By newspaper columnist Tom P Blake
Note from Tom Blake: This article first appeared in the Finding Love after 50 eNewsletter in December, 2013. It has been updated by Tom in June, 2017.
About 14 years ago, I was sitting in a chair on the set of the Today show, at the NBC studios in New York City, waiting for Matt Lauer to appear to interview me. Out the window, I could see a few-hundred people gathered on the street in front of Rockefeller Center, waving signs and placards. I was nervous; the show was being broadcast across the country.
I had been Tom Blake the newspaper columnist writing about dating after 50 and finding love after 50 for six years.
When he sat down across from me, Matt Lauer asked, "Why is dating after 50 so hard?"
I smiled, hesitated and said, "Some of us haven't had a date in 30 years. We're out of practice."
Of course, there were a lot more answers to Matt's question than that one. But I had been briefed by the show's producers to keep my answers short and to follow Matt's leads.
During the four-minute interview, I attempted to provide the five main reasons that make dating after 50 so difficult. A few months after the Today show appearance, I published a book titled, "Finding Love After 50. How to Begin. Where to Go. What to Do."
Tom Blake Finding Love After 50 book (Amazon.com)
Chapter One answers Matt Lauer's question.
People often contact me now with the same "Why is dating so hard?" question, but they tack on to, "after ages 60, 70, 80 and even 90."
I referred to Chapter One of the book to prepare today's newsletter, with a little updating of course, to reflect the added years. Now, dating later in life is even more difficult. Here's why:
1. We aren't prepared
After a long-term marriage or relationship, perhaps 30+ years, our spouse or significant other is gone. We had been preparing to spend our retirement years together. We had not been preparing to date again. But now, that's what we're faced with, and we don't know how to begin, where to go, or what to do. It's perplexing, daunting and scary.
2. There aren't places to go where there are relatively even numbers of single men and women in our age range
One night a month, my Dana Point CA deli, Tutor and Spunky's sponsors a Meet and Greet gathering for singles age 50+ and beyond, in some cases far beyond (my good friend Dave is 92, and met a new love there and is very happy).
The ratio is often four or five to one, women to men. Some new women walk in, see the excess of women, and start complaining about the lack of men. But the attendance at our event isn't much different than similar events held across the country. There just aren't places to go where the ratios are more favorable.
3. More on the dreaded ratio of women-to-men
It is a fact of life, according to the census statistics, that as we hit 60 and 70, the number of available single men decreases significantly. What can women do to overcome the lack of single men.
The best answer I've ever heard to that question came from Dr. Ruth Westheimer at an AARP convention. She said, "The ratio is a fact of life, you can't change it. However, if you put your mine to having a nice appearance, and an openness to meeting new people, and a willingness to do social things, and you're positive, you can effectively reduce the ratio."
Then she added, "Commit to having a good life, with or without a man."
4. We've aged
On the above mentioned Today show, I explained to Matt that age made dating more difficult compared to our younger years. That was 14+ years ago. Now, age is even more of a factor. We don't have the energy we had before--and dating takes energy (and time and money). We've added wrinkles and wear and tear to our bodies. Last week, I was watching the Today show. Matt Lauer has aged just like the rest of us.
Some older singles go to bed early. The last thing they want is to be out on a date at 9 p.m. seeking love. For many, it's easier and less complicated to be curled up and reading a book at home. They may have to change their sleeping patterns or schedule their dates during the day if they choose to keep dating.
5. Compatibility--difficult to find
Robin, a friend of mine, said, "I'm finding it difficult to meet someone who doesn't have a lot of insecurities and fears in their later years. I can't seem to reassure them that I am not after their money or possessions. It's so frustrating."
As we age, we are more set in our ways. We know what we want and what works for us. We're not going to accept someone to share our life who doesn't measure up. The pool of available compatible people shrinks with each passing year.
So, yes, dating after 50, 60, 70, 80 and even 90 is difficult. But not impossible. At the deli Meet and Greets, one of the reasons there are so few men is that women keep capturing them and taking them away. These men tend not to come back. Why? I've asked some of those men who I've seen at Costco or the hardware store.
"My new partner doesn't want me to attend anymore," is usually the gist of what they say. I wink at them and add, "Perhaps she's afraid you'll meet someone else." They smile and give me a thumbs-up.
But, don't let the dreaded ratio or your age stop you from getting out and about. There's a lot of life to live--with or without a man.
Yes, as Matt Lauer asked, “Why is dating after 50 so difficult? (now, 17 years ago), it still is difficult, but not impossible. Keep smiling, keep trying, be positive and appreciate life. It’s amazing what could happen to you