Friday, April 25, 2014

Love after 60 can be simple‏

Lasting senior love based on simple relationship characteristics

As a relationship columnist for 20 years, I've heard lots of stories from people about why their marriages or relationships didn't last. I've heard people disparage their ex's. I've heard how couples have mistreated each other. The reasons for relationship failures are a litany of woes, which never seem to end.

But in the last couple of weeks, something refreshing happened. Two widowed people, one man and one woman, independent of each other and from different parts of the country, sent me emails that were simple, and yet, contained information and tidbits about what characteristics help make marriages and relationships endure.

The first message came from Steve, an Orange County, California, resident. After 42 years of marriage, Steve's wife Linn passed away in January, 2011, after battling leukemia for 2 and ½ years. He said, "I miss her all of the time, since we felt like newlyweds every day. She was the first woman I had been with intimately."

Several months later, Steve called his 10th grade high school sweetheart, Kathleen. During the conversation, he asked, "Are you married?" Her reply, "No, and I haven't dated in 17 years."  Steve changed that when he asked her out and they started dating.

Steve said, "I discovered she is sweet, kind, caring and has other qualities that Linn had. God has blessed me with another incredibly special person."

Sweet, kind and caring. Characteristics as simple as that. Toss in a person with thoughtfulness and compassion and those are the qualities important to Steve.

Last summer, Steve and Kathleen attended their 50th high school reunion together. On his birthday in December, he asked her to marry him. She accepted.

Steve said, "I've learned the secret to a long and happy marriage. If the house needs dusting and vacuuming, do it yourself. Don't berate your wife and just love her for who she is. And most importantly, remind yourself that you're not that good of a catch." Steve is also humble.

The second simple message came from Ellen, a Georgia resident, and  widow of nine years, who recently met a widower of five years. She said, "We were both ready for a relationship. I think that that is the important part. It takes a while to be ready to commit to someone again.

Ellen is right. If both members of a newly dating couple aren't ready for a relationship, it won't happen. If they are ready, and they're compatible, bingo, they've got a match.

Ellen added, "I got lucky and met a really terrific man who treats me like a 'princess.' One thing we both say is that we never want to take each other for granted. We both remember saying things to our deceased spouses that maybe we should not have said. So, my partner and I are careful not to say hurtful things. We live everyday like it is our last. It truly is wonderful."

Granted, what Steve and Ellen stated in their correspondence was basic and simple. Who said that finding love after 50, 60 and 70 has to be difficult to thrive?

Champs on the go

Champs from all over the country keep finding me at Tutor and Spunky's Deli, a place where I've hung my hat for 26 years. This week, Ceil and Stuart, a relatively new couple from suburbs near Washington, D.C., were on vacation in San Diego. They took the time to drive an hour or so to Dana Point, to visit and have a sandwich. 

They met on Match. com. They still maintain their own residences, but Ceil admitted that Stuart spends a lot of time and her home. They travel together often--the word travel lights up Ceil's eyes. 

They even stopped at the Ocean Institute, a magnificent educational facility on the water in Dana Point, to introduce themselves to Greta, who volunteers in the gift shop there.

Our visit was terrific, a nice change for me from the daily challenges of owning a busy deli. Here we are:

                          Ceil and Stuart at Tutor and Spunky's  
                         Stuart, Champ Ceil and Tom

Be safe, be well,


Widows and widowers speak up‏

Last week we talked about Trudy, a widow, who dumped the widower she had dated for six months because he was dating other women, and wasn't treating her right. I asked for opinions. And many came in.
Some feel it was good that Trudy dumped him

Sherrie said, "This widow is relieved to hear that Trudy got that toxic boyfriend out of her life. She needs to relax her 'dating widowers-only rule.' Even through widowers understand what we widows have been through, they can still be jerks. This widower was."

Gale, "What surprises me is that it took her so long to make the break-away. She wasn't appreciated and he was just stringing her along maybe until something better [in his mind] came along. How sad she had to learn the hard way."

Pictures of the deceased spouse still on the wall

Denise said, "It's fine to have a picture somewhere, just not in the center of the room. Trudy's guy may be dating others, but he's not really ready to move on."

Stella, "I don't know why the 'new woman' always wants to erase the widower's spouse from having ever existed. Three years is not an eon, if he wants pictures in his home, where is the harm? Some people take longer to heal and adjust than others. Any new woman should be sensitive to that, and a six-month relationship is not strong enough yet to start dictating the terms and conditions."

Weltha, "When he asked her if the pictures of his dead wife made her uncomfortable, why did she say 'No?' It's hard to have people understand what you feel unless you say so. 'He should have known. What was I to say?' Trudy said, but that's mindreading. She could have said, 'Yes, actually, it does bother me.'"

Carlene said, "Why let go of the past? You still get lots of sympathy from friends and family. What's so intimidating about a few pictures? Trudy said the pictures didn't bother her. She needs to be true to herself and say what she feels. If he walks because of her honesty, good riddance.

Is dating a widower, or a divorced man better?

Nancy, "I became a widow at 56, and was simultaneously diagnosed with lung cancer. Not my best year, but here I am, 2 and a half years later. And smiling. I dipped my toe into the dating pool nine months after hubby's death. After a few sputters, I've been in a relationship for over a year with a divorced, kind and wonderful man.

"We all have ghosts; some are here, some are gone. We all have history; colorful, checkered, whatever. Either someone is ready to embrace life or they are not. I told myself, 'I was not done,' and on I go. If you find yourself spending time with someone, and you must convince yourself that it's working, maybe it's time to move on."

Mindy, "I'm not sure Trudy's situation had anything to do with the man being a widower; he sounds self-absorbed."

Sherrie added, "I've been with a widower for three years; he wants a long-term relationship. But he does talk about his wife a fair bit--dead for 10 years. I'm talking less and less about my husband after four years. Over time, I'm becoming annoyed by the occasional mentions of 'we,' that refer to her, and not to me. He and I have a pretty good relationship, but not perfect. He is faithful, thoughtful, and we have fun together."

Spending the night at his deceased wife's relatives

Stella added, "I'm not so sure his intentions were interpreted correctly. Let us suppose for a moment that he was so into her that he wanted to incorporate her into his circle of family and friends. It's clear that she did not mix well with these people. But is that his fault for introducing her? She may not have the interpersonal skills necessary to finesse interaction with the family of the decease."

Weltha added, "Did she not know she was going to stay with his dead wife's relatives? Even if he had said, "I have some friends you can stay with," and it turned out to be her relatives, she could have said, "Honestly, I would feel more comfortable staying at a hotel - if you know of one, I'll be glad to take a taxi and get myself a room."

Carlene added, "I would never have spent the night at his late wife's family home. This cheapo didn't spring for a hotel room. No privacy/respect. I would have said, 'No roll in the hay, take me home now!"

Communication skills. Did both lack?

Linda, "It can't all be blamed on the widower; she complained about his communication skills. However, she did not communicate her feelings well either. She said she thought he should know that the pictures bothered her. How should he know they did?

"I bet she didn't tell him she was uncomfortable about meeting his in-laws either. Had she, they may have done something else. Communication is the key in any relationship. If you don't make your feelings known, you cannot expect someone to read your mind."

Weltha added, "I agree - he treated her 'not so well' but it might have been avoided with some speaking up. We get what we 'take' - if you don't speak up (and it can be done graciously) then although the other person is very wrong in trying to treat us that way, we bear some responsibility for allowing it to happen.

"I realize that older people (and I'm starting to include myself at 60!) were trained to always be compliant and not make waves, but this is her life and her emotional happiness. She had several opportunities to speak up and she did not. I think it would have been wiser, and the hurt and wasted time less if she had."

Sage thoughts from a widower's perspective

Sid, "I am a widower of three years, losing my wife when she was only 62.  I am now 70 and beginning to enjoy the company of ladies. I shouldn't say enjoy as much as I need to have a lady to be with, talk with and just hang out. 

"I am the face of the new retired: one full-time job and three part-time jobs, all in the health and fitness field, so I have many opportunities to be with women. I have gone out with widows, divorcees and never married, with ages ranging from 48-72, and I have learned not to pre-judge any of those three types.  Every one of those ladies were extremely nice and pleasant to be with regardless of current or past situations. 

"I understand the widows better than the other two, bonding with the mutual sense of loss. One of the common themes with me and widows is we did not choose to be in this situation as opposed with the other two. Given our druthers we would still be married and we understand that. There is a certain sadness of being with a widow, expressing our grieving, whereas the divorcees and never-married are ready to 'rock and roll,' and that is appreciated because they are looking at the future, as we widowed can sometime feel our lives have come to an end. 

"Bottom line for me is to go for it as often as I can and take each day at a time. Do I ever hope to find a permanent lady?  Right now I don't think anyone will be able to take the place of my wife, but in talking with other widowed people, that have found another person, they tell me to expect the unexpected perhaps." 

To all Champs who contributed, thanks for your thoughts, opinions and for sharing your experiences. You are what keeps the newsletter fresh and moving along each week.

On Life and Love After 50: Gambling on Green a Risky Move

Can relocating for a greener, healthier lifestyle be enough for someone you haven’t met yet?

By Tom Blake

Sometimes, decisions older singles make as a result of being lonely or wanting to change their lives are questionable.

Today’s story is about a 70-year-old woman from Wisconsin, named Ruth, who falls under that category. Ruth asked for my opinion on her plans to relocate and live with a 68-year-old man she found on the Internet.

Ruth emailed, “A year and a half ago, I ‘met’ Gary, who resides in Nebraska, on a site called Green Singles. We began emailing each other and soon were talking by phone. I am willing to relocate, so after many conversations and delightful insights about our mutual goals and things we would like to do, I agreed to move to where he lives.”

My initial reaction was: I guess that’s OK, assuming that Ruth and Gary have spent enough time together to know each other well enough that being together 24/7 will work for them. But then I read more of her email. There was one major factor in Ruth’s story that troubled me.
Tom Blake. File photo
Tom Blake. File photo

She said, “We will meet for the first time on April 11. I will be going out there with a couple who will help with the driving. I have many supportive friends and family members excited to know how things turn out. Gary and I have agreed that after all of this time, we will be happy if it turns out to be friendship only. At our ages, that is a huge blessing. Wish us luck.

“Green Singles is a good site for folks who like a green, organic-type lifestyle, which we both want. We look forward to working together on the big garden and taking produce to the farmers markets in the area, traveling together in the fall and finding a used trailer that I can call my own which I will put on the property.”

I responded to Ruth: “Let me be sure I understand. You are moving and you haven’t met him in person?”

She wrote, “I am moving out there because it fits with my need to be in a dryer climate for my health, plus it will be a great adventure to learn organic-produce production, being part of the local farmers market scene and a chance to have a traveling companion.

“When meeting for the first time at his home, my friends will be with me, and because he and I have been talking for a year and a half, about every topic, sharing photos, goals, likes and dislikes, I feel OK about doing this. Not for the faint of heart though. I think we are good friends to begin with already and that helps. I am ready for this move. It has been easy to make this decision; implementing it has taken a while though, financially, etc.

“We both have similar health issues and are empathetic with that aspect of our relationship. I feel that I have so much to gain by doing this, much to lose if I stay in the rut I have been in.”

As a singles columnist for 20 years, I can’t fathom someone moving to another town, let alone another state, to live with a person one has never seen face-to-face. Why in the world didn’t she go visit him and spend at least a weekend together before just packing up and moving?

What if they don’t like each other? What if he’s dangerous?

I do not advocate people making major life changes to be with a person they have never met. I hope for Ruth her situation works out.

To comment, email Tom at

In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, the DP Times provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of the DP Times or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Should widows date only widowers?

Often, widows tell me they'd prefer to date widowers because they both can relate to what the other has been through. Widows also feel that widowers-based upon their marriage experience--know and appreciate the value of a good woman and a healthy relationship. However, dating a widower may not work out, as Trudy, an Iowa widow of six years, discovered.

Trudy wrote, "I have been in a relationship for six months with a widower of three years. He is 64, I am 62.

"On Saturday, we were at a casino. He was playing blackjack and I was playing slots. As always, I checked on him several times to see how he was doing or if he needed something to drink. At the table, there was a married couple and their single woman friend. At one point when I checked on him, he and the woman were having a close conversation and he was surprised I saw the two of them.

"On Wednesday, he told me he didn't think we had enough in common. On Friday, he had a date with the same single woman; he doesn't know that I know.

"In February, we spent two weeks in Phoenix with three other couples, one of which I had only met once, and the others I had never met. I was very uncomfortable and told him so. He said I didn't like his friends. These friends live 160 miles away and he may see them once a year.

"On the way to Phoenix, we spent three nights with his deceased wife's sister, who I had met for five minutes previously, and then the wife's other sister and two brothers the next day. Wow, talk about uncomfortable. He has no friends locally except a couple from his church.  

"He has pictures of his wife and him in the living room and his office. He was told twice by a friend to put them away but to no avail. He asked me if that bothered me. What was I to say? Yes it bothered me, but I said no. I thought he should have known. As I see it, his house is his wife's house. No reflection of him. My marriage photos have been put away a long time ago.

"I made the mistake of getting physically involved way too soon and I know that now. Also, I don't think he is a very good communicator about important things.

"He has a list of criteria needed by a new woman a mile long, of which I think no woman will ever fill. Or, perhaps he just may not be ready to move on, but thinks he is. He has had tons of previous dates. I thought dating someone who lost their spouse would be better than dating a divorced person due to my previous experiences.

"He wants to remain friends, but for me, when it's over, it's over. I need your reflection as to exactly what went wrong so I don't make the same mistakes again if another man enters my life.    

Tom's response to Trudy: "No one is treated the way you've been treated in a happy relationship. Making you spend nights with his deceased wife's relatives was torture.

"But, let me be clear: YOU did nothing wrong. Having intimacy with a person one loves is healthy for a relationship and natural. He is dragging you through the mud and you don't deserve that. Perhaps he's just not in to you, but that gives him no right to treat you poorly. 

"He is not considerate of you nor does he treat you with respect; do not take it anymore. If you haven't dumped him, do it immediately.

"The only thing you might do better is choose a man who appreciates you more the next time around.

"I published an electronic book on (an ebook bookstore) titled, "Widower dating. Gold mine or mine field?" I think reading it would be helpful. You can download to your computer for $4.93."

                              Widower Dating e-book  

The link:

Widower dating. Gold mine or mine field? 

Trudy responded: "No sooner said than done. I just needed affirmation that my own thoughts were right."

Good for her. Do any widows or widowers have an opinion?

Internet dating: Two women's experiences

Last week's request for Champs to send in their Internet dating experiences brought many responses. It will take a few newsletters to share them with you. Today, we hear from two women.

The first one, sent by a Champ named Ruth in Wisconsin, caught my attention. Ruth said: "I think that much can be gained through persistent attempts at computer dating, and I believe that the type of site is so important."

I think Ruth is right about those two points. To be successful, it takes a lot of hard work, and choosing a site that suits a person's interests is also important. 

But there is one major piece of Ruth's story that worries me somewhat. I think you will know what that is when you read her story.

Ruth said, "A year and a half ago, I 'met' Gary, who resides in Nebraska, on Green Singles. We began emailing each other and soon were talking by phone. I am willing to relocate, so after many conversations and delightful insights about our mutual goals and things we would like to do, I agreed to move to where he lives."

"We will meet for the first time next weekend. I am driving out there and have many friends and family members excited and supportive to know how things turn out.

"Gary and I have agreed that after all this time, we will be happy if it turns out to be friendship only. At our ages, that is a huge blessing in life. Wish us luck!

"Green Singles is a good site for folks who like a green, organic type
lifestyle, which we both want. We look forward to working together on
the big garden and taking produce to the farmers markets in the area,
traveling together in the Fall, and finding a used trailer that I can
call my own which I will put on the property."

I think you might know what worries me just a bit about Ruth's story: 

She has never met the man in person. I have always advocated that people meet in person before making major relocation decisions.   
I responded to Ruth: "What are your respective ages? You are moving and you haven't met each other in person?"
Ruth's response made me feel a bit better. She wrote, "I am 70 and he is 68. I am moving out there because it fits with my need to be in a dryer climate for my health, plus it will be a great adventure to learn organic produce production, being part of the local farmer market scenes, and a chance to have a traveling companion.
"Meeting for the first time at his home, my friends will be with me,
and because we have been talking for a year and a half, about every
and all topics, sharing photos, goals, likes and dislikes, everything,
I feel OK about doing this.

"Not for the faint of heart though. I think we are good friends to begin with already, and that helps. I am ready for this move. It has been easy to make this decision; implementing it has taken a while though, financially, etc.

"We both have health issues (similar) and are empathetic with that
aspect of our relationship. I feel that I have so much to gain by
doing this, much to lose if I stay in the rut I have been in.

"I will be leaving to drive out there with a couple who will help with
driving, etc. on the 11th."

It will be interesting to hear how Ruth's situation works out. I hope they like each other.

Our second story today comes from Jane, who resides in Colorado.

Jane said, "I joined and also found that many of the men Match suggested were no longer active. If you look up the person by name, you can see how long it has been since he or she has been online. If a guy's profile says he was last on over 3 weeks ago, you can guess he is inactive.

"I also found that men have many more choices than women, and many men say they are looking for women several years younger, which also limits the pool. If I waited for someone to contact me first, I'd be waiting forever.

"Women need to be aggressive enough to send the first email; internet dating is not for the shy. You may not find a knight in shining armor, but if you're careful, you can avoid the imposters in tin foil.

"That being said, I did have some success at 64. Despite living in a small town that was badly flooded and isolated for a good part of last year, I met a retired professional man (67) who lives almost 50 miles away. We have similar backgrounds, and had similar 'war stories.' We've been dating for eight months and get along well. Where will it go from here? I have no idea, but I enjoy each day and don't worry too much about the future."

In both of these situations, it is interesting to note that the relationships began as long-distance. I think it's safe to say that neither of these couples would have met if it were not for the power and reach of the Internet.

Internet dating 2014: still a mixed bag

Every six months or so, the topic of Internet dating is raised by our women Champs. Here's what four have said about Internet dating.

Karla, "Dating sites vary from region to region, as do people. For example, a former friend in Texas had great success with Plenty Of Fish (a freebie), but I later discovered he was a very strange man. I tried Plenty of Fish in southern California and found the quality of men to be very low. I unsubscribed within a few days.

"I met a wonderful man on We had a long-distance relationship for six months and are still friends. I met him the day I signed up, and being a one-at-a-time woman, I cancelled my subscription after it was apparent we were a match. I felt it was a good site and may give it another try.

"I think probably has the most men to choose from, but I had two 'meets' and they were both duds. One never stopped talking, and the other expected me to only order a 99-cent plain coffee from Starbucks. He also had no sense of humor.

"Eharmony was one of the worst sites (for me) of the paid sites. Not only is it expensive, it doesn't accurately interpret one's personality created from their endless questionnaire. Example: Question: Do you ever drive over the speed limit? Answer: Yes. Interpretation: 'You live in the fast lane.' Not true! I wasn't matched with anyone I'd care to meet.

"I wouldn't use a free dating site again. I feel if a man or woman is serious about finding a quality match, they should be willing to pay for it-sort of a 'good faith' thing. Otherwise, the word 'cheap' comes to mind."

Lillian, "Bob and I will be celebrating our 4th year of marriage in June; we met on Using the internet for meeting a partner is not for everyone. But it worked for us."

Daryl, "As our readers know, the dating websites seem to offer an opportunity to choose people you might like to meet. What the readers don't know is the dirty little secret that Match utilizes to swell the statistics, which appear to offer so many choices of men.

"I took a membership in Match three years ago. Having been a part of corporate America for many years, I got into the habit of keeping copies of the people I had sent messages to. At the point of where I had over 100 profiles I had sent notes to, with only ONE response, I contacted the Match help line (yes, they actually did have a person to talk to) to ask what was going on.

"He looked over my profile and made almost no suggestions, but then he let the cat out of the bag. He said, 'Not all of the men you sent notes to are still active members.' 

"I said, 'Excuse me, do you mean they don't receive my carefully crafted messages?'"

"He said, 'Well, they dropped out for any number of reasons: found someone but it is new, or didn't pay to re-new, or just decided to take a break, etc., etc.'

"By the end of my membership period, I had (and still have) the profiles, photos and messages I sent to over the 100 men. How many responded? THREE. I telephoned the 'actual person' at Match at the end of my six months membership and told him I wanted to be removed from the site. He assured me he would.

"But guess what? This week I got another 'So and so is anxious to meet you' email. What happens is you click on and they attempt to sell you another membership. Whoever the guy was, the Match person thinks the guy didn't hit the mark with his message to me. Guess I'll attempt to call them again and try to get them to take me off of their books-fat chance, why spoil their statistics?

"Your readers should not assume that their messages are even going to a live person, or that their message was not received well-because it probably was NEVER RECEIVED."

Gale met the man she married in 2001 on Match. She said, " was very rewarding for me. I suggest caution for anyone using these sites, until they are absolutely sure who/what they are dealing with. Unfortunately, there are many unstable people out there (both men and women)."

When I published my book, "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50," six years ago, more than half of the couples had met online (including Gale above), and nearly 75 percent of them had met on So meeting a mate on the Internet can work for some older people.                                     

However, if you're going to play the Internet dating game, be prepared for lots of glitches, lies and bumps in the road. Even the Internet dating sites are not always totally honest. Our Time is a relatively new senior dating site, owned by, but I've heard mixed reviews on that site as well. Remember, all of these sites are in business to make money, even the free ones, and that is their top priority.

I'd like to hear other Champs' recent experiences with Internet dating. From those responses, we will do a 2014 version of what's happening in online dating.