It’s not easy, but it might be necessary to just walk away
By Tom Blake
Loving someone who doesn’t love you can be “an emotional roller coaster,” according to Judy (not her real name), who asked for my opinion on her situation.
Judy, 63, wrote, “I have been seeing a widower, age 70, for two years. I love him dearly. From the start, he has told me he will never marry again or live with anyone. I thought his feelings would change as time went on. But this will never happen.
“I don’t want to end the relationship. I care too much to walk away, but I would love to have more. He always tells me that I deserve more, that he has nothing to offer me. I have not met his grown children. He told me it’s to protect me in the event they were not receptive of me.
“My focus is on his happiness. But I need for him to show me that I am an important person in his life and that he is proud of me. If I walk away, I am afraid I will lose him.”
In the world of senior dating, Judy’s situation is not that uncommon. Women share similar stories with me often. Advising them is difficult because each situation is different.
I responded to Judy: “You felt you could change him. That’s a mistake people often make. We can’t change people, they have to change themselves.
“You say you care too much to walk away. But if you don’t walk, you will be writing me a similar email in the future sometime. Something has to change on your end. Give him credit; he has been honest with you. You know how he feels. But, you keep hanging on. That’s your choice.
“In two years, you haven’t met his grown children. That’s sad and a red flag. He’s doing that to protect you? No, he’s doing that to protect himself. You state that your focus is on his happiness. Your focus needs to be on making yourself happy instead.
“Walking away from an unfulfilling relationship is one of the most difficult things a person can do. However, staying in one can be stressful and damaging to one’s health. Plus, being with him takes up valuable time that could be spent meeting someone else.
“Before walking away entirely, perhaps you should take an interim step. Take a break from seeing him. Get involved in outside activities. Give him time to realize that he cares for you.”
My friend Ken, in commenting about Judy’s dilemma, said, “You would be very surprised how people will fight for what they want when they believe they will lose something.”
I said to Judy, “If you take action, be prepared to be lonely and sad. You will miss him and possibly lose him, but you don’t have him. Remind yourself that you are taking action because he is not providing you with what you want. Perhaps someone else will come along who will fulfill your needs, and you will look back, knowing you did the right thing.
That happened to Sue, who exited a wrong relationship but later found love. Sue said, “Walking away was hard. I cried for weeks. If your heart is too full of what can’t be, there is no room for what will be. It’s truly not better to be with someone that doesn’t return the love. I’ve never been the queen in someone’s life till now … it’s so much better than crumbs.”
One thing is certain for Judy: She has to make the decision to change her life and stick to it. Other seniors have done it and so can she.
Tom Blake is a Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at www.findingloveafter50.com.
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