The Nicest Online Dating Rejection Ever

What are your pet peeves and pet tips about dating as a senior?  When I give my “How the Heck Do I Date at This Age” workshops and when I blog about online dating, I always plead with people to do these things:

1. Tell the truth (about age, build, marital status)

2. Post a current photo without sunglasses

3. If someone messages you and you’re not interested, give a courteous “no, thank you.”

I keep hearing, “Yeah, but what do you say if you’re not interested?” Don’t lie. Do be polite. Do answer. (Ignoring someone is much more hurtful than anything you might say. However, if the initial message from him/her is inappropriate, feel free to ignore.)

My usual advice is this:  Make it clear, honest, and polite — something like, “Thank you for writing, and I enjoyed reading your profile… [Insert something complimentary about the person’s qualities/interests here.] However, I don’t think we’re a match. [No need to give reason, but you can if it’s something specific and doesn’t put the other person down.] Best wishes for finding what you seek.'”

Today I decided to expand the age range I was seeking to include age 50 to 73. (I’m 68, whatever that might mean to you.)  Before, I had the lower limit at 55, but I don’t mind if the man is younger than that, as long as he is smart, fit, and interesting; matches my energy; and is attracted to older women.

A delightful, 51-year-old man came up in my search. We had much in common, and I found his photo very attractive. I wrote him a complimentary message, and ended with this: “…I know you say your upper age limit is 55 — is that firm? See my profile and current photos before you answer.”

He turned me down, but the way he said no prompted me to write this blog post. It’s the nicest rejection  I’ve ever received, and it will become my new model of how to respond when not interested. He gave me permission to post it here, without identifying him in any way:

Thank you for writing, it’s nice to be approached on occasion instead of
doing all the outreach. (And I always respond, I can’t stand it when I
send an email and am not even afforded the courtesy of a “no”.) I’m
not absolutely firm on my age range, but honestly 68 is a bit beyond
what I will consider. You sound like a live wire and a wonderful lady
to get to know, and I wish you the best in finding someone who can match
your spirit and energy.

See why I love this message? It’s extremely complimentary — he read my profile, he thinks I’m cool — and he’s honest about why he’s saying no. Perfect. Thank you, not-to-be-identified man who inspired this post.

I welcome comments, especially if you have a nice way of saying, “No, thank you.”

Seniors Dating: Why so hard to find chemistry?

“Chemistry,” he said. “I searched through Naked at Our Age and I didn’t find that you discussed it at all. What are your thoughts?”

We were on a second date. Interesting question. What is chemistry, and how does it affect our choices of dating, pursuing a relationship, having sex?

I found myself discussing the importance and wonder of attraction /chemistry in generalities at first. We agreed that although attraction can grow through friendship, usually it’s either there or it’s not right from the beginning. We can
think, this is an interesting, accomplished, fabulous person, and I
really should feel attracted to him/her, but I’m not!

Then I went for complete candor: “For example,” I told him, “You’re an amazing person. But I just don’t feel any chemistry here.”

To my relief, he responded, “I feel the same way.”

Whew! We continued our conversation with gusto and interest, and agreed to see each other once in a while — as friends.

What determines
whether there’s chemistry for us as seniors, specifically? I would guess that during childbearing years it serves a
biological purpose — our biology is matching us with some people and
not with others.But if we’re not looking for a mate to propagate the species but for other reasons entirely, why isn’t it easier to find that elusive chemistry? What purpose does the “no chemistry” warning serve at our age?

We discussed how you tell someone that the chemistry isn’t there. I
think my friend’s approach (intentional or not) was excellent — ask the question first: “What is
chemistry to you? Tell me your thoughts.” From there, it’s an easy
transition to the admission that there isn’t chemistry between you.

What are your thoughts about chemistry, what purpose it serves at our age, and how you tell someone in a kind way that it isn’t there for you?

(I started this topic on my Naked at Our Age Facebook page, where we discuss all sorts of news and views about senior sex — I hope you’ll read and “like” that page and comment there on topics of interest to you.)

Don’t “Play the Game”: movie review

Update 7/3/12: I’m sorry that Andy Griffith died, and I worry that his death will create interest in Play the Game, an awful movie. I’m moving my review from August 2009 to the top today, hoping to steer you away from spending your valuable time seeing this film. No, it doesn’t empower seniors or teach about senior sex — quite the opposite. — Joan Price

You’d think that a lively movie about elders dating and having sex (or wanting to) would be just the kind of film I’d applaud. I did applaud the idea of Play the Game when I first heard about it — until I actually viewed it. Maybe I’m just too sensitive about senior sex, but I found this film neither funny nor instructive. In fact, I found it cringe-worthy for these reasons:

1. The whole premise of the movie is that widowed Grandpa Joe(Andy Griffith), living in a retirement community, is lonely but doesn’t know how to play dating games, while surrounded by women, one of whom (Doris Roberts) he’d like to date, and another (Liz Sheridan) who wants to seduce him. Grandson David (Paul Campbell) takes the old man under his wing and teaches him to manipulate women.

We’re led to think that Grandpa will end up reversing roles and educating Grandson about how to stop playing games and communicate honestly, respect women, and create meaningful relationships — something Grandson has been unable to do in his own life. But (spoiler alert:) the opposite happens. We learn that the object of Grandson’s affections (Marla Sokoloff) has been manipulating him more than he’s been manipulating her, and has taught her grandmother (Roberts) to do the same. There, I’ve ruined the ending for you and you don’t have to go see it.

The characters all deserve each other.

2. One of the so-called hilarious incidents is Liz Sheridan as an elder seductress crushing Viagra into a glass, adding wine, and giving it to her seductee without telling him what’s in the glass. This is such a horrible, dangerous idea that I couldn’t suspend my reality check long enough to laugh at the predictible results.

“It’s a miracle!” exclaims our re-energized and rising hero. It wouldn’t have been a miracle if he had been on heart medicine — it would have been a death scene. How funny is that? (This scene used to be online, but seems to have disappeared.)

If you must see this (and I don’t recommend it, unless you want to see if you agree with me), please take a teenager with you and plan a long talk afterwards to debunk everything you saw. Otherwise, your teen might see it on his/her own and believe the dating advice aimed at both young folks and seniors.

My verdict: Ick, skip it. Here’s the trailer, but it doesn’t show how bad it is or how insulting to seniors.

How the Heck Do I Date at This Age?


How the Heck Do I Date at This Age?” is the title of a new workshop I just debuted in Milwaukee, and I’m ready to take it on the road! I discovered it needs to be a three-hour workshop because it covers so many topics, questions, and interactive discussion.

Here’s my description of the workshop:

How the Heck Do I Date at This Age?

 You’re ready to connect for dating, sex, love, companionship – but dating as a senior feels awkward and downright weird. What are the guidelines? How do you navigate online dating and avoid the pitfalls that send potential dates running in the other direction? When do you bring up safer sex, your personal sexual issues, or sex at all? Whether you’re widowed, divorced, or a longtime single, you’ll find this interactive workshop illuminating and fun, and you’ll get to find out how other single seniors meet and mate (or try to). All genders and orientations welcome; sense of humor helpful. Thirty million Americans age 55 and older are single, so welcome to the club with no rules! Joan Price, author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty and Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex – and a widow trying to figure out how to date at her age – leads this workshop.

During this fun-filled workshop, you’ll create a list of the qualities you’re seeking in a date/lover/sweetheart/mate, because if you don’t know what you’re asking for, the answer is “no.” You’ll also write your profile, should you wish to pursue online dating. You’ll get plenty of information and honest (polite, but honest!) feedback about your dating situation (or lack of dating situation). By the end, you’ll have an action plan and plenty of food for thought. Bring paper and pen or a laptop — and a sense of humor!

“So where do I have to go to attend this workshop?” you ask. Ah, I don’t know yet. Invite me to come to your region to present it, or email me to put yourself on my contact list for an upcoming workshop in the San Francisco/ Santa Rosa, CA area.

10/11 addendum: For use in this workshop, I’m collecting online dating profiles (our age only) that are either terrific, appealing examples or awful, waste-of-space examples. If you encounter either, please copy it without identifying the person except by gender and age and email it to me privately. This isn’t about whether the person meets your personal taste requirements — just whether the profile is a great example of how to write one, or a terrible example that no one would want to answer. Again, do not identify the person even by handle or URL — this is not about embarrassing people, just giving us content to discuss.