"Coffee-first" remains the wisest policy

At age 60, Patty follows a practical approach to dating: "For a first meeting, I always prefer to meet for coffee or a drink as that way there is no commitment to spend time or incur the expense of a meal if things aren't going well," she said.

Recently, she decided to switch to a "more mature dating site" than the large Internet site she had been using, saying that the men she was meeting were only interested in considerably younger women. She chose Senior People Meet.com.

She started meeting men closer to her age. "After exchanging several emails and a phone call with John, it appeared that he was a very nice, interesting man, with an attractive picture and I agreed to meet him," she said.

Because John was insistent about having dinner at a local restaurant, Patty waived her "coffee-first" policy. She described the dinner date:

"When I met John that evening, he was sitting and waiting for me on a bench outside the restaurant. He invited me to sit and chat for a bit before we went in. It was raining and cold and I said that I really preferred to go inside and he seemed rather annoyed but followed me in."

Red flag 1: he was annoyed because Patty didn't want to sit outside and freeze her fanny (this is a major city in the Midwest, where it can get very chilly).

Patty continued: "When we were seated he automatically pulled out a 50% off coupon for a pizza and proceeded to order without asking me what kind of pizza I liked, at the same time informing the waitress that we would just be having water to drink.

Red flag 2: It wasn't the discount coupon that irked Patty; that could have been an ok thing, showing that he was frugal. Instead, it was that he was inconsiderate and selfish. He had no interest in what Patty would have liked to eat or drink. At that point, I would have left, but Patty, being a woman of grace, remained seated.

She continued: "He also handed me a white envelope and asked me to open it. It contained a sheet with various questions asking me to critique our date.

Red flag 3: He was a dork.

"He then went on to reveal that his very sick cat died over a month ago and made a mess in his house and he had not yet cleaned up the mess."

Red flag 4: Even a bigger dork.

Patty's first-date wrap up: "The rest of the conversation was more like an inquisition as he questioned me about my personal finances and sexual preferences, all of which I politely but firmly refused to answer, informing him that his questions were inappropriate and none of his business.

"I ended this after 45 minutes which he thought was very rude. I thought back to my 'coffee-first' policy and decided never to break that rule again."

With the "coffee-first" policy reinstated, she met a "nice" man from her senior site for coffee and wished she could have spent more time with him.

"He was a perfect gentleman and paid for my coffee and wanted to buy breakfast which I politely refused. We are going to dinner Saturday night and I am looking forward to it," Patty said.

Update: They had a dinner date, which went well, according to Patty. But-and there always seems to be a "but" in senior dating-the story doesn't end there.

Patty said, "It seemed strange that he asked if I would take a week and go away with him. I barely know the man! I thanked him politely but told him I'd like to get to know him better before making vacation plans with him. I guess I won't get to know him better because he never called me back."

A "coffee-first" policy remains the wisest policy, but, of course, that doesn't mean the second date will be cream and sugar.

© 2010, Tom Blake

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Tom Blake is an expert on dating after 50. He has appeared twice on the "Today Show" and has written more than 500 columns on dating and relationships. His "Single Again" column appears in The Orange County Register in southern California, is read worldwide and is often featured on msn.com. He is a professional speaker. He spoke at the national AARP convention in San Diego in 2002, and in Chicago. His book, Middle Aged and Dating Again, is a humorous account of his first year of dating after his third divorce. His second book is Finding Love After 50: How to begin, where to go, what to do. His latest book is titled How 50 Couples Found Love after 50. To ask a question or receive Tom's free weekly column on middle-age dating and relationships by e-mail, click on www.findingloveafter50.com or E-Mail.

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