“Most people our age (probably any age) are not at all interested in dating at all for 6 months or a year after the loss of a spouse. Why do you suppose you are different in that way?”
This question was asked on last week’s blog, by one of my oldest friends, Laurie (4th grade), and it’s worthy of a thoughtful response.
Larry and I were married for 45 years; we met when I was 19 and our entire universe was built around each other. I used to say, given how our brains were so in-sync, that a “mind -meld” must have occurred. And, after so many years raising kids, we were very happy to be alone again. I know that we were fortunate to have the time and the desire to redirect the focus and energy that we had spent on our kids for decades back upon each other. Life was just about US at last. And it was a wonderful life. We made each laugh a LOT. We enjoyed traveling around the world or eating sandwiches companionably in front of the TV set equally. We went to all of our doctor’s appointments together, except for our dermatologist, who refused to see us at the same time. She said that “when together we took up too much of her time.” The rest of our doctors enjoyed being party to our special world and twisted sense of humor. Burns and Allen were our role models. And my mom was SO wrong when she said that “the marriage would never last”.
Now, I am truly alone. And there are daily challenges and dating so soon was not something that I had planned on or could have even contemplated. I had recounted in my first blog post how a divorced friend complained bitterly to me how awful online dating was, how men lie (age/height/income etc) and that is still true for some. And I began to feel a little panicky, adding to all my other anxieties that were present like “how can I possibly remain sane and not lose my mind?” While many of my closest friends do believe that I have indeed lost my mind by dating, but if being in the company of smart and charming men or hot younger men is the definition of insanity, I am so happy to go there!
Gravity is just not kind to us as we age; I had not dated since 1971 and honestly wasn’t sure of my desirability anymore. Even though my husband constantly told me how beautiful I still was, but he could never tell, when we were getting ready to go out, if I “ had my make-up on yet” or not. I was not so sure of how acute his vision was. And just possibly he was a bit biased.
Suddenly confronting widowhood was a huge shock. While I am not ready to jump into a serious relationship, for that I should indeed be committed. I just needed to know if ANYONE would ever want to date me EVER!
This week I had a 23 year “like” my bathing suit picture and a 6”4 gentleman send me a “smile”. I did point out that either he might be too tall for me or I might be too short for him (I was careful not to blame his lack of reading skills) he replied he liked “short women”. I responded “really? even five footers?” and so the dialogue ended.
It has been life-affirming for me to hear from so many men. I have a few guys that just text me regularly to say hello and check in. It makes me feel a little less alone in my new world. Even a high school crush, who lives far away (WOW he is still gorgeous), texts me fairly regularly and we have not seen each other in 50 years! Thank you Universe for putting so many wonderful, delightful men in my path!
I have two first dates next week, in fact. One is with a very appropriately -aged Jewish gentleman (we agree on national politics but disagree about Israel, do we have a chance?) The other date is with a charming (at least online) and funny British gentleman, and if he can do a Monty Python skit for me, I will be in heaven. FYI “The Undertaker” is one of my favorites. I do love a British accent. And he requested that I come wearing my bathing suit! I told him, to his dismay, that it is still too chilly for that.
Laughter and joy is what I am searching for now; it’s amazing how they take away the pain. Amazing how judgmental some people can be while others are totally supportive of my choices, including my children. Even my 95 year old mom thinks it’s great that I’m dating, although she never liked my husband anyway. I will always mourn my loss, but I am on a quest to rebuild my life. Re-calibrate. To accomplish this, I am discovering new hobbies/passions (like this writing this blog) and new friends, like Rita with whom I had a lovely dinner with last night.
I think the best and most honest answer, Laurie, is that I am not afraid of being different. So what if my dating before some magical number of months have passed is not the societal norm? Maybe those norms need to be challenged. I have been to black tie events where I am the only one wearing pants because they are more comfortable. Due to my back issues, I have trouble standing for long periods and have not been shy asking for a chair and being the only person sitting in a crowded room at cocktail parties. I enjoy being different even if that means breaking some “rules”. Aging has afforded me the luxury of totally being myself and not being troubled by what others might think anymore. And embarrassing my children is definitely a bonus!
Someday I might be ready to be in a real serious relationship, but for now it just about having fun, between the tears. Surprisingly, I have no guilt at all about dating and spending time with so many great guys. I know that my much-beloved husband would be happy for me to be happy. My other options to dull the pain might have been booze, drugs, eating, and/or shopping. I make no apologies for my choosing kissing and laughing!