I’ve lost touch with a good friend and don’t know what to do about it. Kathy helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life. When my husband died, I could barely put one foot in front of the other. She was my lifeline for that terrible year as I picked up the pieces and decided to move to be closer to my adult children. After I made that decision, Kathy started to distance herself and almost seemed angry that I was moving to another state. It was subtle, but I knew from her words and actions that she thought I was making the wrong choice. I guess I became defensive and made some comments to other friends about her lack of support. She confronted me about those comments on the day that I moved and we parted angry and upset with each other. It’s been almost two years since I moved and we’ve never been in touch. I still miss her and hate that we are no longer friends. I am so grateful and still love her for how she helped me when I needed it most and wonder if there is any way to mend things. Over time, I’ve come to see her side of things too. Maybe her pulling away had more to do with just feeling abandoned by my planned move. But what can I do now? We live far apart and it’s not like we can have coffee and patch things up.
It’s clear that this was a deep and meaningful friendship to you and it is worth trying to save. But you’re right that the physical distance between you poses an additional challenge to healing this rupture.
Why not start with a heart-felt letter? Try this: Write the letter saying everything that you want to say. Then, set the letter aside for a few days or so. After that time, go back and strike out every line and word in which you defend yourself or blame her. Keep the focus on your gratitude and love, on how much you miss her, and on what you would like to happen between you now. A simple “I’m so sorry for my mistakes” is sufficient and there is no need to beat to death whatever went wrong between the two of you. It’s past history that you both know too painfully well.
Focus on the future. In your letter, tell her that you’d like to get reacquainted if she is open to it and schedule a time for a phone chat. Take your cue from her response. Perhaps, she misses you too and is also hoping for an opportunity to reconnect. However, be prepared that she might have moved on emotionally and be uninterested in resuming your friendship for a variety of reasons.
If she responds positively, keep the connection growing with phone calls and maybe visits after a bit. If you get rebuffed, try to cherish the positive memories that you have of Kathy and let go, knowing that you tried to mend things. And remember that there are different kinds of friendships. Some people are friends for a reason, some are friends for a season and some are friends for a lifetime. You can make the first move in reconnecting, but it takes two willing souls to make a friendship work.
The Online Dating Question
After my wife’s death nearly two years ago after a long illness, I’ve slowly developed some interests and hobbies. However, I miss having a companion and am considering an online dating service. I’ve scouted a few out (and feel a little guilty doing so,) but haven’t registered for any. We had a wonderful marriage and nobody will ever take my wife’s place. I guess I still have some life left in me though and I’m healthy. What do you think I should do?
Of course, nobody can take your wife’s place and it’s normal to feel a bit disloyal when you consider opening yourself up to a new relationship. However, think of it this way. If your wife had been left behind as a widow, wouldn’t you want her to make the most of the remaining years of her life and find happiness where possible? You also deserve the same consideration from yourself. The fact that you miss having a companion can be viewed as a compliment to your wife’s memory!
As a man, the good news is that the odds of finding another woman to share your life with are quite good. There are many more available women than men. The tricky part will be connecting with the right one. If you’re hesitant about taking your search on-line, have you thought about telling your friends that you are interested in dating? Perhaps they know someone and are just waiting for your cues to make an introduction. Also, look around community groups and organizations that interest you for women who enjoy the same activities.
However, if you’d rather meet someone in a more private manner or just have difficulty in making that first move, on-line dating services are a great invention. These services have caught on to the trend that savvy, vibrant and single seniors are looking for love and friendship too.
You’ll have lots of company and more choices than you can imagine. These services provide a relatively inexpensive way of capturing a snapshot of more than a person’s mere physical appearance. Their profile will also provide a glimpse of their interests and personality in a convenient form. Even the manner in which that the profile has been prepared is telling. If it is prepared with care and infused with personality, the writer of the profile will probably reflect those same qualities in person. And much of the awkwardness of first dates may be eased by knowing something of your prospect in advance. By the time you actually meet, you’ll have exchanged e-mails and know something of the person instead of starting out cold.
A few caveats are worth mentioning, but they shouldn’t scare you away. When choosing a service, you might want to consider one that charges a membership fee. These do provides some screening and may be a bit safer for that reason. Still, make sure you check the site out thoroughly prior to joining and be sure that you understand all the dues and rules. Be aware that some services include an automatic renewal which will be charged on the credit card that you provide. Acquaint yourself with the cancellation policy so that you have no unpleasant surprises should you decide to withdraw from the service.
Also, be forewarned that while presenting yourself in your best light is recommended, some folks cross the line into fantasy land by using photographs taken a number of years and pounds ago. This misrepresentation can also extend to personal information written in a profile. Certainly, this is not the norm, but being prepared for this can reduce disappointment down the road. When you do meet an interesting woman, take it slow. Just as when you meet any stranger, be cautious, but not paranoid, until you get to know them better.
As for your own profile, take time to prepare it carefully and select a realistic, recent head-and-shoulder shot that is well-lit, clear and shows you off for your best. If you’re unsure of what to write, peruse the profiles of others to get some ideas. Be yourself, be upbeat, and be honest. Work on a couple of different drafts till you are satisfied and, if possible, check it out with a friend or family member for input before submitting it to a service.
There are a number of dating services around and some that specialize in senior dating. Use a search engine on your computer and see what comes up. Some of the more well-known services are Match.com and eHarmony.com. However, there are many choices, so do your homework. The best one for you is an individual choice and choosing well will increase your chances of success. While I cannot recommend any particular dating service, check out eDatereview.com for some comparisons and reviews about various sites.
One of the best predictors of happiness in a future relationship is a past, successful marriage. You’ve got that going for you so I say go right ahead and sign up—-after you check everything out first, of course. Be careful, be safe, but have fun. You deserve it!