Ms. Thißen, you registered with dating portals two years ago, at the age of 66. What made you do this? My husband and I have been happily married for almost 38 years. I retired in 2014, at 60, he was 73 at the time, we took a smaller apartment, wanted to make our retirement nice, went on wonderful cycling and hiking tours, planned to hike the Camino de Santiago, for example, or take a cruise. But in 2018 my husband got cancer. He died three months later. I was pretty down for the first two years after his death. One day my son said, "Dad won't come alive if you stay home all the time."
How did you react to that? I still go to the cemetery every week. But at some point I said to myself, something has to change. At that time, my husband said goodbye to all of us and said: "Think of me, but don't despair - live on!" He said to me, "Make friends. Have a few more good years." He knew I wasn't good at being alone. I need to be close to other people. I always have to do something. I thought you'd see if you can find someone who's good for you.
A partner? At first I was just looking for someone to do something with - ride a bike, go out to eat, exchange ideas. A friend told me about the "Feierabend.de" portal. I registered there.
How would you like to spend the rest of your life? I don't have any real life plans yet. I have a good circle of friends, we've even thought about founding a flat share. I would love to meet someone, male or female, who shares my enthusiasm for travel, for example two days in Hamburg. All my friends have grandchildren and little time. I don't have much time either, I have two sons and four grandchildren. I help a friend in her business and, as a volunteer grandmother, look after a one-year-old pair of twins for four hours once a week for "Welcome", a church organization.
Are you looking for a certain type of man? I'm not looking for one that matches my husband one hundred percent. He would have to accept me as I am. And he would also have to accept my children, that would be important to me. A slim man would be fine with me. But that is not a requirement. Whether with a beard or without a beard, I wouldn't care. I wrote to you that I almost fell for a scammer right at the beginning...
Tell me... That was on another portal, on "Traumpartner". I was online for just an hour when I got an answer from an alleged doctor from Bonn. He is with "Doctors Without Borders" and is planning his last aid mission because he is 64 now. We wrote to each other a few times, he sent really nice pictures of himself. It wasn't a particularly handsome man, so alarm bells would ring. Then he wrote that he would be leaving Bonn with his colleagues tomorrow. I thought I might actually go and say goodbye to him - let's see if he actually looks like that. That's when I noticed that there was a lot of Berlin to be seen in his photos. The Gendarmenmarkt, the radio tower. I asked him why pictures from Berlin if you come from Bonn? He wrote that in Berlin we always meet for a meeting before we take off. He had an explanation for everything. And at some point I had the feeling that two people were writing to me.
What do you mean? I asked a question, got an answer, five hours later I got another answer that sounded similar. After three days he wanted to adopt my children and "take responsibility". I wrote: My son is 38, you no longer have to take responsibility for him. Sentences came that seemed ready-made. Sometimes he wrote "du", sometimes you, sometimes there were English words in between. He wrote that he was in Syria, was not allowed to take photos or make calls during the day because otherwise his cell phone could be located. I researched it online...
As a former police officer, you've mastered the tool. In the meantime, my cell phone was completely full of messages. I checked Doctors Without Borders and saw that no deployment in Syria was planned at the time. After all that, it was clear to me: This is cheating. And then I asked him: "How much money do you need for the return flight?"
Was that a trick question? He wrote: "You think I'm a scammer - then we'll stop writing here, then I don't want to have anything to do with you anymore." At that moment all his messages on WhatsApp were gone.
So he obviously wanted to wrap you up - and money? Yes, I now know that the victims are often older women who are widowed. The scammers know they lack love, affection, a little kindness. You build up a relationship of trust over months.
Who else replied to you on "End of work"? The oldest was 90 and the youngest 27.
27? What did he want? He wrote that he would like to meet older women. I answered: But I no such young men. I don't know if he was really that young. You don't even know if a photo is real. Many do not publish a picture. I generally don't reply to people without a photo.
What was your weirdest date? One showed up in my city three days after we first met - after all, you give your first name and the city in your profile - and wanted to surprise me with the mobile home. He sent me a photo of the breakfast plate he was sitting in front of: a leek with a tomato on the white root on either side. He wrote: I'm having breakfast now. Wouldn't you like it too? Clear what he meant by that. I wrote: "No thanks. I can't stand leeks in the morning."
How did he react? He called me a prudish plum, I just laughed. But somehow it hit me. I wrote him I don't want you to visit me or write to me again. Luckily there is an "ignore" button. People who misbehave can be reported, they will be excluded.
Are men especially attractive? No, a former colleague told me that he was getting solicitations from women "below the belt" and he unsubscribed.
Did you also consider unsubscribing? No, it wasn't that bad. Just this vegetable photo, but you shouldn't overestimate it. Maybe 20 percent of people are like that. The others just want to exchange information in the chat.
On what topics? At the after-work forums, health topics such as diabetes, living in old age, or grief are discussed. One woman wrote how much she misses her daughter, whom she lost at the age of 35. To which one replied: Others have worse worries. The chat group immediately got her fat off. As a rule, people encourage each other and give tips.
Do you have quirks? Those over 60 are no longer free from scars and quirks. My quirk is that I'm sometimes cheeky or brash. And of course, after cancer surgery and the loss of my husband, I also have scars, both physical and mental.
When is the right time to talk about it with your chat partner? Not right away when you first get to know each other, you have to feel yourself out a bit. But after four or five weeks. I wrote: I have grandchildren who are very important to me. Can you handle it? When my son asks me to fill in, I sometimes skip a date. Everyone said they didn't think it was a bad thing - but in the end they said goodbye.
Were you disappointed? No, but more carefully. That's the price of anonymity, people just don't get in touch anymore. You could write that I have found the woman of my dreams. That would be the best story. Then I'd say it's a shame it's not me - but nice for you. I think it's bad not to get in touch - or to send another hateful message.
Do you have to be stable inside when you get involved in online dating? When someone is very alone and dependent on these connections, they are also very vulnerable. There is a diary after work, where you can tell about your experiences. If you read the comments, you can feel: A lot of people are lonely. You can see who is online at the moment. Some are almost always there. If you're just sitting there so you're not alone, it's frightening. An 80-year-old wrote me, you are a nice girl, wouldn't you like to get in touch with me? I replied: You are a bit too old for me, he wrote: That's a shame, I'm so alone and you radiate joie de vivre.
How worried are you that such a partner could become in need of care? If I found someone who touched my heart and they got sick, I certainly wouldn't say get away. That's not my nature. My kids always say I have imposter syndrome. But there has to be a relationship. I wouldn't look for an 80-year-old that I know I'll have to care for next week. Although I think - if you meet a person who is tingling, then the age probably doesn't matter either.
Has it ever tingled in these two years? no I would have found one very nice, he had already signed off at the end of the day. We continued to write to each other via WhatsApp and sent pictures. I had his phone number, we spoke on the phone. But it only took one awkward remark and he broke contact.
What had happened? When he signed off at the end of the day, all the pictures were gone at the same time. He then sent me a photo from Holland showing him walking his dog on the beach. I wrote him that I like the picture much better than the one on your after-work profile. He reacted angrily: "What are you accusing me of?" I wrote: That was supposed to be an attempt to flirt, if you understood it differently, then I'm sorry. He also blocked me on WhatsApp.
Sounds like difficult communication. You'll be brief on WhatsApp and the other person might get it completely wrong. That's why it would have been important for me to meet in person. You have to be able to smell yourself. You have to see the other. You talk to each other and know that I could go on a trip with him. Or not - then you can sneak away in a nice way.
Despite these experiences, is it worth dating? Yes, if you know what you want, set boundaries and are honest. I met a man who sent me pictures from a family vacation. He's still working, is married, has a daughter, he wrote to me openly - I can get involved with that. A friend met her boyfriend in our hiking group. They live in different cities. She has her circle of friends, he has his circle of friends. They want to keep that.
Sounds ideal. Of course it took a while for them to find each other. They are together now and feel good about each other.
What shouldn't you expect from dating? That you meet your prince charming. There are stories that older couples actually hooked up. But I think these are mostly alliances of convenience. I don't know anyone who found their life partner there.
Does that mean lowering your own expectations?Yes, expect less. A lot of people think others have to approach you. But you have to do something yourself. There is nobody that interests me at the moment. But I found a wonderful hiking group through Feierabend.de, once a month we go hiking together, friendships develop, you meet impartially - you don't want anything, just talk to each other. At first I said I didn't know if I could do the 16-kilometer tour. But the others took a break twice when they noticed that I needed to catch my breath. After that we had a beer together. It is usually women who migrate. I went to Lake Constance with one last year, we went on a bike tour, it was very nice.
How much does the memory shape you when you are looking for a partner? Someone asked me: Are you really ready for a new relationship? I wrote to him: If Prince Charming came, I would throw him over my shoulder, pull him into my cave and never let him out again. He texted back: Maybe we should meet up sometime? Yes, I think I would actually get involved with a man again. I would let that in my bedroom too. This question always comes up. One in three wrote: Can you still spell sex? Yes, of course I can spell it: six... Sex is like riding a bike, you never forget it. It's not like I have a rule that says he can't have a stomach or flat feet. The overall picture has to be right. I don't like people who are abusive. Like the one with the veggies.
How about physical closeness, difficult? When it comes up, it comes up. I could well imagine it - if everything else is correct. I wouldn't think how can I use my charms to get someone.
That means attraction has to develop slowly. Yes, you can't arrange that. And that's actually how it is in old age, when you like each other. It doesn't always have to be sexual intercourse, closeness and tenderness are also missed. Stroke, lean your head. By the way, that's what I miss the most: being together. My husband and I could sit next to each other for hours. He in an armchair with his magazine, I on the sofa with a book. He really liked doing the crossword puzzles in Stern. If he missed two words, he looked forward to the next star all week. At some point someone asked, shall we have tea? After his death I couldn't read any more books, the silence was so loud. I couldn't concentrate, now I can read again. These are situations where I think it would be nice to have someone.
Everyone lets the other be who they are - is that your idea of a partnership? Yes, you don't always have to say something. We often thought or said the same thing at the same time, such a deep intimacy doesn't happen to me anymore. But having someone sitting next to you and asking: Say, what's the name of that eight-letter boy band again? Leaning back, having a glass of wine together, walking in the woods, going to a birthday together, getting acquainted with each other's families, I think that's nice.
Sounds better than: At 65, the gray period of decline begins. It depends what you make of it. I keep bumping into a man in the cemetery. He is there every day, at his wife's grave, always at the same time and also on the day of his birthday. I know that because his name and date of birth are already on the tombstone.
In earnest? That day I wanted to invite him. But then I didn't dare, he seemed way too sad to me. When I go to the cemetery, he's there, and has been for two years. He founded a bank in his name. And he sits on it.
How old is he? Almost 65. His wife was a bit younger. He told me that she died suddenly of cancer, like my husband. I asked him why his name is on the tombstone. He said: I love my wife. He probably wanted to express this: I belong to you and someday I will come to you.
A sad story. Well, maybe I should take a thermos and have coffee with him on the bench. Just to make him laugh. So I'll go there and have coffee with him. Who knows, the greatest things could happen.