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Handling Relationship Disappointment in Our 60s

By Wendy Ann Hulbert October 13, 2023 Lifestyle

I recently came across a powerful quote from Maya Angelou that resonated profoundly with me: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

I am very much a woman who follows her gut instincts and goes by the belief that first impressions are lasting impressions. So, when I form a positive opinion about somebody that proves to be wrong, I actually disbelieve myself – until I am ready to accept that my original perception was skewed and incorrect.

That is a humbling moment indeed, but only once the punch in the stomach has been administered can I start to move on.

The Young Me 

It was clearly never my destiny to have a “normal” long, loving marriage with one man, with children, with school meetings, with family holidays, and I take full responsibility for that. I extricated myself from an engagement at the age of 19 to a lovely young man who would have made a wonderful, devoted husband, I’m pretty sure for the rest of my life.

I couldn’t bear the thought of a life that would have been so mundane, in my opinion, and instead I happily pursued a path devoted to a career, world travel, and no children: by choice. This is me, this is who I am, this is how I function best. I am a self-confessed misfit.

I’ve been in and out of more short-term relationships than I can remember, but those long-term ones that involved two ex-husbands (I am so grateful to maintain good friendships with both of them), and a few deep and meaningful ones along the way, were rich and rewarding in many ways.

For those of you who have read my previous blogs, you will know that I wear my heart on my sleeve when I write, as I do in life. That makes me vulnerable, but again, it is who I am, and I choose not to play games, but rather to always lay my cards on the table.

The Present Day Me

So, when I analyze myself (as I often do), it is very clear that whilst I have much strength and fortitude in almost any other challenges that come my way, the major disappointments in my life have centered around the end of my relationships with men. The irony is that I have usually been the one to instigate that end.

The difference is that in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, I suffered huge inner turmoil and pain; always for months, sometimes for years, and this was self-imposed because I could not – and cannot – ever be ok with “settling.”

I simply must move on when things have run their course, whereas many will battle on, live separate lives, or simply compromise to the point of remaining in an utterly unhappy marriage because they are too scared emotionally or financially to pull out.

However, the good news (for me) is, now that I have arrived in my 60s I am so much more philosophical about life, and so the recent ending of a friendship took me two weeks to come to terms with instead of two years.

The man that I had perceived in my mind turned out not to be the person who was a reality: I had created a myth, an illusion of who I thought he was. Thus, I created my own disappointment, and that is on me, not him.

Something I pull on when my mind is in turmoil is the Serenity Prayer, and it helps me enormously: hopefully it may help you if and when needed:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I will pay heed to Ms. Angelou’s quote when I embark on my inevitable next relationship, and take comfort in knowing that I am better mentally equipped in my 60s to go with the flow, bend like a reed in the wind and bounce back up again; ever resilient.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How do you process disappointment differently in your 60s? Do you think you are better equipped to deal with relationship disappointments at your current age? How do you protect yourself against feeling vulnerable? What was a recent relationship disappointment that was unexpected for you?

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Divorced my psychopath at 62, was married for 32 years! Have never been happier!!! Can’t ever forget the euphoria I felt when entered the apartment I rented after leaving the home and it is still there after 8 years and will be there for life. Life is so much better without a man. Never thought of dating again and won’t. There are so many other things to fill the life. I am happy happy 😃


You stayed so long with the psychopath. Me at 59, I just divorced one after 3 months of marriage. Dating…I leave it open…and though I ought to wiser and more prayerful, and date for long without the marriage committee…


At age 69 I recently divorced a man after a brief 15 month marriage (my third after one early divorce and widowed from the second 14 years ago). The part that was my fault was not seeing the red flags ( recently widowed, neediness, prior bankruptcy in his 20s) but that did not fully account for the fact that he hid a prior sexual conviction and three year court ordered psychiatric evaluation which when I discovered it, I ended the marriage within 48 hours.

I can’t say that was the only problem that surfaced during the marriage despite a two year courtship. I can only be grateful that I had the resources to end that situation. It took a toll emotionally, financially and socially but now a year after the divorce was finalized I can say that I am in a far better life now and look forward to new activities, friends and joy in my future.

Holly Schmitz

I’m learning to get my hopes up less and less. I’ve been on the rollercoaster ride of dating for 3 1/2 years, am 76, still very active, energetic, fit, etc. My husband of 17 years transgendered which caused the divorce. We remain friends. We had a relatively good marriage and enjoyed doing so many things together, i.e. sports, house projects, dancing, etc. I want a companion and the closeness of being in a relationship. At this time I’m pretty much giving up on finding Mr. Right. Perhaps someday I’ll at least find a man who lives relatively nearby and enjoys some activities with me. We can have separate homes and get together a few times a week to do sports, trips and even have sex. That’s probably all I can hope for. I’m slowly giving up hope and trying to convince myself that I’ll be happy without a man. My longest relationship was 8 months (with me breaking up several times). I finally realized his drinking would never stop. Having been in a thirty year marriage with a functioning alcoholic, this was a deal breaker. I couldn’t change him. I won’t just settle for a bad relationship. The most recent breakup was me saying goodbye to a nice man who I adored. He only spent a few months a year here on the west coast. Otherwise, he lived in New England. After questioning him I discovered that apparently he lives with a women who is “a very very good friend,.” When I asked if someone would be sad if she knew he was seeing me he finally confessed yes. I won’t be in that kind of relationship. It totally goes against my morals. Fortunately I’ve recently developed friendships with a few women who enjoy doing the sports, dancing, etc. that I do. We’re all single and great women. Somehow I still believe that I’m a wonderful “catch” and some man would be lucky to have me. However, I just won’t settle for a guy who doesn’t treat me well, doesn’t at least share some of my interests, and isn’t somewhat fit and trim. When will I quite “looking” for Mr. Right?

Wendy Hulbert

Hello Holly, goodness you’ve been on quite a journey yourself. I think it’s easy to have the perception that “everybody else” has idyllic relationships, but curveballs come along for most of us at some time or another. Let’s just be comfortable in our own skin I say :)


Wow, you’re 76, just forget about men and live for the moment! That’s what I would do, and I’m a man.


Wow,such a story! I’m afraid I’m not as grand. Stop beating myself up looking for something in one person that won’t change. Avoid drama. Enjoy visiting with others.

Wendy Hulbert

Hello Kathleen, the main thing is that we protect our mental well being. Be well:

The Author

Wendy is a world traveler, having worked for many years on cruise ships, and lived in multiple countries during her adult life. In recent years Wendy pursues her passion for writing and sharing her gypsy soul experiences in various forms. Follow her on Instagram: wendygypsysoulcelebrant and read her Substack column at

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