Sacramento Magazine interview of Tom Blake regarding Finding love after 50 in 2009
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
This article was first published in 2009. Not much has changed in the nearly 8 years since then.
Last week, I was interviewed by journalist Jan Ferris, who is writing an article about being single later in life for the February/March issue of Sacramento Magazine. Her questions and my answers provide a bird's-eye view on the state of dating for older singles as we begin 2009. A summary of our discussion follows:
Ferris: How tough is it for the 50-plus crowd to begin dating after many years out of circulation?
Tom: "I've been on the Today Show twice. The second time, Matt Lauer's first question was, 'Why is dating after 50 so difficult?' I said, 'Some of us haven't had a date in 30 or 40 years. We don't know how to begin, where to go, or what to do. It's like starting from scratch and it's difficult.
Ferris: What are some of the biggest dating challenges?
Tom: "The most frequently asked questions I receive come from women. They are: "Where are the men?" and "Where do I go to meet them?" Often, women who ask those questions think there's a secret place where older single guys hang out hoping to meet single women close to their age.
"When I tell them there is no place like that anywhere in the USA that I'm aware of, the women think I'm a failure as a singles guru.
"So I expand my answer by suggesting they get off the couch and out of the house, and involved in activities and hobbies they enjoy. That's the best way to meet new people.
"So where are the men? Nowhere and everywhere: at the bank, volunteering, attending a service at the fine churches and synagogues around the country. Or, a single, available man might be selecting a bottle of wine at Trader Joe's. Don't be afraid to be assertive; ask him a question."
Ferris: Do the challenges differ by gender or circumstance (e.g. widowed vs. divorced)?
Tom: "By gender in a big way. Dating is harder for women by the numbers alone. By age 60, the ratio of single women to single men hovers around 2:1. By age 70, it's near 4:1. Those are tough odds for women, making getting out with new people even more important.
"I heard Dr. Ruth once say, "You can't change the ratios, but if you're willing to get out among people, work at having a nice appearance, and be approachable and positive, you level the playing field."
"Divorced vs. widowed? I think widowed people have it harder emotionally. Most didn't want or expect to be left alone. Their lives may have changed in an instant. They have a huge challenge to grieve and that takes time.
I'm not saying that divorce is a picnic either.
Ferris: Since when has this particular 'dating demographic' become so cyber-savvy?
Tom: "I've written columns for almost 16 years. I've seen the evolution of Internet dating grow from a couple of dating sites to over 3,000 or so sites. And right along with that, has been the increasing computer knowledge of the senior set. They learn not only about dating, but also about the incredible wealth of knowledge that can be mined online.
Ferris: Is there anybody out there who is NOT plugged into the Internet in some shape or form?
Tom: I still get handwritten letters from some older people who don't use computers. Older singles who don't use them are at a disadvantage when it comes to meeting people and learning about where other singles go. Heck, my mom is 98. Of course she doesn't date, but she uses a computer for email. Everybody can learn.
I recommend older singles include using the Internet to help them meet new people. This spring, I am publishing a book titled, "How 50 Couples Found Love after 50." Half of the couples featured in the book met on the Internet. In one of the stories, a man didn't know how to use a computer. So, his kids, unbeknownst to him, put his profile online, which led him to a beautiful relationship.
However, singles shouldn't rely exclusively on the Internet to meet new people. They need to use other resources as well.
Ferris: What are other viable alternatives to meet potential dating partners?
Tom: In the upcoming book, half of the stories are of a people who met in places other than the Internet-banks, weddings, churches, through friends, cruise ships, writer's groups, single's group, and volunteering-to name a few.
Ferris: Are single seniors getting smarter about protecting against AIDS and STDs?
Tom: Getting smarter. Probably because spokespeople like me harp on it so much. While the actual number of seniors getting HIV and STDs is small, percentagewise, their age group is the fastest growing of all age groups. The stories we hear of seniors who were squeaky clean all of their lives and who then get a disease from a one-time, late-life, tryst are tragic. People need to practice safe-sex and get tested before becoming intimate.
After that lengthy interview, here is what appeared:
Tom Blake is the author of Finding Love After 50 (Tooter’s Publishing, 2003) and the “Single Again” column in the Orange County Register. The thrice-married retired marketing executive has been off the dating circuit for 11 years, thanks to a fruitful encounter with a customer at the deli he owns in Dana Point. Still, he gets regular field reports from readers of his columns and the weekly newsletters he posts at findingloveafter50.com.
The first question Blake invariably gets? Where to meet dating prospects. He says there’s no single surefire spot to meet eligible members of the opposite sex. “Where do you go?” he says. “You go everywhere.”
Happy New Year! May all of you hoping for love, find it in 2009.