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Tom Blake

By Tom Blake

In 2003, I published a book titled Finding Love After 50. How to Begin. Where to Go. What to Do. The book had a chapter devoted to the importance for middle-aged singles to make a written list of the qualities they wanted in a potential mate.

The purpose of the list was simple: to help singles avoid becoming involved with a person “not right” for them, which could waste their time, energy, emotions, and even money.

I advised keeping the list simple: 10 items or fewer, in order of importance. Plus, I stressed that the list should simply be a flexible guide and not a rigid qualifying tool.

There were no right or wrong lists—everybody is different—but I did suggest some examples of what qualities a middle-aged woman might want a man to have:

  •  Makes me his top priority.
  •  Has a positive attitude and a sense of humor.
  •  Is carefree and relaxed with little drama.
  •  Gives me “my space” and respects me.
  •  Is attractive; I feel chemistry and warmth toward him;
  •  Is financially comfortable.
  •  Does not smoke.

There were two cardinal rules to list-making. First, follow the Golden Rule. What a person wanted from a mate, he or she must also give in return. Love is a two-way street.

Second, I strongly warned singles to never pull the list out to look at while on a date. Can you imagine someone placing his or her list on the table and saying to a date, “You’re a little weak on item No. 6”?

During the pandemic, in discussions with single senior men, the men have talked about qualities wanted in potential mates. I wondered if the qualities they seek now are different when compared to 17 years ago.

Wayne, 72, met a woman online who listed a plethora of things she wanted in a mate—hiking, dancing, being active, going to concerts, picnics and walking. Plus, she listed, in boldface type that a potential mate had to be of the same political party as she—no exceptions.

Wayne didn’t recall same-political-party preference being much of a factor 17 years ago. “But now,” he said, “same-political-party preference quickly eliminates about 50 percent of potential mates for both women and men.”

Wayne ranked same-political-party-preference on the top of his 2020 qualities-wanted list.

Larry, a widower in his late 70s, talked about his list of qualities wanted. He asked me if he was wrong by placing chemistry and physical attraction at the top of his list.  

That was interesting, because 17 years ago, people often said to me that chemistry was about No. 5 on their lists. (I often wondered if they were being honest, embarrassed to admit they ranked physical attraction much higher.)

I suggested to Larry that he wasn’t wrong, as long as physical attraction wasn’t the only quality he wanted in a mate. Kindness, caring and thoughtfulness should also rank high on his list.

The question in 2020 becomes: will senior singles take the time to put their list in writing?

Possibly not, but I feel it is important they know what qualities they want and don’t want, whether they write them down or not.

The objective of making a list might be even more important now that we are 17 years older. Seniors want to avoid wasting time on a dead-end relationship—because they’ve got less time to waste!

What’s on your qualities-wanted list?

Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at To comment:

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