, would they go for coffee? Who knows? Some might.

And because there are fewer of them--vs. the number of single women--it just seems they are holed up in back rooms. Inarticulate? Hardly. They simply don't let any moss grow under their shoes. They're too busy having fun.

Hopefully, we'll hear from some older single men. Perhaps they'll share their secrets on where women can locate them so we can make this column more interesting for Catherine.

From the Mailbag

Romance Scams. A few years ago, a woman named Barb Sluppick started a Romance Scams Yahoo! Group for people who had been scammed. Her group now numbers more than 10,000 members. Barb emailed me this week: "We keep a tally of money lost and 833 victims have reported a money loss of $8,244,800.05."

In addition to the Yahoo! Group, they now have an informative website. Check it out, what you learn could save you a lot of money and heartbreak: Romance Scams Website

AARP Annual Event Las Vegas

It's not to soon to begin planning to attend the annual AARP Life at 50 Event to be held in Las Vegas in October 22-24. AARP Las Vegas Event. It's a great place to learn and make new friends. AARP Las Vegas

Single woman was too trusting

Why do we become romantically involved with a mate who treats us poorly? Why do we continue to love that mate when he or she is bad for us? That's the situation that Tammy-not her real name-got herself into.

She said, "I am a single mom, never married, who turned 50 in September. My daughter, 22, is married and moved out of the house a year ago. I work hard ever since I landed in the USA in 1975 as a 16-year-old from Viet Nam. I am a USA citizen."

In April, 2008, Tammy met John (not his real name), a 58-year-old attorney at a company reunion party where she works. She didn't know him personally; he had left the company eight years before to start his own company. He is going through his third divorce. They dated for 7 1/2 months.

Although Tammy didn't want John to move in, she didn't stop him either. She said: "After the third week of dating, he moved some of his clothes into my house, keeping them in the guest room. He lived there four nights a week. After one month, problems showed up, we cut back from four nights to three nights."

John often criticized the furnishings with comments about the flooring and furniture being old, and that she needed to get rid of it.

Tammy said John painted her guest bedroom: "While painting, he talked about how he would use the room and arrange his furniture. I ignored his conversation. He asked if it would be worth it for him to pay a $3,500 penalty to break his apartment lease or ride it out until March 2009. I did not reply because that was his decision, not mine.

"After the guest room was painted, we took one-week break. I never ask for the second room to be painted, he turned around and painted my daughter's room. He threw out half of her furniture - break them apart and put in the trash. The only thing left is a bed."

Tammy said toward the end of October and into November, John became sensitive and edgy. She thought it was because he was going through the divorce and his business was slowing.

She added, "On October 25th, after our weekend walk--we used to stop by Starbucks for breakfast--he said, 'if I move in, the dog and I do not share the same space.' I've had my dog for 8 years so I replied jokingly, 'I guess we won't be together for another 8 years until the dog dies.'

"There was two minutes of silence. He wasn't happy, and then I said, 'I need time to work on this, please do not force me to make a hard decision.'

Dear John email

Tammy says John was quiet and distant for the rest of the weekend. The following week-end there were more awkward moments. In early November, he sent her a "Dear John" email.

In the email, John told her he had been working at a voting polling place in Las Vegas and had met a 70-year-old woman he liked and planned to spend Thanksgiving with her, although he and Tammy had planned to prepare Thanksgiving dinner together.

The email also announced: "If Obama becomes the president elect and I hear the country calling me, I will work for Obama's cabinet. Therefore I will be moving to DC and there is no future for us."

The email concluded with words that Tammy wasn't the right person for him.

Tammy said: "I was shocked and puzzled. He isn't politically savvy and has never held a public or elected position. How could he work in Obama's cabinet? Am I competing with a 70-year-old woman? What does she have that I don't? I am sad and disappointed to be dumped for no reason. What am I missing here? I truly care for this person. I have invested both emotional and financial into our relationship." She asked for my opinion.

My advice

I told her she had been extremely naïve and foolish for allowing John to move in his clothes after three weeks, live there four nights a week, paint the bedrooms and destroy the furniture. She must never let that happen again, with any man, and she was very fortunate he left.

I told her to cut off all communication with him and to be careful, a guy like that might show up at her doorstep again and is brazen enough to try to bully his way back into her life and into her home. It's a new year, perfect timing for her to rebuild her life and move forward-without him.

Reader Comments

Andrew, Scotland: "While disagreeing with the lady who doesn't wish to read the 'bad stuff,' which does of course contain some really useful and interesting information, your response "She's not my wife" seemed a trifle churlish.

Jon, Washington state, "My stepmother, who is in her 90's and in a rest home, got an engagement ring for xmas a year ago from some guy who is also in the home. Never too late, I guess."

Linda, Virginia, "When I divorced, I thought I had to have someone in my life and made some terrible mistakes. However, after being a member of your group, I've come to realize that: I needed time to heal. I don't have to settle for the first man who comes along if he's not right for me. And, I still believe in love and I know he's out there for me and I'm willing to keep looking

The Marriage Decision

In response to the December 19 newsletter about marriage vs. cohabitating, one of our readers (I will refer to her as "E") wrote:

"I find it interesting that you and Greta would have dinner with 3 other couples somewhat in the same situation you are in (unmarried but living together). This is not a criticism; 'Birds of a feather' is simply a fact of life, but is this a trend in 'your' world of 'the' world, as we know it.

"I may marry this year, 71-years-old, and I will keep my apartment and he will keep his house. Living together is not an option. In my mind, marriage is the diamond, anything else is a rhinestone."

I appreciate when any of you take the time to write. Your inputs help keep the newsletter interesting. So, thanks to E for her comments. Here is my response to her:

"I need to clarify your comment. We were not having dinner with three other couples. We were at a holiday party and just happened to be in a random conversation with one other couple we were introduced to that night, and then another couple joined us. So, no unmarried birds of a feather were flocking together that night, in fact, most of the couples there were married, some for 50+ years.

Many of our friends are married, but many others elect to be together but not as married couples. Is this a trend in 'my world?'

I hope 'my world' is our world--yours and the rest of us joined together by this newsletter. I don't have a scientific answer. But, based on observation--and I've got my finger on the pulse of what's going on for singles 50-60-70 plus--I see it happening more and more.

Why are people cohabitating more? Some couples would like to marry but it would cost them financially, mainly from loss of marital benefits. For them to marry would be foolish.

Some couples feel they have a great relationship as is and don't want or need to marry. Greta and I are in the latter category. We have a beautiful, wonderful, rewarding relationship and that works for us.

When I asked a friend why he and his live-in mate didn't get married, he said, "Why screw up a good thing?" Pretty blunt, almost harsh, but that's how he feels.

I know of a delightful couple who lived together for 20 years and then decided to marry. The marriage didn't change much. They love each other just as before.

For others such as you, living together is not an option. You have your reasons and frankly those reasons are no one else's business. The same goes for your views about the sanctity of marriage (diamond vs. rhinestone).

Who is right? We all are. The important thing is none of us rush into situations we'll regret later on. During the 16 years of writing on middle age and senior relationships, I've seen it happen too many times. Couples meet, marry quickly, and split four months later. I've seen people who were not married cheated on, and later say, "Thank heavens I didn't marry him, or her."

At our age, we are blessed to have someone with whom to share life. Not everyone is as fortunate.

"E, I think both of you are wise to keep your respective residences. Should you decide to marry this year, we wish you well."

Why Singles Need Information

In a way, Louise is a lucky woman. Not because of what has happened to her over the past 12 months, but because she has a caring friend named Patti who gave her a gift-subscription to this newsletter.

Patti has been a long-time newsletter reader. She's getting married in February, and felt strongly enough about the newsletter's benefits that she gave a gift subscription to Louise, knowing it would help Louise dig herself out of the dating mess you'll read about today.

Many people who become single later in life haven't had a date in 30 or 40 years with anyone other than their spouse. Chances are they're naïve about the realities of modern-day dating. They're lonely and vulnerable. Without guidance, some make poor relationship decisions.

It's unfortunate that Louise, a 67-year-old widow, hadn't been reading this newsletter a year ago when she met a man online.

Louise's story

Louise said, "On our first date, it was like we had known each other for years. The chemistry between us was so strong we couldn't stay away from each other. I drove to his house almost every week (50 miles each way). I realized I loved him after four months. He made me feel like a real woman and said I was the one he wanted to be with."

Louise noticed that when his buddies told him they wanted a woman like her, he'd say the right words to impress her: "Sorry, she's one of a kind and she's mine."

Louise says the man brought her out of her shell: "Even my late husband didn't treat me like he did. I changed my life to please him, I loved him that much. He didn't like being around family so I quit seeing my family as often. If I wanted to do something and he didn't, I'd do what he wanted, not wanting to anger him.

"I was getting an attitude like his. I stopped being a fun person to be around. My family noticed."

I asked Louise what the attraction was. She said, "The way he treated me at first. He was everything I could ever want. We were so close we could read each other's mind. If he thought it, I would say it and vice a versa. It was kind of scary knowing what each other was thinking."

A nagging feeling

After a year of catering to him, Louise felt she knew him and the relationship was working well.

"He wanted everything based on honesty. I gave him 150% of me. We had plans to move in to together and get a bigger house when mine sold," Louise said.

But she had a nagging feeling he was seeing other women. "I couldn't prove it until I caught him. He cheated on me the whole year. He even tried to date my daughter on one of the dating services (he didn't know her last name and got caught). He swears someone did that to break us up. He lied his way out of that."

When Louise's beau received phone calls from women, Louise would question him about the calls. He told her he did it to see what her reaction would be. She talked to some of the women he got calls from; he was lying to them as well. They encouraged her to get rid of him.

Hard to walk away

It's hard for Louise to walk away: "I tried to leave before; he talked me into staying by saying I was the only one and the whole nine yards. I still love this man. He wanted me to wait for him while he checked around to see if I was the right one for him.

"When you give someone everything you treasure and they betray you, it's hard to trust again."

For Louise, a little relationship advice a year ago could have helped her avoid the pain. Let's hope she listens now and walks away.

From the Mailbag

Movie. On New Year's Eve, my partner and I went to an early movie. We saw "Seven Pounds" with Will Smith. I had no idea what it was about, and thought in the early minutes it was rather stupid, it didn't make sense.

By the end, it was a real grabber. Few movies have ever hit me like that--a story of incredible human kindness and sacrifice. My eyes were not dry. Be prepared for a heart tug if you see it.

Finding love after 50 in 2009

Last week, I was interviewed by journalist Jan Ferris, who is writing an article about being single later in life for the February/March issue of Sacramento Magazine. Her questions and my answers provide a bird's-eye view on the state of dating for older singles as we begin 2009. A summary of our discussion follows:

Ferris: How tough is it for the 50-plus crowd to begin dating after many years out of circulation?

Tom: "I've been on the Today Show twice. The second time, Matt Lauer's first question was, 'Why is dating after 50 so difficult?' I said, 'Some of us haven't had a date in 30 or 40 years. We don't know how to begin, where to go, or what to do. It's like starting from scratch and it's difficult.

Ferris: What are some of the biggest dating challenges?

Tom: "The most frequently asked questions I receive come from women. They are: "Where are the men?" and "Where do I go to meet them?" Often, women who ask those questions think there's a secret place where older single guys hang out hoping to meet single women close to their age.

"When I tell them there is no place like that anywhere in the USA that I'm aware of, the women think I'm a failure as a singles guru.

"So I expand my answer by suggesting they get off the couch, out of the house, and involved in activities and hobbies they enjoy. That's the best way to meet new people.

"So where are the men? Nowhere and everywhere: at the bank, volunteering, attending a service at the fine churches and synagogues around the country. Or, a single, available man might be selecting a bottle of wine at Trader Joe's. Don't be afraid to be assertive; ask him a question."

Ferris: Do the challenges differ by gender or circumstance (e.g. widowed vs. divorced)?

Tom: "By gender in a big way. Dating is harder for women by the numbers alone. By age 60, the ratio of single women to single men hovers around 2:1. By age 70, it's near 4:1. Those are tough odds for women, making getting out with new people even more important.

"I heard Dr. Ruth once say, "You can't change the ratios, but if you're willing to get out among people, work at having a nice appearance, and be approachable and positive, you level the playing field."

"Divorced vs. widowed? I think widowed people have it harder emotionally. Most didn't want or expect to be left alone. Their lives may have changed in an instant. They have a huge challenge to grieve and that takes time.

I'm not saying that divorce is a picnic either.

Ferris: Since when has this particular 'dating demographic' become so cyber-savvy?

Tom: "I've written columns for almost 16 years. I've seen the evolution of Internet dating grow from a couple of dating sites to over 3,000 or so sites. And right along with that, has been the increasing computer knowledge of the senior set. They learn not only about dating, but also about the incredible wealth of knowledge that can be mined online.

Ferris: Is there anybody out there who is NOT plugged into the Internet in some shape or form?

Tom: I still get handwritten letters from some older people who don't use computers. Older singles who don't use them are at a disadvantage when it comes to meeting people and learning about where other singles go. Heck, my mom is 98. Of course she doesn't date, but she uses a computer for email. Everybody can learn.

I recommend older singles include using the Internet to help them meet new people. This spring, I am publishing a book titled, "How 50 Couples Found Love after 50." Half of the couples featured in the book met on the Internet. In one of the stories, a man didn't know how to use a computer. So, his kids, unbeknownst to him, put his profile online, which led him to a beautiful relationship.

However, singles shouldn't rely exclusively on the Internet to meet new people. They need to use other resources as well.

Ferris: What are other viable alternatives to meet potential dating partners?

Tom: In the upcoming book, half of the stories are of a people who met in places other than the Internet-banks, weddings, churches, through friends, cruise ships, writer's groups, single's group, and volunteering-to name a few.

Ferris: Are single seniors getting smarter about protecting against AIDS and STDs?

Tom: Getting smarter. Probably because spokespeople like me harp on it so much. While the actual number of seniors getting HIV and STDs is small, percentagewise, their age group is the fastest growing of all age groups. The stories we hear of seniors who were squeaky clean all of their lives and who then get a disease from a one-time, late-life, tryst are tragic. People need to practice safe-sex and get tested before becoming intimate.

Happy New Year! May all of you hoping for love, find it in 2009

From the Mailbag

Howard, Annapolis, Maryland: "My wife Pat and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in May. As I read your articles, I appreciate more and more the wonderful life than one can have with the right partner. For us, it just gets better all the time. For you to share your work and life experiences with others by providing possible road maps to happiness is truly a worthwhile cause."

Roseann: "I've never been motivated to respond to a column until I read your recent one regarding convenient marriages. The circumstances of each marriage are varied and full of complications and obligations. If you've remained married for many years, unhappily, then the honest thing would have been to divorce. Work out a negotiation whereby the needier spouse is taken care of and move on with your life.

"Vows were taken and it speaks to your integrity as a person to keep them. Otherwise, what is the meaning of your life? Can you look in the mirror each day and respect yourself? If you can't do that, then who else will respect you?

"Pursue your dreams and make yourself happy but not at the expense of your personal self esteem. Who said life would be easy? We all make compromises in every aspect of our lives and it will never feel good to feel like you're doing something 'wrong'. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but honesty is the best policy

Marriage no longer a slam-dunk decision

Is a new trend emerging among older couples? Many are in loving, rewarding relationships--without the marriage aspect.

Last Sunday night, Greta and I attended a holiday party at a home in a nearby city. During the course of the party, three couples-all in their 50s and 60s--were chatting. Each of the couples are in loving, caring relationships. None are married.

The first couple has been dating exclusively for three years. They were introduced by friends. They live about 35 minutes apart by car. He's retired, living on a limited income. She's still working. They split dating expenses but admit doing so gets awkward trying to remember whose turn it is to pay.

They see each other on a regular basis but the commute is arduous, usually with heavy traffic. They are pondering what steps to take in the future should they decide to live together. Neither wants to live in the other one's home and deal with the baggage of memories.

They said if they were to live together, they would likely sell their own homes and purchase one together. However, marriage doesn't seem to figure into that plan.

He's 12-years-older and pushing for living together; she's been burned before so she's leery of giving up her hard-won independence.

The second couple owns a home together. They are close in age, in their late 50s. He's still working; she's recently retired. They split the household expenses. They originally met and started dating when they worked for the same company. They have no plans to marry at this point.

The third couple, also close in age, in their mid-60s, met at a restaurant. They've been together 10 ½ years and have lived together in her home for 6 ½ years. He rents out his home and pays her a fair rent. She's retired, he's still working. They are happy with their arrangement and have no plans to marry.

When the third couple mentioned to the first couple that they use a credit card to pay for shared social expenses--dates, trips, food and dining out--although the card is in just one of their names, the first couple liked the idea and decided they will get a credit card to also pay for joint expenses.

Are arrangements like these--being committed to each other, but not marrying--the wave of the future for the over-50 singles set?

The "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50" book I'm publishing in early 2009 features many of our members, including Jon and Sharon, who live in Olympia, Washington. They met in a singles group a year ago September and have dated exclusively since.

Jon said, "Sharon and I still live separately and probably will for several more years. She has a nice house six miles from me, which she really likes. I like my five-acre property with the five dogs, cats, trees and wildlife. She talks about moving in sometime so she can raise chickens and things. I told her it's OK as long as she takes care of them. I have enough to do.

"I am always amazed when people seem to think that being in a singles club means you are looking to get married and that there is something wrong when it doesn't work out that way.

"The possibility of marriage has come up several times for me, but usually there is some compatibility problem (dogs, houses, location, friends, finances and different interests)

"Sharon and I are quite happy with the current arrangement and will wait to see what the future holds."

Is marriage becoming a thing of the past for older singles? Hardly, there are lots who still opt for marriage. Many of the 50 couples who will be featured in the How Couples book tied the knot after they met. But, marriage isn't a slam-dunk decision anymore.

As we age, there are a multitude of factors to evaluate when considering marriage-giving up one's financial security, independence, health issues, compatibility, living arrangements and religious beliefs-to name a few. For many couples, marriage would complicate things. For others, marriage is the only way to go.

Each couple's situation differs. The important thing is not to rush the decisions, but to carefully evaluate all the factors. Both sides need to be honest, listen to what the other has to say, and then make a mutual decision.

From the Mailbag

A Tom's Newsletter group is forming in Las Vegas. Joanne, one of our loyal members, moved to Las Vegas recently. She is starting a Meetup.com group by inviting the 10 other newsletter subscribers who live there to participate.

If you live in the Las Vegas area, and would like to learn about the group, email me and I will forward your email address to Joanne.

This is the first official Tom's Newsletter Meetup group. Shirley in New York City belongs to a meetup group, as does another of our members, but they didn't officially begin as a Tom's Newsletter group.

My promise to Joanne and the Las Vegas group is that in October, when the AARP national convention is held there, we will all get together.

Comment about conveniently married

"Regarding the "conveniently married" category discussed last week, Michelle said, "Let them date if they wish, however, I think in fairness to those of us who are single AND available, they should make clear their status up front. That is, they are not available for the long term. Then, if someone just wants a dance partner, so be it, but deception is not fair."

© 2009, Tom Blake

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