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."

© 2010, Tom Blake

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

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