On Love and Life After 60
By Thomas P. Blake December 5, 2014
Singles’ dilemma: Comparing an ex love to someone new
We all know that dating and meeting someone compatible is difficult for singles at age 50. But by the time singles reach 70, the challenge is even greater. Compounding the problem can be when singles inadvertently compare the people they meet to their ex-spouse or ex-significant other.
Such is the case for Gale, mid-70s. She emailed, “I’m hoping someone out there can help me with this: I’ve been a widow since 2008 and was married to Ian, an incredible man. In fact, you included the story of our relationship in your book, How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 (Amazon.com).
“When Ian and I met on the Internet, we lived in different states. We even shared the same November 20 birthday. We eventually lived together for two years before marrying in 2004 on Valentine’s Day. He died four and a half years later.
“The problem is I can’t stop comparing what I had with Ian to the men I meet and date. I don’t know how to get over this. I realize there will never be another Ian, but can’t seem to get past the comparisons, and of course, no one can compare with what I had because of this. I’d welcome suggestions.”
I’m not sure I can give Gale a good answer. Perhaps readers who have gone through a similar situation will shed light on what Gale has described. It reminds me of the words from Paul Simon’s song, Graceland:
“Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you’re blown apart.”
My guess is that Gale will never stop comparing the men she meets to her deceased husband. Although he’s been gone for six years, her love for him was greater than anything she will ever feel for another man. But, maybe she can have a nice companionship with a man who only wants companionship as well. Perhaps the new man would feel the same way about a love that he has also lost.
If Gale meets a man she enjoys spending time with, her feelings about her ex should be revealed early in the relationship. Honesty is needed here, but without turning the new man off. If a new man has to be top dog of any of the loves Gale has had in her life, the relationship won’t work.
Perhaps meeting a widower who has been through a similar situation would be a good direction for her to go. They might both understand each other and accept how each other feels.
I’m sure Gale realizes that she will never stop comparing the men she meets to her ex. But if she can just sort of tuck her feelings away into a closet in her heart, then she might find a form of happiness to help her appreciate a new man.
She also has to be aware that meeting someone who fits her criteria will not be easy. The ratio of single women to single men is at least four-to-one at age 70. And, she has to realize there is a possibility that she could suffer another loss if a new man she cares about passes away before she passes.
Gale has been a Champ for years. Knowing her, I am confident that she knows what to avoid when meeting a new man. I only mention the point below for the sake of others who are saddled with the same comparison issue: When meeting a new potential mate, singles should not go on, and on, and on, about an ex, either by complimenting them or criticizing them. It’s ok to mention an ex, of course, but referring to him or to her too much could chase a new acquaintance away.
Gale’s dilemma will strike a chord with many older singles that have lost the love of their lives and who automatically compare them to the new people they meet. Gale would appreciate hearing the experiences of others who feel the same as she feels.