Senior singles — widows, widowers, divorcees, and never-marrieds — frequently ask what characteristics they should seek in a new partner.

Know yourself first. Make your own written list based on the personality traits a new partner must have for you.

Keep your list short, limited to five or six must-have items. I don’t like long lists because the longer your list, the more potential partners you eliminate from consideration. And, at age 50-plus, it’s already hard enough to find someone compatible.

Here’s my list of six must-have items.

Tom’s Six Must-Have Characteristics List


1. Impeccable character. Find someone who is friendly, respectful, honest, pleasant, thoughtful, and kind. He or she doesn’t criticize others.

Observe how the person speaks about their mother and father, children, and even an ex-spouse. How does he or she treat a waitress? Then visualize how the person will treat you.


2. A mutual connection. The person must be a good listener and hear what you say. You must like each other. Friends first. You must want to be together and plan future dates.

A shared sense of humor could be important. Or, each having a love of animals could be a tie that binds.


3. Personal hygiene. Does he or she take good care of themselves? Is the person healthy and fit? Do they dress nicely and wear clean clothes?

If you are a health nut, and they are a couch potato, it isn’t going to work. I’ve observed that older women strive to take care of their health and fitness more seriously than men.


4. Affection/romance. If you relish being hugged and kissed and having your hand held, your potential companion needs to want the same things and be romantic toward you.

If there’s not that two-way chemistry/physical connection, there likely won’t be a relationship. It’s either there right off the bat, or it’s not. Of course, you can always be “just friends.”


5. Availability. The person must be available to spend time with you — not every day, but three or four times a week. Are you a high priority in that person’s life?

You may be retired, with lots of free time. However, if the person you meet is still working or their calendar is always full, often at night, you might end up being alone more than you want.

And what about weekends? Does he or she spend time babysitting the grandkids or going away with friends? If personal interests mean too much time away from each other, a relationship probably won’t work.

Many single seniors strive to keep busy, especially women. Social interaction is important to them. However, to be available for a relationship, a person might need to tweak his or her social calendar. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a great relationship because you’re unavailable.


6. A reasonable age difference. What’s an OK age difference? It could be five or 10 years, or even more. Some people seem old at 50, others seem young at 80.

It’s best to discuss the age difference with your potential partner right away, so it doesn’t cause a problem later. Remember, a younger person can get sick also.


These are my top six must-have characteristics. Other issues such as kids, religious and political differences, and finances need to be discussed. That’s where compromise comes in.

Good luck meeting a new love.


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