Q. I was married for more than 25 years, divorced for three years, and am now in my 50s. My kids are grown and I am basically happy but for the fact that I seem to end up in a series of committed relationships that are never “the right one.” Some months after my divorce and a lot of first dates, I met a wonderful woman who was my age, and we dated for about six months. I ended things when I realized there were just too many differences between us, and at my age, if a relationship wasn’t going someplace, I didn’t want to lead her on.
Then I dated another woman for a few months and ended that one because I realized it wasn’t what I was looking for. I met another wonderful woman, dated her for well over a year, but ended things because she wasn’t the one either. Now I’m on my fourth longer-term relationship, and after quite some time I’m thinking this one isn’t right either.
I like relationships more than being single, but wonder if I rush into them because I’d rather not be on my own. I also question whether I’m being too fussy. When I look at why I date someone for a while in a long-term, committed relationship, I realize that it takes quite a bit of time to figure out whether we are compatible. There’s definitely what seems like a “honeymoon phase,” then you start to view the relationship in the clear light of day and realize that this may not be the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Am I being too fussy? Should I stop with the long-term relationships and just date around? Admittedly, I didn’t spend a lot of time after my marriage ended grieving the end of a decades-long relationship (I got right back up on the proverbial horse and went back to dating). I would appreciate your perspective.
Local and Lonely
A. “I like relationships more than being single, but wonder if I rush into them because I’d rather not be on my own.”
Yep. That’s the problem.
If you don’t know how to be on your own after a long relationship, it’s hard to know what you need in a partner. Also, if you don’t have a full life with friends and interests, it puts too much pressure on your romantic relationships. You wind up looking for a person who can be everything, and you’re bound to be disappointed.
I don’t like ordering people to be single, but you would benefit from evaluating life on your own for a bit. If your current relationship isn’t making you happy, end it and then spend some real time figuring out how you can be happy by yourself. Learn how to have a full life without a partner. Think about what you’ve discovered about yourself over the past three years.
Alone time should give you some answers. And I have a feeling that if you round out your personal life, you’ll be better at slowing your pace and falling in love for the right reasons.
I was hung up on the “honeymoon phase” sentence. That’s your problem. You want things light and lovey, but aren’t ready to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to putting the work in for a relationship.
Welcome to dating in middle age. It’s a little more difficult to find the one you want to commit to because you’ve had 30 years to figure out who you are, what you like, and (hopefully) grow into an emotionally well-rounded person. When we’re young the person we are with shapes a lot of who we become.
I think you are looking for a “wife replacement” instead of a living, breathing woman who complements exactly who you are NOW.
That is called playing the field. Enjoy.
Meredith Goldstein is in her seventh year writing Love Letters for the Boston Globe.
Columns and responses are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters, questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.