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Tom Blake – Orange County Register Interview with Chicken Soup's Mark Victor Hansen

By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50

Friday, March 7, 2003

I had the opportunity last week to get opinions on middle-age and senior dating from one of Orange County's most visible and successful residents.

Mark Victor Hansen of Newport Beach is co-creator of the best-selling series "Chicken Soup for the Soul" (82 million copies sold) and co-author of "The One Minute Millionaire."

He's considered by many as America's leading expert on human potential, and his business letterhead describes him as "America's Master Motivator."

Tom: Where in Orange County should middle-age singles go to jump-start their lives and meet a potential mate?

Mark: They should volunteer by test-tasting 12 different groups to find the one or ones most suitable for them. There may be 100 people at each meeting; that's 1,200 people from whom to choose.

If you want quality dating - a good relationship, great thinking, possibility for travel, good belongingness, somebody with high self-confidence, high self-esteem, who is trying to make a difference at whatever level - you'll find people like that in volunteer groups.

Tom: What advice can you give singles who say they can never trust again?

Mark: You have to have self-trust before you can trust others.

All of us are on a spiritual path and all get betrayed. From forgiveness you go back to deep self-trust. You realize you aren't alone, and that's one of the things the "Chicken Soup" books help people with. Most people need a deeper process rebuilding trust than from a 20-minute church sermon.

(While discussing divorce, Mark asked if I had written a book. I told him my book - scheduled for publication this May – "Finding Love After 50. How to Begin. Where to Go. What to Do," will help divorced and widowed people.

(Mark said, "You've got a market of at least 20 million there. In doing research for our upcoming book, 'Chicken Soup for the Divorced Soul' (publication in 2005), we learned that the divorce rate is 150 percent in America, which means people who get divorced get divorced multiple times.

("Americans don't know how to grieve and one thing you've got to grieve is your divorce. It takes a year and a half to heal at a minimum, and more time for women than men.")

Tom: I tell singles they should know the qualities that are right for them in a potential mate. Some say that makes love too scripted. They believe love should "just happen." What's your opinion?

Mark: That's the way 16-year-olds think, and it gets them in trouble. People must know what's right for them.

Tom: Many older people complain that the singles they meet are too set in their ways and not relationship material.

Mark: The new (lifestyle) model, especially in California, is not to get hard in your attitudes. Take a guy like Art Linkletter – he skis six weeks a year and surfs six weeks a year. My daughter can't believe he catches air for 30 feet at a time. He's happily married, but he's as alive and enticing to women as he is to men.

So, the complaint goes back to the ones who complain. If men or women aren't growing, then they won't find others who are growing. And about gray power - no one should give up their sex life or their life at all.

Tom: Can a relationship where two people have a 20-year-age difference work?

Mark: We're going into a new age I call the age of the soul. We ask, how does my soul relate to your soul? Are our souls comfortable? Is the essence of my being there? The essence of my being has nothing to do with chronology. A 20-year-age gap is irrelevant, assuming people are spiritually mature and they've done some self-work and introspection.

Tom: You're one of the marketing geniuses in the world: Do you think singles should use marketing techniques - such as the Internet, personal ads, networking and dating services – to try to meet someone?

Mark: Absolutely. Everyone's got to learn to market him or herself. Do marketing that rocks; it will help bring love back into your life.

Tom: Can people who elect to remain single lead a happy life on their own?

Mark: Only if they've done a lot of self-work and made themselves feel comfortable with themselves. What I teach on self-esteem is a trinity: " I like me, I like me alone, and I like me with other people. "Most people have never done the "I like me" step.

You must have positive, correct self-love first. If I'm in a bonded relationship and don't have self-love first, I won't be OK.

Tom: How can people keep a relationship alive and fresh?

Mark: Read love books to each other once a month, then discuss them and say on a scale of 1 to 10, where is our relationship? If it's less than a 7, what do we do to get back to a 7? No relationship operates at a 10 full time.

Most couples never have that kind of a conversation.

My path will cross Mark's twice more this year. I'm attending his Mega Book Marketing University in Los Angeles this month ( and both of us are speaking at the national AARP convention in Chicago in September (

Mark's final advice for older singles: "Have lots of friends. Stay active. Get out and meet new people. If you've got the intention to pay attention, you'll get the perfect retention of your love."

Orange County is blessed to have Mark Victor Hansen as one of its leaders.

In re-reading this interview in 2016, Mark’s advice still applies. He is a genius.

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