On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter
by Tom Blake columnist
September 2, 2022
For seniors, none-romantic love can be as important as romantic love
A woman Champ emailed: “Your eNewsletter two weeks ago reminded me of the long relationship I’ve had with my friend Bill, who I affectionately call, ‘Misterbill.’ I’d be curious what you and the Champs think about my longtime senior platonic friendship with this much younger man.
“As of this month, Bill and I have now known each other for 10 years. We met through one of the dating sites, Plenty Of Fish or Match.com, I forget which one it was. We had our first date on a scorching August day in 2012. It was on a Tuesday; he was coming from a job and was a bit grimy and sweaty – he does handyman work and construction.
“I didn’t mind the grime, he had already warned me, and he was quite nice! A welcome change from the duds I had been meeting. He had a sense of humor and a nice dimpled smile. He was 44 and I was 61—a 17-year difference. He thought I was 51. (That was when I was lowering my age by 10 years on dating sites and easily getting away with it. Not sure I could get away with it anymore!)
“Bill thought I was seven years older and told me he always liked older women…yeah, heard that before! But eventually, I told him my actual age. He still didn’t mind the bigger age gap.
“When we met he was just three months out of his marriage and he told me it was in the divorce process. We had some similarities in that he had been married at 18 or 19 – and like my daughter, his two daughters were young adults already and out of the nest.
“We loved dogs, the outdoors and he had a good sense of humor. But that’s pretty much all we had in common, plus our lifestyles were SO much different, due to our ages and living situations.
“Bill has always had his own business as a handyman and he works alone. He made very little money, and his wife for the most part didn’t work, so he was their sole support. At one point they lost the place they were renting and had to move into his parents’ house when his girls were young.
He was still living there when we met because he was never going to make enough money to afford to live on his own, and he needed his parent’s property for his business storage–tools, machinery, junk cars, etc. He is also a welder.
“We got along well and dated for a few months. I realized he was not going to be the forever man for me because we were in totally different places in our lives that didn’t mesh.
“We have never been intimate except for kissing…although he did sit in my hot tub with me, naked…with no fooling around (but he wanted to!) because I didn’t want it to get to the sex part when I knew it was going nowhere. Hence, the dating ended after a few months, but we kept in touch. He still wanted a relationship; I still wanted a friendship.
“The two main problematic issues were:
#1. Living arrangements if we became a couple, and he had a passion for off-roading and rock climbing with his 4-wheel drive vehicles, which he did about every weekend with a club and went out of state to do often. With my developing arthritis issues, I wouldn’t be able to do those things and didn’t want to do them.
“#2. There was no way I would live in his father’s house (his parents were still alive and living there, and they were messy/hoarders). Or, if he came to live with me in the house I was renting, I was afraid I would end up supporting him for the most part. Plus, he wouldn’t have been able to put his work stuff and cars, etc. on the property I was renting. I thought of all the possible angles, and nothing would work.
“Money, and not having enough of it, can sure hold a person back from doing the things he or she wants.
“Then there was the matter of his divorce, which he never got because his business was in both his and his wife’s name and he would have lost it or had to divide things, start over, pay alimony–a big mess.
“We’ve stayed in touch for 10 years. He’s been a good friend. Each time I moved he’s been right there to help me pack when I couldn’t, move plants and some things to my new places, and has done general handiwork for me like building a small corner shelf unit and hanging lights, curtain rods, towel rods, etc.
“I’ve always paid him, though not as much as he’s worth because I have just enough to live on, and I’d either prepare him a meal or purchase him a meal when he was done. This May, he drove me to my storage unit, packed the contents into his truck and brought it back 85 miles to my new storage place, and packed it all back in. I paid for his gas and bought our lunch on the trip back.
“He was out of the state working when I needed my new furniture put together so his daughter Jen – who’s a welder – came over and did it, in three trips. I paid her and also fed her pizza each time because she came over directly after work.
“He now pops over to say hi when he’s working in the area. He was here on Tuesday, brought the ingredients and made pizza for us, stayed and watched a movie then left…though I think he wanted to crash on my couch because I kept having to tell him I was tired and had to go to bed! It took a lot to get him to move off the couch. LOL.
“I invited him to come the next night to have my meatloaf dinner with me and afterward he took me for an evening sunset ride in his 2004 Mercedes convertible and we ended up at his daughter Jen’s house – 45 minutes away.
“OHH! – the night of our convertible ride when he brought me home, as he was hugging me goodbye outside in the cool evening air, he said, “I love you.” I was a bit stunned but smiled at him and said spontaneously, “I love you too!”
“Again, what do you think of my longtime platonic friendship with this much younger man?
Tom’s comment: I think this Champ has managed this relationship perfectly. She had the common sense to not get into a living-together or intimate relationship. And it wasn’t the senior 17-year age difference as much as it was the lack of many important things in common.
And yet, after 10 years, they have remained friends and professed their non-romantic love for each other. They are there for each other; they help each other. That type of senior non-romantic love is priceless.