Breakup Warning Signals. Speculating on why Nicholas was dumped
By Tom P Blake Finding Love After 50
Last week's column featured Nicholas, a 70-year-old man who was dumped by his girlfriend of a year and a half. Of course, we only had his side of the story. Several gave opinions on what may have happened.
Joyce, 71, said, "I feel compelled to write concerning the gentleman who was so surprised at being "dumped." I have been divorced for 17 years and have had several long-term relationships during that time. During each relationship, I tried to communicate reasons why the relationship may not last, but not one man listened or believed me.
"I don't play 'coy' and make them read between the lines. I tell them what may be the deal breaker. The deal breakers have been things that they could have changed and, in many cases, promised to change, but once they thought they had me, they didn't change.
"The characteristics range from continuing to smoke when they said they would quit, drinking excessively, not taking steps to a better love life as they promised, not stopping being so negative and playing the victim in life, and (in one situation) continuing to support adult alcoholic children in his 40's in his home to the extent that his comfortable retirement left him with no money to enjoy his own life.
"In most cases, they claimed they were not warned and were blind-sided by me breaking up with them. Why don't senior men listen and believe us when we are trying so hard to communicate? I have talked to many women friends who claim they have told their husbands or partners that they were unhappy and the reasons for this unhappiness; the men still say they were shocked at the breakup."
Dan, "With the exception of a few details, that man's story is my story as well. When I found my new 'first love,' I was quite naive and chose to ignore red flags. Now, four and a half years later, I'm trying to extricate myself from the situation. While the lady in question did not leave me, she has been living a parallel life with others, which is equally devastating to find out about.
"In talking with a few more-experienced guys, it turns out this is not an unusual situation. My role has been that of her 'gay guy,' and was never going to progress to a monogamous relationship, no matter how hard I tried to earn her favor.
Editor's note: Dan clarified his "gay guy" comment to mean, a platonic friend, who accompanies a woman to events but they are not romantic.
"I was naive, thinking by continuing to romance the lady, she would eventually like me best and give up the others. I should have bailed when I learned the circumstances.
"It's hard to accept that I was fairly sharp in business and how stupid I became in this situation. Too bad the next lady (who I'm sure is out there someplace) will get a guy more wary and less enthusiastic."
Nancy, "My one clue to why she may have broken up with him is that he was still president of his widower/widow club. Maybe he had not moved out of the widower stage? Technically he was still a widower while dating this lady, but maybe it was time to think of himself as a single man in a relationship. Maybe he still had the wife's pix around, etc., and the girlfriend just got fed up with it.
"I have dated divorced men who continually talk about the ex, which is fine, I understand the need to talk about the past, etc. But, after awhile, it feels like there is a third person in the relationship."
Jane, "Men don't see little breakup warning signs; they could if they listened better and paid attention to subtle signals. Perhaps it was something as simple as personal hygiene--or he was too 'clingy' or demanding.
"Women who have been alone form independent ways that older men don't appreciate. The men are used to wives who defer to them and do not have a life of their own. And they want the new woman to be just like the previous one, especially if the marriage was happy.
"They are used to being waited upon and often have the dead wife's picture all over the house--maybe even her personal belongings. Not a good idea!
"They also talk about and compare the new lady with the old--maybe even call the wrong name--at most inconvenient times. They don't think this is a big deal but it is. These are deal breakers to women.
"I have had three relationships where this happened, and even after discussing the problems, they persisted. Maybe he didn't listen."
Some sympathized with the man, saying he was treated poorly and cruelly and that an explanation of why she dumped him would have been more humane. The reality is, some people simply find it easier to handle a breakup the way she did. We, as older singles, need to be more aware about what is simmering within our relationships.