“So, if this were hockey, that would have been icing,” I said as the soccer ball went flying solo into territory near the goal at the other end, with nobody in sight.
“Wow. That’s impressive,” said the BF, who was searching my face with interest. He meant it.
I know soccer about as well as I know the mating habits of Miller moths. At best, hockey is still only vaguely familiar. But you put me in front of a football game (my father was the Redskins’ very first TV announcer in the late 1940s) and I will argue to the death with you about whether the guy’s knee hit the ground first, if the ref was wrong (even Ed Hochuli, who is retiring this year at 67, and is taking his guns home- his arms, for the uninitiated). Come late August, I live, breathe, sleep and eat football. You do not take my remote when a game is on. That’s cause for lethal measures.
The BF, who is 49 to my 65, has always appreciated my love of football. This past Stanley Cup season he moved into my house. The playoffs were in full swing. This time I demanded that he coach me on the rules. Can’t understand the rules, can’t enjoy the game.
It stuck. And I did, thoroughly. I love sports. Now it’s soccer season. My BF has played and refereed both sports. Just the guy to teach me. I take a great deal of pleasure in learning the rules so that I can enjoy the games.
He once told me that a previous girlfriend berated him about preferring to watch hockey. He said to her (and I wholly agree): “You’re a headache. This is HOCKEY.” Man do I get that. Hockey and soccer to my BF are music. After the football season ends, I have all the playoff games recorded. For months on end I’ll play them while I work on my computer or do housework. Background music. I get that completely. It’s how we both like to unwind. All I’m doing now is expanding my sports repertoire, which gives me a big kick and pleases the BF no end. I don’t want his full-time attention. He’d get under foot and in the way.
Oh Stop Your Whining
A few weeks back my article on how to handle loss appeared on a website for women sixty and over. When I went back to read and respond to comments, the majority were long litanies of complaints along the lines of my husband of 52 years left me for a woman 23 years his junior.
Okay. Let’s be clear. Everyone’s circumstances vary, and I have considerable empathy for the pain. But let’s also be clear about something else: you can choose to wear this forever and be victimized by it, or you can leap through the door that just opened for you for the rest of your life.
Let’s disregard husbands who hunt younger meat. Whatever their motivations, folks, they are GONE. Let them go. In every way I get how painful that is. I’ve lost a great love to an aircraft crash and I’ve had my belongings tossed out onto a hot Sacramento lawn, including the frozen food I’d bought, heaped melting on top of my clothing, all by someone I was absolutely mad about. My heart felt like a garbage truck had rolled over it and then the neighbor’s bulldog had crapped on the remains.
He told me, with his voice dripping with venom, “You need to consider your options.”
I did. I most certainly did. That was when I was barely 31. What a superb lesson in getting over being dumped. Then about ten years ago I had one partner- my fiancee at the time- who decided to sleep with someone else much younger while I was on travel. Frankly, good riddance.
If you insist on blaming yourself, then let’s ask a few really good questions here:
- Are you interesting, engaging, well-educated, informed? Do you blather about soap operas, engage in gossip? Or can you thoughtfully discuss significant world events? Do you read? Are you even remotely interested in the things your man likes, or at the least, supportive of those interests? To wit: my best friend Jill has been married for nearly 50 years. Her hubby, an Air Force pilot and car racing enthusiast, regularly asks her to join him for races. Not her thing. But she is totally supportive of the trips he takes, where he feels like a champion, is well-liked and respected. This feeds him. She knows that. She uses that time to work with her horse herd, run pottery classes, and train her dogs. She loves being alone. That’s a very key piece here. The BF regularly says, laughing, “I need to read more to keep up with you.” Yes he does. That’s not a criticism, but he can be a little one-dimensional when it comes to books: everything he reads is on code.
- Do you take care of yourself? My father once said of my mother’s body, scathingly, “That doesn’t interest me any more.” To be fair, Dad didn’t look so good either. It goes both ways. But come on, man, let’s be brutally frank. If you have let yourself slide, gotten sloppy, assuming that your partner is going to hang around while you descend into decrepitude, that may not be the best plan of action. Divorce rates for over 50 couples are rising swiftly. Lots of good reasons for that. However, there is a good reason to be motivated to stay fit. I didn’t say look like a porn star, just be fit. That means different things to different people. But those who are engaged in fitness activities are generally more energetic, more lively, more fun and more engaged. That’s hugely attractive. Besides, it vastly decreases the challenges we all face as we age. Nobody wants to end up as a caretaker because our partners didn’t take care of themselves. So folks bail.
- A vow isn’t a vow any more. The days of forever are kinda over. While I’m a bit sorry for that myself, the simple truth is that the only permanent long-term relationship we have is with ourselves. That said, the “self” we develop, challenge, care for, feed well, and continue to expand is one hell of a lot more intriguing than someone over fifty who sighs deeply, “I’m just too old for that.” I’d LOVE to have those fifteen years back. To me fifty is still very young. It is, depending on how you embrace life. When you vow to take care of yourself at the highest possible level you become a magnet for people of like mind.
- An angry, embittered person is a lonely person. What struck me so much about the women’s comments about their departed/wandering husbands was their bitterness. That acts like a cancer. It is perfectly justifiable to be hurt, to feel damaged, alone, abandoned. In one way or another it happens to every single one of us. However when you don that like a hair shirt, you become a harridan. “All men…” become shits, bastards, whoresons. Well. THAT makes you great dating material. I have a family member who put herself on the online dating community, with my help in writing her profile. What she asked me to write and what I know her to be (still attached to her long-dead husband some forty years prior, bitter and angry and pissed off at men), it felt pretty awkward. She has no clue how she really is. She leaks that anger. If I were a prospective date, I’d excuse myself for a pee and climb out the bathroom window. Clean up your act. Get over being abandoned. Nobody owes us anything- not at the highest possible level- and after we’ve given ourselves reasonable time to mourn our losses, it’s time to explore the brand new world we’ve just been given. You owe yourself everything. That’s the whole point. That’s the lesson. It’s not about being self-absorbed, selfish, or self-centered. When we take care of ourselves, then others’ proclivities, wanderings, departures or insults are relatively meaningless. You have a very strong, reliable YOU to fall back on.
- Does your entire Universe revolve around your man? Hey, that might have worked in the 1950s. Here’s the problem with that: your guy (or your girl for that matter) ends up feeling entitled. Like he’s King of the World. And by the way, if he’s all that, then by God he surely deserves something better than you. People who demand to be treated like this should be treated to a way out of your life immediately. That smacks of deep insecurity and a disaster waiting to happen. I realize that some women feel that this is how things should be. Um, I beg to differ. Life as a dedicated doormat doesn’t appeal to today’s most interesting men- you invite being stepped on and then stepped over for better options. The best men I know appreciate bright, interesting, engaging women with other things to do than clip their toenails and pop the pimples on their backs. Grow up, Billy Bob. You and I are far more interesting as partners when our work, our hobbies, our reading, our outside the home engagements keep us busy. You have to be chased down for a date. Yah. Kinda like when you first met. For those of you women whose hubbies finally retired and now they are home, underfoot, in the way and simply beyond annoying? Very much like that. That goes both ways. Distance and time apart are very, very healthy elements of a relationship.
- Get Sexy, Honey. If you have lost your mojo, it’s entirely possible to get it back. Fit is sexy. This isn’t about being thin. This is about loving your body. Simple truth, and thank God for small favors, men like us in all shapes, sizes and forms. The point is to be in love with the one you have and take care of it. THAT’S SEXY. One of my best girlfriends has always had a thing for large men with big bellies. I like bodybuilders because I am one. That’s what turns me on. Having a busy life, a healthy body, an attitude of fun, and enjoying yourself physically add up to one sexy broad (or guy, for that matter). Being freed to rediscover yourself later in life is an immense gift. Perhaps it’s time for you to finally find the guy who’s willing to find your G-spot. They exist. We become vastly more attractive, and sexy at any age, when we open ourselves up to the world, embrace it fully, and love where we are right now. Mooning over the past makes us miserable. Berating men makes us bitter.
- Don’t trash your ex. So you’ve been on Our Time and you found someone who finds you attractive. You head out for dinner at a charming spot. You’re all dressed up and his eyes light up when he looks at you. You sit down, he leans forward to listen to every word you say…and you immediately rip into your ex. End of date. This happened to me on a phone call with a potential Match.com date some time ago. He used utterly foul language- and please keep in mind I’m ex-Army so it takes a whole lot to offend me- so much so that I called him on it. I asked him if it occurred to him the impact that referring to his ex as a f— -ing whore had on me- and how he was speaking about someone he had purported to love at some point. He said he would say anything he wanted. I hung up. End of story. Let’s be clear here, ladies. Our exes were all princes in their own ways (and all of mine still are, for my part) because you loved them. Again, end of story. When you trash an ex you are trashing yourself and any opportunity to start something new. You might as well be carrying around a bucketful of raw sewage. Clean that up or plan to continue to be lonely and bitter for a very long time.
Your hubby leave you for a chickipoo a third his age? When his money dries up or his red convertible gets dinged, she notices the outdoor rug growing in his nostrils or she gets bored when he can no longer get it up, she’ll leave him. What on earth are you hanging around for? The leftover dregs of what he drags back home? Come on, man. GETOVERYOURSELF. You may have to go back to work. SUPER. That gets you out in life. You may have to move. SUPER. That gets you into a new community. You may have to be far more frugal. SUPER. Probably a good idea anyway. You may have to learn to manage your financials. SUPER. You should. That’s personal power. It is a great big brand new world out there. One massive playground. Or you can stay home and stew in your juices like some of those ladies on line were doing. What a criminal waste of a life. But then, that’s just me.
I’m not being callous. I’ve been through all of that several times over. Boy have I. After enough road rash Waiting For My Prince to Come, you realize that it’s the Princess inside who’s already there who is waiting for you to show up. It’s how you choose to see your circumstances that makes it a mess or a miracle.
So you got dumped? Dust it off. Get up. Look around. Listen to the birds. Feel the wind on your skin. CHOOSE to see what’s possible. The Universe just handed you the perfect opportunity to find out everything you’ve been missing out on in life. You might finally, finally discover your true calling. Now get out there and go have fun.