Looking for companionship mid-60s is significantly different than when I was in my 30s, but one thing has not changed: my belief that friendship precedes love.
I’m not sure I’ll have the guts to post this, but here goes. I have been on Match.com for about ten months now. Back at the beginning of Covid, my Buck Burger group was complaining about how none of them had hugged or touched anyone other than their spouse in over a month. I looked at them all on my Zoom gallery view and said, “Month? How about MONTHS?” They were a bit sheepish after that—knowing that as the only single widow in the group, Covid wasn’t the only thing that made hugging hard.
Their comments made me think about my situation. I had been a widow for two years. I thought I had made peace with the situation, and was really very happy alone. I had just completed my second Solo Ski Sojourn, travelling the West, and didn’t feel as though I was lacking in anything or anyone. I didn’t need a man to make me feel whole, and I hired a reliable and trustworthy handyperson to do the heavy lifting around the lake house that I couldn’t do by myself.
But their comments also made me think about my life and the future. My mother had once said that a person shouldn’t grow old alone. I thought she was talking about herself but she was telling ME I should be looking for a partner to grow old with—I was in my late 20s. She had been a widow for several years. I said to her, “I think you should date or go out.” And she replied back, “Not me! You! You shouldn’t grow old alone. Why should I give up my freedom?” Precisely, I thought. She did grow old alone. She never married and she had been widowed in her mid-50s and died at 91. But she had all of us kids around her, and there was hardly a day that passed that some one of us didn’t stop to chat with her. So I don’t think she was alone at all.
It would have been easier for me to do nothing and see if anyone floated to the surface, but I’m not a “wait and see” kind of person. And I had a couple girlfriends who had been testing the mature adult dating waters for several years. I consulted with them first.
It’s different being a widow versus a divorcee. They have to deal with being single by choice, I got the sympathy of being single by fate. I was dealing with guilt—feeling that this move was a sign of disloyalty to my dead husband. As I looked at divorced people, I thought, What’s wrong with him/her? whereas there is a mystique around a dead spouse, and the surviving spouse (me) couldn’t have been a bad partner, could she? The answer is yes, I could have been a bad partner, and probably was at times, but I don’t have to answer those questions—after all, my husband died.
Yet, no matter how, the end result is the same: we end up single.
My two girlfriends coached me along. I decided it was time to put that toe in the water. Building a profile on Match.com is like creating a sales brochure—you want the product to look good, but not so good that the reader thinks, “No way.”
It took some tweaking. I added a bit here, deleted a few lines there. I had some professional pictures taken at my book launch, but I had plenty of selfies that I shot on my road trips. I have a pretty good eye for photo composition, and of course I am a marketer and a writer. At the end of April my page went live.
I used a pseudonym because I was scared. It was a royal pain, and most of the time I forgot what my name was supposed to be. But I’m glad I did it because if I didn’t want to pursue a match, I didn’t have to worry about a guy circumventing the system. But frankly, I think the men are as intimidated by the process as I was, so once shut down, all the guys who had reached that I wasn’t interested in kinda disappeared.
In ten months, I actually met face-to-tace about seven guys. For Covid times, I think that was pretty good. Most of those meetings were during fair weather so we were outside or socially distanced.
I call this Match Friends, but really only a few of the men I met will ever be friends. For every guy I met, I maybe had “text” conversations with three or four others. I went through phases: I would “like” a bunch of guys, or I would “like” and text guys. I would heartlessly X guys that liked me, but for whatever reason—their bio, their pictures, their political leanings—I didn’t feel like expending the energy to “take it to the next level”.
Here’s a rundown of these ten months:
Bachelor #1 (are they still bachelors if they have been married/divorced/widowed? Anyway, they were single.) First guy I met. We walked our dogs at Lake of the Isles. Nice looking guy, 6’1”, golden retriever or yellow lab, I can’t remember, but a big dog. I have a little dog. It was one of those really warm May days. My dog’s feet have to travel three times further than the big dog’s feet, so by the end of walking around the lake, I was carrying my poor little Yorkie. But that’s not the guy’s fault. And I didn’t realize it but I was hot. Not sexy hot, either. By the time I got back to my car, I was in a full on body sweat. But we agreed to go golf. Remember, this is Covid times, so no touching, no dinner, no drinking (yet.) I liked this guy. Of course my problem is I rarely meet anyone I don’t like, so I have to be careful that way. He was a lawyer, his ex-wife was and still is a doctor. I thought to myself after this first meet up that Match might work out OK. This guy was a 5 on a scale of 10, only because he was the first guy I met. We played golf, and his Achilles Heel went AWOL. Oh, dear. I would have pursued this man, but he sent me a Dear Jane email, and, well, the rest is history.
Bachelor #2 could have fit in with the frat boys at the U of MN. Nice enough. He had a Wheaton Terrier dog, so at our first meeting we walked our dogs. This guy was totally eligible, obviously interested, easy to be around. So why didn’t I follow up on a second date? It was the time around George Floyd’s killing, and he said, “If I had been there, I would have pulled that cop off of him and told them to step back,” or something on that order. Those of us who have been powerless know that you can’t do that as a powerless person because all hell comes down on you. But white privilege… It was important to me that a person recognized the privilege given, and he just didn’t see it.
All the action I was getting on my profile were from white men. That’s OK, but I wondered if there might be some other Japanese or Asian Americans out there.
I changed my “wants” from any person to Asian person. Clearly Match doesn’t have many Asian older men on their site, because I got nothing. I did get a lot of African American men. I liked quite a few of them, one in particular was a handsome, athletic guy from Michigan, but…crickets… I only surmised they were not looking for Asian American women. At any rate after a few weeks I changed my settings back to Anything when it came to race.
I got myself into a rather embarrassing “Jon” situation. I had met up with a couple Jon’s who both played tennis. I texted or met up with each of them enough times that I put them into my contacts list on my phone. During Wimbledon, I texted Jon about Djokovic’s eviction from the tournament. Jon, replied. I got a text from Jon to set up a tennis date. I accepted, we decided where we would meet, and as I drove up to the tennis courts I realized I wasn’t sure which Jon I was meeting…or if I was meeting both! I debated what to do—I figured I had three choices: 1. Deny everything, and feign surprise if two guys showed up; 2. Full disclosure—tell whoever showed up what had happened; 3. Drive away and pretend that I forgot I was meeting anyone.
Well, Jon #1 showed up, and I decided full disclosure. I told him about my dilemma, and he actually suggested that I text Jon #2 the situation so he didn’t show up to the mess. Which is what I did. Jon #2 never showed up, Jon #1 and I played tennis (Jon #2 was a much better tennis player, but who’s keeping score) and all’s well that ends well. As it turned out, Jon #1’s old girlfriend came crawling back into his life, which was fine with me, and I am friends on Facebook with Jon #2, and he’s one that I will probably be friends with for life. And he is a fabulous tennis player.
About mid-summer, I responded to a widower who had reached out. He sounded interesting and he was the first widow-type person I was meeting. It was a disaster. It was in the time of Covid, and he drove to my local main street where we met at a wine bar. The first faux pax was the generous and big hug he gave me. I don’t even hug my kids anymore with our concern for spreading Covid. It was clear from the onset that he was more of a beer and bar food guy, not wine and charcuterie board guy. He was clearly, in the Five Languages of Love, a touch guy. And not a mask guy, and not a social distancing guy. The story of his wife’s death was really and truly tragic. I mean, death stories are never pleasant, but they are necessary for us widows. Later, he showed me pictures on his phone by sitting next to me so closely that our shoulders and thighs touched. I was freaked out by the end of our hour long “chat.” He had driven across the metro area, and for that I felt bad, so I picked up the tab, and was never so glad to see someone go. He never reached out again and neither did I.
About this same time I met an old work mate for a drink on Mainstreet, and we had a wonderfully warm visit. He has lived through the single, dating circus. This guy is a skier, and a thinker. I’d say intellectual, but I don’t know if that’s true. We had known each other for over 20 years, so our friendship dated back to when I was married—to my husband and to my job. There’s a comfort in being with someone who knows the past and is still a good friend. We parted as friends, with the promise to renew our old friendship. It’s still playing out.
I met up with a couple other Match men; one from my old community of Edina; there just wasn’t any “vibe.” My last Match meetup was skiing at Lutsen. He might be one of those “friends” that hasn’t played out yet, either. He’s definitely one that will be a long-term acquaintance through Facebook. We have a lot in common, and a lot that’s uncommon. I was really gun shy as he was separated, not divorced. And I do think it takes a while to heal from divorce, no matter how you feel about it. In that respect it is like widowhood. You might think the healing process is over, but then something happens—a holiday memory, a numbness that you didn’t notice before, an anniversary–and you realize it’s not. Time will tell.
Covid changed the course of all these relationships. I kind of liked the distancing that it enforced. I wasn’t ready to charge into a touchy, feely relationship, and while I am still open to SOMETHING, I know that I don’t have to hurry, and Covid creates the perfect relationship speed governor. And yet it WOULD be nice to have a warm hand touching the small of my back, a shoulder touching mine in a darkened theater, a candle lit dinner, or someone else making me a candle lit dinner. It would be fun to have someone special to share those moments.
Looking for companionship mid-60s is significantly different than when I was in my 30s. Forever isn’t as long as it used to be. But one thing has not changed: my belief that friendship precedes love.
And then there is that issue of “giving up my freedom” that my mother talked about.
Make Me a Match, Find me a Find.* from Fiddler on the Roof