Smothering Relationships don’t last.
By Tom P Blake – Finding Love after 50
“My girlfriend of over two years sometimes makes me feel as if I am the least important thing in her life,” said Ed, a widower, who started dating Doris eight months after his wife of 29 years passed away. Ed added, “She’s independent and has told me she doesn’t need a man but wants a man.”
When Doris—a widow of three years—and Ed were introduced by a friend, he had no intention of dating. That soon changed: “She was very fun and a great comfort to me. I soon fell in love with her," said Ed.
What does Doris do to upset Ed? “She has a great need to stay in touch with all her friends. She has many, many of them. Even when she meets someone for the first time, she calls them her friend. She is usually with several of them two or three times a week. She has a real fear of missing out on something if she isn’t with them when they go out.”
Ed didn’t discover Doris’ love of friends until six months into their relationship. “We were at a family function of mine when she said she had to leave early to be with her neighbors. I was enraged and wanted to end the relationship at that point. I soon forgave her by didn’t forget. She has since done the same thing several times.”
Ed’s dilemma: “I try to tell her that if I’m so important to her, she would want to be with me. She says I can’t accept her independence. I tell her she doesn’t know what a true relationship is. She insists she loves me but her friends mean a great deal to her. We are great together when we’re together. I feel I’m just a fill-in when she doesn’t have other plans.”
Ed and Doris have argued over this issue for a year and a half. She tells him he doesn’t know what it’s like to have a close relationship with friends. Ed has friends of 35-plus years but hasn’t socialized with them. “My friends are true friends who will take me back into the fold no matter how I long I am away. But, I have chosen her over them because she’s special. Why can’t she do the same for me?”
Ed says because of Doris’ behavior he’s losing his interest in her, that they can’t have a long-term relationship. “I don’t trust that she would want to be with me if I couldn’t get around in the years to come,” he said.
“Why continue to see Doris?” I asked. “Because she’s so much fun to be with, but if I met another woman who feels like me about relationships, I’d leave her for the other woman.”
This is a pretty pathetic story. Ed just doesn’t get it. He wants what he had for 29 years, another woman to be loyally at his side and to heck with friends. He wants someone to take care of him if he gets sick. Doris probably left Ed’s family party because she was bored out of her skull. And that’s why she keeps repeating that behavior.
She’s out and about with friends while he’s wallowing in self-pity. Ed needs to get a life. He needs to reconnect with friends and stay connected with friends. If he wasn’t so clingy and desperate, perhaps he’s be a more inviting partner to Doris. Mid-lifers and seniors need to have friendships with people other than their partners.
In no way is Doris going to be caught up in a smothering relationship. He’s got little to offer her except companionship. That’s not going to change unless he changes, and I don’t think he will.
In senior relationships, each person needs their own friends.