Introduction by Patricia Griffin
After twelve years of being single by divorce, I decided it was time for me to find a new life partner.
This guide will outline some of the pitfalls, successes and hints on how to do just that. Hang on to your hats kids, in places, it is a bumpy ride!
It all started because I married the wrong man. The wrong man for me, that is. He is supposedly very happy with his new partner but enough about him.
We raised a large family of five offspring, whom today, are all grown and on their own. At the time of my divorce, I was supporting the youngest two girls then aged fifteen and nine. I gave up my job, left my home and struck out on my own in Toronto, my two girls in tow. I had been living in a tiny summer hamlet as a wife and working mother for over twenty years. Deciding to re-enter big city life (which was my home town) was something I was looking forward to. I must confess I missed my friends and co-workers of my former life. I had been happy despite the misery of a failed marriage. I soon found out the old adage of who your friends really are applied to me as well as countless other newly divorced singles. How some friends handle your divorce is still a puzzle to me. I guess they don’t know how to divide their loyalties after all.
After settling the girls in schools and making my Toronto apartment as homey as I could with very little money, one morning I made myself a fresh pot of coffee, grabbed a notebook and decided to list the qualities I was looking for in a man. It was some list! He had to be tall, good looking, have hair, teeth, a nice smile and be a non smoker. Drinking to excess was taboo as well. It would be nice too, I scribbled, if he had money, was sexually intact and free of STDs. My criteria also included that preferably he would be rid of a former wife, girlfriend or lover. I wasn’t ready to fight for him. It was all I could do to try and imagine myself dating a comparative stranger.
I had a plan. The first thing I was willing to try was the daily newspaper personals section. I carefully plotted by strategy and handpicked each word that would advertise me and what I was looking for. Advertising has always been expensive but I was shocked when I realized that an ad running more than one time would cost more than I could afford. After careful thought I decided to place mine in the Toronto Saturday Star, our biggest daily paper, figuring that more people would see it on a Saturday than a weekday. I was disappointed that I only received six replies. I was among the first of the newly single who realized the popularity that exists now in advertising for a mate in the newspaper. Previously, only weirdoes, sex fiends and white-slavers used the ‘personals’. I never gave out my home phone number or address so felt quite anonymous and was extremely careful. I used the newspaper’s box number system as I was not about to risk the safety and happiness of my two young daughters or myself. Personal safety has to be your prime concern and a good dose of common sense must prevail.
I tossed five of the six letters in the trash. One fellow had used a brown paper bag to write his reply on and the rest were too difficult to read. Were there no educated or at the very least, literate men out there? Eventually, after much soul-searching and using an elimination process with the replies I received in the next few weeks, I picked up the phone for my first voice-to-voice live contact. (For your information, replies will straggle in sometimes weeks after placing your initial ad. My guess is that it is just as difficult to answer an ad as it is to place an ad. It takes courage and confidence to do either). To say I was nervous is an understatement. I dialed and part of me prayed the Pepper Man would not be home. The handle I gave him came after the fact which I will explain as I relate the details of my first date.
I have decided to make each ‘date’ a chapter in this book. Some of them will make you laugh and some, perhaps, make you cry. All, however, will give you some insight as to what is ‘out there’ for ladies over sixty. I hope that you will pick up some hints, some areas to avoid and most of all, that you will find the person you are looking for to complement your life.
The newspaper classifieds was only one area I used. I also tried a dating service and most recently have become addicted to the internet dating scene. My experience has taught me that actively searching for a mate is a crap shoot. Luck plays a large part but again, I cannot stress enough times, common sense must be used. There truly are creeps and weirdoes out there and at all times you must protect yourself and your children from these misfits.
Come along with me while I give you my interpretation of the benefits and pitfalls of The Dating Scene After Sixty.