Widow, 78, seeks man to share life with and Tom's suggestions
Each year in early January, I often get emails from lonely singles similar to one that I received this week: "I was married for 45 years and am a widow of eight years. I would love to find someone to spend the rest of my life with, someone who needs me as much as I need him.
"I am attractive, slender and live in a country-club atmosphere that I dearly love. I am 78, in very good health, active and wanting to live again, but I don’t know how to go about it.
"My women friends that my husband and I traveled with have husbands and not much time for me. I don’t know where to find “girlfriends”--someone to have lunch or go to a movie with. I hope you can give me some ideas."
Emails like hers break my heart. I wish I had a magic wand that could bring lonely older singles together. But, it's not that easy. For older singles to find a mate, they have to work at it.
Here is what I shared with her.
Tom's response: "It sounds like you are living again, by being active and enjoying your country-club atmosphere. You can live a great life without a man. Even if you meet a man, it's not always a picnic or walk in the park. But as is often the case with people in their 70s and 80s (even 50s and 60s), they get stuck in a rut and don't meet new people.
"Finding a mate for a woman age 78 is particularly difficult (not impossible), the primary reason is that at 78, the ratio of single women to single men is approximately six-to-one or more.
"I don't tell you this to discourage you, but only to make you realize that being alone at this age is not your fault, it's just the way it is.
"How can you improve your chances of meeting a potential mate? By expanding your boundaries and circle of friends beyond the ones you shared with your husband and beyond your country-club atmosphere. (Don't give that part of your life up. Who knows? A man can become a widower unexpectedly.)
"I suggest you sign up for two of my mailing lists. One, this Friday newsletter, titled "On Life and Love After 50," that is read by about 1,000 people across the USA, including 200-300 here in Orange County, California, where you live. While the newsletter is not exclusively written about finding love later in life, that is most often the focus. But sometimes I write about other items pertaining to life as we age.
"The other mailing list is sent out to Southern Orange County singles announcing our Meet and Greet gatherings on the last Thursday each month at my Dana Point deli. You most likely won't find a male partner there, although you might. But it would be a great place to meet new women friends.
"About 12 couples have formed as a result of meeting there, including one guy, now 93, who is in a "serious relationship" with a woman in her early 70s. At first she kept saying, "We're just friends. And then one night she came in and said, "We're an item, no longer just friends." I didn't pry into why things had changed or ask for any of the gory details, I am just happy that there are two less lonely people in the world.
"Two other ideas. Go to www.Meetup.com, a website that lists all kinds of activities in Orange County (and all over the USA for that matter). You could find an activity or two that you enjoy and most certainly would make new friends, particularly women friends.
"Also, there are several senior centers in south OC that are quite active, the one in Mission Viejo comes to mind. New potential friends await you there as well.
"Of course, there is the Internet, particularly www.OurTime.com, which is for the older set. However, there are lots of scammers out there trying to prey on lonely older women so I would be very careful using the Internet to date at your age. Lots of complications. Protect your assets and don't by into any lies that will be spun by what appear to be men interested in you."
"Regardless of what activities you pursue, you can make new women friends, and perhaps meet a guy, but it will take an effort on your part. It takes time, energy, a little money, and enthusiasm, and you must evaluate whether all the effort is worth it. Whether or not you meet a man, I can't say, but you will be enriching your life. Focus on finding the women friends, and then let life flow after that.
"Let us know what you decide."