On love and life after 60: Dating old flames and losing weight
by Tom Blake
A few days before Labor Day, 2014, Anita (not her true name), age 52, a widow of two years, emailed, “What is your perspective on rekindling old relationships?” Anita had been on a career networking website when she came across an old boyfriend she had not talked to in 25 years.
Anita said, “We have exchanged a few emails and have agreed that we would like to catch up. I asked him to call so we could chat but he said he would rather we meet in person. He wants to meet on Labor Day at a Dana Point bar.”
Anita had concerns about meeting him. Why wouldn’t he talk on the phone? Was he hiding something? Was he married? Why meet on Labor Day?
She was also concerned because of her weight. The reason she broke up with him 25 years before was he was into fitness and bodybuilding and had always tried to get her to lose five pounds and to dye her hair. She was a fit personal trainer then and found his demands unacceptable.
Anita said, “In the past decade, I have gained 20 pounds. Anyone who has been a caregiver and a nurturer, as I was for my husband for seven years, can understand how easy it is to put other's needs ahead of our own. Taking the time to care for ourselves often becomes an after-thought.
“In thinking of meeting him, my first inclination was to starve myself in a desperate and unrealistic attempt to lose those 20 pounds. In an ideal world, he will have matured and maybe even put on a few pounds himself and even acquired a receding hairline or something.”
Anita added that she was worried that he’d think she was “…just a fat, middle-aged housewife; I am terrified of being rejected and hurt again,” she said, and added, “How realistic are single men over 50 when it comes to a woman's weight and physicality?”
She wanted to know my thoughts about her meeting her old boyfriend.
My reply to Anita: “My guess is he hasn't changed. He won’t talk on the phone? How weird. He wants to meet at a bar and not for coffee? On Labor Day? Red flags. You are setting yourself up for a disappointment.”
She decided to meet with him anyway.
After the proposed encounter, she wrote. “On Labor Day, I showed. He didn't. I can't say I'm disappointed because I was having serious doubts.”
My perspective: Dating old flames can work. After all, you shared common interests oh-so many years ago. However, there are lots of questions and challenges. Who moves if someone has to relocate? What about children? Finances? There are a plethora of issues. I am aware of situations where old flames have successfully reunited. However, for every old flame success story, there are many, many, more that don’t work.
Answering Anita’s question about weight: Men do care about a woman’s weight, even if the men have let themselves go. It’s a double standard. For Anita, as a former personal trainer, she knows the importance of getting in shape, and losing some pounds, not because of what men want, but because it’s necessary for her health. That’s the important thing. Her health! And, it will help her self-esteem dramatically.