Friday, May 27, 2016

Pope Francis was just a few feet from us

Today, Greta and I are in Monte Carlo. As our ship tour guide put it in one of his discussions about the ports we visit, “If you go ashore in Monte Carlo, you will get an appreciation of how really poor you are.” He was right, there is immense wealth in Monte Carlo.

Monaco on Grand Prix race day

                                  Our seats at the race. On Friday, it is free to get in. We sat in row one

                                        Red Bull pit crew later in the day after the race

This is our last newsletter (from Europe that is). We fly home next Thursday.

Churning out newsletters from Europe has been a challenge, particularly from Italy and from the cruise ship. The place we stayed in Italy had no wi-fi so we walked a mile to our train station, took a train to another city, and walked a quarter mile to a wi-fi place.

We have not used the ship’s wi-fi at all. The reception is lousy and the cost is over $1 per minute. So to send email while cruising, we take the laptop into the cities we visit and try to locate a wi-fi cafĂ© while having a beverage or even lunch. Often the reception is iffy in those places as well, and the networks are not secure.

Today’s newsletter, covers a variety of subjects, but none are in depth. So excuse the brevity, and we’ll try to get back on track next Friday.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our visit this past Wednesday to Rome. The port of Rome is a little over an hour train ride from the center of Rome. We had only one mission, to attend the Pope’s Wednesday outdoor service that an estimated 300,000 attend. It wasn’t as if we could just walk across the street to get there.

From the ship, we took two local buses to get to the Rome port of Civitavecchia's train station, and then an hour train ride into Rome. Travel tip we discovered: If your destination is to go the the Vatican and St. Peter's, instead of taking the train all the way into the Rome Central train station, get off a couple of stations before at the St. Peter's station. From there, it is only a half mile walk or even less. Still, the security to get into the square is very strict, so be prepared for a delay when going there. 

For more details, you can read about our day there in the Travel After blog (the link is below). I will say, we were shocked to be within 20-25 feet of the Pope and got some pictures and video.

Photo taken by Tom at the Vatican on Wednesday--Pope Francis was just a few feet from us

And now down to the business of dating after 50 and beyond, often far beyond.

1.  A fresh way for singles to perceive themselves and dating in general.

Two of our Champs, Christine and Joel, asked me for permission to post information about a seminar they are holding on June 11 from 11 to 3 in Champ Gina’s wonderful art gallery in Long Beach, in Southern California. The seminar is called “Finding Love in Midlife.”

I know Christine personally; she has always had great advice for singles. And I have respect for what Joel has posted as well. I think it is great our Champs are working together to help each other.

If you're looking for true love, feeling overwhelmed about how to find that special someone and truly want to finally meet someone special, I recommend you sign up and attend.
Knowing them, they will mix their wisdom with their humor, making it a worthwhile session.  

For information about the seminar, follow this link

Or, you can email Christine at or Joel at

The last word (for now) on senior sex

Sis responded to the last two newsletters with a comment about her newsletter topic about meeting the narcissus man: “Interesting feedback on your posting of my story of my experiences with "W." I do think he has a personality disorder of some sort. I really went out of my way to be kind and loving to this man.

“Your comment on my waiting six dates to become intimate did seem a little snide to me. In my own defense I will tell you this: W brought up sex on the 2nd date and I told him then that I was not interested in senior sex for the sake of having sex but only as an expression of deep affection and/or to strengthen a bond.

I told him I needed to build trust and friendship first. I also said that the way I'd be able to tell if I could trust him would be if his ACTIONS matched his WORDS over TIME.

“If only I had held to that! He romanced me and I was naive. He kept asking me: "If this is REAL, what are we waiting for?"

“At 68, I had to think about that and I did but because I was naive and lonely and he seemed charming and sincere, I felt ok about sex on date # 6. I am no longer naive! Nothing is for nothing and I learned a lot! The most valuable comment for me was from one of your readers - a woman who described how a narcissist thinks.”

Tom’s comment: I admit Sis, my comment was not appropriate. Sex is such a personal subject; perhaps one day we will devote a column or two on it. It would be great if it were simple, but lots of factors must be considered. The fact that we can still have sex at our age is almost a miracle onto itself. I am all for it, just stay safe.

Have a pleasant week-end.
Part 2 - Europe trip updates

My partner Greta and I have been in Europe for almost 7 weeks. Wednesday we were at the Vatican, yesterday at the Leaning Tower of Pisa (it really does lean) and today at Monte Carlo.. If you are interested in reading about our trip, and in seeing lots of photos we have taken, go to the Travel After 55 website. On the home page, near the top, click on the tab that says travel blog. The most recent post is the one you will come to first. Now, there are about 25 posts. Email me with questions or comments.

Here is the travel website:

Tom Blake's Victoria Station Restaurant chain website

Friday, May 20, 2016

Finding Decent Love - Decent widow wants decent man and responses from the Champs

Finding decent love. Decent widow who wants decent man and responses from the Champs

Tom P Blake

Last week we wrote about Sis, not her real name, who called herself a decent widow and was seeking a decent man. My newspaper subscribers, whom I call Champs, responded in droves. We begin with John's response:

John said“I have three pieces of advice for ‘Sis’ and other women over 50:

1. Concentrate less on what you want out of a relationship, and more on what you have to offer in a relationship. Often, in online dating profiles, I find four long paragraphs of a woman's wants - and zero on what she can bring to the table (props to ‘Sis’ for mentioning that she is a good cook).
2. ‘Loves to laugh’ is the most over-used cliche in online dating (for some reason, almost exclusively by women). I don't know anyone who doesn't love to laugh - it does not make you stand out.
3. How about asking the man she has become friends with if he has any friends who are looking for a serious relationship? Birds-of-a-feather tend to flock together, so if he is the type of man she was looking for, perhaps he has a friend who is similar but wants commitment? 
Shirley, “I’m back with my opinions and impatience about some of your clients. I’m a retired teacher, and on the whole those near my age or at my age, and I’m very old, are the most uptight, conservative people. And the word ‘decent’ is not in my vocabulary.

“If the guy and she can’t get along, then tell her to move along. Partnership of any kind is a daunting adventure, and this dame is really weak in her vocabulary. If ‘decent’ means compliant, give me a break.”

Mark, “One concern I have about ‘Sis’s list of desiderata is that they’re all ‘yes-no,’ whereas life generally arranges itself on a spectrum.
“To give one example, she wants a man who “knows how to communicate.” My reply to that is, “HOW WELL?”
“I could see myself making some small mistake with her, and her deciding that I ‘don’t know how to communicate,’ when what she really means is that I don’t know how to communicate WELL ENOUGH FOR HER, and she’s not willing to join me in a team effort to improve our mutual communications skills.
“I’m just giving that as an example. The same goes for her criteria such as ‘healthy’ (almost nobody our age is PERFECTLY healthy) or ‘have a sense of humor’ (HOW GOOD does it have to be?). I think you catch my drift. She ‘might’ still have impossibly high standards, and be fooling herself into thinking that she is the ‘soul of reason.’”
Maria “Maybe Sis should stop focusing on what she doesn't have and look at what she does have! (She has dates, has the means to be independent, and a good male friend hike with!). Sometimes we have to get out of our own way before all falls into place. Patience.”
Joan, “I don't know what Sis read online about men that run hot and cold, but I know it's a typical narcissist pattern to come on really strong, be completely romantic and attentive, be amazing sexually, and then at some point, the mask comes off and they become moody, argumentative, insulting, and even abusive.
“I had one of those and researched this extensively to understand what kind of person I was with. They have no activity in the frontal part of the brain so no capacity to truly love or have empathy. Tears are wasted on them because they find it amusing that you're reacting that way. They are not truly 'human' in our sense of the word. 
“I hope that helps, so I've learned to watch for all those red flags of ‘Prince Charming has arrived’ before I get involved. So now, on Elite Singles, I've been contacted by the site twice to tell me I've been communicating with scammers and not to have any more contact with them. I'm tired of it all and going off the dating sites. 
“Maybe I'll meet a nice guy shopping at Trader Joes.”
Jackie, “I have now officially given up on finding a romantic partner.  I haven't had a real date in years. The only guy who has had any interest in me is 20 years my senior and is so broke he can barely survive.  I'm not a gold digger by any means, and am more than capable and willing to pay my own way. But I'll be darned if I pay his way, too, for everything.  
“Until recently, he was driving a 20+ year-old vehicle with the driver's window missing and no AC - in Florida!  In all the years I've known him, he absolutely refuses to allow me to go to his home because evidently it is falling down around his ears and he is embarrassed by it. And yet, he gets angry with me because I am not willing to commit to a long-term relationship with him - he can't understand why these things matter to me unless I am very superficial or looking for money.
“At this stage in my life, I want to enjoy things, travel a bit, go out to dinner occasionally, take little week-end jaunts, perhaps go to a movie or a baseball game on occasion. I don't think that is unreasonable for a 60-year old woman to want. I'm not extravagant in my lifestyle, but I make a pretty decent living (I still work full time).  
“I'm very discouraged. Sometimes I think this older guy is all I deserve and the best I can hope for, and then I feel like a heel for even thinking that. I enjoy my life and I have a good life as it is; I just think it would be so wonderful to meet someone to share the journey with.  Is that too much to expect?”
Lori, "Imagine! Abstinence for six dates! It must have been worth the wait"------what exactly does that comment mean Tom?  Snide or? Telling her it was ‘too long’ to wait to have sex? Not long enough? E-mails are sometimes notorious for coming across as unintended, and this comment seemed out of character for your usual comments and discussion. This just hit me wrong.”
Tom response: “Greta warned me that the comment would get me in trouble. We are on an extended trip in Europe. Finding a place to have decent wi-fi is difficult (similar to finding a decent man); there isn’t a lot of time to ponder, edit, and produce these newsletters.
“My initial reaction was six days isn’t too long to wait for senior sex. I guess the way I put it wasn’t politically correct. The reason why waiting six days or more isn’t the end of the world: it’s wise to know that your partner and you don’t have any diseases to spread.
“Other than that, go for it as soon as both agree. First date? Well, maybe wait until the second.”
Anonymous, “Sis believed that her nurturing childhood gave her strong problem-solving skills and that her partner lacked these skills because of his upbringing. Then she listed all of the assets she had too offer. One of those positive things she listed was no adult children to cause problems.
“If someone I was considering a relationship with made a comment like that I would be gone before he had a chance to comment again. That is not the comment of a well-adjusted ‘problem solver.’” 

Part 2 - Europe trip updates

My partner Greta and I have been in Europe for 6 weeks. Today, we are on a cruise in Dubrovnik. Croatia. If you are interested in reading about our trip, and in seeing lots of photos we have taken, go to the Travel After 55 website. On the home page, near the top, click on the tab that says travel blog. The most recent post is the one you will come to first. Now, there are about 16 posts. Email me with questions or comments.

Here is the travel website:

Tom's Victoria Station restaurant chain website

Friday, May 13, 2016

California widow in search of a decent man

California widow in search of a decent man
Finding decent love in our maturing years is a challenge

by Tom P Blake

A year ago, Sis, not her real name, contacted me saying she was discouraged
because a man she met on a dating site turned out to be married. Since then,
her luck has not changed a whole lot.

Last week, Sis wrote: “I attended my 50th high school reunion and connected
with a man I had a crush on in high school but never dated. He has been
divorced 16 years. I was hopeful about forming a relationship with him
because we both grew up in the same city, are both retired teachers,
and live eight minutes apart.

“But, it turned out we were not suited as romantic partners for a
 variety of reasons. We remain ‘friends’ and go on hikes together.”

Tom’s comment: It is good to have male friends to do things with.
So, some good came out of dating him even though a romantic relationship
 did not blossom.

Sis continued, “On Jan. 17th of this year, I had a blind date with a man
five years younger, arranged by friends. This man - I'll call him ‘W’ -
lives an hour away and is eccentric!

“However, we had a lot of chemistry and seemed to really hit it off.
He's been married and divorced twice - both brief marriages and now I know why.

“Initially, he came on very strong in a romantic sense. He gave me flowers, candy,
and wine; he wrote a song about me and was very enthusiastic and complimentary.
I was slower to have senior sex and held off being intimate until the 6th date.

“We had a lot of emotional connection or so I thought. The senior sex was great and he
continued being attentive and called and texted daily. We had wonderful, fun times
together. Then, we had a misunderstanding and then another one. I began noticing
he would run and hot and cold.”

Note from Tom: Sis included in her email a detailed explanation of the personality trait
of why people sometimes run hot and cold that she had read online. It clarified for her why
people act that way.

She added, “I don't think he had a nurturing childhood, as I did. I was married almost
39 years to my late husband and I have good conflict-resolution skills.‘W’ seems
lacking in those skills. I am now very confused and feel our relationship is doomed
because we can't seem to find ways to resolve issues as he just shuts down
and pulls away. It's beyond discouraging; it's downright depressing.”

Then, Sis added, “I could be happy with a decent man!”

What Sis wants in a decent man:

She said: “I'm not asking for much: just need the man to be healthy, sane,
stable, clean, know how to communicate, listen, keep his word, have a sense
of humor, be reliable, curious and KIND. A man doesn't have to be handsome
or wealthy for me!”

Then Sis described herself:

“I'm a decent woman with a lot to offer. I am all of those things I listed above
and more! I'm attractive, fit, a nurturer, and a good cook. I have a nice home and
many interests. I am well-read, fun-loving and love to laugh. I have no adult children
to cause problems and I am drama-free. I am not needy and don’t need a man
to live well. But, I want to share what's left of my life with a decent man.”

Why can’t this decent woman find a decent man? It seems the men she is
choosing aren’t decent, except her hiking pal. Darn, if they could only have
worked out the romance end of things, she’d be all set. Finding decent love
in our maturing years is challenging.

Here is the travel website:
Tom's Victoria Station Restaurant chain website

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Understanding relationships: An informative exchange between a man and a woman

Dateline – Baldicherie, Italy, Friday, May 5, 2016

Understanding relationships: An informative exchange between two Champs

John Gray, the author of Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus, would be proud of us. Here we are in 2016, still talking about the differences between how men and women view relationships.

In the April 16 newsletter, Champ Randy compared the way the men in his Florida singles club view relationships to how women in his group view relationships.

In the April 23 newsletter, Champ Doreen responded to Randy’s comments. She hoped Randy would ask the women in his group how they feel about relationship expectations. Doreen also wanted to know from Randy what he meant when he used the term, “unstructured relationships.”

I was pondering from Europe what the topic of today’s newsletter would be. It came to me in the most famous and most visited museum (10 million visitors a year) in the world, the Louvre, in Paris. Why there?

Because I saw this painting shortly after I had read Doreen’s questions to Randy. I wonder if John Gray got the inspiration for his book from this painting. It is titled Mars and Venus:

 Mars and Venus Claude Poisson 1671

Randy responded: “Thank you Doreen for asking for clarification. At your suggestion, I have talked to two of the ladies in my group and will see if I can get responses from a bigger sampling. I am concerned that they will not be totally open with the opposite gender so perhaps that is something you might explore as well.  

“One of my gal-pals offered this insight on forming and maintaining a relationship. She said, ‘Women should initially, attempt to take love out of the equation. Unlike most men at this point in life, women continue to be hopeless romantics who often look at a relationship in terms of what they desire or for what it might become rather than what it actually is. If you can look at a relationship without this blinding emotion, you have a lot better chance of evaluating whether it is working for both parties.’”

Note from Tom: I think the above paragraph from Randy’s gal-pal is brilliant and explains the Mars-Venus issue for people 60+ accurately.  

Randy answered Doreen’s second question as well, “As for the term‘unstructured  senior dating relationship,’ it would be defined as something between the dating or just hanging out you mentioned, and a conventional relationship that we might have enjoyed when married or living with a partner. Certainly it has nothing to do with being picked up at your house for a date or sharing the check. Being in my late 60’s and coming from that era, I would never consider asking a lady to share the cost of a date.” 

Tom’s comment: “I might, depending on the circumstances.” 

Randy continued: “Regardless, I can understand your confusion at this term as it is somewhat ill-defined and perhaps even nebulous. It might be easier to explain what it isn’t.

“Too often when partners start dating, the relationship rapidly progresses to what I call an expectation relationship. Instead of one partner asking the other ‘Will I see you this weekend?’ or, saying, ‘If you are not busy Saturday, I would love for you to join me for lunch,’ it goes to: ‘I have made reservations for us next Friday at 7:30 and, by the way, Tom and Judy will be joining us.’ 

“Perhaps even to: ‘My children are coming for dinner Sunday and I expect you here at 5 p.m. 

“It might even incur the dreaded, ‘You didn’t call me this week. Is there a problem?’ 

“Although there is a comfort for both men and women in having a partner for each and every social occasion, this ‘expectation’ can often cause stress, which in some cases, quickly turns to resentment. 

“This ‘expectation mode’ typically occurs after a short period of dating, AND CERTAINLY AFTER ANY INTIMACY. It can cause friction in a relationship.  

“I would suggest that regardless of how long a relationship has existed, or how good it is, we should always attempt to have respect for our partner’s independence and time.” 

Good job Randy and good job Doreen. Exchanges like that between mature singles can be very informative. I bet when John Gray wrote Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus book in 1992, he would have used this discussion between Randy and Doreen if it had been available..