In the 22 years I have been writing newspaper articles and newsletters, and making appearances regarding finding love after 50, I occasionally have wondered if I have been of any benefit to older singles.
An email this week from Merijoe rekindled that thought. She wrote: "Between all the members you have for this group and the get-togethers you had at the deli (Tutor and Spunky's Deli in Dana Point, California) - did anyone actually hook up with someone or become a couple? Just wondering."
I am not sure what she meant by, "all the members you have for this group..." Since her email was a response to last week's newsletter, perhaps it is the 2,500 members who are emailed this newsletter to whom she was referring.
Or she might have meant the members of the Finding Love After 50 Facebook page, which was started 11 weeks ago, and as of yesterday, numbers 376. Have any of them met a mate there yet? I don't think so. Or at least no one has told me that he or she has started dating a member of the Facebook group.
However, many of the 376 people have made new friends there that they otherwise would not have met. And some of those friends have gotten together, not as dates, but as new friends. And when older singles start making new friends, who knows to where that might lead?
Another important question should be: Have those of you on the FB page, with all of your posts, tidbits, insights, experiences and humorous observations helped others? And maybe even helped yourself? Oh you bet.
Often having friends of the same sex becomes as important to older singles as having friends of the opposite sex. For single women, having a woman friend with whom to attend social events can make venturing out less intimidating.
I am not a date-matching service. One-to-one introductions and fix-ups haven't worked well for me. A month ago, I introduced a woman Champ to a buddy but it didn't work out. The age difference between the two (he was 15 years older) was a big factor. And I get that. She is a widow and would like to lessen her chances of becoming a widow again.
I missed the target because I thought he was 8-10 years younger than he is. So, going forward, I'll leave those face-to-face fix ups to the big companies like Match, Eharmony, Our Time, and the multitude of others.
Merijoe also asked about the Meet and Greets at Tutor and Spunky's, the deli I sold January 30, after 26 years. In the two years since those Meet and Greets were implemented, I am aware of 32 people who met there and formed 16 couples. Now whether all of them are still together, I can't say, but it's nice to know that 32 people found happiness. The age range of those couples is from the mid-50s to 93.
Last Sunday in Dana Point, at the Heritage Park outdoor concert the city sponsors, I ran into Robert, a long-time friend of mine. He said, "I'm here today with my girlfriend, the one I met at your Meet and Greet two years ago." So I know at least one of those couples is still together. Actually, I know of five other couples who are still together as well.
I will admit that Merijoe's question took me aback. Did she ask it because she thinks we are all just flapping our wings by interacting with other singles? Is the only measure of success the number of people who start dating each other? I don't think so.
My mission as a writer is to help older singles overcome their loneliness by providing them with information they can use to get out and make new friends. If they find a mate, better yet.
In those 22 years, I've written upwards of 3,500 newspaper articles and e-newsletters, and published three printed books and multiple ebooks on the finding love subject. I even married one couple. Chances are, I've helped a few couples find each other.
My latest book, "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50" features 58 couples who met after age 50. Several of our Champs' stories are included in the book. Not all 58 couples met as a result of reading my articles or newsletters, but I can assure you that many of them did, which is how I got their stories for the book in the first place.
My purpose in writing the book was to show singles how couples found love after age 50. I wanted to provide hope to singles that finding a mate later in life was possible.
I would like to think that my two appearances on the Today Show, and my interview with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America helped bring a few couples together as a result of viewing those shows.
I have been a speaker at the AARP national conventions five times, talking about finding love after 50. Usually, 500-600 singles attended those presentations. Some of our current Champs were in those audiences. I know at least one couple met at one of my speeches when I made the people introduce themselves to those sitting around them. That couple came back the next year and told me they met because I nudged them to shake hands the year before.
In 22 years, my number-one piece of advice for singles 50+ hasn't changed. To improve one's chances of meeting a mate, singles have to get off the couch and out of the house and pursue activities they enjoy. By doing so, they will meet new people. Waiting around for a potential mate to appear doesn't work. It takes time and effort to make something happen.
And they've got to do it with a smile on their face, a positive attitude, and with energy and enthusiasm.
When people do that, I'll be able to report to Merijoe that another couple has gotten together as a result of our encouragement.
How many over the years? Enough to make what I do rewarding for me, which keeps me motivated to knock out these weekly columns.