By Tom Blake
I met Jim of San Clemente at a grief-sharing session in late March. We were the only two men in the class. We became friends. Last week, we met for breakfast at R.J.’s Café, near Dana Point Harbor, to discuss senior dating challenges we’ve experienced.
Jim and I have a couple things in common. His wife, Pamela, died suddenly at 68 last summer. And my life partner, Greta, died this past October. And because of loneliness, both of us are trying to meet someone.
At breakfast, Jim said, “Now what do I do? Sit at home on the couch missing my lady? Or should I go forward and see what’s out there and test the waters? Some people have told me I should wait for the magical grieving period of a year or two.”
I said, “At our ages, we don’t have time to wait.”
Jim and I agree that the best way for single seniors to meet a potential mate is to get out of the house and interact socially with people.
Some suggested activities and places to meet: volunteer, attend church, join a book club, play pickleball, or check meetup.com to attend functions in which you might have an interest. But what if you’re still not meeting enough potential mates?
That’s where online dating comes in. It’s another way to improve your chances of meeting someone. And, yes, every dating site has scammers, so caution is important. And all dating sites deal with outdated photographs and other issues of dishonesty.
However, online dating can still be effective and give one hope that someone is out there for them.
At breakfast, the two of us senior men discussed dating boundaries we’ve learned from our short, later-in-life, dating experiences.
Jim’s and Tom’s list of senior dating boundaries:
- Distance. How far away do two people live from each other? Within a 20-minute drive or less is desirable. In that way, they can see each other as often as they choose and still return to their respective homes on the same day or night, assuming they still drive.
- Availability. What if you meet someone you like, but her schedule is so full of other activities that you’d be lucky to see her once a week? That’s a problem. Will she free up her schedule enough to make it work?
- Age gap. Because of our respective ages, Jim (74) and I (83) find this a huge challenge. What’s an OK age difference? Twelve years maximum? Perhaps, but what if the man is older? Many senior women don’t want to take the chance that their new love will pass away or get sick before they do. A huge burr in some women’s saddle is that senior men are looking for women up to 12 years younger. After a pleasant 35-minute, first-date conversation, a woman, 76, asked me, “What age range do you search for?” I answered: “71 to 79.” She was aghast and said, “You senior men are all the same.” Then, she looked skyward, and added, “The sun is coming out. I’m going to go swim my laps.” She stood up and left. There was no “thank you” or goodbye. Game over for us.
- Chemistry, physical attraction, and affection. These characteristics can’t be faked. For many couples, this is the most important boundary or consideration. If one person is physical, and the other has a low libido, a compatible relationship probably won’t happen. Also, how soon to hug, hold hands and kiss?
- Who pays? Jim and I agree that the man should pick up the tab for at least the first couple of dates (which is why coffee, or a walk, are such splendid choices). Then, perhaps, the new couple will work out an amenable who-pays plan.
Of course, there are other boundaries as well. Jim and I will discuss those in a future article.
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: email@example.com.