I never expected to be writing this column. I have made it my practice to write about things I am personally going through or have already experienced. I thought about not writing on today’s topic but decided it would be cheating. The fact is, I am in the midst of this now. What is “this”? I call this column. “Testing the Water” because that is what I have begun to do.
As part of 2023 being my “breakout year,” I entered the dating scene. Specifically, I am seeking a lady with whom I am attracted and compatible, who wants a “companion,” not a husband. I have gotten quite accustomed to being alone but have not gotten used to being lonely. I’m ready to find that special someone with whom I can spend a lot of time enjoying what remains of our lives. The good news is that I am patient…and picky. I expect her to be patient and picky, too.
How am I going about this, you may be asking? The answer is that I am doing this in various ways and not ruling anything out. I have joined several “Meet-Up” groups of like-minded men and women. I have made a lot of new acquaintances. One such group is a local travel group that takes international trips together four times a year. I have decided to cruise the Danube River from Budapest to Nuremberg in June. Twenty-two people are going, 18 of whom are women. I belong to two other groups. One conducts philosophical discussions once a month at a local brewery. I like those folks a lot, and they like me. Over half of the attendees are women, most of whom are single. Each meeting attracts 25-30 people. The following week, a similar group meets in the same place, also about 25-30 people. Their discussion themes are theological. I’m also a very active hospice volunteer and am meeting new people there. The longer I’m at this, the more people I get to know.
Then there is uncharted territory for me—dating apps—precisely one that has been around for over 25 years and is used quite heavily in the St Louis area. Putting a profile together was an interesting experience. What do I disclose that will create interest? I’ve refined that down to an appealing narrative, and women are “viewing” my profile; some are ”liking” it, yet others are sending me the occasional message wanting to get to know me. I, too, am viewing, liking, and sending messages. I’ve only been at this for three weeks. I’ve limited my “search” to a fifty-mile radius of my house. The vast majority of the women contacting me and whom I am contacting are either divorced or widows. All of them have grown children who live away from them. Most are retired. I’m only interested in financially secure women. One can set various parameters (for example, age range), and, for the most part, the algorithm abides by those parameters. As I said above, patience is the best thing I have going for me. And, believe me: my radar is constantly searching for potential threats.
The only thing that continues to trouble me is what many of you who are farther along than me have experienced. I continue to love my late wife with all my heart, and my feelings about dating are very conflicting. I am working through this, though. Before my wife’s health deteriorated, she and I discussed this. She said that if I died first, she would eventually see other men socially. I said I would see other women. We both said the reason would be to continue to live active, interesting lives and stave off loneliness. We both agreed that we would never marry again. At 72, I can easily see that will be the course I set for myself—companion only. I’m pleased that the women I am talking to only want a companion as well.
2023 is my breakout year in a lot of other ways. It is early yet. It will be interesting for me to see where I am at the end of the year.
If I have found the “right” companion, great! If not? Well, I’m perfectly OK with that as well. One thing is certain, though: Taking this step is making for an interesting year so far.
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