Monday, March 21, 2011

60 & Single: Meeting men the old-fashioned way, face-to-face

When I was 60 and single, I spent exactly 30 minutes looking at online dating sites. I felt obligated to at least give it a try, you know, get with it... not be so lonely or bitter that I couldn't at least envision some kind of future with somebody.
I never got past that first 30 minutes even as other women I knew signed up for eHarmony.com or match.com, or some other deal where you fill out questionnaires, upload photos of yourself and look at mug shots of men arranged much like a police line up. Nope, online wasn't for me. In fact I'd decided to go on living in my house in the woods because I really didn't care too much if I met someone. If I was going to meet a man, he would have to come find me, I told my friends and myself.
That's kind of what happened. In the year after my divorce, I hired a good friend who in turn brought in some Mexicans to clean up the old barn on my place. To celebrate the spiffed up barn, a few weeks later, I decided to have a "barn party." I invited, oh, 40 people including everybody in my newsroom. We'd have chili, chips and beer. I'd crank up the country music on the CD player.
It rained that early November day but despite the weather probably 25 people showed up.
Let me take a time out here to explain why I'm sharing this. In today's Wall Street Journal, columnist Elizabeth Bernstein suggests this: "It may be time for you to break up with online dating and try meeting a mate in the scary, old-fashioned way: face to face." Bernstein suggests that friends can be a big help in this department. Such was the case for me.
My friends, Pam and Bruce were headed to my barn party when Ken called to invite himself over. They in turn invited him to come along with them. They then called me and told me about him and that he'd be with them. "Okey dokey."
So Ken walks into my barn, mingles with the group and ends up at my house having dessert with everyone else. Before he left, he asked if we could meet for coffee. A few days later over coffee, we learned that we had plenty in common...books, travel interests, the outdoors, skiing and music. So it kinda went from there.
I would never have been open to this except that my friends filled me in. Ken had a good marriage track record. He had great kids. He was financially solvent. He'd lost his wife to cancer.
Ken and I went on hikes, went to dinner out and then dinner in. He had a float trip planned on the Colorado through the Grand Canyon that winter. Half way through that trip he sent me a letter delivered first by pack mule out of the canyon, then by regular mail.
Two years from the day we first met at my barn party, Ken and I married.
Some of my single women friends want to know how we met. "Friends," I tell them. "I trusted their opinion and their good wishes for me," I said. "We did it the old fashioned way: face to face."
It's been great for the both of us.
For the record, this in no way hinders my continuing contribution to this blog on the topic of 60 and single women. I've lived it. I understand the challenges, the issues related to money, work, retirement, Medicare investing one's nest egg. Many of us are in second and third, even fourth marriages. Many of us will likely be single again, if we aren't now. The statistics speak for themselves.
I am focused on helping women married or single with the myriad of challenges we face as we cross into our 60s, see our mothers become aged and face retirement from jobs we've loved with the money we have.
How do you meet men? Have a barn party. Or as Bernstein suggests, go out into the real world. "Become the designated photographer at weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events. Shooting video of Uncle Phil's 90th birthday requires you to wander around and talk to people without being self-conscious." Get your friends to help you meet people, the more the better. They will enrich your life and you their's.

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