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By Tom Blake
Seventeen years ago, I was sitting in a chair on the set of The Today Show at the NBC studios in New York City, waiting for Matt Lauer to interview me.
I could see a few hundred people gathered on the street in front of Rockefeller Center, waving signs and placards. Although I had been on Today two years before, I was still nervous. After all, the show was being broadcasted across the country.
Matt introduced me: “Tom Blake, syndicated columnist and author of the book, Middle Aged and Dating Again, has some great advice for people dating the second and third time around.”
I had been a columnist for six years and had published the book two years before.
Matt’s first question: “Do you think the dating rules have changed in your 50s versus in your teens, 20s and 30s?”
I smiled and said, “Some of us haven’t had a date in 30 years—you bet they are different.”
During the 4-minute interview, I attempted to explain how dating had changed and why dating after 50 was so difficult. These five items summarize what Matt and I talked about.
- Older singles aren’t prepared. After a long-term marriage or relationship, perhaps 30 years or more, our spouse or significant other is gone. We had been preparing to spend our retirement years together, not preparing to date.
- There aren’t places to go where there are relatively even numbers of single men and women in our age range. The ratio is often four or five to one, women to men, making it difficult for women to meet available men.
- Baggage. Matt mentioned the word baggage often. There are ex’s, kids, grandkids, fear of getting hurt again, financial issues and an endless number of factors that can bog down a relationship.
- We’ve aged. On Today, I explained to Matt that age made dating more difficult compared to those younger years he mentioned. We don’t have the energy we once had and dating takes energy. Plus, we’ve added wrinkles and wear and tear on our bodies.
- Compatibility with a mate is hard to find. As we age, we are more set in our ways. We aren’t going to accept someone to share our life with who doesn’t measure up to our standards or who has vastly different beliefs.
17 years later
Now, 17 years after appearing on that show, I see how senior dating has changed since even then. The basic premises of the five items above remain the same, but the degree of difficulty of each has increased. It’s now dating after 60, 70 and 80.
If singles weren’t prepared for dating after 30 years in a relationship, think how unprepared they are now after 50 years in a relationship.
And, as if those ratios of women to men weren’t challenging enough for single women, now the ratios are more like six or seven to one. According to the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program from 2011 to 2015, as we hit 60 and 70, the number of available single men decreases significantly.
Plus, in 17 years, we’ve aged even more. I saw Matt Lauer on Today last week and he’s aged right along with us. We don’t move like we did at 50. We have aches, pains, bad hips and knees and a myriad of other health issues, making it harder to get off the couch, out of the house and into the dating world.
And one very big factor is technology. Think how the Internet has evolved with social media, dating sites and romance scams. Texting by phone is how some singles communicate. They even break up by text. Technology can be intimidating and overwhelming for seniors. Some don’t even own a computer; some have never sent a text.
So yes, senior dating has changed; it’s more difficult now. But, it’s not impossible. Maybe Matt will have me back on Today and I can update him on what senior singles can do to find a mate.
They need to keep smiling, keep trying, keep moving and be positive and appreciate life. And above all, they should never give up. Miracles can happen.
To view Tom’s Today Show interview with Matt Lauer, visit www.findingloveafter50.com/videos. The interview is on row two, far right, and row three, far left.
Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businessman who has authored several books on middle-aged dating. See his websites at www.findingloveafter50.com; www.vicsta.com and www.travelafter55.com. To receive Tom’s weekly online newsletter, sign up at www.findingloveafter50.com. Email: email@example.com.