35 Responses to: Should Sally let man-friend move in? Senior Cohabitation

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – February 24, 2018

You Champs did it!  You set a record. You were simply incredible.

I am almost speechless (Hard to believe, I know). Why? In last week’s eNewsletter, Sally of San Diego, a widow and retired teacher, was hoping a few Champs would respond about her situation, which she described in detail. The main issue: Should she let “D,” her 13-years-younger man-friend of eight months, move in?

Where else but in this eNewsletter can a senior receive such sage and valuable advice from such an intelligent group of people, at no cost?

Thirty-five of you (including 10 men, almost 30 percent) took the time to help Sally by responding. That is astounding. In the 24 years, of writing 3,800 + newspaper columns and newsletters, that is a record number of responses. I’m proud of you and thank you.

At the end of the 35 comments, I attempt to do a short summary of your advice to Sally.

Granted today’s article is long, really long, close to 5,000 words. You can choose to not read it all, but all comments are important. I will also post it to my Finding Love After 50 website in its entirety so you could reread it anytime.

Not only will your responses help Sally, they could help any senior who finds themselves in a similar situation—woman or man.

35 Responses to the February, 23, 2018, eNewsletter (in the order received, not in the order of importance–they are all important):

1 – Dr. John: “Sally likes D, and has mixed feelings about him moving in. I would suggest she have several serious talks with D, lay out ALL her reservations about him moving in – put all her cards on the table – the reasons she’d like him to move in, and the reasons she’s hesitant – and see how he responds.

“My sad experience is that all too often, women have an ‘If he really loved me he’d know what I want’ mentality, and men are NOT mind readers. Let me be repetitive – spell out for D EXACTLY WHAT SHE WANTS AND DOES NOT WANT.

“Maybe even draw up a written contract – this is becoming more and more common with couples – it can spell out everything from who takes out the garbage to how often they are intimate.

“Ask, deep, probing questions about her concerns, such as the fact that D has never married. Yes, this may be uncomfortable, and it’s the opposite of planning on ‘living happily ever after,’ but it will be one hundred times less unpleasant than an acrimonious split several years down the road, especially if finances have become co-mingled.

“As for the senior age difference, that is nobody’s business but Sally’s and D’s.”

2. Carol: “Yikes, and NO!! Enjoy the relationship, but do not have thoughts about moving in together.

Marriage? Why? Are you planning at age 69 to have more children? Of course not! What True feelings your share for one another will not change with a piece of paper.

“If anything, it will put all you have worked for at risk. I write this from the exact place you are in, owning my own home, financially secure, attractive, with many varied interests including being a professional musician.

“The men I meet, want me to be the wives or girlfriends they no longer have or believe they should have at this age. Enjoy what you have together, let time evolve and develop this long term. If, after several years, you both are still as happy as you are at this time, perhaps address it again.

3. Inez“If his desire to move in is greater than hers and she feels comfortable living apart, I wouldn’t change anything. Something sounds a little off to me. I’d be tempted to talk to one of his exes.

“Once the move is made, if things don’t work out, its going to be a messy breakup after the fact. Who has more to gain if he makes the move?”

4. Mike, “My thoughts on moving in is no. She does not know what to expect.

5. Jackie: “Don’t do it! If she is having to ask the question, that means she has warning bells in her heart or her head or her gut. If she were sure, she wouldn’t ask. Trust your gut instincts.”

6. E.H. (woman): “My vote is no. Perhaps he never married because he is devoted to his mother and he is looking for another mother.”

7. Wayne, “This is a tough one. A senior never married at age 56 is a big warning sign (but, not necessarily a red flag). He may either (a) have not found a soul mate, or, (b) be a victim of commitment phobia. My advice to Sally is to take the yellow flag and proceed with caution. Travel together, spend weekends together but maintain your separate residences and reassess down the road.

8. Lynne, “I would advise caution on living together. I’m not opposed to it but concerned that it might make the relationship seem deeper than it is. There is an adjustment period even when you live together that takes time and commitment, and there is no way to know how long it will take to adjust to each other.

“The red flag for me is he’s had a few lengthy relationships. Might be a lack of deep commitment. Be Careful, moving in is easy, breaking up and moving out is hard.

“I’ve had numerous family and friends move in with me. I also moved in with an older man, he was retired but working part-time. We had some great years until his health started to fail.

“I stayed with him and took care of him 24/7 for years, because he had loved and cared for me, I could do no less for him. Be careful and thoughtful, it can be great or terrible.

“I’m almost 74 and look younger and am pretty healthy. I still appeal to men and they appeal to me. I’m more cautious now, after someone fooled me, he was a user hiding in sheep’s clothing.

9. John: “A story that might be related to Sally’s situation, only tangentially: I have a friend I used to teach with. Friend ‘L’ was a music teacher and played various side-jobs evenings and weekends–in dance bands, a symphony orchestra, etc.

“After a gig, some of the band members would hang out at a bar or restaurant, and chat. One time, when L and I were together, he told me he wished he could get along with and have as much fun with his wife/wives as he did with his band-member cohorts at these after-gig gatherings. (This was during his third of four marriages.)

“I suggested to L that if he had to go home and live with these friends, things might be a whole lot different–not mostly ‘cool’ and ‘hip’–when all the ‘warts’ started to appear while in close contact over extended periods. L replied, ‘I hadn’t thought of that.’ Hence his four marriages?

10. Margaret: “I have five male buddies that were never married, and in their 50s. Two got married in their 50s and the other three are still unmarried (in their 60s now), though one of them has a long-term, live-in girlfriend. I’ve known these men for 20+ years.

“Here is my opinion simply based on these five gentlemen whom I love dearly as friends. (A few of them I dated for a short period of time until I decided a romantic relationship with them was not for me–but we remained friends). Each one has wonderful qualities but I’m not sure they are ‘husband’ material.

“The two that got married were divorced after several years of miserable marriages. I think when someone has been single for 50+ years (man or woman), they become set in their ways and it is difficult to incorporate another person 24/7 into their lives. But, there are always exceptions to any rule!”

11. Joanie: “Eight months into a relationship is still the ‘wonderful time.’ There is about a year and a half or two years when a relationship is new, exciting and still romantic. (Nature makes it that way). After that, the two people begin to be comfortable with each other and let down certain guards.

“And that is when they can see if they are really compatible–how do they handle sharing, anger, disappointment, helping, giving at times more than they get, how do they handle distraction in you?

“D can always stay with Sally for weekends and a few days at a time for them both to see how it feels. I would say: 1) wait awhile before you let him officially move in and/or 2) keep it romantic forever by both of you staying with your own current living arrangements.”

12. Kaitte: “Oh man, I have mixed feelings about Sally’s situation. Lots to say. The age difference doesn’t hamper anything, after all he’s in his 50s. Done a little living. Supports himself but doing what?”

13. Jon: “I would suggest short-term, live-ins of a week or so to see if it works before an outright move-in.

“I find it advantageous to have been married just once. In my singles group, there were a few never-marrieds and they were always looked at suspiciously, probably justifiably so. It is a yellow flag but not a red one.”

14. Kenny: “In Sally’s own words: ‘I like the way our relationship is now.’

“Mr. ‘D’ has two options: compromise or not to compromise. If Sally chooses to continue with ‘D,’ their current LAT (Living apart together) relationship is by far the best scenario for Sally. There is certainly way more ‘upside’ than ‘downside’ for Sally being in a LAT relationship

1. She’s already been in an apparently successful long-term marriage, so she hasn’t missed out on the ‘marriage’ experience in her 69 years.

2. She does not have to mix her finances or her paid-for home with someone who ‘is not as financially secure as she’ and, ‘he still works full time.’

3. At this stage of her life, she does not have (or need) the ‘legal’ hassles of co-habitating…and that is a very big consideration even with a ‘can-always-be-contested’ pre-nup or cohabitation agreement.

“If she can temporarily (difficult, I know) take the emotional “Eight-month honeymoon effect’ out of the equation, and let common sense dictate her decisions, the status quo is perfect for her.

“I also feel if ‘D’ doesn’t compromise and/or agree to continue with their current relationship ‘style,’ that Sally doesn’t have to give up on finding another relationship.

“A financially secure, healthy, fit and attractive woman should be a pretty appealing catch for those more-than-enough available men closer to her own age.”

15. Vic: “I would be very leery of a guy who was neither married nor been in a long-term relationship (i.e., more than ‘a few years’) by the age of 56! Sally is right to worry.

“She does not mention whether she ever actually ASKED him why he never married or why those live-in relationships never went anywhere. It’s possible there are valid reasons and maybe he just did not meet anyone compatible who clicked with him.

“But such a conversation would give her a chance to see whether there is a pattern to his relationships: Is he simply commitment-shy?  Does he have some quirk that gets in the way of a full-time relationship? Is there some hidden flaw that manifests itself after time (e.g.: Does he have an abusive streak, is he bi-polar, etc.)? Does he have a roving eye or can’t keep it in his pants? The possibilities are endless.

“Then there is the possibility that he is a slick con artist who is slowly but steadily working his way into her life. Let’s hope not, but has Sally done a thorough search and/or investigation of him?  What does she know factually about his past — beyond just what he has told her?

“Of course, it’s also possible that he’s the real deal. But then, how stable will the relationship be in the long run, when he has never shared a house or a life?

“I’m not saying Sally should not let him move, but I am saying she should do her homework and due diligence before!”

16. Stella, “While I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with a man who’s in his 50’s and never been married, I do say give it a little more time. Time not only heals everything; it reveals everything. If there are any ulterior motives in his desire to move in, they will, in time, surface.

“The 13-year senior age difference also speaks volumes. While 5-7 years either way is typical and shouldn’t raise concerns, this is definitely a reach.

17. Althea: “Going by my past experiences, I see some BIG red flags that are waving at her frantically, trying to get her attention! Because I’ve been there, I am also age 69, and had a long, on-again, off-again, serious relationship with a man who was 14-years younger, similar to Sally’s guy who is 13-years younger. I was 53 and he was 39 at the time, divorced with two small kids. In the long run, age does matter.

“I would suggest to Sally, strongly, that she not let this man move in. (She even wrote that she always felt she would never marry again or live with a man…she should go with her gut).

“She’s only known him for eight months, (not enough time knowing someone to invite them to live in your home- especially at her age and with their big lifestyle differences), he lives 34 miles away from her and works Monday through Friday so she’s only seen him on weekends and the one trip they took together to visit his mother and sister. That’s plenty of time for him to be on his best behavior when they are together.

“Judging by the facts of his past, that for one, he is 56 and has never married … to me that means he has never fully committed himself to any woman… and that he has had live-in relationships of ‘a few years a few times.’ Also a sign of non-commitment. She might become another live-in relationship that only lasts a few years. Is that what she wants?

“Has she been to his home? Does he own or rent? Do they spend time there? What is his work? Has he been working at his job for many years or does he move from job to job? Does he make a steady income? Is he good with money? Does he pay his bills on time, or is he behind in bills? And I pray he has never asked her for money and she has never offered/given him money…

“There are a LOT of questions like that she should be asking him if she hasn’t already. She wrote, ‘He wants to move in.’  Not that he wants her to move in with him. I see a red flag there. To me I see that as another red flag because…he wants to be in her home that he knows is secure. He could be telling her that he wants to move in to her place instead of the other way around, because he wants her to feel secure and happy in her own house and not have to move…  A good ploy by a lot of men.

“Sally should be doing several things…listening to her gut instinct, asking him a lot of important questions, and continuing to live by herself. She could have one of those together-living-apart relationships. At least wait until she’s been dating him for a good 2-3 years before she thinks about having him live with her, or vice versa. I know women who have sold their house, moved in with a guy and then when it ended a few yrs. later the woman had no place to live, no home to go back to.

“If Sally would like to ask me about my 14 year difference relationship, you can give her my email address. I’ll be happy to tell her, and hopefully help her make a good decision.”

18. Mary Ann: “I don’t think it’s normal at age 69 a woman to be involved in a relationship with so much a younger man. If they met earlier in life, and spent many years building memories together, I would understand. Then, they would have had time to get to know each other and make a special relationship, so at a later age, they almost wouldn’t feel the age difference. I know a few happy couples like that. In Sally’s situation, I would be very suspicious to this man.

“To me he is interested in her financial situation. Nine months is a very short time to know all about the person with whom you are involved.”

19. Marillee, “You said you like the way your relationship is now, a LAT? He’s not as financially secure as you are, you own a nice, large, mortgage-free home, and he wants to move in?

“Hmm, could be a red flag! Why not continue to enjoy each other weekends and travel, assuming he can afford to pay his way? Quite frankly, you now have what I consider an ideal situation! You found a special person with whom you can share a committed relationship and see each other on the weekends. He sounds like a great guy, but remain true to yourself, keep your independence, and protect your assets!”

20. Esther: “Sally seems to have a very wonderful relationship with D as it is right now. Why rock the boat? Moving in may ruin a perfectly lovely relationship.

“It isn’t fair to cast all unmarried men over 50 as undesirable. D seems fun, pleasant and willing to work in a relationship. There are plenty of men over fifty who are married and not so desirable. D should be considered on his own merits and not labeled as part of a bad group.

“The issue does not revolve around being over fifty and never married. The issue Sally must face is if moving in together will enhance the good relationship Sally has already established.”

21. Orchid: “Why spoil a good and working relationship? Sally’s situation mirrors mine in some respect. I am in a committed relationship with a younger, highly respectable man with a great job but who will be retiring soon. He is going on 60, has never married and likely the reason is, he is the only child and family of his mother who is 90 and lives on the East Coast. He had relationships before, but that is his past.

“We enjoy and care for each other tenderly and generously. He has his own house and I have my own apartment.

“I have my own life, travel and enjoy my family and friends without him. This is our set up and it works wonderfully well.

“Sally, enjoy your own life and enjoy both of your lives with D.

22. Susan: “NO. Sally should not let him move in. It can take years for the ‘real’ D to come out. He is on good behavior now. If it is right, she will know without asking. If there is one tiny doubt, the answer should be no. She can spend time with “D” but still have her independence.

“Short story. My friend lived with her love for three years. Not a problem. But when they got married he almost beat her to death. I know that is an unusual situation, but Sally needs to be careful.”

23. Christine: “I love how you met D. As a widow, you were staying active, doing what you love, and then—there he was. And it sounds like the LAT is working well for you.

“You mentioned that ‘he wants to move in.’ That lets us know how D feels. I’m curious about you? How do you feel about it? It’s always a balance in every relationship to take into consideration how each person feels.

“Also, I’d be curious about why his other relationships ended. Has that come up in discussions? What part does he think was his responsibility in each of these? The success and failure of every relationship involves two people.

“I believe one of the most important parts of a successful relationship is when each person takes responsibility for what hasn’t worked in the past and what they’ve done to ensure they won’t do that again in the future. So, I believe having this open and honest conversation would be very important for your successful future together.”

24. Jack of all trades (a woman): “D. Sounds very nice and you sound very happy with him. That’s great. But exactly why does he want to move into your mortgage-free house with you? I would hang onto that house as the sole owner, at all cost.

“I see no reason that he needs to move in. It’s a bad idea. You two aren’t married. You have more to lose than he does. Stick with the status quo.”

25. Elizabeth: “I think that keeping this as a LAT relationship is the best way to go for now. If you both expressed feelings of being in love, then maybe it would be okay to entertain the thought of living together. But if it is working the way it is, there does not seem to be a need to live under the same roof, unless both of you absolutely want that.

“Until that point, I’d say to just enjoy the companionship for now and then see where it goes from there. To me, that’s more important than even the age difference, which could be an issue, depending on the feelings involved.”

26. Karla: “To me, the age difference is a red flag. A second red flag is that he’s never been married. The third would be his wanting to move in with her.

“I dated a man a few times who had never been married, although he said he had once been in a long-term relationship. There was something ‘off’ about him. He was very needy.

“He’s in his 70s now and is still a player. I was in a ‘relationship’ with another man for seven years, and I came to find out (shortly before he died) he had lived with woman after woman, and he also had a stable of women on the side, all in secret. I cared a lot for him before knowing what a POS (piece of s…)he was, but I wouldn’t have considered living with him. I value my quiet time too much to live with someone.”

27. Arlene: “After a long relationship ends, we want to recreate what we had. When the next ‘replacement” comes long, we sometimes jump in too quickly.

“One can either throw caution to the wind and rationalize they might not get another chance at love, so best to jump in now. Or one can be more cautious and slow it down.

“Eight months is not that long. I would wait a year or more to co-habitate with someone who has been single his entire life. That would be a red flag to me. I dated a guy for three years who had never been married. He was in his 60s. It ended when he passed on.

“He did not want to ever be married because he ‘never wanted to end up hating someone.’ Such pessimism! Proceed with caution!”

28. Sue: “My thoughts are: It’s sooo hard to find someone that you can get along with, much less, as well as they seem to- so what if he’s at a certain age and not married? He never met the right girl…yet.

“She should go with her heart. If she feels good about him–then bless her! Don’t worry about who makes what at this point…plenty of time for that if things get that serious…and she feels the need/fear for that to be an issue.

“It probably won’t; he seems genuine. Being able to work out issues and keep moving along is a good sign. If she said they never argued, I’d be a little more hesitant and think that they were both holding all in–that’s not good either.”

29. Elisa: “I have been enjoying and “eves dropping” on  your most enjoyable and informative site for many years now. I had an unusual experience when I read Sally’s comments.

“I felt a strong sense that if she allows D to move in, the dynamics of their relationship would change.

“Considering her comments about his relationship with his mother and sisters, as well as never having been married, and his younger age, it all seems to lead to a mother-and-son relationship in the making.

“I feel sure that Sally wants an adult-to-adult relationship from her comments, but the new proposed changes do not seem to encourage this given his background. I may be wrong, and I hope so, but I would caution Sally to trust her instincts as she is the one with all the facts.

30. BD (woman), “Sally, it could be interesting to ask yourself some questions: If you were 69 years of age and living in a modest rental property while still working full time, would the relationship have flourished?

“If your male companion, at age 56, was retired with a large, mortgage-free home, would your relationship have flourished? By simply reversing each of your circumstances, it frees you to explore all kinds of thoughts on this issue.

Moving-in is a big deal. It taps into emotions, finances, spirituality, safety and security. You did not mention if you and your late husband had children. If yes, would their future inheritance be solid and secure from any outside interference?

“Very importantly, why has he only experienced relationships of a couple years throughout his whole adult life? How is this relationship different? If your relationship is also short term, could you manage its end emotionally?

The most important thing that I read from your letter was that you are enjoying the circumstances that you share now–living separately but sharing a committed relationship, which leads me to believe that your male companion is the one wanting this change. And it seems like there would be many advantages in his favor to do so.

“No matter what you ultimately decide, take the time to trust your gut, and then you will have peace with your decision.”

31. Chris (male): “I see red flags for this lady. I know three guys who could be this Mr. “D.” All are over 50, never married and have had multiple live-in situations. The live ins last between five and seven years.

“It takes about that long for the lady (who always seems to be the one with the house) to realize she is with a loser. I would tell her, if this relationship is going so smooth, then don’t try to fix it. Time will tell her what to do, and this just isn’t the time.”

32. Gordon: “Sally, I empathize with you and your dilemma in that I am a widower of 41 years; although, your situation is full of ‘amber flags’ if not red flags. I have been in a LAT relationship for two-plus years, after dating a number of years, and find it tremendously rewarding, fun and liberating.

“Just think…you are retired, have good health, and financial stability. You have obtained ‘The Three-Legged Stool’ of Health, Time, and Money to enjoy your senior years.  Guard that wisely.

1. Age difference and the lesser fact he never married, is not necessarily a red flag, but it is out of the ordinary and does ask the question why. What do you gain by having a live-in partner or boy-friend rather than a LAT relationship with this person. There is risk to every new relationship but let us enter wisely.
2.  What would make your relationship better by living together? That anticipation of meeting and the thrill each time you meet would be tempered greatly. The newness you feel each time you are together would also likely diminish. If those things are not so important and you would prefer a full-time-together relationship, living together may be good.

“Compare what you had in your previous good marriage and what this new ‘live in’ relationship could add that makes your life better.

“It is not insensitive to say that your next relationship should be better than your first because you have learned much and experienced a good relationship with your husband and you know what could be better. I would encourage you to seek more and not settle for what you had in your marriage because that is not attainable. A new person means new experiences and new adventures in life. You are beginning to learn of those now on your own. Will this person, living with you, add or detract from that?

3.  You say he has had three past live in relationships that failed. Could it be that the three different women he had the relationship with were the reason they failed or was he, the same man (the common factor), the problem?

4.  You seemed to be very concerned about financial stability and YOU SHOULD!  At your age financials are more important than ever.  You say you have more than him and the fact is if he moved in with you it would be a windfall for him in that he no longer has a housing cost.

His life style takes a leap forward, but does yours?  What will he contribute to complete a partnership?  In a LAT relationship the answer can be as simple as happiness.

“I am in a LAT relationship and one of the concerns of both of us is that we keep our financials separate. In my relationship, we are both concerned that health issues could financially destroy the other. We both lost our spouse after long and expensive health care.

“We want our money to go to our children and we want to be financially independent. A true relationship later in life should include independent financial stability that promotes a very happy relationship. You earned that. What will the new live in contribute to promote that?

5. Another concern is that once he moves in, you will lose some of your independence including coming and going as you please. Are you willing to do so?

A LAT relationship can have all the benefits of a marriage plus a loving relationship. Why does cohabitation have to exist at our age?  You can spend nights together, travel together, do everything together and still have a loving relationship without cohabitation while retaining your individual independence.  You have earned that.

33. Becky: “Three huge red flags.  I have one word and that is RUN!    We must always be diligent about our personal safety.”

34. Jeanne: “I think you should give the relationship more time before deciding whether to live or not to live together. I know one relationship where the man who has never been married moved in with the woman who has been married, and the difference between them is that she has the money and the house.

“There is definitely love there but she does not want to get married and he does.  They live in her house and right now it is working well for both of them.  But the future is unclear – for her.  Take your time!”

35. Curtis: “I am 66 and never been married. When I was in my 50’s, I knew five guys in their 50’s who had never been married. Four found a relationship with women over 50, who had been divorced. All got married, and are still married in a loving relationship.

“At over 60, I find it surprising to find a woman interested in a relationship. Most have been hurt in past relationships and not interested in having a guy in their life. How many times have I heard when asking someone out, ‘If I want to have fun, I’ll call my girl friends.'”

Tom’s humble summary:

– Not one of you recommended that Sally allow D to move in. Number 28 (Sue), said Sally should go with her heart, which is kind-of an “it’s okay if she allows him move in.”

– I am very impressed with how so many of you are familiar with the term LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship and how you use the term so knowingly and comfortably. And, how so many of you love being in one (vs. being under the same roof 24/7)

– My guess is—from your comments—Sally knows what course of action to take or not to take

– Most important advice, Sally needs to take her time in making this decision

– Hopefully, this co-operative effort by Champs will lead to other people stepping forward with senior relationship questions and issues on other topics