John's Dilemma. He keeps hoping Carol will want him, but she only responds with an obligatory, sibling-like hug.
By Tom P Blake Finding Love After 50
Note from Tom: This article first ran in 2008. Note, this is a two-part article. Part 2, at the end, are the follow-up responses from readers to this article.
One of our members has a dilemma and seeks your advice. I promised we'd change his name to John.
John, 61, said, "Carol (a pseudonym), 54, and I met in Southern California in 1978 while employed in the same field but for different organizations. I vaguely recall asking her out, but she declined. We became friendly colleagues who talked about business and occasionally our personal lives off and on for the next several years. Both of us married others in the mid-1980s but we stayed in touch. I divorced in 1994 and have remained single.
"Around 1990, Carol's family moved out-of-state. For the next 17 years there were occasional holiday cards or an email, but I recall actually seeing her only once, when she was here on business around 2001.
"In late 2007, a mutual friend told me Carol had recently divorced and moved to the Bay Area. I got in touch; she seemed pleased to hear from me. That started a series of occasional messages and phone calls, with both of us playing it safe - i.e., not getting too personal."
This February, John visited Carol. She had been in an auto accident so he helped her run errands. They also had brunch. John feels they got along well.
He continues: "For the next four months, we exchanged occasional messages and phone calls. None of it was personal, just staying in touch, with the promise to get together the next time one of us was on the road.
"Carol was in SoCal on business in June, staying at her sister's house about ten miles from me. I picked her up and we drove to the home of our mutual friend, where we visited for three hours. When we returned to her sister's, I stayed for another hour to talk. I felt myself getting more interested."
During the next few weeks there were several lengthy phone calls; it appeared to John that Carol was becoming more comfortable with him, although they never discussed their social/romantic lives.
John said: "In late July, I was in the Bay Area again, staying with old friends who lived 45 minutes from Carol. I invited her to join us for dinner and spend the night with my friends, sleeping in her own room. We had a great time with my friends for the next five hours. Everyone went to bed about 11 pm.
"Carol left early the next morning, as planned. Looking for some indicator of future interest, I suggested we get together again in a few weeks. She declined, with a perfectly valid reason. But she offered no alternative plan, leaving me discouraged as she expressed mild thanks for 'a nice time' and drove off."
Three weeks have passed, John hasn't heard from Carol. She had been silent for a week or two before, but that was prior to the increased contact between late June and late July. He's reluctant to contact her for fear of appearing too eager.
John added, "I would like to pursue some sort of relationship with Carol, but she hasn't provided any encouragement. I'm the one who has initiated just about everything, from phone calls to emails to our several visits.
"Although Carol offers information about herself in conversation, she seldom asks anything about me. Other than the obligatory, sibling-like hug when we meet, Carol has never touched me, even if we're sitting next to each other. No light touches on the arm, nada."
What should John do?
"Should I continue to pursue this, even cautiously, as I have up to now? I don't want to repeat getting turned down by the same woman twice, 30 years apart. That would have to be some sort of unfortunate record.
"Carol has always been reserved and laconic. I tell myself her apparent hesitation to proceed is a result of that, and I should just be patient. Another explanation is her separation and divorce--less than two years old, and she isn't ready to date. But that doesn't hold up, as she is clearly comfortable with her new life.
"So what is it? We clearly enjoy each other's company, and I've made it clear I'm ready to move things along, although slowly, but she hasn't reciprocated."
What would you tell John?
Tom’s Comment: I would say, “John, she’s just not that into you. Senior couples need much love.”
Part 2 – Responses to John’s Dilemma
Responses to John's pursuit of Carol
Dena, "John needs to focus on meeting new women and hopefully finding one that WILL be interested in a long term relationship with him. (And make it easier on himself by trying to find a lady that lives in close proximity!)"
Evelyn, "John should call and on the telephone make his true interest known. If she responds positively great. If not, stop torturing yourself John and turn your interests elsewhere. Get closure one way or the other."
Marta, "I would suggest John not live in limbo any longer, by speaking his mind and accepting the rejection if it comes. Like pulling off a band-aid quickly, it hurts less than dragging it out."
Pat, "At 61 there are just so many good years to share with the right person, move on. he will find a more receptive woman!"
Edie, "John needs to tell Carol of his interest in pursuing a relationship with her and ask how she perceives/what she wants from their relationship. That beats the agony of playing cat and mouse."
Peggy, "John provided his own answer when he said 'she is clearly comfortable with her new life.' Move on, John. Don't waste anymore time pursuing her."
Betty: "John and Carol are both adults and need to be open up about their feelings. Why keep a desire alive without knowing the end result? We are too old to play games."
Dan, "Sometimes the obvious isn't. Why doesn't John just talk to her? From his side of the story; he seems to have the answer but doesn't want to admit it. Only she knows what she is thinking and he owes it to himself to ask the tough questions."