Friday, January 12, 2007

Dismaying Story #101: Can She Still Find Love?

Dear Andrew,

My friends tell me that at age 58 I may have to redefine "love", settling for companionship and friendship, and not expect to have physical attraction and passion along with them. I'm fortunate to appear fairly youthful and attractive at my age, so I do have my share of male attention, but haven't been able to fall in love with anyone in the 6 years I've been single. I would like to remarry but know statistically that my chances diminish as I approach and enter my 60s.

I've had nice, caring men fall in love me, but don't feel the love in return for them as I felt in my second marriage of 13 years. At age 40, I found the love of my life. We were extremely happy for 10 years when he revealed he had been living a secret life as a cross dresser (I believe he also has gender identity issues). We tried for almost 3 years to overcome the issues, but in the end my needs in the marriage were no longer met. So my memory of the love I felt during the healthy part of the marriage sets the bar for what I want to feel again.

Are my friends right? Will I never have love as I've experienced as a younger woman? It is true that many of the men my age that I'm attracted to are looking over my shoulder at women in their 40s and 30s, so that feels discouraging as well.

Signed, Mature and Still Interested

Dear Mature and Still Interested,

Part of my answer would be the same whether you are 15 instead or 58. Simply put, you are putting the cart before the horse.

One of your goals is to be deeply and passionately in love. You would also like to be married. And you have all of this in mind before you've even met your potential partner.

It usually takes time to develop a deep and abiding attraction between two people. Sure, you hear about love at first sight where everything is magical right from the start, but normally things don't work that way. You start out slow and simple, maybe a movie, a pleasant conversation, a quiet afternoon where neither of you have to be alone for a change. If you can do that with relatively little pressure, then you give the seeds of attraction a chance to grow.

But you've experienced what love can be like and you're anxious to get that back. So when you start seeing someone, every step along the way you ask yourself, "How do I feel right now? Am I passionate? Do I like this guy enough? Could we be married?" What an incredible amount of pressure to put on yourself. My educated guess is that your desire for "the big prize" is preventing you from enjoying fully the smaller pleasures along the way. As a result, you're making it more difficult for things to develop naturally, at their own pace. The pressure will make you more critical, less able to smell the roses along the way.

My personal opinion is that love can blossom at any age. Can you fall as deeply in love at 58 as you were at 40? I don't see why not. My father re-married in his seventies to a wonderful woman he had dated when he was 17 and lost contact with for over 50 years! (They had both lost spouses in the meantime.)

If it's passion you're after, age is partly about your state of mind, how you approach life, and physical attraction is in the eye of the beholder. You can still identify with that, can't you?

My advice is to relax and let life happen at its own pace. If you spend some time with a gentleman, enjoy that time for its own sake and stop worrying about the longer term -- there will be plenty of opportunity to consider the bigger issues if and when a relationship matures and gets serious. This is one case where wishing too hard for something actually makes it less likely to happen.

I disagree with your friends. You can still get that lovin' feelin' back. And if some guys look past you for a younger woman, that's their loss, right? You've already had nice, caring guys show that they enjoy being with you. The next time that happens, forget about the passionate love part for a while and just enjoy dinner and the movie. The rest will take care of itself.

All the best,

This week's Question of the Week is a request for stories about how you found a way to be closer to someone in your life. The responses so far are heartwarming, and I invite you to add a story or two. Since I'm later than usual posting this on Friday, I'm going to wait until Sunday to post my favorite response (along with a new question). So here's your chance -- I'd love to hear a happy story starring little ol' you!


  1. I think love can be felt at any age.Its what you mean by love.If it just physical that you are looking for then age matters.I think you can fall in love at any age and be happy.

  2. I hope very much that you meet someone you enjoy spending time with, and something lovely blossoms and grows for you. You can fall in love at any age !

  3. Andrew : I like it when you comment on my blog, too -- Thank you !

    It is kind of amazing... Each question here on your site -- and the answers you respond to with such thought and care and support and wisdom -- really is like an invisible hand of healing holding mine...

    I hope you KNOW what good work you are doing there. It touches all of us who read it, not just the one who asked...

  4. lots of what you said here pertains to me -- thanks again doc!!

    just relax and enjoy the show -- love it!