Thursday, January 3, 2013

On Line Dating for The Over 50 Crowd - Part 2

I've said it before and I'll say it again: being alone over 50 sucks.

Sorry for the harsh language, but in reality, for a lot of people, "sucks" isn't nearly harsh enough a word!

And for me it has nothing to do with low self esteem, co-dependence, fear of dying alone, or anything all the experts and every one around you may say. (Isn't it funny how it seems that all of "the experts" and "every one around you" who gives you advice about being single is married or in some sort of relationship? Things that make you go hmmmm . . .)

In my last post on the subject, I alluded to the fact I was 52 years old when I found out my wife was leaving me, and it wasn't the first time I'd been married and divorced, but it was now the second time. AND I'd actually lived with a third woman for seven years in between my two marriages, helping her raise her two very young sons as the father figure they had never had. The biological father was MIA most of the time due to his own issues that I really don't have any right to discuss here, so you can fill in the blanks for yourself on that one. So, I arguably feel as though I've been through 3 (count 'em, THREE) wives.

What a loser, right?  Nope . . . no way.

For over 20 years of my life I had essentially been married. And I don't consider any of those relationships or marriages "failed" either. I loved each and every one of those women, I did a lot of good things for our families, made a lot of screw ups too, but in this day and age when 50% of all marriages end in divorce and about 70% of second marriages fail, I think I've had some pretty good runs. Further, I don't harbor any ill will toward any of my ex-wives, and wish them all the best life has to offer. (Well, for the most part at least.)

But, that also means I've been alone for about 20 years of my life, too. And I mean, at times, REALLY alone.

For instance, when I decided to move from New England to the Philadelphia area I was 30 years old. I loved my life at that time, and had a fairly good job, paying me enough to live a pretty good life style for a kid that age. I was on a career track in insurance, learning the home office side business, and building what would turn out to be a really marketable background for what was to come.

But New England was "home". All my friends were there. And I had a lot of them. All great guys and girls who made my life back then "magical". I'm still in touch with most of them, and we all agree with Charles Dickens: it was definitely "the best of times".

There was a crowd of about 10 or 12 of us that played cards every Thursday night, (one of the guys dubbed us "The Rounds of The Night Table" and even had shirts made for us). We went out dancing and partying on Friday nights, went out with our girlfriends on Saturday nights, and filled in the rest of the week together, breaking into smaller groups and living the good life that only twenty something singles can live. When one of us bought a motorcycle, the rest of us eventually ended up getting them, too. We were the crowd to know.

We didn't know it then, but we were "creating memories".

And then one day, right out of the blue, my manager's manager called me into her office and said she had recommended me for a marketing position with the company's biggest producer. The position was to run his sales business for him so he could focus more on his fledgling motivational speaking business, and I would essentially be his right hand man.

I wasn't looking for another job at the time, other than climbing the corporate ladder where I was, I didn't particularly want to sell, and I certainly DIDN'T want to move away, and she knew all these things, so I'm confident that she wasn't trying to get rid of me, which is my normal first thought in situations like this, if you can relate.

I couldn't believe it: WHAT an opportunity!! Like many of the best things in our lives, it had fallen right into my lap when I least expected it.

But it was in Philadelphia, a good 5 hours away, which meant I would HAVE to move.

My ship had come in, I thought, and I was old enough to know that opportunities like these don't just happen very often, and I had to take it, right?

So, I said goodbye to the good life, put on my big boy suit and tie, and moved to the big city.

And was miserable.

The hardest part was that I KNEW I'd be miserable. I knew no one there, felt completely out of my element, and there was no such thing as internet dating or on-line friend meeting sites like there are today, so, as anyone who's ever moved to a large metropolitan area can attest to, it was next to impossible to meet anyone outside of work.

Those first three years here were the loneliest time of my life. It seemed no matter what I did or who I met, I just couldn't break into anyone's circle and belong. I felt different, and I was.

The new job helped keep me busy Monday through Friday -- I threw myself into it like a mad man. I was in the office many days before 7 AM, and often didn't leave until 7 at night because that's what aspiring marketing people are supposed to do, right?

But the weekends were almost unbearably lonely. And after a short time, it became clear that I was going to have to do the best I could to start over.

I did things alone. I took advantage of the fact that I was living in a large metropolitan area, rich in history and culture. I went to museums alone. I went shopping alone. I went to clubs alone. And there were a lot of times I just sat in my apartment, or out by the swimming pool with the hundreds of other tenants, alone.

I didn't know it then, but I was getting to know myself.

AND I was "putting myself out there".

Every place I went to "alone", I would try to engage people. If I was at a museum, I might strike up a discussion of an exhibit with the other people standing around me. If I was at the pool, I would try to strike up a conversation with those people around me. If I was shopping, I would ask for help and make a few jokes with the sales person, or maybe ask another shopper nearby what they thought of an item.

After about 3 years, I looked around myself and realized that I had a circle of friends. I'd been introduced to the woman who would soon be my first wife - a marriage that would last 9 years. I was being invited to parties, and over to other people's homes, and out for happy hours with "the guys". You know: STUFF! It wasn't like it was back home, because those kind of relationships are rare and built around growing up together and sharing decades of experiences with people.

And, more often than not, they are because you are YOUNG. And as we all know, youth is wasted on the young.

What does this have to do with on-line dating after age 50?

This was only ONE of the "new starts" I would have to make in my life. I'd had quite a few before (albeit none as dramatic as this one) but more importantly, I had a few more to come.

And from each new start, I took what I had learned from the previous ones, and learned from my "loneliness". With each new change, every new heartbreak, every friend I had to leave or had to leave me, I took the opportunity to examine the relationship, learn from it, and the do my best to "reinvent" myself. I tried to keep what it was about me that worked with people, and change what didn't.

I WORKED at becoming "attractive" to others. And, two divorces later (three, really, if you count the break up of my 7 year relationship, which I do) I had to do it all over again.

Being alone sucks. But before you jump into the next "latest and greatest" relationship, you gotta go through it, and if you're smarter than me, which most of you out there are, you'll take the opportunity to

1) heal,

2) figure out what your part in the breakup was (sometimes my part in the breakup was just the fact that I picked the wrong person to begin with!),

3) reinvent yourself into the kind of person you want to attract, and

4) BE GRATEFUL that you know what you know now, and have such a rich history of experience to draw upon.

It took me over 50 years to figure out that no matter where I am in life, whom I dating or not dating at any given period in time, and who and what I have around me, RIGHT NOW is "The Best of Times".

And that's a tremendous advantage to have in today's wacky adult dating scene.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mr. Magoo as Inspiration

The Holiday's in the US are supposed to be joyous and happy times for millions of Americans. Family members and friends gather together, often only during that one time of year, to share their love, their memories, and rekindle and nurture old relationships.

Many people even go so far as to spend hours and hours completely redecorating their homes with lights, music, symbols of their faith and what the time of year is meant to symbolize. Oftentimes, rituals such as exchanging gifts, lighting candles, and festive family meals with ample libations are served to symbolize how people feel about each other.

But there are millions of people in the world who dread the holidays, and not because of the superficial, somewhat selfish inconveniences of "endless" lines at store registers, clogged traffic at the malls and stores, or because the "true" meaning of the season has been lost to commercialism.

I grew up in a large family, with a brother, two sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and always a lot of friends.I'm fortunate in that, although most of my family is gone, I have still have two kind, loving, and, yes, kind of goofy sisters who live in Florida and we have been spending the last few holiday seasons together enjoying each other's company and rekindling our love for each other.

Of course, many aren't nearly as lucky. They feel lonely, like failures, as though life has abandoned or failed them in some way, or are otherwise suffering in isolation and hopeless. (And I'm not talking about the unfortunate elderly, ill, or desperately poor, here either. That's a topic for another post.)

Isolation and hopelessness are the worst. They're like a poison in your head for which there is often times no immediate anti-venom. No matter how hard you try to "force it down" or ignore it, drink, drug or sex it away, it can eat at you every moment of your waking day. You can be in a room full of people or at a holiday party and being eaten alive by it.

And I know because I have tried all of those things at one time or another in 55 years of life.

This has not been one of the best years of my life because in January I lost my high paying job due to the struggling economy, and was still kind of bitter over my last divorce and not being married or being able to spend Christmas morning with a wife and my two stepsons.

But, again, through some (mostly) undeserved good fortune, I'd been in the financial services industry for over 32 years and, to paraphrase Garret Morris from the ORIGINAL "Saturday Night Live", Insurance had been berry, berry good to me. So I was able to retire.

And when you retire at 55, with very or little advanced expectation of doing so, and you have no wife or children, it leaves you a LOT of time alone that was previously filled with "family obligations".

And alone is NOT good. It leaves a lot of time for that committee of twelve in my head to chatter negative thoughts at me.

So, I've been trying to reinvent myself, trying out the latest and greatest money making schemes with very minimal immediate gratification (and gratification just HAS to be immediate to me!) and have been feeling pretty low this season, feeling sorry for myself, and moving toward that old hopeless feeling. Not quite at hopeless, just moving closer and closer to the edge every day.

On Christmas eve, in an attempt to recapture some of the happier times of my youth, I rented a copy of one of the greatest film versions of  Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" ever produced.

You guessed it -- "Mr. Magoo's A Christmas Carol'".

And not the cut up for extra commercials to 52 minutes for network TV versions either. The full length version, presented as it was originally aired in 1962, when I was just 5 years old. I hadn't seen it in at least 30 years, but I've always loved it!!

Despite the early animation, it had the added advantage of staying very true to Dicken's original text, and BECAUSE of the early somewhat primitive animation, it was entertainingly "over the top", meaning less than subtle like the classic film versions most mature adults would invest time watching this time of year.

Magoo's Scrooge is classic from beginning to end, and again, because it was a bit "over the top", it really hit me over the head like a club because  most of the time this bone-head needs "over the top" before he gets something. I watched it from beginning to end without one bathroom break or anything, and when the credits rolled I felt like a curtain had been lifted from right before my eyes.

It's something I've been told at least a thousand times in my life before, but for some reason lose sight of all too frequently: you get out of life exactly what you put into it! Treat people the way YOU want to be treated -- EVERYBODY, from your wife and kids to the mailman and to the guy standing behind you at the return line at Best Buy.

And at first you don't even have to mean it -- that part actually comes if you just act it for a little while.

Be happy with what you have right now, because right now is all you have. And when you do, the rewards will come. I had forgotten that AGAIN, and it was I that was paying the price, in every aspect of my life.

My point here is not to sell you a copy of "Mr. Magoo's 'A Christmas Carol'" or rehash what 99% of the population already knows.

My only point is that inspiration can come from any where, any time, and usually when you least expect it, if you only participate in life by listening, doing, and especially, oh, so especially, if you care about others.

Mr. Magoo reminded me to always be inspired, care about something other than myself. Work hard. Laugh hard, and often. But success in life and true happiness can only come if you love who you are, what you have -- or HAD -- and what you are willing to do today.

And he reminded me that you never, NEVER know where your next inspiration will come from.

"Oh, Magoo . . . You've done it again!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays to All!

Hey, I know I said my next post would be more about my experiences about on-line dating and the over 50 crowd, but I just wanted to wish everyone who celebrates at this time of year the happiest of holiday seasons!

Just like every one of the other 50 million bloggers out there.

But I mean it.

And if you don't celebrate, good for you! I hope you have a great day and are enjoying the benefits of being our age!

On Line Dating for The Over 50 Crowd – Part I

When my wife finally told me she wanted a divorce, I was crushed. Devastated.  Heart-broken. And pretty dog gone pissed off, too.

But to tell you the truth, the thing I was most upset about was the loss of security, and how, in just a few sentences my entire world — all of my plans and assumptions about the future — were crumbling right before my eyes. I don’t think that I was so upset that I was losing the “love of my life” but rather I was going to have to go out there again and find another “love of my life”. Who the hell had time to do THAT?

Oh, GOD, I was going to have to date again. I was once again being pushed out of my comfort zone, and I’d have to figure out how to meet women, come up with ideas for dates, make and listen to small talk and actually act like I cared about it, update my casual dining wardrobe and wear condoms, assuming I ever got lucky enough to be invited “up for a drink”. And all of it, this time, while having to worry that I was 20 pounds overweight and that I had a bald spot and crows feet.

And where do you meet women these days anyway? The office? No way — NOT a good idea. I had to start somewhere and on-line dating seemed the logical place to start. After all, if I needed anything in my life these days from a digital camera to tennis shoes, the first place I always turned to first was my computer.

After turning to the one thing left in my life whose advice I thought I could trust at least a little – Google – I settled on the ones you would probably expect I would settle on: Match, Chemistry, OurTime, Zoosk, eHarmony. Plenty of Fish, and Marriage Minded People Meet.

Just for the record, there are lots, lots more, as well as those with a more targeted datitng strategy for those so inclined. These include services like Cristian Mingle, J-Date (Jewish dating site), Single Parents Mingle, Latin Singles Connection, and a whole host of others. If you’re looking for something specific in a mate, it seems you can find an on line site catering to your desires.

So I answered all of the questions put to me as honestly as possible — ALL of them — and then came the hard part: trying to package myself into a few paragraphs called a “Personal Profile”. Your profile is really just a marketing piece similar to those “What I Did on My Summer Vacations” you wrote eons ago in elementary school, but this essay had to be about how wonderful a guy you are and what a great catch you’d be for any woman, despite the fact that you’re 50 some odd years of age and have been involved in two disastrous marriages already so that you could somehow trick women into at least answering your introductory emails so that you could get your proverbial foot in the door with her.

Most of the dating sites even offer a service now whereby, for a fee, a “professional” profile writer will actually “help” you write a “more effective” profile to “increase your chances of meeting that special someone”. Great. Just what I need – an almost certain guarantee that I’ll meet someone totally unsuited to me so that within the first 5 minutes of our dating we both know that I’m full of crap and nothing at all like what my profile said I was. Now there’s a formula to base a great and lasting relationship on from the outset, wouldn’t you say?

Next time: The email paper chase and full time job of on line dating.

Friday, December 14, 2012

No Kids and over 50? How Can That Happen?

When I first started to date again after my divorce, one thing I was told by many of the women I met  was how hesitant they were to date a man my age who had never had children of his own.

They were concerned that a man who'd never had kids couldn't empathize with the issues a single mom might have, or that there might be something "wrong" with him that would affect a relationship down the road.

A man with no kids, according to some of these ladies might actually be too selfish, a momma's boy, immature -- any number of things. Their point was that it just wasn't "normal" to go through life without having children, especially when you've been married and divorced twice.

A BIG red flag, as far as they were concerned, and I understood that.

I was quick to explain that I'd had the privilege of raising 2 sets of great step sons: two from a 7 year long relationship between my marriages who are now adults, and 2 boys from my second marriage, one of which is now a senior in college and the other now a senior in high school. So it wasn't like I didn't know what it was like to have kids in your life and in a relationship, so that went a long way in quelling their fears.

But it does happen. And to guys who don't necessarily have anything "wrong" with them. Here's how it unfolded in my life:

I've been married twice with a 7 1/2 year relationship in between each marriage.

My first wife and I married when I was 30. Two weeks before the wedding we found a lump, and she was immediately diagnosed with breast cancer. We were married as planned in the village of Brattleboro, VT, but our honeymoon was a short weekend in a bed a breakfast in Northampton, MA, because we had to be back by Monday so she could go through a radical lumpectomy at Fox-Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

After the procedure she was told she had significant nodal involvement and that having children would increase her chances of recurrence, so we decided to postpone the decision to get pregnant until after her year of chemo and radiation therapy were over.

After that ordeal was over (her treatments were brutal) she and I decided that the risks were just too great, and we each decided to focus on our careers instead. If the urge to procreate became a burning one for either one of us, we felt we still had plenty of time to change our minds and have a baby. At the time, it seemed like the logical thing to do, and we were just coming out of a traumatic year for the both of us, so we just moved forward, one day at a time.

After that marriage ended and we went our separate ways, I met a woman 10 years younger than I who had 2 boys from a previous marriage. They were great, all three of them, but hers had been a terrible breakup, and the biological father was missing in action, as he was during most of their marriage. Long before my girlfriend had broken up with her husband, she had decided that enough was enough with this guy, and had opted to be sterilized and there I was in a long term relationship with someone who COULDN'T have children. Oh well, that's just the way it goes, sometimes.

After that relationship ended I met wife number 2 - I was 47, or something like that, and she was 36 (do we see a pattern here?). She had two great boys, and, this time, the bio-father was the greatest. He was very involved in the boy's life, was a great provider, very successful, and just an all around great guy. But, again, she had pretty much had enough kids, and had not planned on having any more, so she too had had her "tubes tied" before her divorce.

Six years later, that marriage ended and Chuck found himself on the block again, getting ready to date again, two marriages and two divorces on his resume and several "relationships" in there too. And no biological children of my own.

It wasn't planned, and I don't have any deep regrets, although looking back I do wish I'd been able to keep a closer relationship with all of my step-sons, but that's the downside of being a step parent. No biological tie, and no legal recourse on mandated visitation like the "real" parents are afforded.

So there you go. For better or worse, I'm over 50, I have no kids (GASP!!), and I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with me. It just worked out that way.

Oh, yeah, my firsts wife is fine, 20 years later and has remarried and had no recurrence of her cancer. My "girlfriend" and second wife have moved on as well, and all four boys are doing just great, thanks for asking.

Past child bearing and/or rearing age, and have no kids of your own? How does that make you feel? Do you feel different than everybody else, on the "outside", maybe even a bit "freaky", perhaps? I'd love to hear your comments, so please feel free to leave them below.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How I Stopped Being Lonely and Started to Make New Lovers and Friends, After Age 50

In my last post I wrote about a time not all that long ago when I'd hit a rough patch, specifically about just how alone I had felt after my divorce. (You can read that post here)

To fill in a few more details, my wife was 11 years younger than me and she had what I would like to think of as more or less a mid-life crisis. Even though I fought my hardest to keep the marriage together with what I felt was very little reciprocal help coming from her side, I have to admit that I kind of understood her point of view, having been there myself at her age. In fact, I now kid with my friends that my mid life crisis was the purchase of a Cadillac; her's was getting rid of me. I couldn't really blame her, nor do I blame her today, knowing how she must have felt  - she had been married for almost every day of her life since she was 21, and she wanted to get out on her own to discover who she was.

But just because I understood didn't mean I wasn't devastated to be so unexpectedly and thoroughly rejected at 52 years old. After she left, it took me 3 weeks before I could even leave the house - I was shattered. Friends would check in on me just to make sure I was OK, and were actually bringing me meals on a daily basis just because I wasn't able to take are of myself. Thank god for them.

After those first few weeks I simply had to accept the fact that she wasn't coming back and I was going to be alone. The only one who was going to pull me out of this depression was going to have to be me. But I really had no experience doing so and wasn't sure what to do.

So my first steps in my healing process was to turn to books, audio programs and courses about relationships and love; anything I could get my hands on to try and figure out what had happened and where I had gone wrong. It took some time and research, but I started with material mainly produced or written for men, but containing a good mix of information about male and female relationships in general. I desperately needed to know what my shortcomings were in the relationship and where I had failed as a husband. In other words, what I had done wrong and ultimately what was my responsibility in ending up single yet once again, and how not to repeat those same mistakes again in any future relationship I ever hoped to have.

Over the next year or so, I read and/or participated in over 100 books and on line courses by many different experts and self proclaimed gurus, and I learned so much I was astounded! Astounded mainly that I could have reached the ripe old age of 52 and know so very little about the subject. I can recommend some if anybody's interested, but the key was that I accept my part in the break up and I was determined to not only become a better man, but I wanted to become an exceptional man. not only to women, but to other men in my life as well, such as friends, associates, etc.

After doing a lot of my research and reading, the first thing I did to get back up on the horse was to join a few on-line dating sites. I liked being married and in order to move forward I knew that I definitely needed to get better with my relationships right away. I bypassed the temptation to have one of those professional dating profilers write my profile for me, and I wrote my own profile in my own words. My profile was long, specific, and totally honest. After the obligatory email exchanges and phone calls, I began to go out on some first dates and started to meet some women face to face. Many weren't such great matches, but some were pretty terrific and some of those remain friends to this very day.

One piece of advice about dating: if you feel up to the challenge and want to try on-line dating, don't be cheap, and most of all, have some patience -- there are a lot of free sites out there, many of them good, many not so good. My experience has been that you always get what you pay for. so if you don't meet the kind of women you're looking for you might want to pony up some cash for one or two of the pay sites.

Also, try not to get discouraged too easily. I gave myself at least 6 months to meet that "someone special" and that stretched out into a year. Over that period f time I went out on dozens of first dates and even had some of those first dates turn into 3 or 4 exclusive relationships with women who actually thought I might actually be a pretty good guy, but none of those really fleshed out into anything permanent, some ending by my call, and some ending by her call. But at least I was back in the game, I didn't give up and I stuck by my guns, all the while learning more and more about dating, relationships and the opposite sex with each new experience.

If dating or the on-line experience isn't for you right now, and you just want to make some new friends, a great place to meet people is Not partiularly a dating site, Meetup is more like a place for people of similar interests to find each other on-line, an then plan a gathering somewhere to meet and  socialize live and in person (wow! what a concept, eh?) After a relatively simple and unobtrusive sign up process designed to screen out the riff-raff and predatory types, the new member can then do a search based on their interests, and the site can then make suggestions on existing Meetup groups near you that already cater to those interests. If there are no existing groups that appeal to you or the specific interest you have in mind, you can create your own Meetup group, and the site will provide tools to help you recruit members to your new group. Personally, I've met dozens of new people through Meetups, and made a lot of great new friends.

If you're not quite ready to date or go out to meet people, you can certainly utilize on line social networking websites like Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. Just sign up for a new member account, and start searching. Social networking sites are an especially good way to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances you may not have seen, spoken to, or maybe even thought of in years. Best of all, since existing members are linked to other members as "friends" and/or "acquaintances," as soon as you "friend" or "follow" a member and they accept your friend request, more often than not you're then linked into that other person's list of  friends, and that on-going "linking" snowballs practically ad infinitum, and, if you're careful, you may just end up the most popular kid on the street!

Finally, there are the old fashioned ways, which are some of my favorites. You may remember such ways of making acquaintances as:

1) smiling and saying hello to people you see while passing them on street;
2) knocking on your neighbor's door and introducing yourself, and/or inviting them out for coffee;
3) volunteering for your favorite charitable cause, or help care for a shut - in;
4) taking a part time job in a retail or convenience store;
5) take a class, or join a sports team or club;
6) go out to a park and take a long walk, speaking to whomever you see;
7) join a church congregation or some other faith based group;
8) plan a party, an ask anyone you know, and I mean ANY one, and encourage them to bring a friend;
9) join a book club or your local chapter of Toastmasters;
10) start a new part time business;
11) take a class;
12) hang out at Starbucks or some other local coffee house every night. Pretty soon you'll be a regular and chatting it up with all the other regulars;
13) adopt a pet and care for it and love it as deeply as possible (but only do so if you can fully commit yourself to one).

The important thing to remember is that even though you may be nervous or afraid, put yourself out there and take action. Don't wait for people to come to you. I firmly believe that at some point or another most of us have all felt lonely and friendless, and with our technologically isolating society I think it's only going to get more difficult for us all to meet one another and foster that sense of community we all so desperately need.

People WANT to be friends but are afraid of rejection -- when someone else makes the first move, we're so  relieved we'll usually jump at the opportunity to make friends, so take a chance -- even if it's just some baby steps. I promise you won't regret it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Feeling Lonely After Age 50 SUCKS!

After a convoluted and totally surprising series of events (well, totally surprising to ME), I found myself divorced and alone after being married for the better part of 23 years.

I hadn't been married to the same woman for all of that time, mind you, but for purposes of this post that's irrelevant. There is perhaps material enough on the topic of my marriages and dating relationships for another 200 or 300 posts, so just for today I'm going to spare you that dramedy and save those tales for perhaps a later time - maybe when we know each other a little better.

To compound the situation, I had decided that I was tired of what I was doing for a living, and since I was no longer married and have no children of my own (due to some other twists of fate regarding some medical issues with my first wife and subsequent long-term girlfriend), I decided to retire from my 30 plus year long, painfully predictable career as a life insurance marketer. It was a career that had always been very good to me from a financial perspective.

And I decided to 'retire' immediately after they told me I was 'laid off'.

Victim of the economy? HELL NO! I'm "R-E-T-I-R-E-D"!

And, just to top everything off, I was born and raised in many different parts of this great nation of ours, from one coast to the other, with 3 thousand miles in between, so I'm not what you would call "originally from around here".  The specific "here" mentioned is, again, irrelevant - I'm not really from around ANYwhere.

In fact, I lost touch with my school and college friends decades ago and my "blood family" is very small, living thousands of miles away from me. "Estranged" would be understating our physical and emotional distance.

I had always done my best to devote myself to wife and family (whichever wife and family I was with at any given time) and, quite predictably, much of that devotion had focused on making money and building a career, not on personal development or bonding with other guys (or gals) outside of the friends two married people always seem to be able to make "as a couple". And "she" got most of "those" in the divorce.

I didn't realize it at the time but most of what I thought were my friends were actually co-workers, colleagues, clients, or associates. People that I had met through my job. And once I left my job, my "friends" started to fall away.


I was very determined to start my life over doing something that I actually wanted to do, something fun this time, so I had no desire to "stop in" and "say hi" at the old office, and since I'm not selling or servicing any more clients had no reason to call me. I found that these "friendships" were built on a pretty narrow foundation, and since the soil they were grown in was no longer being tended to or fed on a daily basis, the relationships were becoming less and less relevant to all parties as every day passed.

So, I found myself over 50, no family whatsoever nearby to rely on, and in a geographic location that I didn't grow up in, don't particularly like, and surrounded by people with whom I felt I had little in common. Now, whether any of that is true or not is, again, irrelevant; it's HOW I FELT. And I've always been a firm believer that, at least in certain situations, perception IS reality.

To quote "The Clash": Should I Stay or Should I Go? (Loud guitars here: Dah, dah, dah-dah dah-dah-DUH!!!)

I promised I'd keep these blog posts short, so I just wanted to lay in a little history today and put down the ground work so that you would know that, basically, YUP! I've been lonely. And not so long ago, either! To 'qualify' myself, so to speak.

Tomorrow, I plan to write about what I've done to rebuild my life over the past two or three years, including joining the infamous on-line dating scene. But as I still feel I have a long way to go, I'd love to hear your comments and suggestions.

Also, I'd really like to thank reader clawdy2ette for posting her comments on my first entry, which really gave me the impetus to write about this.

It was she that made me feel as though I wasn't . . . alone.