Singles Dating in Honolulu
We step into the often thrilling, sometimes taxing world of dating in Honolulu. Here are tales from the frontlines of the singles world—whether you’re 26 or 88, straight or gay, looking for love, or just looking—in Honolulu now.
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Relationships—of all varieties—abound in local retirement communities.
The average 85-year-old retirees at Arcadia Retirement Residence aren’t looking to remarry (which for some would be a third time), but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost interest in love, either. “About 14 years ago, we had a housekeeper and a maintenance guy that walked in on a couple that was in their mid-80s. And, of course, the bed was too soft, but the floor was not soft. And they were doing business,” remembers Emmet White, CEO of Arcadia. “The same issues and problems and thoughts that one has when they’re 20 don’t go away when you’re 80 or 90. The companionships, the relationships, the sexuality … yeah, it doesn’t change.”
These seniors do indeed date, says White. “I hate the term ‘companion,’” says resident and New Jersey-native Elaine Stroka, 78, when asked to explain how she would define her relationship with a fellow Arcadian. “It’s kind of a friendship developing into a love.”
At Arcadia, the women outnumber the men 10 to 1, so Stroka’s relationship is unique. She says she first met her partner when they were both still married. Now, 12 years later, each is widowed, and the two enjoy going to the opera, doing outdoor activities and dining together.
Frances Yee is also a widow. “It took me six years to get over the death of my husband,” remembers the 88-year-old, who looks 10 years younger. After that, she took up bridge, made new friends and was soon asked out by a man living outside of Arcadia. They went to shows and concerts together until he, too, passed away two years ago. Dating someone who may die is a real concern, but White says that it doesn’t deter dating.
Since Yee’s last relationship, friends have tried to match her up, unsuccessfully. So she occupies herself by going out with her male and female friends to functions around Honolulu, including the Honolulu Museum of Art, UH Law School and contributing to the Kapiolani Culinary School.
“There’s nothing wrong with losing your husband and going out and making a new life for yourself,” she says. “I think it’s wonderful. You owe it to yourself and to your husband.”
While dating does continue on for some, White guesses that less than five percent actually do look for a relationship. In the case of 76-year-old Katherine Bolman, learning, teaching and creating art fill her days, just as it did prior to retiring. “The dating is done,” she says with finality.
White says the dating trends haven’t changed much in the 18 years that he’s been at Arcadia, nor does he believe it’s any different with seniors who live outside of retirement communities. “Some of these folks are coming in at 85 to 90, so they’re not acting any different in here than how they would be on the outside. They’re not looking to get married again, but what you will find is that the devotion of the couples here, to each other, is inspiring.”
Where’s the “Gayborhood?”
Honolulu is no San Francisco.
Scott MacGowan is newly single. The 55-year-old real estate agent has lived in Hawaii for the past 15 years and is originally from Southern California. In fact, his last two relationships were with men from the West Coast, one from San Francisco, and, before that, someone from Vancouver, B.C. “Local guys are not really my flavor,” says MacGowan. “I prefer haoles. I like them beefier and furrier.”
In addition to a stocky physique, he wants to date someone “who has his shit together and is in the same socioeconomic situation.” That’s been difficult for him to find here, partly because Honolulu lacks a thriving, gay business community. “Really and truly, Hula’s and Bacchus are the only ones of note,” he says. “They’re okay, but not great. I was just in San Francisco and they have a whole community of gay restaurants and shops, which we used to have when Hula’s was down at the other end of Waikiki. We called it the ‘gayborhood’ and a lot of the community got upset when it moved in 1998.”
According to MacGowan, Bacchus is helping fill a niche in the community. “Hula’s tends to be a little more tourist-oriented, while Bacchus is a little more local, a little friendlier.” But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the bar scene is an ideal place for him to meet other singles. “I don’t go out as much as I used to do. The bar scene has lost its luster a little bit. I think what’s happened is that we’re finding the community has lost the ability to communicate face to face. They’re taking to the Internet, especially the young guys. It’s hurting the bars, and it’s hurting the community.”