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On Life and Love after 50, by Tom Blake
On Life and Love after 50, by Tom Blake

By Tom Blake

I’ve often received comments from senior singles regarding the wisdom of making a list of qualities they seek in a mate. This week I heard from John, who lives in Sacramento, who emailed a similar question.

John wrote, “At age 79, I’m still single, after losing the love of my life to cancer three and a half years ago. I’ve been on dating sites, had some dates—some just for coffee, some for lunches, dinners, movies and trips. But I’m still searching.

“Maybe I need to readjust my expectations. I recently heard an interview on NPR with Lori Gottlieb, author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. In the book, published in 2010, she listed 61 qualities a man needed for her to marry him.

“I wonder if we seniors have similar—conscious or unconscious—checklists which prevent us from finding ‘the love of our life’ as we age?”

I researched Ms. Gottlieb’s book, curious about the 61 qualities a man needed to have to be able to marry her. She admitted in the book that the qualities were just off the top of her head and were listed in random order. Most items were just a one- or two-word description of qualities she sought in a mate. For example, “sexy” and “funny” were on the list.

I was interested in her list of qualities, because, also in 2010, I updated a book I had written: Finding Love after 50. How to Begin. Where to Go. What to Do, which had a chapter called “Qualities You Want in a Mate.” I, too, talked about making a list and included a list of 10 sample items that a woman might want in a man, also in random order.
My list: “I’m his top priority, the relationship feels natural, positive attitude, carefree and relaxed, respects me, gives me space, chemistry and warmth, a sense of humor, has adequate finances and is spontaneous.”

Below the list, I wrote, “Knowing the qualities you seek in a mate leads to better decision-making. This is not an exact science, so don’t get too carried away with trying to be exact. But, I admit, after 58 years of making poor decisions, having a list certainly helped me finally get it right when I met Greta.

“Having a person as a mate who is kind, caring and gentle, and yet has a mind of her own, was top on my list, and Greta filled the bill perfectly.”

I recommended in the book that singles should make a list and review it often.

Now, nine years later, do I still recommend that John from Sacramento, and other seniors, age 65-plus, make a list of the qualities they seek in a mate?

Yes, but go easy. Don’t be so rigid and inflexible that you eliminate someone who would make a nice friend, even though you wouldn’t want to marry them or even be in a committed relationship with them.

More important now is the need for all seniors to have social interaction. If we get too rigid in our selection process, we might find ourselves alone, and that’s even worse than being with someone who isn’t perfect.

I also recommend a second list, because we are even more set in our ways. We know what we want and what we don’t want in our lives. The second list? The qualities we won’t tolerate in a mate. Here are a few that come to mind: smoking, drug or alcohol addiction, strong opposite political beliefs, strong but different religious beliefs, children/family issues and problems to the extent they dominate his or her life.

Should single seniors make a dating qualities list? Yes. Two of them. Don’t overthink it. Keep them brief and simple.

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; and To receive Tom’s weekly online newsletter, sign up at Email:

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