Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Dating Pool: Part Two, Swimming at the Deep End

After I posted last week, I received questions regarding whether I had ever made use of the suggestions on that list. Full disclosure: only one. I met my (now late) husband Jerry through mutual friends who were sure we'd hit it off. Obviously, they were right.

Most of those items listed and the ones below resulted from your emails or blog comments. So although I can't rely on a huge body of personal experience, I've got great connections who are willing to share. Thanks everyone. Here are six more.

1. Class Reunions. From Phyllis: "My suggestion for meeting men is 'Go to your class reunion.'  You might see your first crush there...and he might still see you as a 16 year old cutie. Having said that, I do know several people who reunited at their reunions and others who were so sad that the cutest guy in the class is now bald, overweight and really boring." 

Campus Erasmus Hall High School,
Spring Reunion. Photo courtesy Les Baum
The opposite situation is the nerd who turned into Prince Charming in the intervening years, remembers you as the girl he adored from afar and is thrilled to reconnect.  

Searching for Mr. Right among the alums should never be the primary reason to attend a reunion, but strange and wonderful things can happen when the band launches into the slow-dance songs of our era. Caveat: be sure your partner is available. For all you know, the wife could be home babysitting the grandkids.

2. Online Dating Sites. Yes, I know, you'd never descend to that, but this is the twenty-first century and it's beyond acceptable, it's a rite of passage for singles. My podiatrist is on JDate. My tax preparer (male) is on Match.com. And a lawyer friend met a great guy on Ourtime.com

My favorite response is from Deb. "An online dating site (Matchmaker.com)  is how I met my current husband, 13 years ago, when the online dating forum was not as mainstream and socially acceptable as it is now. It was a real leap of faith (and some other things!), but it paid off for me. I would never have found him otherwise, and I know that---and thank God for him each and every day."

Lovely. And encouraging. Sure there are horror stories, but usually even bad dates make for great anecdotes. Caveat: take his posted info with not a grain but a shaker of salt. As one woman wrote, "Mentally add ten pounds to his weight,  three years to his profile photo, and deduct two inches from his stated height." We'll devote an entire column to online dating soon, but why not begin your research now? You can browse for free on many sites.

3. Facebook and other Social Networking Sites. 'Fess up. Who hasn't looked up an old boyfriend on FB? Then sighed and moved on. Because he's married. Or he lives cross country. Or you remember why you broke up in the first place--that hyena laugh and the way he held his fork like a shovel. When old flames reappear, embers are stirred, and you can get warmed or you can get burned. You may have background in common, but foreground?...not so much. Proceed slowly. No flights to Bermuda for a first time meet after a few postings. Common sense above all.

4. Conferences. You attended them for work and it was all business. Now, they can be sources of something more. You're into genealogy? I know of a professor from D.C. who'd been on  dating sites for months but found his perfect match at a conference in Oregon where he and a likeminded woman were both shaking their family trees. Turned out she lived only a few miles from him back East. Common interests make for great conversation which makes for connections which may lead to, well, dancing.

5. Hardware Stores and other emporiums like bicycle shops and boat dealerships attract men in their most helpful mode. See comments on last week's posting.

6. Fly fishing. A new one for me. But my brilliant, beautiful cousin submitted: "Try fly fishing. Every fishing lodge is all men, all wealthy, educated and mostly single." Also golfing brings out fit, active dudes. Sports attract men. So If you have an interest, take a class, or hit the links or the courts, you may realize a bonus.

Speaking of bonuses, that adds up to one more than the originally promised ten. Nor is the list complete. If you continue sending in suggestions, I'll keep posting them. 

And, most important--as I was reminded by a thoughtful reader--sometimes the best way to look for your match, is not to look at all. If you're occupied  with activities you enjoy, and focus on being your best and happiest self, love may just find you.


  1. Great ideas for those looking, Toby. You're on trend for this topic. I just saw that the New Katie Couric show will be featuring Dating After 50. She ought to have you on as a guest.


  2. Not looking now, but found all of your tips really interesting. Perhaps advice I should have followed when I was looking? Thanks for the wisdom.

  3. You might want to add places of worship to the venues where you might find available good men. From what I understand, the ratio of mature females to males is usually higher in many churches and synagogues. Even so, if you have a religious inclination, it's a good place to find people and get involved in volunteer and social activities. It can also be a springboard to broader geographic ranges of people if you want to become involved above the local level of your religious denomination. Moreover, at our ages, it's not just about places where men congregate and recreate, it's also about networking, and matchmaking almost seems to be part of the faith where I worship.

  4. I love the hardware store idea. But I also think volunteering is a good way to meet people--men included.

  5. Thanks, Eileen. I used your link to read the article. Interesting and exciting that the focus is going to be on women in their 40's, 50's and beyond. My sense is that we're the new "power group."

    The show premieres on September 10 on ABC. Don't know yet when she plans on dealing with midlifers dating, but when I find out, I'll post it. And we can discuss on this forum how she handled the topic.

  6. Thanks for the response, Kathryn. It opens something I've wanted to address. Most topics--though not this one on dating--are widely inclusive. This blog primarily outreaches midlife women, partnered and unpartnered. Also, many of the subjects we deal with apply to men as well, and we welcome the male perspective and input. It's reassuring to learn from comments like yours that we're successful in embracing a wide demographic range.

    And Ruth, volunteering is a wonderful idea. You do it simply for the joy and satisfaction of helping. The other volunteers are driven by the same pure purpose, so you know you're in the company of giving, loving people. As you work alongside your colleagues, you get a sense of their character. Not a bad foundation for any relationship.

  7. This blog is wonderful. I feel like I'm talking with my best friend. You include, inform and interest us all. Thank you. I"m so glad you have started....don't stop!

  8. My niece met her husband through eHarmony and now They have two lovely childrenand a great marriage. They are both smart, beautiful people. So that online dating things really can work!

  9. Audrey, that's exactly the way I feel! And I write as if I'm chatting with my best friends--who may be in Russia, Germany, the UK. According to the stats, this blog attracts readers from all over the globe.

    I'm aiming to replicate the feelings we had when our kids were very young and we gathered around someone's kitchen table and talked, big issues and small. We may not have solved the world's problems, but with the help of our friends, we made headway on some of our own.

    I look forward to more responses from you, Audrey.

  10. They do work, Elizabeth. And though younger people are very comfortable with the medium, for people past forty, it's taken time and a bit of courage to try online matching. New territory. But as they hear of success stories at every age, their willingness to at least dip their toes into the online dating pool is increasing.

  11. Pearl, I'm always delighted to have you chime in. Another insightful comment this time. Religious congregations have, probably since their inception, served as places where people socialize as well as worship. Matchmaking, formal or informal, is a natural consequence of the closeness generated by gathering for prayer and observance. Members of certain faiths enjoy a tradition of formal matchmaking with experts in the art making the connections. But informal matching is also part of many cultures. In our twenties, after the service, a young woman's mother chatted with a young man's aunt, and voila, an introduction was arranged. At midlife and beyond, it tends to be a do-it-yourself project, but what an uncomplicated way to meet someone who likely shares some of your background and values from the start.

  12. Have to second the motion to try the on-line dating sites. A very happy couple I know met through match.com. They were in different parts of the country and would NEVER have connected but the tests showed that they had an amazing amount in common and suggested they meet. They chatted on-line for a while, then via phone, then finally decided they had to meet face-to-face. Just seems to me that having a large pool and peeps at least somewhat screened for suitability means better odds than the usual chance meeting. Not looking, but I'd at least try this if I were.