The dating world is different for seniors | July 26, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

- July 26, 2013

The dating world is different for seniors

Most important thing is to know yourself and what you want

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

When Torrie Whitelaw's husband Brett died 15 years ago, she found herself in a new role.

"When you're young, you're your parents kids," explained the Pleasanton widow. "Then you get married and you're a wife and your kids' mother. Then when the kids leave, you go back to being a wife. Then when your husband passes, you have to find out who you are again."

After being widowed, Torrie, now 65, made a lot of new girlfriends.

"Before my husband passed away, I didn't know anyone who was single. Since I've been widowed I don't have any friends that are married," she said with a laugh.

Hospice introduced her to another new widow and together they began to explore, going to widow and widowers clubs and church groups. They didn't find so many dates but they did make more women friends.

"That was a lot of fun," Torrie said.

Eventually she became interested in finding a relationship, and meanwhile Internet dating had become an industry. When her friends were skeptical about looking for love online, Torrie replied that people on dating websites were looking for dates, and she thought that was a better bet than looking in bars.

"I was looking for a relationship with a lot of love. I missed all of that," she said. "I like the 'until death do us part' -- that's what I wanted."

She found dates from a few different sites but found that men on were looks for relationships, not just dates. After dating a bit, finally she began to communicate with Jed Virts, a widower; when he replied to a question about his favorite family memories by recalling the aromas of a roasting turkey and Christmas, she was interested.

"His picture was him floating down a river, and all you could see was his head with sunglasses," she said. "That's important to me -- somebody who's adventuresome."

He also passed her two most important tests: Jed liked her dog, and her grown children liked Jed.

"We met at the Rose Hotel, then went across the street to the Oasis," she said. "When he asked me to get married, four years later on same day, we went again to the Oasis."

He'd arranged with the management to seat them at the same table and serve a cake with four candles for their fourth anniversary.

"They brought the cake, which said, 'Would you marry me?' and he got on one knee and asked me," she recalled.

Torrie said she and her girlfriends talk about the kind of men they want to meet.

"Each person wants something a little different," Torrie said. For instance, one of her friends likes a man who dresses well, but that's not important to Torrie.

"Be true to yourself," she advises, which means you must first figure out who you are and what you want. "You've got to know who you are -- at least 90%."

"Know you can do it on your own, and that you don't need a man," she added.

Then you will be ready to invite somebody into your life.

"Some women want somebody to pay the bills, but the truth is you have to be able to do it yourself," Torrie said.

She also noted that it's important, when you find a significant other, to figure out your own dreams as a couple.

"You don't want to live the dream he had with first wife," she said.

Dating is different for people in various stages of life.

When Claire Iglesias was divorced in 1982 after 32 years of marriage, she was 52 and living in Philadephia. Although she was already a good dancer, she signed up for lessons so she could meet partners.

"I got out in the dating world -- I started off by dancing, and I met some gentlemen," she said.

She ended up meeting Mr. Wonderful, a widower after four decades of marriage, and had been with him 23 years when he died a few years ago.

"He said I'd miss him, and he was right," she said.

She moved to Pleasanton to be near her children, and she has found the Senior Center a good place to meet people.

"I'm now 82 and I'm still active," she said. "As far as senior dating is concerned, I'm all for it. But I like them to leave at the end of the evening. I'm not looking for someone who wants 'a nurse with a purse' or 'without a purse' as the case may be."

"I do go dancing with a gentleman who comes to the Senior Center," she added. "It's not anything serious. I call him my dance buddy."

She also has bagel buddies she meets for breakfast

"I'm keeping it light. Once in awhile I get treated, but I'm pretty self-sufficient. I don't want romance at this age, but I'd like a nice date, going out, having dinner with somebody, the companionship," she said, lamenting that "when it gets dark out, I'm inside, with the children."

She still will go anywhere with dancing, for instance, the tea dances held some afternoons at the Veterans Memorial Building. She goes on trips and cruises and is active at the Senior Center.

"After being married and having taken care of my family and home and husband, it's now time for me. That sounds selfish but that's how it is," she said. "I do date. But lots of times I can't find anybody who can keep up with me."

She never married Mr. Wonderful despite their 23 good years together.

"We kept it financially separate," she said. "He had children, I had children. I worked so hard and I feel my children are my benefiaries."

Online dating for seniors

The dating scene has changed for seniors as much as anyone with the rapid rise of the Internet. Not only do all social networking sites include a senior section for those 50 and older, but some sites target them exclusively.

Before seniors explore online dating they may want to use that same Internet to get tips on the whole process.

Things to remember when writing your profile:

1. It's important to figure out what matters to you in a man or a woman before you can go looking for a mate. But when writing what you are looking for, remember that you are not ordering takeout food. Beyond a few basic beliefs and lifestyle issues, do specifics really matter?

2. Dates are not for therapy. Hopefully seniors are not looking for someone to unload on.

3. Beware of those who are quick to befriend you with wonderful photos and sensual poems. They may be con artists.

When meeting Internet dates, two of the most common pitfalls are immediately revealing too much about your past, and a premature leap to saying, "I love you."

Other advice for new dates, found on the Internet:

Men say: Be honest -- don't say you love to watch football if you don't.

Women advise: Don't ask over dinner on the first date, "Should I take my Viagra now?"


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