- Written by Tom Blake Tom Blake
This July, I celebrated 24 years of writing newspaper columns on the topic of dating and finding love after 50. The first column appeared July 7, 1994, in the Dana Point News (California) weekly newspaper.
People often ask, “Did you learn to write in journalism school?”
I answer: “No journalism school. I learned to write because of a divorce.”
That answer needs an explanation.
On Christmas Eve 1993, my wife of six years took what furniture and belongings she wanted from our home and moved out of my life. I didn’t know she was leaving. I was away visiting my 83-year-old mom.
On the drive home, I had a notepad in my lap. When you’ve got nine hours to drive, knowing your wife has bailed out, a million thoughts go through your mind.
While driving, I carefully jotted them down. Items like, why did she do it without discussing it first?
Although I wasn’t a writer, by trip’s end, I had a mishmash of notes on the notepad. I had no idea those notes would be the start of a writing career.
A month later, during lunchtime at the sandwich shop I owned, I was served with divorce papers in front of customers and employees.
That night, as I had done every night since she had moved out, I jotted down my thoughts in what by then had become a soon-to-be-divorced-man’s diary.
I was 54 and thought dating would be a snap, with a plethora of single women coming through the deli doors.
What a rude awakening. Women customers wouldn’t date me. In fact, most women wouldn’t date me. When I had a date, I’d come home and jot down the dating frustrations in my diary.
After five months, I condensed the diary notes into a short story. I edited the material multiple times. It was 74 pages. I thought perhaps I could get the story published.
I sent query letters to The New York Times, Playboy magazine, and Esquire. No response. I contacted my local weekly newspaper. After reading my material, the two female editors agreed to a meeting at their office.
They said, “We think you can do a dating-after-50 column from the man’s point of view. You are whining and complaining so much about the cost of dating, and being rejected by all sorts of women, we feel middle-aged women will have a field day reading your woe-is-me dating misadventures.”
The first column was titled: “Home alone, with only dogs for company.”
The editors were right about the anticipated responses from female readers.
The first: “Who is this sniveling puke?”
The second: “Get the boy a crying towel.”
Welcome to the midlife dating trenches, Tom.
I’ve written for a variety of papers. Two and a half years ago, I was fortunate to start writing for 50plus LIFE.
The number of columns and electronic newsletters I've written in 24 years: approaching 3,700.
That 1994 divorce was the catalyst for a rewarding writing career. It brought multiple appearances on the Today show and Good Morning America.
And more importantly, it opened the door for me to meet Greta, my incredible life partner for 20 years.
Have things changed on the senior dating scene in 24 years? There are three major differences.
1. Now, instead of focusing on age-50 dating, I focus on dating for ages 60-90.
2. In 1994, there was no internet dating. Now, there are hundreds of online dating sites that seniors can access.
3. Back then, for women age 50, the ratio of single women to single men was about 1-to-1. Now, at age 70, the ratio is approximately 3-to-1 or greater. And women tell me that many men aren’t dating material, or just don’t want to date. So, as women age, meeting a compatible mate gets more difficult.
It’s been a great ride; I’m a lucky guy.
For dating information, previous articles, or to sign up for Tom’s complimentary, weekly e-newsletter, go to www.FindingLoveAfter50.com.