My very first Huffington Blog almost a year ago back in May 2013 started off with: A gent of 75 is in love with a woman of 25. The article received a lot of attention with 228 comments and five times that many hits. It was my most successful yet in terms of number of readers. I suppose it may have elicited such an engaged response because there were a lot of older guys out there who'd been unsuccessful in their attempts at relationships with women their own age and were happier with younger and less experienced, less war-weary women. And second, based on the actual written responses that were posted, there were quite a few women who wanted to publicly declare their disappointment and sadness over the somewhat dismal dating scene in contemporary America and to proclaim loud and clear that there was nothing wrong with older women and men 20 or 30 years younger hooking up.
Fair enough. I wrapped myself around the latter notion over the next year, struggling with did I or did I not want to be with a younger guy. I can't speak for anyone else but for me the final answer was only under very special circumstances and certainly never more than 10 years younger. I'm not saying I was not seriously tempted with the very few opportunities that came my way. It would have been fun no doubt. It certainly would have been an ego boost. And I would have learned some things about myself I might never have learned otherwise. But ultimately it was just not for me, mainly because the balance of power did not feel comfortable. It did not feel just (as in equitable and fair) for him or for me. There was something in the whole notion that made me think we were each taking advantage of the others' weakness rather than helping build the other's strength. At a certain point in life you really want the structure to stand by itself without any need to prop it up, rebuild the foundation or install drainage pipes around the property line.
Loneliness is a terrible thing. Loneliness, the gut wrenching kind that creeps in at 2:00 a.m. and wakes you up because there are no sounds except the prattle of mice or a raccoon wreaking havoc on your about to ripen tomatoes. That kind of loneliness, that emptiness eats away at your spirit in infinitesimal ways. It begins to destroy your self-esteem and makes you desperate for companionship, any companionship including the kind that puts you at risk. To some extent this kind of loneliness is self-imposed punishment, a kind of agoraphobia of the psyche that stops you from taking the chance of being hurt yet again. It takes a lot of deep healing to repair a broken heart and by the time you hit 50, unless you are one of those very rare spirits blessed with good genes, great upbringing and brilliant luck, you have scar tissue. And only you can begin to peel away the dead skin so some new healthy dermis will grow.
On the dating circuit now in 2014 it's evident there are a lot of single men hitting their 60s. They are either recently divorced or widowed with substantial wisdom and experience to offer a companion. There are also those who are sad and desperate and have been probably all their lives. There are men with no source of income due to America's ageism and the exporting of so many American jobs overseas. And there are folks just really freaked out over the idea they may die alone. You meet them all and you can learn something from each and every one. I've found the best approach is to be kind and compassionate to everyone, be as honest as possible and take something positive away from every new experience. Just remember not to give away the kitchen sink because you don't like the sound of water dripping at 2:00 a.m. Being alone is not the same as loneliness after all. Being alone can be exhilarating for getting to know yourself and all the wounded parts you hide from others as well as the jubilant realizations that come from figuring out what you truly want in this last part of your life.
Wolfie, that gent of 75, finally gave up his desire for Lola in South America. But I don't think he learned too much because now he's searching for young women here in Los Angeles. More power to him. If I were to wager a bet, however, eternal youth which is what he really covets is a losing battle even in the City of Angels. Because no matter how often you work out, how many hormone supplements you take, how much filler you get injected into your face and how many lifts stretching your skin into eternity, humans are meant to be mortal. It's how we learn, how we grow, how we truly love. Yes, let me repeat that truism: we learn to love by letting go, not by desperately clinging to anything. Older men and older women over 50? Give each other another chance. We've all learned a lot over the last 30 years. At least I hope so.