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By Tom Blake
For years, I’ve stated the best way for single seniors to meet potential mates is to get off the couch and out of the house.
However, that advice hasn’t been very useful over the past six months. We’ve been quarantined and encouraged to stay home. So, how do singles meet new people?
Choices are limited. Senior centers are closed, and the senior Meet and Greets at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point are on hold.
And when we do go to a grocery store or any place indoors, we must wear a mask. It’s difficult to be social in such settings when faces are covered.
Internet dating has become the most useful dating tool in 2020. My email inbox is bombarded with online dating-site messages. An estimated 1,500 new dating sites have emerged this year. But do seniors really want to click on sites with names such as “Cobble,” “Pokerface,” “Say Allo,” “IsMyGirl,” “Live” (speed dating), or “Extreme age-gap?” Most likely not.
As the number of online sites has increased, so has the number of scammers. Seniors are targets for scammers. Many seniors are lonely, which makes them more vulnerable.
But let’s say a senior meets a prospective mate online, using sites such as Match, eHarmony, or Plenty of Fish (POF). The advice from dating coaches has always been to meet face-to-face as soon as possible, to avoid wasting time on the wrong person.
But that thinking has changed. Sure, singles can still try to meet face-to-face (or should we say “mask-to-mask”?), but, they need to ask themselves, “Is it worth the health risk?”
Before meeting “mask-to-mask,” should each person take a COVID-19 test and bring the results to the date? An Abbott Labs test just released, called BinaxNOW, provides results in approximately 15 minutes, does not need any other instrumentation, is very reliable and costs only $5.
On a first date, or any date, does each person wear a mask or gloves and place a package of hand sanitizers/wipes on the table? Does each show up with a thermometer and take his or her temperature and then show the results to the other person, proving he or she isn’t overheated?
You can probably forget about kissing. (Can we say Russian roulette every time?)
How about hugs? That’s always been a nice way to end a date when a kiss would be premature. Even hugs are risky. Yes, dating during the pandemic is a challenge.
How can senior singles feel safe meeting a stranger on a first date? Some are trying, respecting social distancing and mask guidelines.
People in established long-distance relationships, requiring air travel to be together, are being particularly challenged, especially if one person resides in a foreign country.
Last week, the news reported that the Canadian border will be closed for another month. So, Americans and Canadians dating across the border but living apart probably haven’t seen each other in person for months.
Larry, a former Dana Point resident, lives with his girlfriend of five years, Emy, in the Philippine Islands. He had to return to the United States in early January for a few weeks. He said, “I continue to be stranded in the United States. My first return flight, scheduled for March 20 this year, was canceled by the airline.
“I had to cancel my second flight this month, because the Manila Airport remains closed to foreigners. I am now holding reservations to fly from LAX to Manilla on December 9.”
Will senior dating get easier? Not likely anytime soon. A former fraternity brother of mine, a highly regarded doctor, emails a coronavirus bi-weekly update, based upon the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) data.
On Sept. 5, he emailed: “The data sees lots of trouble around December 1—worse than anything we’ve seen. Buckle your seat belts, we have a long journey ahead of us, only to be avoided with effective vaccines.”
So, seniors, if you are going to meet in person, wear your mask, keep your distance, and save the hugs and kisses for later. And write and tell us how the date went. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and Dana Point resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.