I have been divorced for 15 years and in that time period I have had three two-year relationships and many dates. Relationship #1 ended in his unexpected death. #2 ended because he bored me into a coma, #3 was with a musician 13 years younger than me and we lived together for one of those years. While it was fun, it was also not sustainable.
Interestingly, in being single, my life has grown the richest it has ever been. My adult children are mostly functional and out of the house, I have numerous hobbies, and I have healed from marrying (yes marrying) dysfunctional men.
I married a punk rock guitarist, a Hells Angel, and finally, the abusive manic-depressive artist who refused to work and who I chose to have my children with. That’s enough for anyone.
As I have gotten myself emotionally healthier, I have wondered if I could find and date someone normal – like an accountant. Certainly, I was not meeting anyone in the many hobbies I engage in or outdoor and social activities.
My last encounter was with the handyman I found to do some small house repairs. He was nice looking, had a ponytail(!) and liked to hike. While I was holding a fence board, he said, “You’re a really fun-loving and nice woman. Would you like to go to dinner sometime?”
He then countered with, “I live in Florida for half the year, so I don’t see my wife that often. We got married two years ago, then she got cancer, has gotten cranky, is no fun to be with, and won’t have sex. By the way, you have a great body.” This encounter made me rethink online dating.
I have had my daughter help me with my online profile. I have created profiles with my three single girlfriends over a glass of wine. I have posted a picture on a good day, just laughing, and engaging in my hobbies. I have been funny, honest, transparent, and followed best practices.
Despite all that, online dating feels like sitting in a crowded smoke-filled bar with a crappy band playing cover songs. Everyone is making eye contact, winking and smiling but never engaging. Also, I live in a very rural area so saying, “I love the outdoors!” is countered with photos of men in camouflage with a dead animal.
I did manage to date a fellow white-water paddler who worked for Microsoft. I broke up with him when he quit his job so he could go to more music festivals. (THERAPY HAS WORKED!).
Querying my single girlfriends has yielded interesting results.
None of us know any single men in our rural area – everyone appears to be married.
They don’t read, get their news off of social media and drink a lot of soda.
Any body. Two farmers I dated wanted to get married after dating for six weeks. I will never get married ever again. My perfect relationship would be monogamy with two separate houses.
When I was dating one of the farmers, who appeared stable, normal and functional, my sister told me, “You better hold onto him because, you know, you’re a bit odd and this opportunity won’t happen again.” A month later, I found teen girl porn on his iPad and discovered he owed his ex-wife about half a million dollars. Good-bye!
I have done the homework to mitigate my dysfunctions, which has resulted in being engaged with my life, and I don’t look to anyone to fix me. Most importantly, I’m not attracted to dangerous men. And, after a certain age, compromising just to be in a relationship does not feel right.
I don’t want to be anyone’s teddy bear or mother, and I certainly don’t want to take care of anyone as they physically or mentally deteriorate. I raised three difficult children by myself, managed a farm while working and caretook a severely mentally ill spouse and two aging parents. I’m done.
“Don’t you at least want to be married so we can take care of each other as we age?” asked one suitor. “NO! You better have enough money for a nurse cause I’m not doing that, and I don’t expect anyone to do it for me.” I replied.
Occasionally, very occasionally, like when I want a date for a wedding invite, I muse about finding someone, wondering if I will ever have sex again before I die, and if I really want to have sex again. Yet, if a physically and mentally healthy man showed up with a bottle of wine, the New York Times, and hiking boots, I would consider it, but right now, the only person who fits that bill is the Amazon delivery driver.
Have you been on and off dating, with terrible experience to show? What kind of man would feel good to date at this time in your life? If you have to make a compromise with yourself in order to date a man, would you?
Tags Finding Happiness
Maggie, you nailed my dating ambivalence perfectly! I’m 68, divorced almost 20 years, a couple of relationships since then (approx 2 years each). I tried online dating in 2022 and learned A LOT about myself, which was great. Didn’t find anyone special, and that was fine, too. I considered going online again this year but decided this was my year to fly…so why allow my feet (and spirit) to be held to the ground by a man. I’m very happy about that decision for now; I also realize that could change. I grew up in Roanoke and know how magical the Shenandoah Valley is. Next time I come out your way, may I look you up? We could trade war stories over coffee!
Ditto to both of you. At 63, had a 20 year marriage that was very difficult and a few relationships. After an 8 year sabbatical starting online again. Very slow and I have to take frequent breaks for sanity. Wondering if I will bother again after my subscription expires. From Roanoke originally now in Florida.
This article really resonated with me. It’s hard to find someone emotionally healthy with similar interests and chemistry.
I now tell men that I’m open to being platonic friends but I’m not ready to commit to any relationship. I’m finding that as men age they are more open to this concept. They’ve been through divorces too so they’re just as wary as I am.
Platonic is the way to go, after that who knows what could be possible!!!
Really enjoyed your “no holds barred” story!
OMG. I have had same experiences. Come to same conclusion. Only I live in the suburbs, near NYC. I have come to the realization that aside from not reading, they only want sex and a nurse. If they don’t have money, they want to move into my home. If they do have money, they want me to move into their home.
I am grateful I have been able to financially take care of myself. I was scared of that after my divorce and not getting much money.
I raised my two sons. That was enough caretaking and managing.
I love my friends, my work, my interests and my community. Oh. And my peace!!
I wouldn’t mind a companion. But the demands that comes with are too much for my lifestyle!!
What a great article. Thank you!