I never thought I’d join an online dating site. I’m not particularly interesting in dating, and I don’t really care if I never fall in love again, but I would like to have friends. The sad truth is, after a certain age, meeting people is difficult, especially if you’d like to make friends with someone approximately your own age and with approximately your level of fitness. It isn’t necessary to be with someone your own age, of course, but it is nice to be with someone who has the same general memories you do. (What the heck does an old man talk about with a much younger woman, or an old woman with a young man? But maybe talking isn’t the point . . .) And it’s nice to be able to do things together. So often, one of a couple is active and the other inactive, which adds an extra bit of frustration to the relationship. For example, if one person wants to go out dancing and the other wants to just loll around watching television, they either compromise, grow apart, or never grow close in the first place.
When you’re young, people your own age are everywhere. If you attend a big state college, for example, you live in a world of tens of thousands of people about your own age, the vast majority of whom are not married. Everywhere you go, you see people your own age, talk to people your own age, connect with people your own age, bump into people your own age, make friends with people your own age, meet potential mates your own age.
And then all of a sudden one day decades later, you wake up to find yourself in a world where no one is your age. Ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I’ve met a lot of people in a grief support group, the Sierra Club, yoga and exercise classes. Guess how many people approximately my age I’ve met during the past four years. 4. That’s it. 4. Three women, one man. If you forget the chronological age and just go by relative fitness age — people who can walk, move without a lot of pain, have relatively few physical limitations — that number is also 4, just a different 4. All women.
My life mate/soul mate died relatively young, leaving me in a strange twilight world. Most people my age are married and married people generally do things as a couple and are friends with other couples. Guess how many people of any age or gender I’ve met who I can call up on the spur of the moment and ask to meet me for lunch (or whatever). 0. Even those who aren’t married are in committed relationships or are taking care of an aged parent or young grandchildren. Many have jobs, as would I if I weren’t here to look after my father.
I’m not interested in dating for the purposes of mating. Nor am I playing the dating game to find love. But I do not intend to be a hermit the rest of my life, and the way the society is set currently set up, unless I go out and actively search for people to be friends with, I am doomed to a life of aloneness.
I’m extremely personable, able to talk to or listen to anyone in just about any circumstances, and I have a radiant smile. And yet, despite my various physical activities, social events, and familial obligations, I spend most of my time alone or online. It would be nice to meet someone I can call up late at night when I am most lonely and just say hi.
Actually, I’m even getting used to the aloneness and loneliness, which is a good thing. Even though I have joined three dating sites (one paid and two free) I have yet to make a connection with anyone. (Which seems strange to me, considering how many friends I have made online over the years.)
I don’t know what the answer is for me or anyone in my position. If I could, I’d go home to my life mate/soul mate, but that is not an option, so I can only go forward, and in this cyber age, online dating sites, with all their limitations, seem to be the way to go.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook