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 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003.

Alzheimers. Follow up about dating

We raised this question previosuly: is it OK for Diane to have a relationship with another man while her spouse is imprisoned with late-stage Alzheimer's.

In that article, Diane had said: "I was 49; my husband was 62 when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I took care of him for eight years until I was longer physically or emotionally able. Since then, he has been in nursing homes and has had the disease for 13 years.

"We have been married 38 years and I have always been a devoted, loyal and loving mother and wife. I see him regularly but he doesn't know me or our children, nor has he for a very long time."

As always, our members responded with intelligent, objective, and heart-felt comments. It's interesting that as many men responded as women, which is rare. Here is what nine of our members said:

Shirley, "This is a young woman (62) married to a much older man (75)--a warning to all women--and she is not harming her sick husband. She must permit herself to get on with her life, for there will be no other rescue for her. Her husband will never recover--her life goes on.

"She is not lying or deceiving anyone and has a right to explore possibilities in her life. Go for it. I'd call this woman's trial by fire a living death. She needs to rescue herself to stay among the living.

Gregory, "I don't think she has done anything wrong. Justice O'Connor had to deal with the reverse situation. Her husband found a 'friend' while at the nursing home. She delighted in the fact that he had someone to be with."

Carol, "If we can find happiness after a lot of years struggling and going through the hardship of caring for someone, why not? I don't regret any of the time and years I spent with my spouse. We had a wonderful 43 years together. Then he passed away after 12 years of prostate and bone cancer.

"I met a wonderful someone a year later. We only had 3 years together and he passed away after suffering with ALS for 1 and 1/2 years. I don't regret taking care of him either. These experiences helped me cherish the time I can spend and enjoy someone. We all have so much to offer each other if we only have the chance to try it. Don't let that chance slip away."

Jon, "Considering that there really is no marriage anymore and her spouse is apparently unable to comprehend what is going on, a relationship is within reason."

Cydne, "She must make her own decision about what is right for her. If she is concerned about what other people think, her answer is no. I don't worry about what society or others think about my decisions for my life. That is why I am so happy."

William, "Go on with her life. This is not him, only a shell of what once was the person she knew. He has no quality of what is considered a life and for her to not do anything to get back hers, would only double the negative aspects of that life."

Mary, "Her situation, unfortunately, is representative of a growing problem in our society. She has needs emotionally, too. She needs support; I feel great compassion for her. Whatever she chooses, I recommend she keep it private. There will always be some holier than thou, judgmental busybody who will make her life (more) miserable with criticism and condemnation."

George, "Alzheimer's is a vicious disease. The dementia associated with it is irreversible, therefore, it's permanent. A victim can linger for years. Spouses are just as 'imprisoned' as the patients.

"In physical appearance, it's the same person, just like the photographs in the album - but in reality, it's not the one who was loved and loved in return. The spouse might just as well already be widowed.

"We all seek and need the warmth of human companionship, and in its absence we even reach out to our household pets (if any) for comfort. The depth of the unhappiness in huge.

"If there is another person to whom a spouse can reach out--it's not cheating or being unfaithful."

Jan, "I once had the opportunity to date someone who was in Diane's situation. I passed it up thinking it was wrong. He was a great guy. I regret not exploring where that might have gone. He told me that when his wife was still capable, she urged him to find someone else. He remained married to her so she could use his health insurance. I don't think it would be wrong for Diane to have a relationship."

Update from Tom: While preparing this week's newsletter, I contacted Diane. Here is what she wrote, "My husband of 38 ½ years passed away from Alzheimer's on December 13. I let my 'friend' know. He has not responded."

At least Diane is freed from the prison she was in for years. She is now a member of our group. She has already made a valuable contribution by sharing her story.

Website for the widowed community

I wanted to mention a website that I think can be very helpful to anybody who has been widowed, male or female. There is no cost. I personally know Laurie-Ann Weis and respect the service she provides to widowed people. You might email her and ask to be added to the mailing list of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation newsletter. Follow this link: Laurie-Ann Weis Website

Mean man mistreats a sweet lady

In last week's column, this question was posed:"What are the obstacles of dating a widower?

I answered in two short paragraphs, saying that some widowers (emphasis on some) act as described in the next paragraph.

A widower thinks he has healed, acquires a new girlfriend, reassures her he is ready for a loving relationship, and then, a bit later, after she's fallen for him, declares, "I can't do this anymore," and dumps her. The girlfriend ends up heartbroken.

That information struck a chord with Kay: "Boy, did you get my attention with your reference to widowers." She shared her experience with dating a widower, although as pointed out at the end of the article, the man being a widower had nothing to do with how she was treated. He was just plain mean.

Kay said, "My husband suffered from Parkinson's for many years and I was his caregiver until he could not move and the doctor said I had to put him in a nursing center for his sake---and mine. I found an excellent one and then my 94-year-old mother came to live with me.

"I was at the nursing center every day with my husband, came home and took my mom out and about. Then she had a heart attack and I had to put her in the same nursing center where I spent most of every day.

"During this time at the center, I met a couple. She had MS and her husband was there most every day being very caring, helping her exercise, putting cream on her, etc. We all became good friends. She was a lovely and gentle lady. She passed away in Dec. 2008.

"The man contacted me at the nursing center asking if I would be interested in buying the compact wheelchair he had recently purchased for his wife and since at that time, I thought my mom would be coming home, I said yes.

"He then asked me out to dinner and since I had had no life for many years, I accepted. This began a relationship that included many trips, dinners out, meals I cooked for him and my caring for him thru his grief and tears.

"They had been married for 55 years. I listened, listened, listened. He did not want anything physical, didn't like to be touched, and would not spend the night. When we traveled, we had separate beds.

"The night my husband died, I was on my way home from the hospital in tears and he called. When I told him my husband had died, he said in a very mean voice, 'Grin and bear it.'

"When I called his cell the next day, he did not answer for some time and when he did, I said, 'I just want to talk to you.'

"He said in a very mean, loud, and nasty voice, 'Can't I go 3 days without talking to you?'"

"I said, 'If you can't talk to me, maybe we better call it (off).' He hung up on me.

"On Thanksgiving, he called. When I answered, he said, in a happy voice, 'Hi Janet.'

"In his defense, his daughter-in-law is named Janet, but when he heard my voice and I said, 'I don't understand why you won't talk to me, I thought we were friends,' he hung up on me and that was it. I have had a bad time with the three hurts (husband died, mother died, and boyfriend vanished), but have realized that he was not right for me and there were many red flags.

"In fact, I was going to have a talk with him, but, when my husband got so sick, I could not. Anyway, I have never talked to anyone the way he talked to me and if he wanted out why wasn't he man enough to tell me? We had talked about everything during our almost year together.

"Also, why was it so important to him to make it my fault? He knew that I would not, could not take that kind of abuse especially at the most difficult time of my life."

Tom's comment to Kay: he was a selfish and ego-centered jerk. It had nothing to do with him being a widower. You were there for him; he turned his back on you.

Yes, dating widowers can be problematic. But in Kay's case, she simply got a bad seed of a man, who just happened to be a widower.

Tom's interview with Diane Sawyer

Since Diane Sawyer took over the ABC-TV evening news, I have been asked by several newsletter subscribers to describe my 2005 interview with Diane on Good Morning America.

When ABC contacted me, they said they were looking for an expert on dating after 50. I promptly said, "I'm that person!"

I was flown to New York to appear. Diane Sawyer (now the ABC evening news anchor) did the interview, although we did not know until the last minute that she and not Charlie Gibson would be conducting the interview. Here are eleven photos of the GMA appearance and the trip to New York City. Greta is Tom's partner and Tammi is Greta's daughter. Tammi's husband was in Iraq; she held up a sign so he could see her from Iraq.

In the skipping-rope photo, Diane and Robin Roberts were skipping rope with a group of school kids; Charlie Gibson can be seen to the right of Robin.

Missing family of four

Some of you have seen on the national news the story of the Southern California family of four that has been missing for three weeks. Much to my horror, I found out about them last Sunday night, when I was reviewing the headlines on aol.com. The headline, "California family of four still missing" caught my eye.

Horror because when I looked at the photo, I saw the faces of my former step-son, Joey McStay, his wife of three years, and their two young children. They disappeared from their North San Diego County home on February 4. Their abandoned car was discovered in a parking lot in San Ysidro, near the Mexican border.

I don't ask for your prayers often, but I am in this case, prayers for the four of them. Yes, I have been in touch with Joey's brother Mikey, and my ex wife. You can imagine the depth of their concern.Here is the link to the web site Mikey has created. www.mcstayfamily.com

Friends-with-benefits and widower dating

A conversation with Gina

When singles in their 50s ponder dating again, the task can be daunting. An email from Gina illustrates the thoughts a woman wrestles with.

Gina: "I just turned 54 and have been divorced for 3 years. I don't like the dating scene...talk about frightening. I enjoyed a friend-with-benefits relationship, but that is over and I have moved on."

Tom: "Friends-with-benefits relationships tend to fill a short term need: sexual fulfillment. But they are built on a pretty superficial foundation, and people involved in one often still are lonely due to the emptiness they feel. When singles want a relationship with substance, or to just hug each other and share important events and holidays together, friends-with-benefits relationships usually come up short and fizzle out."

Gina: "I'm thinking about trying Match.com, but don't think that is really me. I'll feel like I'm on an auction block or I'll meet this great guy only to find out he's got bodies buried under his house! I probably won't do Match. I'm such a chicken. I might have a panic attack before I stepped out the door!"

Tom: "If you have those feelings about Match.com--in my opinion one of the better date matching sites-you may not be cut out for Internet dating. Sure, there are losers and men with evil intentions lurking on the Internet, but there are also enough success stories involving older singles that perhaps you should include internet dating in your finding-a-mate marketing plan.

"In my latest book, How 50 Couples Found Love After 50, more than half of the couples featured found love on the Internet, and Match.com was the most popular site by far used by those couples.

"I notice you are on Facebook. That's using the Internet to gain exposure. Perhaps take Internet dating a step further. Just don't expect too much, have fun with the experience, and heed your instincts. If you meet a man you are interested in, do a background check on him."

Gina: "From a male perspective, what kind of things do you like to read in a woman's profile? Some of the stuff people write is just laughable, nauseating or sad. I'm half Italian; I love to cook! I've never enjoyed tooting my own horn. I was raised--as most of us from that era were-that one didn't do things such as that. So, it's not a comfortable format for me."

Tom: "Men want to see a clear, current photo. Holding a poodle on your lap is sweet, but does that mean you and snowball are tied at the hip? Go light on the 'walks on the beach at sunset' jargon. List your interests. I like to know if a woman can stand on her own feet financially. A non-smoker is a must for me. For certain, include the half Italian and love to cook comment."

Gina: "What are the obstacles of dating a widower?

Tom: "The biggest problem with dating widowers, based on the stories women have shared with me, is, some of them think they've healed from their loss while they haven't. The widower slowly wins over the new girlfriend, reassuring her that he loves her and he's 'fine.' Then, in the middle of the night, he awakens and declares to himself, "I can't do this anymore."

"The girlfriend gets cut loose and is broken hearted. I've seen it many, many times. That being said, dating a widower can work, after all, they are human, and can be dedicated mates. But, for sure, give him time and proceed cautiously. Widower dating is a significant topic; I'll do a future column on it."

"Keep us posted on your progress."

"I just had to comment," she said.

Response from a single woman regarding my where-to-meet-men column:

Ellie, "I just had to comment. You said we shouldn't go out to places to meet single men with the singular interest of meeting men because it looks too desperate. Buttom line: when you want something, you can't not want it. It's impossible. I could try to convince myself that I am attending the event to merely socialize, do something interesting, etc., but in truth, if my desire to meet a man is the underlying motivation, it will not be something I can hide.

"As far as telling us to go anywhere and everywhere, doesn't that sort of nullify the article completely?"

Tom's response to Ellie: "Sounds like a pretty desperate stance to me."

More on E-books

Last week, we introduced the subject of Ebooks, as a way for people who have always wanted to write a book to easily publish their work, at virtually no cost. Some people say, "No ebooks for me, I want the actual book in my hand."

And there are others who have the Amazon Kindle ebook reader and swear by them. They can make the fonts as large as they want for easy reading. One person I know has 30 books downloaded on her Kindle and when she travels, she just carries the reader.

Last week, I mentioned the ebook book store, Smashwords.com . Writers can upload their work to Smashwords at no cost. It's a pretty slick site, you might want to check it out. The books are either free to download, or at the least, are considerably cheaper than books with hard or soft covers.

I published a new ebook this week. I've been meaning to publish it since a trip to Italy that I shared with newsletter readers in 2008. I can't tell you the number of people who remember those columns on Italy and ask me to forward them because they are taking a trip to Italy in the future. The title of the book: "Italy: 23 days by train." On Smashwords, you can read the first 20 percent of the book at no cost.

At the end of the book, I included links to 480 photos of the trip posted to 12 different photo albums. For people planning to visit Italy who want ideas and information, particularly those seeking information on Italy's incomparable train system, this would be a darned good book to read.

Smashwords has become so popular, so fast, the site can be a little slow in loading. They are working on a fix. Here is the link to my Smashwords author page , that lists the four ebooks I've posted so far. To brouse the Italy book , click on the title. There will be many, many more.

Tennis playing widow rediscovers sex

Six years ago, when Ellen became a widow at age 54, she didn't expect to remarry, or have sex again, or even meet a nice man. She had been happily married to a man 32-years-older. They had children when he was 62 and 63.

Ellen said, "He was in excellent shape-did not smoke and did everything in moderation. Took Viagra until he was 85! That Viagra may have pushed him into whatever made him fall down the stairs. He also worked until 85 and never complained about working."

In six years, Ellen has had a change of heart: "My mind has opened up now to maybe I could marry again. I met a man on the tennis court and liked him immediately. I said, 'Let's be friends! I'll teach you tennis and you can teach me golf.'"

She explained what's happened with her tennis pal over the subsequent seven months with her tennis pal.

"We are now intimiate. I hadn't had sex for six years; he hadn't for eight years. It's pretty hot and I am enjoying myself.

"He doesn't want to get married and doesn't want this to be an every-day kind of relationship. So, I will look around for someone who wants to see me on a regular basis - more than just two times a week. Maybe I can meet someone else and fall in love again. This is so different than cutting myself off from everything.

"I am still attractive and full of energy. One does not have to limit oneself - there are so many men out there! Many have a lot to offer!

"There are many women who close themselves up after 'the love of their life dies.' My tennis friend helped me out by not pushing me. If he had tried to get too serious I would have run.

"After awhile, I became more interested and when he got close to me, I was surprised to feel sexually attracted to him. I thought about it for some time and then we discussed it (like it had been 6 years and I was afraid). His answer: 'If it happens, it happens.'

"He is an uncomplicated person. Our political and religious beliefs are quite different. I decided it didn't matter because we are just friends. We enjoy each other. I don't charge him for tennis lessons, but he takes me out for happy hours and dinner. It's nice.

"He is 67 and I am 60 so the age difference isn't too bad. He looks good and is in good shape.

"I decided I would not 'pine away' and have already met a younger man (54) on E Harmony who plays tennis and lives about 20 minutes away. We have just started writing so I don't know if it will develop into anything or not but, I figure, why not see what happens?"

I responded, "Sounds like you did everything right by taking the time to grieve and heal, and getting involved in tennis and golf. The relationship with the nice man has been a blessing for you. It may not be the ultimate answer for either of you. I understand your desire to see him more than twice a week; I understand his desire to be independent. Perhaps a compromise of four days a week is possible.

"Let him have his independence and still enjoy him. Don't make him feel smothered by pushing for more time together. He'll figure it out. Keep doing what you are doing activity-wise--golf, tennis and getting out with new people--and if other desirable men such as the Eharmony guy enter your life, check them out. If your tennis beau senses you slipping away and cares about you, he'll up the number of weekly visits.

"You are affectionate, young, energized and in good physical shape--desirable qualities men seek. Plus, you're seven years younger than your tennis beau. You're in a favorable position and have a great deal to offer.

"Don't write him off. You're using each other in a positive way. But continue to test other waters."

The male point of view: Where to meet men without baggage

Joe, "Tell her to try the local cemetary."

Gordon, "The same place you meet women without baggage. The cemetary."

Don, "It's unfortunate that so many over 50 'seekers of partners' carry so much invisible baggage. Invisible even to Lauren is her own brand of luggage: she is projecting that every male has something wrong with him.

"The idea that many of us have etched into our brain too deeply is that all the good men/women are already taken, leaving a long list of losers to sift thru, to find the best of the worst, really is a pretty half-assed way of approaching looking for anyone to possibly enjoy the rest of your life with."

Dick, "Join a Golf Club...golfers are great guys."

Where to meet men without baggage

Often, the previous week's newsletter elicits questions and comments similar to Patty's email, which is shared with you today.

She wrote, "I'm 58, happily single (divorced 30 years), financially stable, independent and compassionate, and have no baggage including leftovers from past relationships. Where would you suggest meeting a 60-year-old gentleman sans luggage?"

Then she explained why she asked the question: "I'm scared - really scared - with all the losers out there. I don't want to get stuck with one of them and that is why I back off from dating.

"Am I asking too much for someone who doesn't smoke, doesn't drink (excessively - no member of AA), do drugs, have dangerous hobbies and has minimal baggage? The supposed nice ones I meet are oozing in addiction, child support, and alimony."

"Patty, Patty, Patty," I responded.

"Perhaps last week's column about the con man who stole a woman's checkbook and cashed three checks was misleading. There are lots of good men available. Don't be so darned scared.

If the ones you meet are oozing in addiction, child support, and alimony, you're meeting them in "all the wrong places" as Johnnie Lee sang in Lookin' For Love in the 1980 John Travolta/Deborah Winger movie Urban Cowboy www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAyDmJvjxbg . Where you meet men is what needs to be changed.

Are you asking too much to avoid men with nasty habits? Of course not. Why would any woman tolerate such behavior? You have a near-perfect life, why screw it up?

Before searching for a male hangout, make a written list of the qualities you bring to the table. You already described them in your first paragraph above. Just expand on them.

Then, on the right-hand side of the same piece of paper, jot down a list of the qualities you want in a mate. In my book, Finding Love After 50. How to Begin. Where to Go. What to Do, a few pages are devoted to this exercise. Core qualities can't be compromised; others of lesser importance can. Tape the list to your mirror.

Finally, where to meet 60-year-old dudes sans baggage?

If I knew of a place where available, desirable, age 60, single men, hangout, for the purpose of meeting single women your age, I'd sell the answer and become a rich man. There simply is no place in the USA where that exists.

So, where to meet them? Anywhere and everywhere. You simply have to get out and meet new people.

And don't go out for the purpose of meeting a mate. Go out to enrich your life and to make yourself a more interesting person.

For activities ideas: Try www.MeetUp.com , which spans the entire country. Not all of the activities will be right for you, many are for younger people, and some--a quilting club, for example--won't put you around men. Other activities: volunteering going back to school, a two-week trip to Italy, or Internet dating, it's up to you. Speaking of volunteering, there are close to 700 volunteers helping travelers at the DFW Airport in Dallas. All activities take time, effort and dedication.

My latest book, How 50 Couples Found Love After 50, reveals 58 ways single women into their 80s met their men. It's chocked full of ideas and tips.

Meeting someone is a numbers game. It might be on your first encounter, or your 101st encounter. Patience, determination, and a vitamin-C attitude are necessary.

Don't compromise. Sounds like your life is pretty darned good. Why mess it up over a broken-down cowboy at Gilley's in Pasadena, Texas?

You can't expect to meet someone when you've backed away back from dating. So, proceed confidently out there knowing you've got much to offer and keep a keen eye out for a suitable partner.

One of our members makes the cover story of Reno Magazine

Lauren, a widow and member of our group, lives in Reno. She was tired of being alone in the Silver State. She went online and met Steve on Match.com, who lived 50 miles south in Carson City. They started dating, Steve moved to Reno, and now they are married. Their story is the lead story of the beautifully presented February/March 2010 issue of Reno Magazine.

Lauren said, "This has been a wonderful experience. We are very settled and very happy. It truly has been the best thing ever.

"Thanks so much for the wonderful experience of being part of your great book which obviously lead to the Reno Magazine. My life continues to get better and better and I am truly blessed!"

Below is the link to the cover page of Reno Magazine. Lauren's and Steve's story begins on page 28 and 29, and the main part of their story is on page 34. The pictures of the two of them are priceless. When you land on the cover page, you can go to the thumbnail section (you'll see it) and scroll to those three pages. It's worth checking out. Lauren looks radiant and Steve is a happy Nevadan!

Women beware: con man is out of prison

When older singles date new people, one of the most important precautions they should follow is to trust their instincts. If they sense that something isn't right about the new person, there is a strong chance they're right.

But when people are lonely, and want to be in a relationship and loved, they tend to downplay those instincts by viewing potential partners through rose-colored glasses.

Susie, an educated woman with a successful career, admits she did just that. At 55, she met a man, 62, on Yahoo! Personals. Soon, she learned that his listed name was not his true name and his age was 66.

However, one can't blame Susie for initially being impressed. She said, "He is well educated (except he can't spell), charming and writes e-mails that are like love letters. He says he has a nice home and a yacht in Florida. He states he is a partner in two corporations: one in entertainment and one in construction. He treated me well, spent time getting to know my family, and even went to church with me. We made a lot of plans for the future together."

When Susie saw red flags at the beginning of the relationship, she still elected to proceed, albeit cautiously. But not cautiously enough, as she explained.

"The first time I let my guard down, he made his move. I had something at my house that had been broken for a long time and he knew someone who could fix it. I was going out of town on a business trip and this was the only time he could come fix my problem (should have been a huge red flag). I left him my house keys. This was the first time I had let him have access to my house.

"When I got back from my business trip, I checked my bank account online and saw three checks written that I did not recognize. I called my bank and figured out what was going on. He had my car that day because he was going to have it detailed for me. I called him and told him I was sick and to come get me. He came and got me and I went to my bank (I told him I needed to deposit a check) and while he sat in my car, I closed all of my accounts and did a fraud report."

Susie dropped him off at his home, and when got home, she called the police.

She said, "While the policeman was at my house, I called the man and told him I knew what he had done, and if he ever stepped foot on my property, I would have him arrested. I never told him I filed a police report because I did not want him to run. That night I had all of the locks changed on my house."

Susie said that most everything he told her was untrue. He didn't have a car or a job. Immediately after Susie ended the relationship, he was back on Yahoo! Personals.

Susie didn't hear anything from the police; she figured nothing would happen because it was a small crime.

She continued: "About 1 1/2 years later, I got a letter from the district attorney. The man had been arrested and was sentenced to 3 years in prison and 4 years probation. He only served 1 1/2 years and was supposed to start making victim's restitution to me 3 months after he got out. I haven't seen any of the money and don't care. The amount was not great; my bank put the money back in my account because they should not have cashed the checks."

Susie talked about the psychological effects: "It hurts to realize that I did not mean anything to him. I have been very embarrassed and angry at myself. Although the amount of money was not great, you cannot put a price tag on the hurt and suffering this man caused me."

She also posted her experience to the website: http://www.dontdatehimgirl.com, a social networking site for women with which I'm impressed.

Lessons learned from Susie's story:
  • A background check may have saved Susie from this ordeal
  • It's easy to blame the Internet. But what happened in Susie's case happened after they were together in person
  • When legally violated, file a police report
  • Check your bank and credit card statements often
  • Pay attention to red flags; trust your instincts. Don't allow loneliness to cloud your thinking

Women beware. This ex-con will strike again.

Soon-to-be-married teacher needs to protect her assets

Helen, age 55, is confused. She is planning to marry a 68-year-old man within a few months. She's aware that he may die before her and she wants to be protected financially.

Helen said, "I am not greedy or selfish, however, I must think about myself and my years of old age. I have to be assured that I will have enough money to be comfortable and not worry about finances."

Helen raises a question that all couples who meet later in life need to address, and not just couples who plan to marry, but couples who co-habitate as well.

Helen explained why she will continue working: "I did not work for 12 years during my marriage due to staying at home with my children. Therefore, I will not be able to retire until much later than most of my peers. Even then, my retirement will not be very much since I am a public school teacher."

She also stated: "My future spouse has one son and two granddaughters. He has specified that he wants the granddaughters to get part of his retirement as well as his son. He also wants his son to get some mountain property that is used for hunting and is worth quite a bit of money. I totally agree with that as that hunting property is very special to him.

"I own my own home plus still have a house for sale that is my ex-husband's and mine... market is very bad, as you know. He wants our home to be in my name only. I don't think there will be a mortgage if we buy a home together... I'll sell mine, he's selling his...will be able to pay cash and it will be mine.

"I'm confused how to go about this and very concerned about what to do. I love the man for himself, not for his money; however, I must protect my future. What do you think?"

I replied, "You asked a question that I'm not qualified to answer. You absolutely need to consult with a certified financial planner, CPA, and/or lawyer.

"You are 100 percent correct being concerned about your financial future. You must pin down how that is going to be accomplished before you get married. Also, don't purchase a home until the others are sold, which may take a while in this economy.

"It sounds like your fiancé's son and granddaughters are going to get a big cut of his estate. What would that leave for you? Statistically, he will likely pass before you. Also, the financial plan must address major medical expenses in case either of you becomes ill.

"Be sure you protect your assets so no member of his family can attack them.

"The most valuable advice I can give? Consult the experts. Don't marry until this is buttoned down and airtight, so you are covered for any eventuality that may arise."

Can I guarantee love?

Always, around this time of year, I hear from lonely singles who are looking for love. Mary's email arrived December 21: "After the, "Do you think I can still find love if I subscribe to your newsletter?" question, Mary's email continued.

She wrote, "I have been widowed three years this time, the first husband died 30 years ago. I had a 7 month relationship with a man that lived closely and without any explanation he left and took up with another woman right away. I still hurt from that but want to move on.

"I have tried the internet but only get responses from men in their 40s and 50s, or 80 and over. What do I do from here? I would like a companion as most of my friends still have husbands."

I responded to Mary: The timing of your question is perfect. The New Year is always a great time to start afresh. But before I suggest what you should do to find love, let me answer the first part of your question: do I think you can still find love.

Absolutely! You've found love before, you can find it again.

But Mary, regarding part two of your question, I cannot promise you will find love if you subscribe to the newsletter. If I could, I'd be a rich man. Singles would subscribe by the thousands.

Why can't the newsletter work that magic? Because so much depends on your willingness and ability to make the effort yourself.

The newsletter, the books I've written, John Gray's books, and Internet matching services, for example, are sources of information and tools to help you improve your chances of meeting a man. But the true responsibility lies on your shoulders, even at age 75. Don't expect any of these tools to go poof, like a genie, and deliver a man to your doorstep.

Finding love for a woman or a man at age 75 takes work. You must be willing to make an effort. You must get out of the house and meet new people. This newsletter can't do that for you, it can only encourage you to do so.

And Mary, you aren't the only older single who is entering 2010 who wants companionship. And what I'm suggesting to you applies to them as well.

You and they must pursue enjoyable outside activities. Doing so will improve your chances of meeting a mate and will make you a more interesting person, which will make you more desirable.

And, even if you don't meet a mate, the knowledge gained and the interaction with new people will enrich your life, which is a very worthwhile result of getting it in gear in 2010.

You might want to find out how other single women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s found their mates. My new book, "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50" (link to Tom's book) features the modern-day stories of 58 women and how they found their later-in-life mates. Most of them never expected it to happen, but they didn't give up hope and they didn't stop trying.

If you rely only on the Internet to meet men, and you aren't having any success, perhaps Internet dating is not right for you.

The newsletter will provide you with information, ideas, tips, stories and inspiration about how other older singles found love. It is a very useful tool, and for the price it's a bargain, but, will it magically make a man appear? No. Will it be helpful to you? Only if you want it to be.

Should you care to subscribe, or know of a friend who might want to, here is the link: Newsletter information

Mary, I wish you the best in 2011.

64 years of a man's love

I have a friend named Dick Danehe who comes into my Dana Point, California, deli. Dick played football at the University of Southern California starting as a freshman in 1939 until 1941. On his 22nd birthday, he joined the Army Air Corps to fight in World War II. He played professional football for the Los Angeles Dons in 1947 and 1948. He's now in his late 80s. One day over lunch we were talking about the love after 50 newspaper columns I write.

He got a little tear in his eye and spoke. "You know, Tom, the thing I'm most proud of about my 64-year marriage with my wife Nayda was I always put forth my best effort for her. I always placed her first and I have no regrets from those 64 years."

It was a simple statement and yet powerful statement about what makes a relationship endure.

I said, "Tell me about her."

He said, "I'll write you." Dick's typewritten letter arrived a few days ago. The letter is so rich with relationship nuggets that I want to share it with you. I added the italics and boldface to highlight what I feel are Dick's golden nuggets.

Dick wrote, "Nayda made our relationship easy. We loved each other, without restraints, in spite of our early, difficult times, when our kids were little, money was tough, living in the places we could afford, me working three or four jobs while finishing my degrees at USC, after WW II.

"Even more important than love was that I liked that girl, I mean I really liked her...everything about her. To me she was the most attractive, lively, bright, affectionate, tough, hard-working girl I could imagine alive.

"In that dingy apartment, with the pull-down bed, our baby boy sleeping in the little kitchen, the drunks upstairs, I had to go up and take care of that physically, so we could sleep."

"Through the 64 years, Nayda never lost her hope that things would get better. She cleaned and had flowers in the room and where she got them I have no idea. I never forgot her pluck and plain love and strength during those years. I loved to watch her daily routine, how she cared for Dick Jr., then about a year old.

"We cried together and laughed together and knew we were blessed to have each other."

Dick continued: "As we progressed throughout the rest of our 64 years, our life became so solid, and we never lost the wonderment of our partnership.

"I loved to sit by Nayda as she put on her makeup in the mornings. I never lost the admiration in the manner she groomed herself, how she wore the same size outfits at 80 that she wore at 25. I thanked her so many times and told her how much it meant that she worked to keep a beautiful home through the 64 years.

"Fresh flowers always, many plants she kept alive during the many moves we made and homes we had. I never tired of watching her go about her chores. She loved fashionable clothes and beautiful shoes, she had about 100 pair over the 64 years, many of which I insisted she buy. I loved to take her shopping for her outfits and often my selections became her choice.

"The combination of her attitude and viewpoint on lots of subjects made for great interest in my life. She was a unique and highly attractive woman into her 80s. She was complimented, on many occasions, by other women, on her grooming and beautiful clothes.

"I felt myself to be among the most fortunate of men, to have lived the greater portion of my life-64 years-under the love, radiance and glow cast by that bright shining light. Nayda passed away July 30, 2008, at 87."

Dick's letter is a reminder that it's the little things that matter most in love: putting each other first, never losing hope, knowing as a couple we're blessed to have each other, acknowledging the wonderment of our love, and having an ongoing admiration and appreciation for our mate. And all the while, communicating often these thoughts and feelings to each other. Thanks Dick for sharing your inspiring message.

Wife torn by husband's Alzheimer's and her loneliness

When a spouse has Alzheimer's disease, and is committed to an institution, and no longer recognizes her or his spouse, and it's been going on for years, is it ok for the that person's spouse to seek comfort in a relationship?

Diane is in that situation and lonely. She said, "I was 49; my husband was 62 when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I took care of him for eight years until I was no longer physically or emotionally able. Since that time he has been in nursing homes and has had the disease for 13 years."

She needed information and guidance. She went online and found an article on the #1 website worldwide on Google for the keywords "finding love after 50" and "love after 50." The website contained an article about an Orange County, California, woman who found herself in the same Alzheimer's dating situation: follow link to Alzheimer's article.

It is my website and article so Diane contacted me.

Diane wrote, "I honestly have felt 'at the end of my ropes' lately. Sad, frustrated and betrayed, but most of all 'alone!'

"We have been married over 38 years and I have always been a devoted. loyal and loving mother and wife. I see him regularly but he doesn't know me or our children, nor has he for a very long time. He needs assistance with everything now."

Diane wondered if it was ok for her to have a relationship with another man although she is technically still married.

She said, "I felt I was the only one in the world in this situation. I felt evil for thinking these thoughts and doing these deeds-how dare I betray my husband, my faith, myself? After all, I'm married or am I? Only on paper."

Diane admits to having an affair: "I found an old school friend online a few years ago. We corresponded for a couple of years-he with a wife with cancer, me with a husband with Alzheimer's.

"We met a couple times for coffee and chatted. Then it led to much, much more. We have fallen in love; he has waited for me for three years. He's single and has been for over three years, but I'm still married."

Diane said that the man rediscovered religion and now doesn't want to see her until she's no longer married. But that's another issue.

She added, "I believe life is too short to waste....and I truly believe that God would also understand this situation and not condemn us. I tend to my husband and do all I can to keep him comfortable and happy.

"It's a long and dark tunnel when going through Alzheimer's with a loved one, but it helps to have a light at the end of that tunnel and someone waiting there for you who loves you."

Sometimes, life after 50 is about more than finding love

"You guys are the champs," are words from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician Jackson Browne's 1970s song, "The Load Out/Stay." (Often referred to as just "Stay").

In the song, the "champs" Browne refers to are the people behind the scenes who set up and tear down his concert equipment, and then move it to another city for another performance. The song lasts nine minutes and is a favorite of mine.

At the end of today's column, I will explain the connection of "Stay" to this newsletter. But let me say now that those of you who email make the newsletter possible each week by providing fresh information and giving me permission to publish it. Without you, this newsletter and my newspaper columns would have dried up long ago.

Dee's email inspired today's column.

"Thank you for continuing to write this newsletter," Dee wrote. "Currently I am not 'out there' trying to date because my work life is so stressful causing me to always feel worn out when I get home. I will turn 60 this September and am in good health, thank God.

"But, the constant barrage of unrealistic expectations thatare just downright silly have taken their toll. So, this Monday I told my boss that I was going to retire. She was shocked, which surprised me and asked if I wanted to think about it?

"Anyway, I can't focus on trying to date at this time in my life, and can't wait until I can! I am fraught with anxiety, scared to death about the money and a little thing like survival."

Let me intervene here. I empathize with Dee's comments. While it would be nice if older singles could always focus on finding love, the reality for many of them is their situations have changed in the last few years. The sour economy has been the main culprit. Many people have other things in life to be concerned about that require a higher priority than finding a mate: health issues, financial security, survival, care giving, job security, and a host of other issues.

So, occasionally, the topic of this newsletter may stray somewhat from purely finding-love-after-50 issues to other related issues that affect us as we age.

Dee continued, "Sadly, no travel for me in my retirement. So Tom, I am asking that you and your partner keep going on trips so that I can go on them with you, even if it is just hearing and seeing your travels, and thanks for the trip photos.

"I have enjoyed your sharing your trips so much. (I remember a few years back your mentioning some woman who wrote you and was put out that you did a column about one of your trips. She said you were, after all, only supposed to concentrate on telling us how to find a mate). For her health's sake, I hope she is daily eating a bowel full of prunes."

I am pleased that Dee made those comments about travel. My partner Greta and I plan to travel as much as possible while we are healthy enough to do so. I intend to write about those trips as writing about them is one of my passions. However, the travel articles will not be included in this newsletter.

Instead, I have created a new website, www.TravelAfter55.com, which will be devoted solely to travel. With the website, the prune lady won't have to be bothered with travel articles. The site is up and running, but still a work-in-progress; several articles have already been posted to it. Your comments and suggestions are encouraged.

And now, the connection of the song "Stay" to this newsletter. A couple of years ago, I asked for suggestions on a term I could use to refer to all of you, other than as just "readers," "members," "old farts," or "subscribers." Every term considered just didn't feel right; I didn't want anything that suggested we are old or full of gas. So, I kind of forgot about adopting a name.

This week, as I wrote my response to Dee's email, Browne's song "Stay" popped into my head. Just as his people are "champs" to him, you are "champs" to me. So, in the future, when you hear me call you "champs," you will know what the hell I'm talking about.

Thanks for being with me each week.

Here is a link to Browne performing "Stay" in 1978. Be sure you stay until near the end to listen to Rosemary Butler's incredible vocal.

Importance of healing before dating

Five women respond to last week's widower-dating story

Last week, Fran, a widow of three years, shared her story about dating a new widower. Their first date was four months after his wife had died. A year and a half later, he stopped seeing her. She wondered if she should wait for him to heal or move on with her life. Five widows responded.

Shirley said: "Tell Fran this guy is not Mr. Wonderful! He's just a needy widower, still mourning, and she is not his social worker, lover, friend, or future wife! It's time for Fran to move on, call her women friends, get out of the house and enjoy herself."

An anonymous woman wrote: "Years ago, when in college and still so immature, I dated a fellow who had lost his wife to a terrible accident. It was just like Fran described - at first, it went well. Then, I heard this from him, "I have to go home and just cry."

"When someone loses someone, they grieve; it is like a roller coaster, and even more unpredictable than that."

Mary:"Fran should give the man a due date and tell him the due date is for her.

"After that specified timeframe, she will move on. Sure he misses his wife. But she needs to tell him that life is for the living and his wife would want him to live."

Marti said: "Unfortunately I learned the hard way. I married a widower six months after his wife died. I should have known better, but he convinced me that he knew without a doubt that he wanted to be married. He was so happy.

"Two years later, we divorced. He said he was just not ready, that he wanted to be single. We did not have a difficult marriage or any confrontation. I believe he wanted to 'replace' his wife and obviously could not.

"Later, he withdrew and started spending more time alone, like he did when married to his first wife. They lived a very habitual and predictable life; he said our life was too hectic for him. Too busy.

"I should have known better and will be more cautious if I decide to date another widower.

Barb said: "I met a widower online. We went to lunch; it went great. Had a dinner date, it too went great. We set up another date during which he said that while he had strong feelings for me, he knew he could never remarry.

"I was floored as that was not what he had said on the website nor in any conversations we had. It was something he discovered in the dating process. While I had grown through my grief and was ready to settle down, he was stuck in his grief and to this day is still on the site, looking just for dinner, movie, and theater dates. When we met he had been a widower for seven years and me for just over three years."

The comments of these five widows should remind recent widowers that broken hearts take a long time to heal. And women who date recent widowers need to be aware of the risks involved. Rushing into a replacement marriage won't work.

Can single women find love on a cruise

My partner Greta and I are on a cruise to South America. There are about 1,300 guests on board. We have met a few older singles and have asked them if a cruise is a good place to meet potential mates.

Most have said they love to cruise and travel, but none took the cruise expecting to meet a potential mate.

Greta and I opted for "open seating" at dinner, which means that usually we are seated with two to six people we haven't sat with before. After ten dinners, only one single traveling alone sat at our tables, an outgoing, dynamic woman from Melbourne, Australia, in her 70s.

There was another single woman from Edmonton, Alberta, who sat with us but she was traveling with her daughter. So far, we haven't met any men traveling alone but we've seen a few around the ship.

On some nights, the ship has a Singles and Solos get together. On all nights there is dancing in multiple locations. One night we saw a solo man attend a 9 p.m. dance. He hung around for 25 minutes or so until he determined that no single women were going to show up.

A single man approached a woman friend of ours who was sitting alone at the swimming pool. He said he was hoping to meet someone. She explained to him that she wasn't wearing her wedding ring because when traveling in foreign countries she leaves her jewelry at home. Her husband was elsewhere on the ship. The man wandered off.

Often, single women will take a cruise with a woman friend. The trip will be more enjoyable if they are willing to meet and socialize with people. There are a plethora of opportunities to do that. The biggest chance of meeting someone to pal around with would be at dinner in the open seating, where singles can request to be seated with other singles.

And then there are the events and social activities, such as bridge and bingo games, lectures, and the shore excursions offered by the ship.

On cruises, you meet people from around the world. On this cruise, there are 906 people from the USA, 273 from Canada, 37 from Australia, 34 from the UK, 19 from Japan, 12 from the Netherlands, 10 from Germany and 34 from other countries. With such a diversity of people on board, a great conversation-opener is to ask people where they are from.

Almost everybody is friendly. My guess is the average age on this cruise is around 70 and the number of singles is less than 75.

Is cruising safe for a single woman? On board, without question. However, going ashore alone is not recommended. Singles should join up with at least one or two others when leaving the ship.

People traveling alone pay almost double compared to when sharing a room.

Single women can enjoy dancing at sea. On this cruise, there are four male dance hosts whose job is to dance with the ladies. But there are rules to which the dance hosts must adhere. No dating or favoring any one woman. If a dance host wants to pursue romance with a woman he meets, it must be after the cruise.

Will singles find love on a cruise? Probably not, but the more sociable they are, the better their chances.

(Editor's note: I've been on two cruises in my life. One with my sister and after that one I swore never to go on another cruise. It's not a place for a single guy unless you work on board. Cruise's are basically for women and the cruise lines know and cater to that. The single women on board get a lot of attention, especially from the crew. The crew on board this cruise basically put notches on their belts to see who could score the most. On top of that, they do have "dance hosts" but only for the women. There weren't any "dance hosts" for the men. Het men would have better luck finding a great woman at a gay club than on a cruise ship. I did go on a second cruise but this time with my girl friend.)

Dating from a man's point of view

Women complain that I don't include enough articles from the male point-of-view in this newsletter. I thought long and hard about sharing today's male point-of-view with you. It's not my point-of-view-far from it in fact.

Last week, we wrote about Gail who lives in the Eastern Sierra Mountains of California and the man she's dating who sees her when he's in town but wants no commitment or marriage. Many of you responded, particularly those living in remote areas or small towns, but none as vehemently as Don, who lives in the mountains of Eastern Washington. Today, we hear his point of view.

Don said, "I think Gail's situation sounds like a relationship of convenience. And hey - the guy is being completely honest!"

He continued, "Most women these days are so full of rage, manipulation, and control issues that men are becoming less willing to put up with a bunch of hormonal crap from a partner, just to have someone to share experiences or a bed or a 'partnership' with.

"I have experienced about all I want of it in three or so years of meeting and dating. Times have changed. I don't know WHY, but they have.

"I spent 22 years in a marriage and never had to deal with any of the issues that have elevated my blood pressure into the danger zones like I have with the past dozen women I've 'dated.' Recently, I'm meeting other men that are telling me their experiences are EXACTLY the same!

"These are guys I don't consider to be rage-aholics or anything like it. Pretty laid back, accomplished, together guys, just looking for a partner to enjoy life with, but the women they are meeting all seem to eventually be the same.

"They act so normal for a few months (at best) then explode with some imaginary issue, or control trip, or anger non-management, and the 'relationship' falls apart quickly after that. Maybe they think we're going to just 'take it' because we 'need' them. New day, my dear.

"You may think I'm being a bit rabid and over the edge on this. I could go into much 'gorier' details, but since it seems you're with a completely different kind of partner, I'll spare that, as your outlook is not the same because of who you are with. I honor that, and still am optimistic that I and other guys will find such compatibility, or that women in general will have a universal 'awakening' that will allow more of us to begin sharing life together and in harmony."

Don signed his email: "In the remote mountains of Eastern Washington. Where there are more or just as many 'shortages' than anywhere else."

Tom's comment: Don said my outlook is not the same because of the partner I'm with. Not true. I would never place all women in any category. If I dated twelve women who acted as he described and I was so angry, I'd either change the place I was meeting them, or I'd look in the mirror and ask what it is about me that needs fixing. Now that I think about it, I'd do both.

Marriage at mid-life and beyond?

Tom's response to Donna: You are not in the minority, especially among the women readers of this newsletter. Based on the email I receive, I estimate that at least 65 to 70 percent do not want to marry. But nearly all admit having a companion to pal around with would be nice, but not at the price of giving up their independence or freedom.

Donna, people who criticize your position may not have enough to do. They need to get a life. They might even be envious of you.

My partner Greta and I have been a couple for 12 ½ years. We are not married. We cherish our relationship, love each other and consider ourselves fortunate.

Last week, we rode on the train for 20 hours from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Montreal. We met people in the dining car, and in the observation car. The question, "How long have you been married?" came up.

When we said we were not married, people looked surprised. Sometimes, to save us from having to explain why we aren't married, we just say we are.

We feel--for now at least--there is no reason to marry, that marriage could change the expectations in our relationship. We also feel that it would be hard to improve upon what we already have.

Last year, I published a book titled, "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50," which includes the stories of couples who met within the last few years. About half of the couples married. Link to 50 Couples book

Three of those couples have subsequently divorced. There could be more but three have let me know. All three got into really ugly divorces. One woman said when she married she didn't know her husband well enough. He turned into a demon; she had to get a restraining order against him.

Another woman married a widower. He wasn't ready to recommit.

The man from the third couple said his wife tormented him.

So marriage later in life doesn't always turn out as planned. What surprised me about those three couples, they were wildly happy when I did the research for the book. They believed they were ready to marry. It surprised me how quickly their feelings changed. Couples who are planning to marry later in life need to understand what they are getting into.

Don't get me wrong, mid-life marriage can be a wonderful union; most of the couples from the book who married are happy.

On the train, we met a minister and his wife who became our friends. The minister said when unmarried seniors of his congregation come to him for pre-marriage advice, he, at times, will recommend that they don't get married, that it isn't always the most prudent thing to do.

So, Donna, don't for a second think there is anything wrong with your position of wanting to remain single. You know what is best for you and that's what is important.

This week's Champ is Donna who emailed, "Some women just want to find a companion and not get married. There do not seem to be many of those gals out there. This is my situation and I find it frustrating to feel I am in the minority. Sometimes, I even get criticized for it. Is this unusual?"

Intimacy: Two women, two opposite problems

Lisa said, "I am widowed, almost 10 years now. About two months ago, I met a nice man on Match.com who lives nearby and we have been dating. I enjoy spending time with him and we seem to have very common interests. I like him a lot but I'm not sure if he likes me.

"He has met my two daughters, 26 and 17; he has no children and is divorced. I'm not sure if he is shy or just not attracted to me but after 8 or 9 dates, he has only kissed me lightly on the cheek. I want very much to hug him and at least be a little more intimate but I don't know how or if to begin.

"Do you have any advice for me?"

Tom: If he didn't like you, he would not have continued to ask you out. I don't know why he hasn't been a bit more romantic--could be shyness, could be respect for you, could be lack of ability to be intimate--who knows?

I recommend being a little assertive with him--not aggressive, there is a difference. Say something like, "After nine dates, I need a hug." And hug him gently. Or, take his hand while walking. See how he responds.

If there is no response, then bring up the subject and talk about it. Again, not too forceful because you don't want to drive him away. But you also want a relationship with some romance in it.

Linda said, "I'm angry. I'm sort of in a relationship with a guy who just wants to come over to my house and hang out in hopes that it will lead to sex. He is 67. I am 63, attractive and very much aware. He makes me feel like he's embarrassed to be with me in public. He doesn't strike me as a tight wad so I don't think that's the problem.

He is a widower and claimed that his daughter saw us together when we first started to date and she was offended. He said she was very close to her mother and didn't like that he was dating. As such, he has made no plans to go anywhere with me.

He just wants to come to my house and I resent this. It has been two years since his wife's death and this whole thing is baffling. Oh, he buys me lingerie but never flowers or anything romantic. Some would think lingerie romantic - I don't.

"How can I handle this man? I'm not the best at expressing my feelings but must say something. He's turning what could be a promising relationship into a bad taste in my mouth."

Tom: "Yes, you must say something--and say it now--because the way you feel about him does not make for a relationship. Sit him down and have a heart-to-heart. Tell him exactly the information you wrote to me. Cards on the table, especially the part about "turning what could be promising into a bad taste."

"Communicate with him."

Isn't that the way it goes? When you'd like more, or some, it's not there. When the guy wants too much, you'd like other nice gestures besides just the sex. Yikes.

A new way to meet singles

This week, I received a press release promoting a new social dating site called Meetcha.com. The name caught my attention because it's so similar to Meetup.com, a site I often recommend to singles who are looking for social activities in their local areas.

A big difference between the two sites: On Meetcha.com, people get together with the intention of dating. On Meetup.com, people get together because they share interests.

But it was a survey that Meetcha.com conducted, titled "Get Back Out There Dating, Sex and Romance Survey" that piqued my interest. In the survey, more than 400 adult singles shared their opinions on relationships and dating.

Of the survey respondents, 42% were between ages 51-60, 31% were 61-70, and six % were age 71+, so about 70% were right in the heart of our demographic.

Women represented two thirds of the respondents.

Survey highlights included:

-74% of the respondents said it is difficult meeting other singles their age

-69% wished they were having more sex

-53% wanted to find a partner but did not want to marry

Those percentages compare fairly closely to the sentiments expressed by our Champs (members) over the years, although I have never conducted a formal survey.

However, I think even more of you--close to 85 %--think meeting other singles is difficult.

Regarding wanting more sex, I'm uncertain how our group stacks up against the survey group. I've never felt the need to ask the question. My guess is, well, hell yes you'd like to have more sex. Wouldn't we all? But finding a compatible partner is likely a higher priority.

In the survey, no one wished they were having less sex, which seems a bit of a no-brainer.

Over half of you have said you do not want to marry, but would enjoy having a mate. So the 53% number from the survey is pretty much in tune with the sentiments of our group.

Almost 60% of the Meetcha survey respondents said that dating was easier when they were younger. Yea, it probably was, although I can remember some pretty awkward moments from back then. Finding someone to date was certainly easier in the old days.

Sex too soon? Just over half of the survey respondents indicated they wanted to move slowly before having sex. They thought 5-10 dates were about right.

And what if a person presses for sex on the first date? Fifty-three percent of the survey respondents said that would be their last date with the horny toad.

Preferred first date activities?

-47 % - coffee
-16 % - dinner
-15% - drinks
-11% - an activity

Those percentages are also in tune with how our group feels.

And who pays for the first date? Respondents to the Meetcha.com survey said:

-40% - men
-32% - split the bill
-29% - whoever initiated the date

(Editor's note: Not one person said "men". Afterall, men are still seen as the Success Object. How said it still remains so prevelant. Men are still primarily seen as the first date initiator. If women disagree, I ask just how many men have you asked out. A few or over 100? Do you still? If no, why not? Is rejection too uncomfortable?)

Not many respondents enjoy blind dates; only 4 % said it was the preferred dating scenario.

Meetcha.com offers singles places to go to get together. Unlike Meetup.com, they do charge a fee for using their service.

If any of you Champs give Meetcha.com a try, let us know how you feel about it.

Where single women meet men

One of the comments featured in last week's newsletter was from Ginny, age 52, who stated: "I'm not holding out much hope (of meeting a man)...it seems like guys my age who are intelligent and employed either are looking for someone younger, or, they are still caught up with their exes."

Three women responded, explaining how they met their partners later in life.

Shelly, near Atlanta, said, "I have been on dating services for some time. In July, we were matched on J-Date and e-Harmony in the same week. His profile said he was a chef. I was 'forward' enough to email him 'that his face keeps showing up and that my horoscope said a man was cooking for me this month' (it actually did say that). We had three dates the first week and it has progressed from there.

"In my profile, I describe myself as a rare vintage of wine with a slightly nutty flavor (I do some standup comedy.) I then describe dating as an introduction to wine. I guess it was a bit deep, but I figured if they didn't get it, they wouldn't get me.

"We were born on the same day in the same year. We talked today about throwing our own birthday party for our 63rd and inviting all our friends.

"He is coming to 'break the fast' for Yom Kippur this Saturday and meeting two of my daughters and their families. To me, that is a big deal.

"I am exceedingly happy."

Shelly and her friend live 40 minutes apart. They make a small sacrifice to get together. Without the Internet, it is unlikely they would have ever met.

Shelly's advice to Ginny: Don't give up, be creative in your profile description and be a little forward (it's ok to email him). I am not sure if I would have grabbed his attention without that."

Karen, Minneapolis,stated, "I gave up looking for a man my age (55). I found one eight years younger (47).

"Works MUCH better. No conversations about knee replacement, and he doesn't want a mother. Met him at a philosophy discussion meetup.

"There are a lot of good men. You just need to recalibrate your perspective. Don't expect to find male companionship in a female-dominated culture, like New Age spiritual groups.

"Go where the guys congregate. Bag 'em on their own turf. I have a lot of male 'friends,' some married, some not. I derive comfort, support and companionship from male friends I meet in group activities. I don't have to have a 'partner' in order to have wonderful relationships with men.

"I'd rather have good, satisfying friendships with interesting men, married or otherwise, bonding over a political campaign or other activity, than I would a series of disappointing dates on a hunt for a partner."

Karen found the philosophy discussion group through http://www.meetup.com/, a free site that lists meetings and activities throughout the USA. Two days ago, an email from Meetup.com stated there were 943 activities in San Clemente, California, where I live.

Sara said,"I am 54, back at school studying, 3/4 time, work - live in an area, near Aspen, Colorado, where men all go for much younger women, and I have a 13-year-old son at home.

"I refused to lose heart, I joined two internet dating sites, got to kiss a few toads, but I finally found HIM, funnily enough another student, who lives in Wyoming, We drove two hours for our first date; it was love at first site. He drove four hours to come and see me the next weekend and we regularly drive three hours each just to see each other.

"So Ginny, don't ever give up, get a good life of your own and join something like Chemistry or Match and make an effort to contact people even if they aren't so close."

Think about the geographical diversity of these three women-Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Aspen. It's not where you're located that is important in meeting new people; it is what you do to reach out. With the Internet, there are millions of people at your fingertips.

The common thread running through these three women's stories: they got out of the house and involved in activities they enjoyed. They took it upon themselves to make something happen in their lives.

And what they did worked.

Why Boomer Dating is Difficult

Over the last few issues, there have been great comments from readers--Champs if you will. Today, we share some of those comments on a variety of topics.

Re: Shannon's story about men who talk too much on first dates...


"Maybe Shannon should try dressing seductively, and talking about subjects that might get the boys thinking about something more stimulating than knee replacement."

Lloyd, "Sometimes you want to say to them (dates who talk too much) 'Why do you think the world is revolving just around you?' That gets their attention but you may not get a second date. Either way you win."

Dan, "If Shannon notices that this is happening 'pretty much every time,' perhaps she needs to examine the common denominator. Is she trying to participate? Is she being too polite? Were these men not so talky during their pre-date phone conversations? Those phone calls are usually pretty good filters but most of us have missed the signs and have had bad dates.

"It is amazing that so many want to bring up their ex's. If that is so compelling to them, I don't think they are ready to move on. Shannon, chalk it up to experience, keep smiling and Mr. Right will come along."

On the difficulty of meeting men to date...

Ginny, 52, "I signed up for your newsletter, but I'm still not holding out much hope (of meeting a man). I am sure you hear this a lot, but, it seems like guys my age who are intelligent and employed either are looking for someone younger, or, they are still caught up with their exes."

(See the ending section for a response to Ginny's comment)

On the future of E-books...

Robin, "E-books are becoming more and more popular. I bought a Kindle (2nd gen) about a year and a half ago, and LOVE it. Living out in the boonies as I now do, there were NONE in this area, had to go on what I had found out, and Amazon's good reputation. I love it, and recommend it lavishly to all that ask about it.

"However, I don't think E-books will replace printed books in the near future - there are still way too many folks who enjoy reading and holding a book in their hands (me included). I think they'll find their nitch. However, it is awesome to get a book in 60 seconds - and not have to go to a bookstore or library to get it. Saves gas!

-Response to Sandy's story about raising her great granddaughter (age 8) and why men won't date her...

John, "I was in a long-term relationship with a grandma. I had known her in high school and met her years later at a class reunion after we were both divorced. She lived three hours away, but we managed to see each other every other weekend.

"The attributes (compassion, caring and duty to others) that drew me to her eventually killed the relationship because of her grandchildren.

"Her son and daughter-in-law had four children over the period of seven years. They were terrible parents. Out of compassion for the children, my friend became more and more their parent. The daughter-in-law didn't work, but my friend did and took much better care of the kids. She stopped there almost every night after work and eventually three of them were with her every weekend.

"I didn't mind playing with the kids and helping to care for them, but eventually I felt squeezed out of my friend's attention. I lost the motivation to drive the 3 hours and eventually broke up with her. It hurt both of us.

"She was probably doing the right thing for the kids given the awful situation they were in, but it left no room for a relationship. If things had been reversed, I can't say that I wouldn't have done the same.If things had been different, we probably would be married today.

"We all make choices that have positive and negative consequences - like two sides of a coin. Sandy's love and caring for her granddaughter will be rewarded, but unfortunately she will probably not find a man who wants a close relationship."

First-date etiquette; talkin' too much

Everybody's talkin;' nobody's listenin'

Shannon, 51, an Orange County, California, divorcee of nine years, prefers to date men her age, but she finds getting past the first date challenging.

"Do you have any insight into why older men want to talk about themselves until they are blue in the face?" Shannon asked.

She explained: "Men around 50 or older feel compelled to tell their entire life story in the first meeting. It will last for more than two hours of their steady one-sided conversation. Last night, the gentleman went on and on about his grandmother's knee cartilage deterioration from the 1970s.

"This happens to me pretty much every time I am with a middle-aged man. The stories go on until I am mentally exhausted. When I excuse myself early just to get a break, I always hear the same thing, 'I feel like I could talk to you for hours. What was your name again?''

"These men appear to be functioning and stable otherwise, but seem to have just arrived from solitary confinement and want to talk endlessly."

"So far, I have never accepted a second date. I am just too drained. Why would they not prefer a two-sided conversation?"

When I asked Shannon if it was okay to use her first name, she said "Absolutely! I don't think any of the men would remember my name, even if we were in the same room.

Shannon added, "There is so little (conversational exchange) on both the male and female side that everybody's talking and nobody's listening."

Shannon's comment made me think of words from Harry Nilsson's 1969 song Everybody's Talkin' from the movie Midnight Cowboy:

"Everybody's talkin' at me; I can't hear a word they're saying."

It's not just men who don't "get it," that being good listeners and conversationalists are endearing dating qualities. Women can drone on too long as well.

My friend George had a blind date with a new divorcee. As they were sipping wine, supposedly getting to know each other, George observed that the divorcee couldn't stop talking about her ex-husband Harry.

George said she kept repeating, "Harry did this; Harry did that."

"She never asked about me. I could have left the table and she wouldn't have noticed I was gone," George said.

Instead of leaving, he summoned the bartender, "Three more glasses of wine."

"Why the third glass?" The divorcee asked.

"There's one for each of us and one for Harry. You've talked about him so much; I feel I know him as a friend. If he comes walking through the door and pulls up a chair, I want him to feel welcome," George said.

He added that the comment went right over her head; she resumed talking. They did not go out again.

Advice to singles who talk endlessly on first dates: You will get more second dates if you zip your lips and engage your date in conversation. Besides, it's just plain-old, middle-aged dating etiquette.

Woman raising great granddaughter wonders why men won't date her

Sandy, 65, a widow of four years, would like to meet a man. But her unusual situation is making the task difficult.

Sandy said, "I have been on a number of dating sites. I have adopted my eight-year-old great granddaughter. Most men don't want to be involved with me because I am raising a child. I know there are a lot of grandparents raising grandchildren; why are men afraid to get involved with me?

"My late husband adored my great grandchild and all I have asked for is friendship or dating. What is the problem? I have been honest in my profiles. I am sure there are others in the same boat as myself."

I commended her for raising her eight-year-old great granddaughter, but asked why she was the one raising the child.

Sandy said, "I don't need to be commended. She is the light of my life. My granddaughter had her at 16 and didn't bond with her. The biological father didn't want her either.

"My daughter didn't step up because she is selfish and has a live-in boyfriend who doesn't want to raise a child. She has a career and that and her boyfriend come first. The state of Utah (where Sandy and her family live) will not let people adopt who are living together. However, if I die, they will take her."

Dating when children are involved is such an important topic that it is an entire chapter in my recently updated Finding Love After 50 EBook.

For women age 65-plus, finding suitable men to date is challenging by the numbers alone. The ratio of single women to available single men at that age is approximately three-to-one. Single men are scarce.

And even more scarce would be finding a man willing to date a 65-year-old woman raising a great grandchild. Most people that age have already raised their kids and don't want the stress of having small children around. Compounding the problem, "The 8-year-old has had emotional problems, which we are working on," Sandy shared.

I mean no disrespect but what does Sandy have to offer a man to make him want to be with her and the girl? Friendship and dating are not enough. And how could Sandy go out on a date? Who would baby sit?

Sandy said, "If there is a good man who can find it in his heart to get to know us he will be rewarded. She is a loving little girl but needs a male influence in her life."

The great granddaughter will be with Sandy most likely until Sandy is 80. Most men do not want to be saddled with the responsibility of someone else's child for what would likely be the rest of their life.

People in their 60s and 70s realize that their time clocks are ticking. They want to be free to pursue activities they enjoy before it's too late, such as traveling or driving an RV across the country. Those activities would be nearly impossible to do with an eight-year-old who needs to be in school.

All children need to be a parent's top priority, but most people in a relationship want to be the top priority.

Thank goodness there are people like Sandy who unselfishly raise a child who could otherwise become a ward of the state. It is unfortunate that Sandy's kin don't take responsibility for the child they brought into this world.

Can Sandy find a man to accept her situation? It is impossible, but unlikely. Perhaps she should focus her search on finding a man who is in a similar situation. And while using the Internet, she needs to protect that little girl from pedophiles.

I think dating will continue to take a back seat for Sandy.

Empathy, finding love, and an appreciation for music

Last week's message, that there is more to life after 50 than just finding love, struck chords in ways I did not anticipate.

Responses about the song "Stay" by Jackson Browne

I had no idea so many of you enjoy the song "Stay" by Jackson Browne, including my brother Bill, from Dallas. He and I had never shared that information before. Close to 200 champs clicked on the link to listen to it.

John, Pennsylvania, said: "I love the song 'Stay.' Having been in bands in the 70's, I recall those sounds Browne sings about: I can hear the sounds of slammin doors and foldin chairs, and that's a sound they'll never know."

Responses from people I cannot help

Responses came from people I cannot help, including the non-champ whose brief response was "Blah-blah-blah." Guess she wasn't too impressed.

Another woman I cannot help wrote,"I am soon to be 49 and just came out of another breakup--this time with someone I really fell in love with.

"I am panicked I am going to be alone the rest of my life. I attract men but then repel them. I don't know how to change what I am doing. What happens when you have so much baggage--as I do--how to disclose and not disclose?

"My baggage is 14 straight years of never-ending litigation with my ex--he sues me constantly. Unfortunately this is not likely to stop soon, and so that is a large part of the confidence issue. Professionally I am successful and independent. Aesthetically I am or at least have been told I am attractive (former cheerleader, etc), and I am in shape.

"I don't know how to break this cycle and now I have so much baggage and scar tissue I am literally petrified I am scarred for life and that no one I want will want me.

"How do I break this cycle of dysfunction so I am not single the rest of my life? I hired a shrink at the end of May after the last breakup.

Tom's comment to her:I cannot help you. You need a therapist and a good lawyer.

Responses from champs who found empathy in the message

Bobbi said, "I will turn 60 next year and the thought of looking for that 'love of my life' seems overwhelming and not possible. My folks are in their 80's and are losing their home; they will be moving in with me. Taking care of them and dealing as an entrepreneur in a down economy means no retirement on the horizon. Your newsletter helps me live vicariously through all of you. Keep up the trips, advice and the stories."

Joy:"I have endured hard times in the last few years. After my divorce (married 33 years), I became a realtor and was moderately successful for 16 years - until the bottom fell out of the real estate market and I had to give up. I had many debts to pay and wound up having to sell my beautiful home and car and move to a condo.

"Now, at 73, I work 45 hours a week at senior care giving (mostly Alzheimer's clients). I, too, am totally exhausted after my 9 hour days and at the low pay ($9.50 an hour through an agency) and have no money left to date. Gentlemen today expect you to pay your own way. Many are looking for women who will travel with them.

"I would love to do this, but the means aren't there. I haven't had a gentleman friend for over 2 years. When my friends ask why I am not out there dating, my stock answer is 'I can't afford a boyfriend.' I don't know if I will live to see things change or not, but I still dream that it will be different someday."

Pat,"We all are facing other priorities in our lives because of the economy, something we tend to forget when thinking something good should be happening in our love life. We forget the other person is probably as stressed as we are which doesn't make it easy to find the energy to keep dating, talking and looking!

"My Dad worked until he was 79 and I plan on working until 75, if not 80, as long as my health holds out and my company wants me. That is one way to help this economy turn around and help a little with the financial stress I am facing! That and swimming a mile every day or walking two miles on the treadmill seem to help me keep moving forward!"

My comment:I relate to Bobbi's, Joy's, and Pat's messages as I hope to continue working at my "day job," Tutor and Spunky's Deli, in Dana Point, California, for another five years or so. And, I plan to continue writing as long as my mind functions and my ballpoint pen has ink. We read that keeping our minds active and being involved in something worthwhile can add a few more years to our lives. We'll see how that goes.

How important is finding love in your life?

"You guys are the champs," are words from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician Jackson Browne's 1970s song, "The Load Out/Stay." (Often referred to as just "Stay").

In the song, the "champs" Browne refers to are the people behind the scenes who set up and tear down his concert equipment, and then move it to another city for another performance. The song lasts nine minutes and is a favorite of mine.

At the end of today's column, I will explain the connection of "Stay" to this newsletter. But let me say now that those of you who email make the newsletter possible each week by providing fresh information and giving me permission to publish it. Without you, this newsletter and my newspaper columns would have dried up long ago.

Dee's email inspired today's column.

"Thank you for continuing to write this newsletter," Dee wrote. "Currently I am not 'out there' trying to date because my work life is so stressful causing me to always feel worn out when I get home. I will turn 60 this September and am in good health, thank God.

"But, the constant barrage of unrealistic expectations thatare just downright silly have taken their toll. So, this Monday I told my boss that I was going to retire. She was shocked, which surprised me and asked if I wanted to think about it?

"Anyway, I can't focus on trying to date at this time in my life, and can't wait until I can! I am fraught with anxiety, scared to death about the money and a little thing like survival."

Let me intervene here. I empathize with Dee's comments. While it would be nice if older singles could always focus on finding love, the reality for many of them is their situations have changed in the last few years. The sour economy has been the main culprit. Many people have other things in life to be concerned about that require a higher priority than finding a mate: health issues, financial security, survival, care giving, job security, and a host of other issues.

So, occasionally, the topic of this newsletter may stray somewhat from purely finding-love-after-50 issues to other related issues that affect us as we age.

Dee continued, "Sadly, no travel for me in my retirement. So Tom, I am asking that you and your partner keep going on trips so that I can go on them with you, even if it is just hearing and seeing your travels, and thanks for the trip photos.

"I have enjoyed your sharing your trips so much. (I remember a few years back your mentioning some woman who wrote you and was put out that you did a column about one of your trips. She said you were, after all, only supposed to concentrate on telling us how to find a mate). For her health's sake, I hope she is daily eating a bowel full of prunes."

I am pleased that Dee made those comments about travel. My partner Greta and I plan to travel as much as possible while we are healthy enough to do so. I intend to write about those trips as writing about them is one of my passions. However, the travel articles will not be included in this newsletter.

Instead, I have created a new website, www.TravelAfter55.com, which will be devoted solely to travel. With the website, the prune lady won't have to be bothered with travel articles. The site is up and running, but still a work-in-progress; several articles have already been posted to it. Your comments and suggestions are encouraged.

And now, the connection of the song "Stay" to this newsletter. A couple of years ago, I asked for suggestions on a term I could use to refer to all of you, other than as just "readers," "members," "old farts," or "subscribers." Every term considered just didn't feel right; I didn't want anything that suggested we are old or full of gas. So, I kind of forgot about adopting a name.

This week, as I wrote my response to Dee's email, Browne's song "Stay" popped into my head. Just as his people are "champs" to him, you are "champs" to me. So, in the future, when you hear me call you "champs," you will know what the hell I'm talking about.

© 2010, Tom Blake

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