Dear Cheryl: My mother is 73 and dating again after being widowed five years ago. She's trying internet dating, but it's not working very well. She belongs to several social groups, but they're mostly women. Can you give any advice to the senior set about where to find men? (Statistics say that there are two to three women for every man in that age bracket.) — Devoted Daughter
Dear Devoted Daughter: Before I answer, please read the following letter.
Dear Cheryl: I thought I'd write and give you an insight into what my life is like these days as an 80-plus-year-old widower. I lost my wife five years ago after nearly 60 years of a very happy marriage. Since I would be on my own, I knew I would have to fill the days ahead of me with something useful.
I accomplished this by volunteering with three different organizations at least three days a week. One is a museum. One is a theatre group. And the third is my church. I also go ballroom dancing two or three times a week. I meet women dancing and at all three places where I volunteer.
Dancing has been quite a revelation to me regarding male/female relationships. When you're ballroom dancing, you're with someone on a one-to-one basis. It's a great way for easy conversations to begin, and you really get to know someone.
I realize one shouldn't generalize, but over time you get an idea of how a lot of 60- to 70-year-old women feel about life. (Although I'm in my 80s, there aren't many 80-year-old women who are still dancing. I did have one 80-year-old partner, but she gave up dancing a year ago. I'm lucky that I'm very healthy.)
Most widows have had good marriages and divorcees and, in most cases, don't seem bitter. They all seem to just take it stride and get on with their lives.
Most of the women I've spoken to like to be single and don't want to get married because they enjoy being on their own. They can do what they like, when they like. They don't have to look after their husband, get his meals, wash his clothes, do what he wants and have sex when he wants.
They're very choosey about who they date. They have a circle of women friends they go out with whenever they want. Life is good to them, and most women I know are very happy.
I read your column, and so many people seem unhappy. It makes me realize how lucky I've been. — Dancing but Not a Fool
Dear Devoted Daughter: I think DBNAF has given you and your mother some great ideas.
Let me add a few: Be proactive, and keep a sense of humor.
Is there a senior center near your mother? They have all kinds of activities —exercise classes, art classes, photography classes, lectures, book clubs. And more than that, they know of activities around town geared to seniors.
Your mother might want to join a group that visits ethnic restaurants, or sees movies and discusses them, or takes day trips.
Basically, the rules for finding someone are the same whether you're 70 or 17. Do the things you enjoy. That way, you'll have a good time whether you meet someone or not.
Got a question? Send it, along with your tales, problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."