05/15/2013 02:57 pm ET Updated Jul 15, 2013

The Mysterious Alchemy of Love in a Mine Field

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No one really understands what draws any two people together. It's a complex and wonderful mystery most of the time. At other times, a disaster waiting to happen, a train wreck of unbearable proportions. I'm no professor of human sexuality, just a middle aged woman trying to understand why it's so tough to achieve genuine connection and intimacy. And I don't think it's just me who's having a rough time after the age of 50. Based on the responses from my last post about 70-year-old Wolfie wanting 20-something Lola, I think it's a whole lot of us. Why is that?

We could begin with money. Many of us worry about it as we age. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a nest egg, a pension, to have invested in a way that did not come crashing down on them when Wall Street greed and corruption got out of hand. Even if we had, what in the world is really secure any way at this point? Feels like the world and our country is in an upheaval 24/7, doesn't it? Could it all go in an instant? Who knows. Probably not. But I doubt there aren't too many people reading this who don't worry about it to some degree.

So maybe young women are open to having an older man provide them with financial security in these tumultuous times. Money can give them the home they desire if they want to raise kids. And the older man gets to push back the tick tock of old age just a bit. Nothing really wrong with that, is there? Fair exchange between consenting adults.

And what about the reverse? Young men with older women? Many older women have wisdom, emotional maturity and appreciation. They know what they want and they know how to give. They are no longer being pushed internally by a biological clock. And they have lived enough to have experienced loss which in turn often makes them appreciative. Appreciation of another for who we really are is a powerful aphrodisiac.

There are lots of other areas to explore to figure out why relationships between young men and older woman and vice versa occur: biology, society's stigmas, the patriarchy, women at their sexual peak, men not at theirs any longer... it's a huge subject. But I'm not going there. I'm no expert in this field and better writers and thinkers than I regarding all this are out there.

I may know, however, just a smidgeon of what sets the heart a flutter. My heart that is. So here goes. In an effort to get at "the heart" of things, to understand our temporary time here in the Land of Eros, I will tell you about a recent experience I had while on a date in the middle of the afternoon with a man I will never hear from again. You can extrapolate what you want from it. (If so inclined please share your insights and own stories as well.)

Let's call him Sam. Sam is a good, solid name, right? Sam he is. I made a date to see him on a Tuesday afternoon at the cinema after having had a lovely lunch with him several days prior. We seemed to have hit it off. A gentle and quiet widower, I was looking forward to our time together. He was older than I and down to earth. Qualities that appealed to me after my imaginary fantasy with Mr. Gorgeous had left me just a little bit tired of being all by myself alone. I mean a good solid meal on Planet Earth is a lot more satisfying than airy-fairy snacks on Jupiter, no matter how sexy and young the imaginary dining companion is, right?

Unfortunately, my appointment was completely and utterly messed up by my oblivion to the fact that I'd committed to a writing workshop at the same time. Blah blah blah, you know the rest. I arrived at the theatre an hour late although I was able to contact Sam and let him know. He was none too pleased judging by the tightness in his voice. He'd driven a long way and we missed the movie he'd really wanted to see. Yes, I apologized. Yes, I explained why this had happened. But this man would have none of my nonsense. He pretended not to care but I'd pushed a button. A big painful horrible train wreck tsunami button. Hadn't his wife died before him and now he was left with having to meet women on Internet dating sites and be subjected to their excuses? That button was the death knell of a budding friendship. And because I did not know him well enough to open the subject up, tell him it was all right to be upset knowing full well he was deeply hurt and maybe angry that his wife who he clearly had loved for many years and still did love was no longer here... ah well... that's the way it goes... too soon to have messed up the way I did.

The emotional mine fields that we must navigate regardless if we are 20 or 80 are mind blowing and any sudden movement, any misstep, any pinching of a nerve that so wants to die off but will not is why the dating life of any age is a challenging and often heartbreaking experience. No wonder so many give up. And yet... I had a charming first date with Sam. It just didn't turn into a good second, never led to third and no run will ever be possible at home plate. But the game is an All-American past time and I get another turn at bat. We all do. Maybe that's what Wolfie was going for. His chance to hit a home run with bases loaded before he dies. All we want after all is said and done is to be loved unconditionally at least once before the field is empty forever and the lights go out. Why the hell not? I have another date on Thursday incidentally with...well, let's just call him the Judge.

(Joanna's Blog "The Dating Life Over Fifty" is available here. There are lots of stories, tales of woe and joy and even something about her now deceased dog Luis who she loved as much as her ex. Nah, more.)