By: Keith Loria
“Rhoda and Marvin sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”
People are whispering in the halls as they watch this pair of enamored lovebirds holding hands and stealing kisses, but this isn’t a scene from Prince High School, this is happening at an area retirement community.
Rhoda Wahman and Dr. Marvin Chamlin, both 85, have been dating for nearly two years and the pair just returned from a cruise on the Queen Mary II. Their relationship began thanks to mutual friends who saw the couple as a good fit.
Ms. Wagman was living at Princeton Windrows for about a year when a male friend stopped her one day and said, “I have a guy for you.” The man’s wife thought it might be too soon as Dr. Chamlin’s wife had died in February and this was July, so Rhoda just forgot about the idea. Two weeks later, tired of eating dinners alone, Dr. Chamlin asked his friend to make it happen.
“He was living in his house and he walked in and I was standing in the lobby, people milling about, and he said, “You must be Rhoda” and kissed me,” Ms. Wagman says. I said “You can’t do that, but that’s Marvin, he’s just out there.”
For their first date, Ms. Wagman invited him and the couple that set them up to her apartment as De. Chamlin already was planning to move to Windrows and wanted to see more of it. Once inside he whispered to her, “I’d like to get to know you better.”
“He was a real hotshot, and those guys never went for me, I was more sedate,” Ms. Wagman says.
One thing that almost ended the relationship before it started was that Dr. Chamlin waled in with a walker, and that was something that was a deal breaker for Ms. Wagman. Once he found out, however, he switched to a cane and invited her to dinner, and he’s never used a walker again.
Ms. Wagman was married 59 years, Dr. Chamlin for 61, so they both know a thing or two about making a relationship work. Both had good fine marriages, lived a good life, and traveled with their former spouses. The couple agreed that they would never move in together and that they would never get married, so he now lives on the same floor but the other side of the building at Windrows.
In addition to their recent two week cruise, the couple often goes to Manhattan to see plays (Dr. Chamlin drives after one forgettable experience on the bus), watch theater locally at McCarter, head to the symphony or just enjoy dinner and a move.
“He says, ‘get tickets’ and he’ll do whatever I want to do,” she says. “We are interested in so many things. We laugh, he has a great personality and it’s been a good relationship that we take one day at a time.”
Before meeting Dr. Chamlin, Ms. Wagman had met men through family and found success on the internet site J-date.
“I had a ball because I could pick and choose,” she says. “When you get over 80, you never know what will happen. I met some lovely men. For Marvin, he wasn’t looking for anyone else. When we started dating I have up the others.”
According to AARP, more seniors are dating today than ever before. They are more active, living longer, and they want a companion they can travel with, spend time with and share the simple moments in life.
New Jersey Singles has been helping seniors make love connections for more than 20 years. Unlike the internet sites that could sometimes seem impersonal, the company uses real-life people to talk to clients and help determine the best matches the old-fashioned way.
According to Cheryl Mead, regional director for New Jersey Singles, on average the company has several thousand members utilizing its services.
“We are proud to say that we have many senior members who have found companions to share their life with,” Ms. Mead says. “Our service is different than online dating because we screen all of our clients by doing background checks and meeting privately with each client. Out service does all the work for our clients and enables people to feel safe and secure when going out with someone referred by our company.”
While some seniors choose to go out to dinner or a move, typical first day suggestions from the company include meeting for coffee, taking a walk in the park, or meeting for lunch.
“We have found that most seniors are looking for companionship and friendship. Someone to share everyday life with and a person the can trust, talk to,” Ms. Mead says. “We are thrilled to say that we have introduced many seniors to each other who have made the decision to remarry.
Not that internet sites aren’t helpful in the search for love. It’s estimated that tens of thousands of those over 55 are patrolling the internet in search of companionship each day, and many are finding the next love of their lives.
IBISWorld, a research firm, released a study last year that showed nearly 15 percent of all online daters are 55 or older. That has driven the online dating industry to develop several sites specifically for older Americans, such as SeniorPeopleMeet.com, SilverShingles.com, SeniorMatch.com, and OurTime.com.
The AARP recently launched its own online dating channel where 37 million of its members, 25 percent of whom are single, can find companionship. Meanwhile, eHarmony has a special section devoted to the over-55 crowd and has seen its numbers rise by 15 percent over the last five years.
Those not comfortable with computers can take a computer class at the library or ask a family member for help. Speaking of the library, that’s another great place to find love. Another good way to meet people is through one’s own activities and interests like church, political events or bus trips.
Friends and family also are a great source in connecting with people.
So no matter what your age, if you are looking for companionship, a dance partner or someone to enjoy with and a show with, there are plenty of ways to make a connection with someone to share your life.