Date Lab: Online-dating septuagenarians give our matchmaking a try


(Photograph courtesy daters)
June 25, 2013

Proving that playing the field isn’t limited to the younger set, two 70-somethings take a break from online dating to let us set them up through old-fashioned matchmaking. We sent them to Afghan Grill in Woodley Park.

Charles: I’m on one of the online sites. In fact I had another first date [the day after Date Lab] … and I had a date a couple weeks ago. So I’m out there and dating. In younger days you’re kinda looking for chemistry, you wanna look at someone and say, “Wooow, that person really hits my buttons” or whatever. But after you’re a bit more mature … looks are interesting on the very first date and early in the relationship, but that pales away and just becomes the person.

Linda: It’s silly: I’m 72 years old, but [before the date] I was nervous. And that’s despite doing a lot of Internet dating. I actually met my second husband in 1998, when Internet dating was still new. And he was one of the first three men I wrote to. It took about two years [after he died] before I was ready [to date again]. Since 2008, I’ve met some nice people, but nothing has really clicked.

Charles: I got there about half an hour early; I wanted to make sure I found the location okay. I had a book with me to read … a textbook for a class I’m taking.


(PHOTOGRAPHS OF DIET COKE COURTESY OF THE COCA COLA CO.; CAFFEINE-FREE DIET PEPSI COURTESY OF PEPSICO; “E.T.” BY BUSINESS WIRE; “WHEN HARRY MET SALLY” BY MGM; PRISM, TOY CAR, PECANS AND DATES BY BIGSTOCK)

Linda: When I got there, my date was already there. He was alert, presentable. He insisted on seeing me to my seat, so he had gentlemanly, old-fashioned manners.

Charles: She had a very attractive blouse on; I was very taken by that.

Linda: I said, “I guess we have something in common: We’re both a little adventurous!” and that got the conversation started. I think the conversation was probably at a different level than you’d expect from the 20-somethings or 30-somethings. We covered everything from what it’s like to have to give up and get hearing aids to what the state of the world is. We did have some fun, and we did have some laughs, but we did have some serious topics.

Charles: She was quite a good conversationalist. She’s done quite a bit of traveling since she retired, including Turkey. I haven’t done traveling in a number of years. I’m hopeful to get out to the West next year to see some of the national parks with my daughter and her family.

Linda: At one point in the evening I said, “When I walked up I thought, My goodness, what if he’s in the tea party?” Because I’m a very liberal Democrat. [But] he was more Democratic, too.

Charles: We were sort of a good fit on [politics]; I think we’re both liberal-minded but sort of reformed liberals. I’m not sure how to say it.

Linda: Like 99 percent of people, we both agreed Congress is a mess right now. Basically we were saying we felt sorry for the next generation or the one after that, because there are clearly problems that need solving now that the U.S. needs to lead on and they’re not.

Charles: [But] we stayed fairly optimistic about it; I don’t think we wanted to get into this “down on America” stuff that’s pretty popular right now.

Linda: He seemed a fairly solid person, comfortable with himself and interested in getting to know the other person. And that’s what I’m looking for. I was really pleased with how well it worked out and how comfortable we were.

Charles: I think she has a fairly strong personality; she was able to hold up the conversation well. She was a fairly confident woman, which I liked. No, [no flirting,] I think we’re a little old for that sort of thing — try to get to know the person a little bit before you get started with that.

Linda: Sometimes your body language says something. It turned out Charles had [an] exercise class fairly early, and he was tired. I’m a night person, so I might have been able to stay a little longer. But around 9:30 or so, I think he said, “I’ve had a long day.”

Charles: We had our dinner and had talked quite a bit. The guy wanted to close the restaurant, so we kinda had to get going.

Linda: We walked to the Metro. He was very gentlemanly; he made sure he was on the outside of the sidewalk and crossing the street so the cars wouldn’t hit me. We did exchange contact information. At first he just suggested phone numbers, and I said, “This is a modern world; let’s also exchange e-mail addresses!”

Charles: She’s an interesting person. I think I’ll send an e-mail to her. I definitely want to get back to her.

RATE THE DATE

Linda: I would say a 4. I thought we had a lot in common, a lot we could talk about together. I know I’ve thought about a few follow-up remarks on things we discussed, if I get a chance to share them. On the other hand I’m a big girl; I’m not gonna collapse if this doesn’t happen.

Charles: I think a 3 or 4? For me, things felt warmer and better as the date progressed, as we talked and interacted. That’s something I like to see.

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UPDATE: The two met up the following weekend for a street fair. Linda says they both enjoyed the second date a lot, and that “it was very mellow.” As of press time, they had plans to get together at a pool party, and were trading e-mails about other possible outings.

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