By Tom Blake
Michele wrote, “I don’t participate in dating. I’ve been widowed for 18 years (at age 49) and still miss my husband. I tried online dating but almost got scammed my first time. The few people who contacted me were beyond bizarre. I gave up on that.
“I’ve been to dances, but the men seemed to ask the women to dance who were dressed very provocatively; that’s not me. I would leave saying, what’s wrong with me? It was depressing. I gave up on that.
“At most singles functions, women far outnumber men. It’s like a meat market.
“I enjoy being with my friends and going on vacation. My attitude is, as my mom used to say, ‘If it’s meant to be, it will be. ’ ”
My response to Michele: In 1994, when I began writing about dating in your 50s and up, the ratio of single women to single men in their early 50s was approximately 1-to-1.
As the years passed, more and more women contacted me, asking, “Where are the men?” The ratio drew closer to 2-to-1, women to men, for people in their mid-60s.
Some women suggested that the ratio was even larger, because many men “weren’t relationship material.” However, good guys were (and still are) out there.
I remember Dr. Ruth’s response to a woman at an AARP convention who asked, “Where are the men?” Dr. Ruth said, “The ratio is a fact of life. But, if you have a nice appearance, a positive attitude, and are willing to get out and socialize, you can effectively shrink that ratio.”
And then online dating became available as the internet evolved. Women and men were drawn to it, because they could reach out beyond their city and local boundaries to find potential mates.
It didn’t take long for scammers to figure out that lots of women online were lonely and vulnerable, especially widows. Granted, lots of couples have formed as a result of internet dating, but romance scams also bloomed.
Now, as singles turn 70, the ratio has reached almost 4-to-1, women to men. Women, such as Michele, share their stories of the lack of men at singles functions. I see it at our monthly Meet & Greet gatherings in Dana Point.
At the Sept. 28 Greek Festival in San Juan Capistrano, a reader of this column introduced herself to Greta and me. In a short conversation, she mentioned the shortage of men at singles events.
What can I say to Michele and other single women about later-in-life dating? Don’t give up; keep your eyes open for opportunities to meet a potential mate.
Be assertive, not aggressive. If you see a man who appeals to you (age close to yours, no wedding ring, no soup on his shirt, combed hair, no odor, no spinach in his teeth), smile and make a fun comment, such as “Nice jacket. Nice car. Nice dog. What’s the dog’s name? Where do you buy your spinach?”
Or, in a grocery store, say: “Is this a good wine?” or “Is this watermelon ripe?”
In the post office: “These lines are long.”
On a cruise ship: “Where’s the dining room?”
At the DMV: “How many hours have you been here?”
Anything spontaneous. He may be hoping to meet someone, but he’s shy. Be ready to pop the question: “Want to have coffee?”
And, be ready to pay for the coffee (his and yours). If he’s worth his salt, he’ll offer to go Dutch. Better yet, he’ll offer to pay the tab. If this makes you uncomfortable, at least smile or wink. Be positive.
That’s the state of senior dating nowadays, 26 years after I began writing about it.
Michele should continue to get out and enjoy life with her women friends. She’s still young at 67.
The next Senior Singles Meet & Greet gathering is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 24, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Tutor & Spunky’s Deli, 34085 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point. Admission is free and includes complimentary appetizers. Beer and wine are $5. Call 949.248.9008 for questions.
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at FindingLoveAfter50.com. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.