|On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter|
February 10, 2023
Make A List By Columnist Tom Blake
|Make A List – Senior Dating – Divorced or Widowed|
A senior single woman doesn’t want to be compared to a deceased wife
Joan (not her real name) emailed this week, “I have been a reader of your column for years.”
I was curious how long Joan had been an eNewsletter (I call my readers Champ). I found emails in the archives that she sent in 2011 and 2012.
So, yes, she’s been reading my articles for at least 11 years.
Joan continued, “I recently joined a dating site and am 77 and find that most widowed men seem to start out telling you something like this: ‘I lost the love of my life after a blah blah number of years. We were so happy but now she is gone, and I am looking for someone else.’
“As a woman, am I wrong in taking this to mean they are looking for a replacement for this deceased wife, and will I be compared to how she was?
“What should I think? I’m not sure I want to be in a relationship being compared. I suppose that would be the case also with someone being divorced, right?
“What is your take, Tom, am I being overly sensitive?”
Tom’s answer to Joan:
I think you are caught up in semantics. Widowers and divorced men are not looking for a replacement. That’s not the right word. Rather, they are looking for a new mate, a new opportunity, and a new beginning. Someone to break the loneliness spell that descends upon people—men and women—who have suffered a loss.
They are filling a void and an emptiness that has entered their lives. Note that I said, and women. All are trying to move forward, not replace, and they mean no disrespect to their deceased partner.
Will these widowers and/or divorced men compare you to their ex’s? Perhaps somewhat, that is only natural. If they didn’t have the pain, their former relationship probably wasn’t a positive one and there would be no comparison. Reminder: this applies to widows and divorced women as well, not just to men.
Sometimes, widowed people match up because they understand what each other has gone through and can openly talk about their deceased spouses to each other without jealousy–as long as, they don’t keep bringing up an ex-partner excessively. If they do, they either aren’t ready to date or don’t place a high enough priority on the new person. Divorced or widowed, both grieve.
How does one not compare, if only slightly, a new person to a former mate of a relationship that endured for up to 40 years or more? Instead of being concerned about a person you meet trying to replace a former love or comparing you to his deceased wife, I recommend you make a written list of 10-12 characteristics that you seek in a new relationship/mate and focus on that.
Tom’s Suggested List (you will likely change the order)
1. He makes me his top priority and treats me with respect
2. I am physically attracted to him. And, he must be to me
3. We must enjoy being with each other. And feel comfortable
4. He must not smoke or take recreational drugs
5. He must be financially self-sufficient and willing to share expenses
6. He takes care of his health
7. He must be available to see me three or four times a week or whatever amount of time I desire, but not every day, and not 24/7
8. He must be kind and considerate to others
9. We don’t have to have similar interests, but we do need to have similar core values. We must be somewhat in agreement on politics and religion. Don’t screw up a potentially great relationship over these two items.
10. He must be open to having a new relationship enter his life. And we must be able to talk about our former spouses and mates freely to each other.
And then, at the end of your list, remind yourself, as a knowledgeable good friend of mine says, “There is no perfect.” Your new potential love will not score a perfect 10 on every list item, or perhaps not on any item, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a great partner for you.
If you are too worried about being compared to an ex, get over it, and don’t be too judgmental, you might miss an opportunity with Mr. Right for you. So, yes, Joan, I feel you are being a bit too sensitive.
Sit down, make that characteristics-wanted list, and see how a potential mate matches up with the items on your list. Focus on the list, and not on being compared to an ex-spouse. Happy Valentine’s Day to all Champs.