dating, life in general, Uncategorized

Online Dating? A Daunting Task

When I found myself single after 32 years of marriage, I vacillated between delight and despondency. After three years on my own I tentatively approached online dating, and my numerous coffee date debacles taught me a lot.

eharmony date
My sweetheart Phil from eharmony. The relationship was great, but the long miles between Michigan and Turkey ended it.

Online dating is like grocery shopping: read labels carefully, then proceed with caution. After ten years of plowing through profiles both clever and dull, I’d like to share some tips for those of you ready to launch into this intimidating arena. Though I write as a woman searching for a man, my advice applies if you’re looking for a same sex partner as well.images-5

First, accept the fact that you probably won’t find the right partner right away. It takes work, and the truth is— Ya gotta kiss a lotta frogs.


A picture is worth a thousand words.

Look beyond that first smiling mug shot. If the rest of his photos are cars, trucks, and motorcycles, prepare to play second fiddle to them. Of course, if you enjoy car shows and motorcycle rallies, go for it!


Is he smiling or serious? A smile speaks for itself, while a serious expression…well, some serious men are deep, deep, deep. Others are just plain downers.

Do his photos show him interacting with family or friends? If they do, he’s probably socially engaged, which most women prefer. Either that or his daughters posted his profile.

Lots of tattoos? If you don’t mind tattoos, ask for a close-up photo. Whether it’s MOTHER printed in a heart, a skull and crossbones, or Bart Simpson, tattoos speak volumes about values.

Photos say more about a person than any well-crafted profile, especially since many guys have someone else write their profiles.

Once you’ve read a profile, think about what he DIDN’T say. Beware of stock descriptions, and note what’s out of the ordinary.

“I love the outdoors and want a woman to sit by the fire with a glass of wine or walk the beach holding hands.”

Gak! Though these sentiments sound sweet, they don’t show much imagination— many profiles include these lines. Who doesn’t like walking on a beach? Loving the outdoors might mean mowing and raking the yard, hunting and fishing, or skiing through a snow-draped forest. If you’re interested, ask for details.


Here’s an interesting post:

“Car person,have a couple I am working on. .golf, read, walk , bike, NASCAR, Twins”

If you can get past the grammar mistakes (which speak for themselves), this fellow is a busy guy doing guy things. Are these the activities you want to share? Ask him how much time he has for another person. If you’re looking for someone who reads a lot and converses well, this might not be your man. (I’d blow him off.)


Look for traits in the writing style: a sense of humor, warmth, exuberance, sociability…

This post caught my eye:

“I can still feed myself! Looking for someone to chat with, Walks, talk, pen-pal/friendship, coffee,. Someone down to earth, not someone looking at their phone all the time.”

I like the “feed myself” line—good humor. It looks like he values communication, at least person-to-person. Few of us like being with people tied to their phones, but what do you think about a man who puts his pet peeves right up front? Would he be difficult to please?


Here’s another…

“I have a kind and gentle soul, but don’t make the mistake of thinking I am weak. I have a quick wit, and I am easy to talk to. I like the outdoors, photography, painting, flea markets, estate sales, I like the beautiful things in life, pretty ladies, autumn leaves, little babies. I love music, and reading.

I would like to share the love of nature and all God has to offer.”

This is a man who has many interests and seems to know himself. I wonder, though, why he included the comment about liking pretty ladies. Does he have a wandering eye? The mention of God points to a religious bent, a gentle indicator from this gentle man.

How about this one from Craig’s List?

How does a regular guy seriously looking for a real woman post an ad that will garner attention in this potpourri of ads, be read & elicit a response from a decent quality woman on this site with all these stupid & sexual ads — and that’s putting it nicely!”

So far this fellow sounds frustrated. His writing style, though, shows intelligence, so I’d read on. Big words—no dummy. It’s hard to imagine dating someone so cheap he’ll only post on Craig’s List, though, a minefield of tacky posts.


Be wise about meetings and sharing information.

Once you find someone who interests you, proceed with caution. Choose public meeting places and don’t share your address until you’ve met this person a few times and feel assured of his integrity.


If you look carefully at profiles and read between the lines, you’ll save yourself a lot of time as well as some coffee date debacles. You might even find someone worth pursuing.


I recommend checking  the highest rated dating sites  before diving into the fray. I was greatly impressed by, mainly because it requires numerous personality and interest surveys that take out the work of sifting through hundreds of profiles. After being single for ten years, I finally found a partner, Jerry, introduced to me by a previous Match connection who dropped me for a younger woman. It’s worked out great for us.

dating, senior dating
Jerry and Ann Marie on the Princes Islands in Turkey–before we got married.

A version of this article was previously published on Sixty and Me, a web site I write for monthly:

health, life in general, Memory

Try to remember…

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Art from by Wullie Blake

“It’s the nouns that go first,” a good friend quipped when she couldn’t remember a favorite author’s name. How true. Every year it seems to take me longer to learn names and phone numbers, and lately I need an extra hour to pull some words out of my memory—if they ever come. More often, too, the wrong word pops out of my mouth. When I say “January” but really mean “July,” my women friends understand and put together the meaning from context. The men in my life just get confused and frustrated with me. Don’t they know I can’t help it?

Billy Collins said it best in his poem, “Forgetfulness.” Click here to see an animated version of the poem on YouTube. It’s one of my faves.

What can I do to protect my memory?

More and more of us are living longer, and the majority of us will live well into our 80’s. So am I facing an unavoidable mental decline in the coming decades? NO!


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We can take some simple steps to boost our memory, and the first is as basic as breathing: get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation has a huge impact on mental functioning, and too many of us ignore this important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Most people need at least eight hours of sleep a night (every night, not just on weekends) in order to give our brains time to regenerate cells and reorganize information as we sleep. A body deprived of sleep loses ground with memory.


The next item on the list is nutrition. According to the Harvard Medical School, a healthy, balanced diet is one of the proven ways to protect your memory. They also recommend regular exercise, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar in check.

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Of all the nutrients, B vitamins are the most essential for helping your mind stay sharp. Your body uses B vitamins to turn food into mental energy and to repair brain tissue. Thiamin, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12 are probably the most important for mental functioning. Many breads, cereals, and pastas are enriched with thiamin and niacin, so usually we get enough of these nutrients. B vitamins also occur naturally in meat, poultry, shellfish, baked potatoes, bananas, and chickpeas. Nutritional yeast is also a great source for B-vitamins.

Another factor in avoiding “brain drain” is getting a good supply of blood to the brain. Back to low fat and high fiber, which keep your veins and arteries clear. Health tips keep coming back to a low fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. O.K. I can do that.


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Those of us who rely on coffee for a jump-start each morning may be pleased to learn that a recent study at Johns Hopkins University found that “caffeine has a positive effect on long-term memory.” Of course, moderation is the key here: too much coffee can make you jittery and reduce your concentration, and coffee has other negative effects, too.


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Another short-term boost to mental functioning might be peppermint. After hearing about a study linking mint chewing with higher test scores,  I gave my students  peppermint candy during their state writing test. A few students swore that it made a difference, and at least they all had sweet breath (and thought I was wonderful).

Last but not least, go light on alcohol. Alcohol destroys brain cells every time you use it. Many doctors recommend abstaining completely to keep your mind at its sharpest, but at the very least, it’s wise to limit yourself to one or two drinks a day.


It’s true that you can improve your memory by challenging yourself. You can do it with the online sites, but it might be cheaper and more effective for you to challenge your brain by learning something new: master a language, learn to play a musical instrument, or volunteer at something that’s new to you. The important thing is to engage your brain with new and challenging situations.


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I consulted one of my more obscure resources to get a historical perspective on memory: Vivilore: The Pathway to Mental and Physical Perfection., © 1904. This guidebook, written over 100 years ago by Mary Ries Melendy, warns not to think about or handle the sexual organs because “it draws the blood away from the spine and the brain. It lays the foundation for consumption, paralysis and heart disease. It weakens the memory, and makes [one] careless, stupid, and too lazy to study or even play with any keen enjoyment.”

WOW! We’ve come a long way,  baby.

So—choose your own path, but remember…


Oh, well.