Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sexual Attraction and Second Chances at Love



Sex. Sexual attraction. Yes, I just said those words out loud. Since the weekend I’ve been trying to come up with another word that describes a feeling that coursed through my body when I saw a young man in his early thirties pass by, a man young enough to be my great-grandson. A word that doesn’t make me sound like a cougar which I most definitely am not and don’t aspire to be.  Cougars---women with lust in their whole demeanor who paw all over guys half their age---are not high on my chart of woman whose conduct I respect. Sorry if I just offended someone. Now that I think about, I’m uncomfortable around women of any age who paw all over guys in their own age bracket IF the guy is not into to them in equal measure. Yes, young lust shared is a beautiful thing, but one-side lust reminds me of Hee Haw, hillbilly land. At least I think it was on that 1970 TV show where a reappearing, old grandpa character would lust all over a shapely young lady in pig tails and short-shorts. If the show came back on air in this century, it would no doubt give equal time to cougars. We make fun of men who collect sugar babies but don’t cougars have the exact, same mindset?

Anyway, back to sexual attraction and the young man who walked by me in the grocery store who started this whole train of thought. There was something about him that reminded me of what it was like to be young and in lust. He had a confident swagger, broad shoulders and sparklingly eyes that made contact with every person he passed by---young, old, male or female---very much like my husband used to do. There was no such thing as a stranger in Don’s world. He never lost that trait, even after his stroke and he could no longer talk which got him into big trouble a few times, but that’s another story for another time. Grocery store guy shocked me because I wondered if that’s how cougars get started. Do older women enjoy the memory of youthful lust so much that they forget their age and think they are on an equal footing with guys half their age? Do they over-doze on their hormone replacement drugs? I do know one thing for sure. As I age my ideal of male perfection isn’t aging as fast as I am. Few men in my own age bracket can prompt me to think, what an attractive man he is! I guess I’ve bought into the media propaganda that says only people under “a certain age” can have sex appeal. Even Richard Gere has lost his appeal lately and if someone would have told me I’d be saying this in my seventies I’d have labeled it crazy talk. He left his height of coolness back on the set of An Officer and a Gentlemen. Egad, he was 33 years old when he made that movie!

I know a couple of widows my age who are almost desperate to meet another man. I don’t doubt their sincerity and I am trying to understand where those longings come from and why I don’t have them. Are they less independent than me? Maybe. Are they lonelier than me? Possibly---I have Levi the Schnauzer in my life---but maybe I just manage my loneliness in a world where I don’t believe it’s possible to replace or substitute what I had with Don. Ya, ya, I know a second “significant other” doesn’t have to be the same to still be good. Many couples who have lost spouses are able to find companions to do things together with, but they don't feel the need to get re-married and live together as if they didn’t have histories to honor. My dad, for example, found a wonderful widow and they dated for 10 years before he died. My older brother is in the same kind of second-chance-at-love kind of relationship. They’ll never marry, they say, but they travel together, go to parties in both families together and see and call each other often. Relationships between senior citizens come with a whole different set of values, complications and solutions but I’ve never seen my brother happier in his life and he deserves it. His wife died after a long wind-down of suffering from Early Onset Alzheimer’s and he is grabbing whatever happiness he can find in his later years. What’s not to admire about that?

Still, for me it’s much more tempting to get another dog than another man. With dogs you can get kisses whenever you want them, no “Hey, I’m watching football and you're blocking the screen!” Dogs are low maintenance, men are not. They never complain that you’re feeding them the same kibble day after day. And with dogs you can put them in a cage when they get annoying. If I tried that with a man I could go to prison and I’m too old to start committing crimes----heinous or otherwise. ©

This made me laugh out loud.




20 comments:

  1. When we've both had/have the best there is no one else that can fill the bill. That's where you and I are. We've had the very best.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I just reread something I wrote last July titled, "The Perfect Dead Husband" and was reminded of my theory of how widows tend to blur out the day-to-day petty annoyances that couples get into and we elevate the broader core things that keeps a couple together and happy. Don had his flaws but, like any other man, but he was perfect for me and my flaws. I think widows who are looking for another chance at love have to be able to not make comparisons because there is no way for a living guy can match up to the idealized, widow's version of the perfect, dead husband.

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    2. That perfection is the main reason I haven't jumped back into the dating pool, lots of the women my age have some version of 'Are you the one?', 'Looking for the one' written up. I don't even want to compete against unreasonable requirements.

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    3. Dean, I've seen that attitude on widow support sites, too, with women who tried dating and quit because the new guys just don't measure up. I've even heard those exact words, "He wasn't the one." My theory is if a widow starts dating in the first five years, it's too soon and they are going to be doing too much comparing. I know it's only two guys but both my dad and my brother's widows were over ten years out from their husband's passing. They were not looking, it just happened for both of them.

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  2. I see nothing wrong with getting a bit of a "surge" when you see a handsome man. I don't see anything I would be attracted to that is my age--or even close, but boy oh--I get that smiley feeling when I see good looking and 35-40-50. Oh yeah! I really am not interested in dating any man, but I think perhaps when I see much younger, I remember how much fun it was to be that age--maybe?

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    1. I've come to the same conclusion for me too, Judy, that when I see a young man who has certain characteristics it reminds me of how much fun it was to be that age again. I don't want or need to recreate that fun. I have a vivid imagination and memories that can bring me back all by myself.

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  3. I have finally come to the same conclusion "Men are not [low maintenance]". But only after trying a few men on for size after hubby died. I couldn't conceive of writing such a handsome part of the population off, so yes, I was certainly desperate to meet other men. Now I will not go to my grave wondering if the grass is greener on the other side! (memo: the grass is indeed green on the other side, too.)

    What you experienced with grocery store man marks a heavenly passage in my book, a passage toward vigor and vitality. Maybe we'll be the discreet cougars who leer but don't pounce. LOL

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    1. You were a lot younger than me when you became a widow so it does make a lot of sense that you went "shopping" in guy land.

      A cougar would have to be dead if it didn't pounce. That's what cougars do. No, there is still another word/phrase for the feelings grocery store guy evoked and I'm going with he was a "memory prompter" until a better term comes along. LOL

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  4. I've only been a widow a little over a year - though sometimes it feels much longer because I had been 'losing' my husband to dementia for several years before he died. I think I'm at a stage where being near an attractive man just makes me feel sad. Especially if a man exhibits that vitality - what I suppose you'd call a 'sparkle in the eye' - I'm reminded of all that I've lost. Don't get me wrong: I'm not going to be one of those sad-sack widows who wallow in their misery. But the love and companionship of a soul mate - even one whose mind was failing him - is harder to give up than sugar in your coffee. So I guess I agree with the 'memory prompter' theory.

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    1. Well said, Chartreuse!

      Those of us who where caregivers to our spouses before they died did get a head start on widowhood because we had to let go in stages, mourning the loss of certain aspects of our relationships before they passed. For me, it was full body hugs and in depth conversations. But the love and companionship were there to the last moment and I still miss them both. BUT I accept those losses. Life goes on.

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    2. Yes, I agree our loss began long before our partner's death. I had thought (indeed, my family and friends still think) that should make the final loss easier somehow. The fact that it didn't really surprised me. But it just shows, I think, how much communication was still there, even though most of my husband's ability to use language and much of his reasoning ability had disappeared. I take a lot of comfort from the fact that we never lost that subliminal contact. But yes, I agree, nothing replaces those hugs and those conversations. I'm sure you find your blogging and writing help. For me, singing with a choir, gardening and doing more French keep the mind and body ticking over. And the antics of a 4-yr-old granddaughter help in the heart department.

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    3. I discovered blogging as a way to deal with caregiver issues a long time ago and then more recently as a widow. It does help. Keeping busy is important, isn't it.

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  5. Loved this.

    It's companionship that I'd want: someone to go to the movies with, out to dinner, family gatherings, etc. A friend/buddy/confidant.

    My brother lost his wife about ten years ago and had one monstrous experience with a woman. Then he and Donna got together about seven or eight years ago. They've been very good for each other. I doubt they will ever get married. I could be wrong, but they seem fine with things the way they are.

    I've always liked Richard Gere, but you're right. He is not aging well. I thought he held up well a little longer than you thought... until "Runaway Bride," but then he faded. Sean Connery, on the other hand, held up well for a long time. He isn't my favorite, but I think good genes helped him keep his looks.

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    1. I just looked at the movie trailer for Runaway Bride. I'd forgotten about that film. You're right, Richard still did look pretty good. I just didn't like the character he played so I over looked the film.

      I think what our brothers and their lady friends are doing is fairly common for second time arounders.

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  6. It seems all perfectly normal because there really is NO normal! Look but don't touch. Lust in your mind. We've heard these admonitions throughout our lives. For me, it's way too soon but honestly, Mr. OK to Get Me Interested in Dating Again is a figment of our imaginations. My get up and go just got up and went.

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    1. LOL I think my get up and go got up and went with your get up and go.

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  7. i have only started looking in the past few months really. i am lonely at night. i don't want to marry again or live with someone but i'd love to have someone in my life that makes me smile (besides TCD who works 7 days a week).

    smiles, bee
    xoxo

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    1. You know what you want and what it will take to make you happy, Bee. More power to you!

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  8. I swooned at my Starbucks drive-thru one day about a year ago when a movie start quality young man, likely in his 20's, made eye contact, smiled and winked at me. I mean my heart skipped a beat and pounded all the way home. I was thrilled and embarrassed and immediately got on Facebook to alert all my friends that they needed to get to Starbucks IMMEDIATELY! Of course I tried to see him again...I bought quite a few coffees for a couple of weeks...but he never re-appeared. I later found out he left the job at Starbucks for an acting job in Seattle. I still think about that youthful jolt of lusty appreciation for a very handsome young man. I think it means we are human and that sexual desire is a strong biological imperative -- long after it has usefulness. That's why it's such a pleasant surprise. We can enjoy it, so long as we don't make utter fools of ourselves. Lungo vivo amore!

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    1. That's the same thing I did with a young guy who sold pretzels at the farmer's market a year ago. He was a winker, too. If men fully understood the power of a wink, they'd be falling all over themselves to learn how to do it. You will probably one day see Starbucks guy on the silver screen. Love what you said in the last third of this comment. We are indeed human and the rest.........

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