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)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Senior dating issues; When to start dating again

On Life and Love after 50 Newsletter

Senior dating issues: getting out there. Don’t overthink it

When Champs or newspaper readers contact me with a question, I don’t mind taking a little time answering them. And, often, it gives me information I can share in this newsletter and in my newspaper columns.

But sometimes, the emails are so long and detailed that I just don’t have the time to answer every item. In that case, I will usually suggest the person do a consulting session with me. See information on Tom Blake consulting in Part 2 below.

This week, I got one of those long emails from a Champ named Leslie. She wrote, “I'm on dating sites and am reluctant to actually meet anyone though they send their numbers to call them. I am in the middle of moving - thought I'd see what a 55+ community with activities would be like as I'm a social person.

“I picked the wrong condo, meaning I thought I was being financially smart - but am unhappy due to allergies from very old carpeting. I am telling you this because I feel that I should be settled before I try to date. I found another nicer place but cannot move until September. Yet, at age 75, sitting around waiting seems silly.

“Many years ago I tried online dating. Then, I did go out but often only on one date. I've dated a lot, been in many relationships, lived with a man for 10 years, etc. I just don't know what to say when I meet someone on a dating site. It's easier if I meet them while doing activities or if it's a fix-up.

“Also, a year and 1/2 ago, I fell and broke both shoulders. After a long recovery period, I'm ready to get going. Otherwise, my health is good. I just can't lift items like I used to.

“Should I just get on with meeting men from dating sites and ignore the fact my living situation doesn't reflect me (yet) or wait?

“Should I be flirtatious and lighthearted even though I'm allowing the living situation to affect me? A friend said it's important to be happy where I live. I'm usually positive and caring. I'm thinking too much I think.

“I'd also like to know what to say, do I hug, steer the conversation to them. Lots of questions I know and the idea is to be myself. I'm lonely but not desperate. I never had children so I can't focus on them.

“That seems to make a difference in the comfort level of female friends if they have kids in their lives. Any hints will be appreciated and thanks so much for the opportunity to get some help...or at least connect with like- minded people. Are there any intentional communities out there for singles?

“Does it matter that I haven't married? I backed out of weddings, had several long-term relationships and feel I have finally grown emotionally aware enough to have a healthy relationship. I like your advice to move on because without consciously being aware, I was still comparing everyone to the wonderful relationship I had in my 30's (crazy I know). I also became a counselor and have done much self-growth, feel like I am not living in a dream world, and am positive and accepting. I just need courage.

“Because of the accident I am just now starting to exercise and get back 'in shape.' Should I wait until I'm stronger or just get on with getting out there? Can you give advice on profiles too? I'm feeling a little hopeful.” 

Tom’s response

“It does not matter that you have not married. Probably a plus in fact: less baggage.

“Don't wait to get started. Time marches on. Get on with it. But, don't just rely on internet dating. Lots of flakes there. Work more on getting out locally and join some groups. Having women friends is important. Yes, I give profile advice, but that gets into consulting time.

“Rebuilding your shoulders should be a top priority, as well as overall exercise. Don't overdo it, however.

“Be positive and hopeful!”

Part 2 - Tom Blake Consulting - Anyone interested in a consulting session may email me for information. We can consult by telephone or email—your choice. All consulting sessions are private and no information will be ever used publicly. Email me at for more consulting information The cost is $62.95 for 30 minutes and $98.50 for an hour.

Tom's other websites  (The Victoria Station restaurant chain website)