Thursday, August 11, 2016

Senior Online Dating: Two women, two different experiences

Senior online dating: Two women: two different experiences

By Tom Blake

Online dating is one of the tools seniors can use for meeting a mate. Two women contacted me this week, sharing their vastly different online dating experiences. One found success; the other frustration.

Cheryl said, “I would like to share my recent good fortune and experience with online dating. I began corresponding with a widower in October, 2015, on the dating site OK Cupid, which allows subscribers to write detailed information on their profile and also offers thousands of questions that can be answered on a variety of topics. I have been divorced twice. 

‘When we started corresponding, he had answered nearly 500 questions, and I had answered over 600, and we both had added comments to many of our answers. So we already knew a lot about each other.  

“We remained on the site communicating for a few weeks before moving to personal emails, both agreed to progress slowly and eventually we moved to phone calls and then to Skype. This occurred over a period of several months.  

“Early on, I verified information he gave me (checked his website and ‘Googled’ him). Our correspondence enabled us to learn more about each other and gain confidence in our relationship. We are both 69 and live 600 miles apart. When I flew to meet him in April, there were no surprises. We totally enjoyed each other's company and made a commitment to continue to develop our relationship.  

“He drove to my home in July. We spent two and a half weeks together during which time he met my family, friends, and my church family.
Everyone ‘approved’ of him! We have been blessed to have found love and have made a commitment to travel ‘the rest of the journey’ together.  

“Our correspondence and willingness to be totally open and honest with each other along with both of us wanting a long-term relationship were the keys to our success.”

Cheryl’s point about both of them wanting a long-term relationship is vital to relationship success. Also, she and her man emphasized the benefit of using Skype before meeting in person.

She said, “Skype enables each person to see the other's facial reactions and enhances the intimacy of the communication. We both feel that Skyping before meeting in person made us feel much more comfortable with each other when we did meet than if we hadn't Skyped.  

“During my 15 months online, I encountered some suspected scammers, whom I reported to the site. But I also met and/or communicated with some really nice, caring men. My online dating experience was very positive. I will be moving to live with him in September.

“He often says, ‘life sings,’ and we feel very lucky to be singing a duet.”

The second woman, Annise, was married 25 years before becoming a widow six years ago. After many online dating attempts, she met a wonderful man who later died in a plane crash.

She said, “I jumped back on the Internet and have met and dated a few interesting and scary fellows, including a lawyer, who wore more jewelry than I, a convicted felon, a recovering alcoholic who is mixed up with lots of baggage, a man who prefers non-English speaking women because they are more subservient, and many other characters. Anyway, I’ve been trying!  

She said, “Yikes! What am I doing wrong? Being widowed, I have a better than average appreciation for time; that ‘Life is short’ jingle is brutally true. I would rather spend time in a relationship than spend time in online dating.”

Despite the tragedies that Annise has endured, she continues to have a sense of humor and zest for life. One of her requirements of the men she is meeting: “He cannot be at war with his ex.”

Internet-wise, the only suggestion I have is she might try other dating websites to avoid meeting so many bizarre characters. Other than that, Annise’s energy, positive attitude, resiliency, and determination to never give up looking for a mate are what it takes to find success in senior dating.

Seniors who use the Internet for dating should proceed slowly, and must be prepared for any quirk that might surface. But love can be found, as Cheryl experienced.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tom Blake's Interview with Chicken Soup's Mark Victor Hansen - 10 Dating Tips

On Life and Love after 50  Newsletter

Tom Blake's Interview with Chicken Soup's Mark Victor Hansen. His 10 dating tips still hold true today

I am in the process of updating my Finding Love after 50 website, which entails editing more than 200 articles that I wrote 10 to 15 years ago. One article I came across was an interview I had with Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of the best-selling series "Chicken Soup for the Soul"  and co-author of "The One Minute Millionaire."

                         Tom and Mark Victor Hansen - 2003
Hansen was considered in 2003, when I interviewed him, as America's leading expert on human potential; his business letterhead described him as "America's Master Motivator." He is extremely personable, positive and likeable as well. The interview was about middle-aged and senior dating. His answers to my questions are as important today as they were in 2003. I added the italics.

Tom: “Where should middle-age and senior singles go to jump-start their lives and meet a potential mate?”

Mark: “They should volunteer by test-tasting 12 different groups to find the one or ones most suitable for them. There may be 100 people at each meeting; that's 1,200 people from whom to choose.

“If you want quality dating - a good relationship, great thinking, possibility for travel, good belongingness, somebody with high self-confidence, high self-esteem, who is trying to make a difference at whatever level - you'll find people like that in volunteer groups.”

Tom: “What advice can you give singles who say they can never trust again?”

Mark: “You have to have self-trust before you can trust others.

“All of us are on a spiritual path and all get betrayed. From forgiveness you go back to deep self-trust. You realize you aren't alone, and that's one of the things the "Chicken Soup" books help people with. Most people need a deeper process rebuilding trust than from a 20-minute church sermon.

(While discussing divorce, Mark asked if I had written a book. I told him my book - scheduled for publication May, 2003, – Finding Love After 50. How to Begin. Where to Go. What to Do, will help divorced and widowed people).


                                            Tom's Book on

Mark said, "You've got a market of at least 20 million there. In doing research for our upcoming book, 'Chicken Soup for the Divorced Soul' (publication in 2005), we learned that the divorce rate is 150 percent in America, which means people who get divorced get divorced multiple times.

"Americans don't know how to grieve and one thing you've got to grieve is your divorce. It takes a year and a half to heal at a minimum, and more time for women than men."

Tom: “I tell singles they should know the qualities that are right for them in a potential mate. Some say that makes love too scripted. They believe love should ‘just happen.’ What's your opinion?”

Mark: “That's the way 16-year-olds think, and it gets them in trouble. People must know what's right for them.”

Tom: “Many older people complain that the singles they meet are too set in their ways and not relationship material.”

Mark: “The new (lifestyle) model, especially in California, is not to get hard in your attitudes. Take a guy like Art Linkletter – he skis six weeks a year and surfs six weeks a year. My daughter can't believe he catches air for 30 feet at a time. He's happily married, but he's as alive and enticing to women as he is to men.

“So, the complaint goes back to the ones who complain. If men or women aren't growing, then they won't find others who are growing. And about gray power - no one should give up their sex life or their life at all.”

Tom: “Can a relationship where two people have a 20-year-age difference work?”

Mark: “We're going into a new age I call the age of the soul. We ask, how does my soul relate to your soul? Are our souls comfortable? Is the essence of my being there? The essence of my being has nothing to do with chronology. A 20-year-age gap is irrelevant, assuming people are spiritually mature and they've done some self-work and introspection.”

Tom: “You're one of the marketing geniuses in the world: Do you think singles should use marketing techniques - such as the Internet, personal ads, networking and dating services – to try to meet someone?”

Mark: “Absolutely. Everyone's got to learn to market him or herself. Do marketing that rocks; it will help bring love back into your life.”

Tom: “Can people who elect to remain single lead a happy life on their own?”

Mark: “Only if they've done a lot of self-work and made themselves feel comfortable with themselves. What I teach on self-esteem is a trinity: 'I like me, I like me alone, and I like me with other people.' Most people have never done the ‘I like me’ step.

“You must have positive, correct self-love first. If I'm in a bonded relationship and don't have self-love first, I won't be OK.”

Tom: “How can people keep a relationship alive and fresh?”

Mark: “Read love books to each other once a month, then discuss them and say on a scale of 1 to 10, where is our relationship? If it's less than a 7, what do we do to get back to a 7? No relationship operates at a 10 full time. Most couples never have that kind of a conversation.”

          Couples should read to each other without falling asleep

Mark's final advice for older singles: "Have lots of friends. Stay active. Get out and meet new people. If you've got the intention to pay attention, you'll get the perfect retention of your love."
Orange County is blessed to have Mark Victor Hansen as one of its leaders.

In re-reading this interview in 2016, Mark’s advice still applies. He is a genius. Here are 10 highlights of what Mark Victor Hansen said:

1. To jump-start one’s life, volunteer trying at least 12 different charities or groups to find the right one for you
2. To trust again, you have to trust yourself, which starts with forgiveness
3. When going through a divorce, you have to grieve. It takes at least a year and a half to recover
4. Singles looking for a mate must know the qualities they seek in a mate
5. No one should give up their sex life
6. Regarding dating someone older or younger, Hansen said, “A 20-year-age gap is irrelevant, assuming people are spiritually mature and they've done some self-work and introspection.”
7. Singles must learn how to market themselves
8. To be in a bonded relationship, you must love yourself first
9. No relationship operates at a level-10 all of the time. Communication between couples helps refresh relationships and keeps them at a high level
10. Have lots of friends. Get out and meet new people (Gee, where have you heard that before?)

Note from Tom: In 2008, Hansen and co-creator Jack Canfield sold Chicken Soup for the Soul. The new owners have carried on. As of 2016, 110 million copies have been sold.

I hope Champs found this interview with Mark Victor Hansen as inspiring and informative as I did.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Falling in love with an image

On Life and Love after 50   July 29, 2016
Falling in love with an image (someone you’ve never met)
One of my favorite recordings is the Rod Stewart version of Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe” song that Stewart released in 1971, which happened to be what we called back then the flip side of “Maggie May.” The words state that had the singer listened long enough to the woman he sings about, he would have found a way to believe everything she told him, even though he knew she was lying.
The words to that song can apply to what has happened in a number of long-distance relationships: People find someone online. They live in different states, even different countries. They start a long-distance relationship and one person falls in love although they have never met in person. Simply put, the person is falling in love with an image.

                                  He could look like this guy in person
A woman who describes herself as being intelligent, wrote, “It can be very easy to ‘think’ you are in love with someone, after many e-mails and phone calls, even though you have not met that person yet. It is not love, just a great infatuation, which often is dispelled once you meet face-to-face."
She explained, “This happened to me. After a long analysis of the situation, I realize now that I actually fell in love with the guy’s voice. Sound is a strong motivator of emotion. I ended up broken hearted. He didn’t want a relationship, although he said he did.
“Emotional needs can overcome common sense. Now, if I feel myself getting unrealistically drawn to someone I have never met, warning flags go up.”
I am glad she has learned her lesson. Falling in love with someone you’ve never met in person can happen to people who consider themselves to be smart and not naive.

                           What if her guy looked like this in person?
In another situation, Susan, not her real name, wrote, “I’m from Florida. I fell in love with a trucker from a another state.” (There’s nothing wrong with falling in love with a trucker; his profession had little to do with her taking hook, line and sinker.) We will call him Trucker Jack.
She blames Trucker Jack for what happened, but she was the gullible one. “He really knew how to work me. He called every day, sometimes twice a day. He left poetry on my voice mail and wrote poetry on my email, so much so I started calling him ‘Mr. Romance.’
“Friends felt I would never settle down and marry again. But, when Trucker Jack started to email and call me, things changed overnight. When he sent pictures of himself, his house, his truck and a book about his family that the Chamber of Commerce in the little town where he grew up had produced, I was hooked.”
Even when red flags started to appear, Susan--similar to Rod Stewart in theReason to Believe song--continued to find a reason to believe. This usually happens to older singles because they so desperately desire a loving relationship, they focus on imaginary situations and fantasies.
Trucker Jack told Susan he planned a trip to visit her, but, a health problem forced him to cancel. Then financial problems involving his truck caused another delay. He said when he ironed out his finances, he would take her on a three-week trip to see the leaves turn in Cape Cod. Susan said, “These are the things that romances are made of,” finding another reason to believe.

  These guys work with trucks and fast cars. Which one is Trucker Jack?
               Could be anyone of them or none of them

She added, "Then, Trucker Jack said a woman he had previously dated tried to commit suicide. Her family and the entire small town told him he’d better do right by her. He went to the hospital to wish her well. She wanted to come home with him so he took her home. Then he took her on the trip that was supposed to be my trip. I got dumped. He still calls; he tells me he took the wrong woman on the trip.”
And what’s mind boggling about this story? She fell in love with an image, a man she had never met (Assuming he was a man, he could have been anybody). And the scary thing was Susan would have gone on a three-week trip with a stranger; she hadn’t met in person. “Book smart and street dumb is what my dad would have said,” says Susan.
The senior internet dating lesson here: Don’t fall in love with an image (someone you haven’t met in person).
Why did Susan look so hard for a reason to believe? “I did not know how starved I was for romance,” she admits. Loneliness can easily cloud judgment.
He still calls her once a week. “He tells me he is trying to get to see me, but I’m not holding my breath,” she added, sounding like she’s still trying to find a reason to believe.
Another woman shared her story of falling in love with an image. She said, “I have been emailing a man who fit the perfect image of what I am looking for. I have talked to him for four years; he is in Tennessee, I am in Texas. He tells me he loves me, and has a special place in his heart for me. Sometimes he calls, but I call him more often. He said what I wanted to hear: that he is a Christian and is searching for a Christian woman.
“I bring up us meeting in person, but it never happens. When I divorced after 30 years, I wanted a Christian marriage. I thought it might be with him. Are there decent Christian men out there?”

             Who is the fake in this photo? Which one really called her?

Tom responded:
 “Four years is about three years and 10 months too long for not meeting in person, unless you are happy with just loving an image. He isn’t going to change. Yes, there are decent Christian men out there, you can Google Christian websites. But, just because they say they are Christian, doesn’t make them saints or even Christians. They could be wolves in Christian clothes. 
What is the best strategy to avoid falling in love with an image? Keep your emails short, your phone calls short, your texts short, and meet in person as soon as possible. And when you do that, take all the precautions you would normally take when meeting any stranger—meet in a public place, tell your friends and or family with whom you are meeting, and where. Be safe, even though you feel you can trust your long-distance love. He could be just another bad guy with ulterior motives.
Meeting sooner than later can dispel the falling in love with an image fantasy before it has a chance to grow.
Link to Reason to Believe by Rod Stewart (skip the ad when prompted)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Widower is a model for all Champs - The Sands of Time

Widower is a model for all Champs -The Sands of Time

“GOOD SATURDAY EVENING, TOM” was the subject line of an email I received this past Saturday night.

The email read, “A widow who has been networked to me via my grief counselor wanted to read my poem The Sands of Time on your web site. She just called me to tell me it was not available. Has the poem been deleted?”

The email was signed, “Dave Southworth.”

Dave has been a Champ before Champs were called Champs. I have known him via email—we have never met in person--since 2002. At the time he was about 67. After he had been widowed, he wrote a poem called The Sands of Time, which he shared with me. I was so moved by the poem I asked if he’d like it posted to my website. He said yes; it’s been viewed thousands of times since then.

Dave and I shared an added bond: he lives in Clare, Michigan, and I grew up in Jackson, Michigan.

On Sunday, I wrote back to Dave: “Here is what is going on with the Finding Love After 50 website. Four years ago, my website designer bailed on me and refused to give me the passwords so I could no longer edit the site—couldn’t add to it or delete from it or update the site’s links. The site went from being the top-searched site for the keywords Finding Love After 50 on Google to falling to Google’s page two. I held on to the site because the domain name is worth a lot. Because I could no longer edit the site may be why your poem page likely disappeared.

“Three weeks ago, I asked Alex, my new web guy to completely rebuild the Finding Love After 50 site, which is what he is doing. Your poem will be included. He may have removed the pages for the time being. I would never allow a poem as touching as The Sands of Time to slip through the cracks.”

Dave responded: “Since you posted my poem in December, 2002, I have referred numerous women and men who are widowed and experiencing barriers in their journey to healing to your website. It has been 14 years since we were first connected through Phoebe Oshriak, who remains a close friend.”

During those 14 years, several widows and widowers have told me how helpful Dave has been to them in their journey through their grief. He’s got a warm heart and a gentle spirit.

This past Monday morning, I checked for the poem on Finding Love After 50. It was still there! I was quite excited and wrote Dave.

“Found the poem, here is the link:

I asked Dave, who is now 81, how he is doing, and asked for his permission to write about him in the newsletter.

Dave replied, “It would be an honor to appear in your weekly newsletter.
I was remembering several years ago when you asked me to write a newsletter article describing numerous interesting, actually hilarious dates with ladies from a dating site...and the rush of emails I received.

I use the word honor because 14 years ago I lost the love of my life;
10 years ago I beat prostate cancer and am cancer free; a year and a half  ago, I beat diabetes; one year ago this month, I won a battle with a heart attack, a heart attack that should have taken my life.

“Yet here I am today, disgustingly healthy, with my six-month nuclear stress test results being that of a 55-year-old man. What saved my life was I am blessed with a very strong heart muscle (Dave mentioned that he does 160 push-ups each day as a part of his exercise routine).

“I still live at my lake home with my kitty Miss Annie. I have several lady friends. However, I have not been blessed with a special lady.

“I restarted two books, am still writing poetry, periodic client work squeezed in between early morning kayaking with the loons singing their morning song, fly fishing, 5 children, 11 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren. Yes, life is really good, Tom.

“God is not through with me yet. It is an honor for me to be what
HE wants me to be, all I can be. In one way or another, we are all models of life living.

Dave’s email:

Part 2 – Two websites
By the way, I began a new site a couple of years ago so I could add new material. That is, Finding Love After 60, which is advancing nicely in the Google rankings. Yes, it’s all a little confusing, having two websites similar in name. The Finding Love after 50 site should have a bright new look to it within a month or so. The sites will contain different content and I will keep you posted.

For the time being, most of our newsletters are posted on the blog of the Finding Love After 60 website. There is a wealth of information on this site. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Adversity inspires San Clemente, California, woman to write book

Picket Fence Media week of July 18 - 25

On Life and Love after 50

Column by Tom P Blake

Adversity inspires San Clemente woman to write a book

The underlying message in my previous article--opportunity often arises from adversity—struck a chord with several readers.

Karen, San Clemente, who has had heavy adversity in her life, emailed a response that inspired me.

She wrote, “Your last article focusing on opportunity and adversity had an impact on me. I fit your over-50 profile.”

Karen married her college sweetheart the summer after they graduated in 1976. They had two sons. She loved being a homemaker.

She said, “My husband Mike climbed the corporate ladder. Our lifestyle got bigger and better. Then Mike was diagnosed with cancer at age 39 and was given 3-4 years to live. That was unacceptable to us. We'd heard about bone marrow transplantation, and decided to go for it. So we swapped the death sentence for a life sentence. 

“Mike's goal was to help his young sons grow to manhood. He lived for 18 years after the transplant. He lost the career, so we swapped roles and I became the bread winner. Forget about feminism and the women's movement; it was time for me to change gears and pay some bills.

“At age 56, I was widowed. I had two amazing sons, a promising career, good health, and a tremendous desire to live my life to its fullest. I took care of myself, attended support groups, and eventually found myself leading them.

“After a few years, I had revved up the career, joined, gained two beautiful daughters-in-law, changed careers, joined networking groups, sold the house, and moved to the beach. I had two astounding grandbabies, traveled, dated some wonderful men, retired, and got active in Toastmasters and Rotary. I worked my body/mind 4-5 times per week, gave motivational speeches, joined, and cherished some unbelievable friends.”

Karen said her friends often told her she should write a book. But she balked, she felt people wouldn’t want to read about her sad story, even though she had overcome adversity.

“And then,” Karen said, “my older son, Donovan, died of cancer last summer at age 37. Adversity? I got it. Sometimes, I think I'm way over-qualified in the adversity department.

"Your article, In Life, Opportunity Often Arises from Adversity, made me think, maybe I should write a book. Not only for myself, but for others. I believe I have the passion and the ability to write. I was sitting in sunlight when I started this message. Now I'm in the dark.

“I could use some advice. Have you ever thought about mentoring someone?” 

I responded to Karen: “Yes, you are ‘over qualified’ in the adversity department. My heart goes out to you, and your courage with what you have been through.

“Sometimes we don't see the opportunity that arises until time has passed, and that is what is happening with you. It likely is time for you to write your book.

“You have walked the walk, losing both your husband and son. You are an expert on this topic. Writing can be cathartic and helpful to you and to others who have faced adversity or are doing so now. Plus, you are energetic and have a creative way with words.

“As far as mentoring you in writing, yes, I can help get you started in the right direction.”

Karen said she will start writing; she already has a working title for a book. She explained how that came about: “Last summer I was sitting in the street at a small-town parade with my two-year-old grandson sitting in my lap. He was SO darned excited to see another vehicle with flashing lights. Out of his beautiful mouth: ‘Nana, look at what's coming!’ Yep, that's the title: Look at What's Coming.”

We look forward to Karen sharing her book with the world.

This article appeared in:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Overcoming adversity with opportunity

On Life and Love after 50 Newsletter - July 15, 2016
Tom P Blake
When I write a newsletter, I never know what reactions might come from Champs, the name I have given to my subscribers. Will the message strike a chord with some? Might others think it’s a yawner? Take last week’s column, for example. The topic was my 23 years of writing about dating and relationships for people 50+, but there was a life lesson running through the article.

Toward the end of the column I wrote, “The most valuable lesson I’ve learned: opportunity often arises from adversity and it’s up to us as individuals to recognize the opportunity and make the best of it, although we may not see or understand it until months or years later.”

And that paragraph hit home for lots of people.  Many of our Champs have suffered through adversity and some are in the midst of it currently. Here are the comments from four women Champs:

One woman, age 67, wrote, “I’m about to go through adversity, and wonder if opportunity will find me. I am running out of my invested money, IRA, and sale of my house, and will be broke by the end of October. I don’t qualify for Social Security because I was a stay-at-home wife and only earned 32 credits in my working years. You need 40…I’ve had a hip replacement and every joint is loaded with arthritis, especially my feet and now my knees, so I can’t work. My relatives refuse to help me...”

Note from Tom: I wish stay-at-home moms and non-working younger women could read the above paragraph. Yes, I understand how important it is to raise the kids properly. But, these women in their younger years need to be thinking of what is going to happen to them financially in the future, especially if they end up being on their own someday. Reaching the Social Security eligibility status is very, very important. They need to work and build the credits so they will have that financial assistance when they get older. This woman is in a difficult position. Will an opportunity come along for her? Somehow, she's got to find a way to make it work.

Kathy from Kingman (Arizona) wrote, “I started reading your newsletters when I was single and although I married 1.5 years ago, I still enjoy them. I was married for 20 years, divorced for four years, and after trying online dating, and a few dates on my own, and reading all the goings-on of your Champs, I remarried my ex. There is something to be said about knowing what you are getting into.”

Note from Tom: When I asked Kathy why she and her ex remarried, she explained they had both gone through big-time adversity—serious health issues—and decided to seize an opportunity to overcome their adversities. The opportunity was remarriage. We may feature her story in a future newsletter because it is fascinating and inspiring.

Another woman, 75, didn’t get into what her issues are, whether adversity is the topic, but she wants to discuss it. She wrote, “I am interested in counseling by email and would like more information about doing that.” I suggested she send an email and based on that, I would quote a fee and tell her if I felt I could help her.

She wrote, “I do not have the email ready describing my situation. I will write an email in a succinct, yet understandable way.”  I told her that by being succinct, it will help her to focus on her issues.

Karen, San Clemente, Ca., said, “Adversity? I got it. Sometimes I think I’m way over-qualified (in the adversity department).”  When her husband got cancer at age 39, they tackled it together. She added, “He lost the career, so we swapped roles and I became the bread winner. Forget about feminism and the women’s movement; it was time for me to change gears and pay some bills. Then, at age 56, I was widowed.”

That, of course, was enough adversity for any person in a lifetime. Then, last summer, her oldest son died of cancer at age 37. When she read last week’s newsletter, she emailed, “‘Opportunity can grow out of adversity.’ You’ve made me think…Maybe I should write. Not only for myself, but for others.

“Opportunity? I believe I have the passion and ability to write. I was sitting in sunlight when I started this message. Now, I’m in the dark.  I could use some advice, Tom. Have you ever thought about mentoring someone on writing?”

Note from Tom: We corresponded back and forth. I strongly recommend she write about how she overcame adversity the first time, and how she is seeing the opportunity through writing to overcome her second adversity. She’s a pretty remarkable woman and I told her I’d be honored to mentor her in her writing opportunity. Writing is what helped me overcome adversity; perhaps it will help her.

One thing about overcoming adversity with opportunity needs to be restated. It may be months or years before the opportunity becomes apparent. A person won’t see it or understand it while he or she is in the midst of experiencing adversity, that person will be too occupied with trying to heal and getting his or her life on track. It's nice to look back one day and say, what happened to me back then was difficult, but in the long run, I made it out in great shape. 

San Juan Capistrano Dispatch Article on Karen

Friday, July 8, 2016

In life, opportunity often arises from adversity

On Life and Love after 50 Newsletter for July 8, 2016

Senior issues: In life, opportunity often arises from adversity

By Tom P Blake

Today’s newsletter begins my 23rd year of writing about finding love after 50. My first newspaper column appeared on July 4, 1994, in a local Dana Point, California, newspaper. Some Champs know how this all came about but a lot don’t so that’s what we are going to write about today.

Back then, I wasn’t a writer, just a guy who owned Tutor and Spunky’s, the Dana Point deli I had opened in 1988. On Christmas Eve, 1993, my life changed dramatically when my wife of six years--without informing me of her intentions--cleaned out the house and moved away. I was so surprised and shocked that I started keeping a journal to try to gather my thoughts and figure out what the hell had happened and why I didn’t see it coming.

It was one of those unexpected curve balls that life pitches at you that you cannot be prepared for. Almost all of our Champs have had one of those pitches tossed at them as well at various stages of their lives.

In early 1994, an unknown man came into the deli during a busy lunchtime, and in front of a few customers and employees, said, “Are you Tom Blake?” I smiled and said yes, thinking we had a new customer. He handed me an envelope, saying, “You are formally being served with divorce papers.”

That was insult being added to injury. I chased him out of the deli with a breadknife but he was gone in a flash. Soon, I became single, free to date again. I added the events of each day to my journal.

I thought mid-life dating was going to be easy. After all, I owned a deli in a So Cal beach town where lots of attractive women came in for lunch wearing bikinis, and other beach garb, many of them half my age or less.

I quickly discovered that southern Orange County women had no interest in dating a newly divorced, 53-year-old guy, who was bitter at how the divorce gods had treated him. I am surprised I didn’t alienate every woman customer that entered the place and decided to stop asking women customers out altogether. With every failed dating experience, I added to the journal.

After six months, my journal had grown to more than 100 pages. I converted it to a short story. I naively queried Playboy, Esquire and the New York Times, thinking they might be interested in story about a divorced man’s dating woes.

Eventually, two women editors of the Dana Point paper agreed to review my material. They felt that single women in Southern California would have a field day taking pot shots at my woe-is-me, feeling-sorry-for-myself, age-50+ single-guy-can’t-get-a-date, saga.

The two editors gave me my first writing opportunity, and they were right. After my initial column appeared, which was titled, “Home alone with only dogs for company,” a woman wrote in, “Who is this sniveling puke?” Another said, “Get the boy a crying towel.” The column soon appeared in 10 local area newspapers and for eight years in The Orange County Register, which at the time, was the nation’s 20th largest newspaper.

In June, 1998, I met Greta, my life partner. Women readers told me that my writing became less controversial and more palatable after she entered my life. And I stopped complaining in my writing that I had to pay for the dates.

Now, in 2016, I’ve written approximately 3,500 articles and newsletters on finding love after 50; writing on this topic has been good to me. I’ve published four books and have been interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Today show and Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America—humbling experiences for a deli guy.

In 2011, Norb Garrett, the CEO of  Picket Fence Media, the publisher of the Dana Point Times, San Clemente Times and The Capistrano Dispatch, invited me to write for his newspapers. In my 23 years of writing, I have never been associated with such a hard-working, friendly and warm group of people. My columns appear in those papers twice a month.

My writing scope has broadened from the early days of strictly writing about finding love after 50, to including “On life and love after 50,” as older singles deal with personal issues often beyond the scope of just dating and seeking love.

When I first started writing, Internet dating hadn’t been invented yet, and now, seniors routinely break up by text message.

My advice is applicable to people age 45 to 90. Yes, I do know people in their 90s who have found love. One of our most prolific Champs in contacting me is Shirley, aka the wise bird of Manhattan, so dating and seeking love doesn’t end at 80.

While my articles target singles, approximately 35 percent of my readers are married. Many tell me that reading about the hardships singles endure encourages them to appreciate their spouses more and to work harder at making their marriages last. My advice to married couples is usually pretty simple: stay together and work out the issues.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from this writing experience: opportunity often arises from adversity and it’s up to us as individuals to recognize the opportunity and make the best of it, although we may not see or understand it until months or years later.

I hear this message repeated often as Champs write me and talk about how they found opportunity and capitalized on it after experiencing adversity.

I enjoy hearing from our Champs. Your comments, questions and observations are the meat and potatoes that help keep the newsletter ongoing.

Email me at and I will respond quickly.

Dana Point Times July 8 2016

San Clemente Times July 7 2016

The Capistrano Dispatch July 8 2016 (San Juan Capistrano)