Single seniors often ask if they should make a written list of the qualities they want in a mate.

John wrote, “At age 79, I’m still single, after losing the love of my life to cancer 3 ½ years ago. I’ve been on dating sites, had some dates — some just for coffee, some for lunches, dinners, movies, and trips. But I’m still searching.

“I wonder if we seniors have — conscious or unconscious — checklists that prevent us from finding ‘the love of our life’ as we age? Are we too picky?”

In 2003, I published Finding Love after 50: How to Begin, Where to Go, What to Do, which included a chapter called, “Qualities You Want in a Mate.”

In that chapter, I recommended that singles make a written list and included 10 qualities that a woman might seek in a potential mate. That was 17 years ago. The qualities were that her partner:


1. Makes me a top priority

2. Is confident, makes our relationship feel natural

3. Has a positive attitude

4. Is carefree and relaxed

5. Treats me with respect

6. Gives me space and time to myself

7. Is as attracted to me as I am to them

8. Has a sense of humor

9. Maintains adequate finances; I don’t need to support them

10. Is spontaneous, willing to do things spur-of-the-moment


I then summarized the chapter: “Make a list. Review it often. Knowing the qualities you seek in a mate leads to better decision making. This isn’t an exact science, so don’t get too carried away with perfection.”

I admit, after 40 years of making poor relationship decisions, having a written list helped me finally get it right when I met my life partner, Greta, 21 years ago.

Having a person as a mate who is kind, caring, and gentle, and yet has a mind of her own, was top on my list, and Greta filled the bill perfectly.

Now, 17 years after publishing the book, do I still recommend that John and single seniors, age 50-plus, make a list of the qualities they seek in a mate?

Yes, but don’t be so rigid and inflexible that you eliminate someone who would make a nice friend, even though you wouldn’t want to marry them or even be in a committed relationship with them. At our age, not all relationships are going to be the love-of-my-life type.

More important now is the need for all seniors to have social interaction. If they get too rigid in their selection process, they might find themselves alone, which could be worse than being with someone who isn’t perfect.

Because we’ve aged and are more set in our ways now, I recommend a second list: The qualities we won’t tolerate in a mate. A few that come to mind:


• Smoking

• Drug or alcohol addiction

• Closedminded, opposite political beliefs

• Rigidly different religious beliefs

• Children/family issues and problems to the extent they dominate his or her life, leaving little time or energy for me


When making the two lists, keep them brief and simple. By doing so, you avoid being too picky, but you’re still careful — while leaving a little “wiggle room” in case Mr. or Ms. Right isn’t quite right enough for you.


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