Wanting and needing love in our lives is perfectly natural at any age. It isn’t something to be ashamed of or to deny. It doesn’t mean that we are needy or dependent or weak. It simply means that we are human. Human beings thrive on love. Admitting that we want love is the first step to finding it. If you’ve picked up this book, then its title speaks to you; it’s meant for you. Keep reading—and if you allow yourself to follow just a few of the suggestions and ideas you find here, if you arm yourself with just some of the tools, then at the very least your life will be enriched. It may be transformed!
Who am I to suggest how you might look for love? As a sociologist, I’ve spent many years teaching and writing about social relationships. Far more important, though, has been my experience as a widow, a woman who perhaps was just like you, looking to fall in love again. The tools presented in this book were shaped directly by my adventures—and the adventures of hundreds of single men and women in their fifties, sixties, and later, whom I interviewed and who were generous in sharing their stories. I learned a lot—but then, I had a lot to learn.
My mother certainly never taught me much about men. Her experience was limited to just one man, my father. She was sixteen when she met him. Her most compelling lesson, and I learned it well, was that I was to be a “good girl” because no decent man would want “damaged goods.” Following my mother’s lead, I married an endearing young fellow I met when I was eighteen.
Having already been fed up with pretending an interest in combustion engines and silly sports—and with struggling to hang onto my virtue—I gladly hung up my dating-game hat. We planned to live happily ever after, until death did us part, and we did. Then, after forty good years, I was on my own for the first time in my life—and doing what I never expected to do again: dating.
It was so strange to be single in a city like Los Angeles. It is a unique metropolis with threads of nuttiness woven into its fabric and diverse communities scattered across a hundred miles. My dear friends, adult children, and caring colleagues all helped ease that terrible transition from wife to widow. Finally, though, I was on my own, too busy to be lonely, but aching for the taken-for-granted sharing of everyday events, the ordinary routines, and the talking. Most of all, I missed the talking.
Nevertheless, the idea of meeting someone didn’t enter my head. From the life-cycle courses I had been teaching, I knew that for every widower over fifty, there are at least five widows. Over and over again I’d heard that old cliché about all the good men being either married or gay. I’d had a fine, long-lasting partnership with a sweet and loving man. That part of my life was over. Or so I thought.
Some months into my widowhood, a colleague who had passed me in the halls for over a decade with no more than a nod and a “Good morning” invited me to lunch. In turn, I boldly asked him to a concert a couple of weeks later. He turned up at my house wearing a long-out-of-fashion dark suit, trying to dress appropriately. This being Los Angeles, appropriate dress for the symphony can be anything from a tuxedo to cut-off jeans! Still, his effort was touching and appreciated, as was being driven to the concert hall and delivered safely home.
Once home, what was I supposed to do when he followed me up the steps and into the house? I had no idea. Fortunately, my colleague was a gentleman, and his interest in me was probably more compassionate than passionate. Whatever his motives, his concern for me helped at that difficult time. To have an attentive friend, yes, a man, call for me, take me out, and bring me home—a date, yet not really a date—was wonderfully life affirming. It helped me move from the state of being “much married” to that of being a single woman rather than a widow, a title I had already accepted as mine for the rest of my life.
My colleague was to be the first of dozens and dozens of dates. Given the statistics, how could that be? Widowers are scarce and women outnumber men at every age after high school and college. I discovered, however, that the recent trend to later-life divorce brings a large addition of single men seeking female companionship to the pool and, often, to marriage. If I, a sociologist, hadn’t known this, surely other women needed to hear the good news, too. So I decided to write this book.
For the purposes of “science,” I found myself doing things I might never have done otherwise. In a little over a year, I met more than a hundred men, one or two vile and disgusting ones, but most of them pleasant and personable. I’ve made more good friends than I can count, and I have even been honored with some serious marriage proposals. (I’ll save the story about the one I accepted for later on!)
I wanted to learn the best ways to find and meet potential partners for people long out of school or college, perhaps even retired from the workplace. I also wanted to discover what the current expectations were between couples. I was happily married when men and women became “sexually liberated,” so the concept had no significance for me at that time. Now, it was terrifying! How was I, rather shy outside the lecture hall and decidedly naive in these matters, to meet men? How was I, who had been one of a couple all my adult life, to venture out as a single? What was the first step?
Throughout that first step, and all the steps that followed, I learned the hard way, by trial and error. I discovered firsthand, as well as from hundreds of mature men and women, what works and what doesn’t when setting out to meet members of the opposite sex. What you will find in the following pages is the result of all that: a straightforward, nuts-and-bolts guide to looking for love in a changed and changing world. The tools you will find here, the do’s and don’ts, the gentle encouragement, will help you develop the confident attitude you’ll need to venture into the previously unknown. The resources provided here—where the men are and how to meet them, as well as ways to enrich your life and make the most of each day—have been tried, tested, and rated. I wish I’d had this book in my hand when I started out!
Wearing my researcher’s hat was a neat trick! It gave me license to explore the new and mysterious world of relationships far more daringly than I might otherwise have done. It was almost all enjoyable! And even what was not fun was often funny—at least in hindsight. Along the way, I also learned that I could still fall in—and out of—love. Finally, I’m not quite as naive about sex as I once was. My mother might not want to know that. You, though, reading this book, should have no doubts. Read on!