Do women 65+ not want to live with a man?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – December 18, 2020

Columnist Tom Blake

Do women 65+ not want to live with a man? Senior cohabitation

The Globe and Mail is a highly respected Toronto, Ontario, Canada, newspaper.

On November 26, 2019, that newspaper published an article written by Jayme Gershen titled, “The new reality of dating over 65: Men want to live together; women don’t.” It was about Canadian singles.

One of our Champs, Marillee, forwarded the article to me with this message: “Long but interesting article to which I can relate. I enjoy my independence!”

Gershen begins the article with a story about a man, Antonio D’Alfonso, 66, of Montreal, who has been married three times. He has been dating a Toronto widow for more than 10 years and has proposed to her five times; each time she said “no.”

The article states, “The two see each other every couple of months…The older woman refused to live with him because she wanted to travel and be free.

“The pair took a two-year hiatus, during which D’Alfonso tried dating other senior-age women only to find that they, too, were reluctant to share a home–this even as D’Alfonso said, he cooks and keeps a tidy house.”

D’Alfonso was quoted, ‘“I believe that women no longer need men, whatsoever. I’m irrelevant.”’

The article also stated, “D’Alfonso’s push-and-pull with his partners reflects a rift emerging between single women older than 65 and the men they date.

“Increasingly, these men are encountering resistance from older women who want their own lives, not a full-time relationship. While many in this generation of heterosexual, divorced, or widowed women want male companionship, they don’t necessarily relish the thought of moving in with a man.

“Today…more older women are rejecting the downsides of the live-in relationship: the co-dependence, the daily tension within close quarters and the sacrifices made keeping a home, caregiving and doing the emotional legwork to keep their unions humming.

“Some of these women completely forego dating while others opt for ‘living apart together’ (LAT) arrangements, in which partners in committed relationships choose to keep separate residences.”

The article referenced a 2017 study that said that 72 percent of senior-aged women were highly satisfied living on their own…”This reticence to co-habitate is driving a wedge between the sexes.”

                                    Tom’s comments:

-Poor old D’Alfonso, he and his widow friend were only seeing each other every couple of months. That’s not much of a relationship.

-Is there truly an emerging rift between men and women that is driving a wedge between them? I think that comment is an exaggeration.

I think these next four paragraphs made some questionable assumptions:

1 “For a generation of older men, traditional, live-in relationships remain important because female partners meet so many of their social, emotional, health and domestic needs, said Sharon Hyman, a Montreal filmmaker who’s interviewed hundreds of couples for her upcoming documentary called Apartners: Living Happily Ever Apart. ‘Women have wider circles of friends. Men don’t so they are relying on women for more,’ Hyman said. ‘For men, often we hear it’s not as easy for them to be on their own.’

2 “A number of social factors have sent women 65-plus hurtling toward independent lives, chief among them financial independence, said David Cravit, author of The New Old: How the Boomers Are Changing Everything…Again. ‘They’ve had careers, they’re liberated and they’re not dependent on the guy,’ Cravit said. ‘When they hit this age, they’re not going to revert back to being their mothers and their grandmothers.'”

3 “Many women resist moving in with men because they remember previous marriages and the unequal division of labour at home, said Bella DePaulo, author of How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century. Having a place of their own, she said, offers senior-age women time to rest, think and pursue their interests, instead of feeling exhausted by the chore wars.”

Poor Sandy. A victim of the “senior chore wars?” Probably not. A victim of a strict boss at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli. She was, and still is, an incredible employee

‘They want to have their own place, in their own way,’ said DePaulo, an academic associate in social psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.”

4 “…Many senior-age men struggle living alone, growing lonely because they’d over-relied on their spouse ‘to be their best friend and their social co-ordinator,’ DePaulo said.

Tom’s comment: Hurtling toward independent lives? What? That makes it sound like this is happening at great speed in a wildly uncontrolled manner.

The chore wars? That’s a bit much.

Tom’s summary: The article paints a picture of most men saying, “Woe is me, women don’t want to live with men anymore.”

But what I’ve heard and seen from primarily American women, that assumption isn’t true. I think the article was based on a very limited sample and was quite biased. After all, D’Alfonso, is just one man. Not many men I know will propose five times. 

Maybe what the article professes is more true in Canada than in the USA. Most women I hear from would love to live with a man. And most of the men I know have no aversion to pushing a vacuum cleaner around the house or cleaning the bathrooms.

And lots of them (me included) do much of the cooking. And when the wife or significant other gets sick, they are right there to be the caregiver. My friend, Dave, took care of his wife for 23 years and never bitched once about it to me.

My brother is also the caregiver in his household.

I see nothing wrong with senior women or men wanting to live alone. But to infer that for the women it’s because of their prior unfavorable experience with men is a stretch. One thing this 2020 pandemic year has taught most of us is: we all need our space, we need time alone. But it’s still mighty nice to come home to that welcome hug from our mate. 

I think the article made too many assumptions about the poor, needy, men. Not every man is the same.

Let’s hear what Champs have to say. Do women 65+ not want to live with a man?

Author: tpblake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published four books. His primary topic is finding love after 50 and beyond, sometimes far beyond, for people 80 and older as well. He also blogs about travel at TravelAfter55.com.

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