When part-time Lake Worth resident Hal Spielman lost his wife of more than 30 years, he had to adjust to a life alone. Between learning how to do laundry and reentering the dating scene, Spielman decided he needed help. So, armed with years of market research experience, he surveyed more than 1,000 men and 600 women older than 55 to determine what his age group wants in a companion. His findings, along with tips for everyday living, are featured in his new book, Suddenly Solo, as well as his website, suddenlysolo.org. Spielman spoke with PBI about the suddenly solo social scene.
What are people looking for in a companion at this stage in their lives?
Comfort. Most mature men want to date women that are in their own age range. They’re more concerned about being in a setting with people they’re comfortable with.
How or where are the suddenly solo meeting people?
There are two primary ones. They meet and date someone they have known in the past. That represents 23-24 percent of those surveyed. The other big category is online dating.
What do you recommend as a first-date spot?
I’ll give you a don’t: Don’t go to the movies. Not on a first date. You want to go somewhere you can talk. Go to a restaurant you know to be relatively quiet so you’re not shouting at each other. Go to a nice coffee shop if that’s your disposition.
Does dating etiquette change at this age?
Ninety percent of men believe they should pay on a first date but, interestingly, 19 percent of women say they should “go Dutch.” There are a couple of reasons for that. One, they don’t want to feel an obligation to have a second date. The other reason—and I think this is really reflective of our new culture—is the woman is establishing her equality. She has her own income, so she’s prepared to pay her way. Certainly, that independence is a reflection of that baby boomer culture.
What do you see as the key component to enjoying life once you’re suddenly solo?
Getting out there. That’s the key. Participate in your local political scene, participate in the do-good activities that go on in your community. These are also good ways to meet people, and it’s not just meeting a woman. It’s expanding your range of friendships.