Widowed & Lonely, Companionship Wanted - Relationship Advice

Dear Veronica,

I am a widower. My wife passed away last year. We were married 30 years and I am now in my late 50s. I work in a large busy office so I have access to computers. I get invited to happy hour and nights out by workmates. I don't go because I feel they are younger than me and just feel sorry for me. I am feeling lonely. I don't want to get married again. I want someone to have dinner with and to the movies with. I want a friend that I can call up and hang out with. I admit I would like some physical companionship too. I read your article about the person that had the fake dating profile and I am afraid now to try to meet someone online. Veronica can you give me some advice on how I can find a companion and what to do? Thank you very much.

Robert

Dear Robert,

Thank you so much for emailing me. I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Yes, that article you referred to where that boy pretended to be a girl in a fake online dating profile was disturbing to me on so many levels. I can understand your not wanting to meet someone online.

In case it is something you decide to consider, let me just give you some fast pointers, and then we will move on. Free personals, like on craigslist, are the ones you should most worry about. Most fakers are not going to invest in some kind of pay service in order to just mess around. A dating service that requires payment to connect to others is the safer way to go. Since you are looking for companionship, only look at local services to you, or a company that has the ability to narrow down search options or results by city.

If you come across a profile of someone you think might be worth meeting, tell them right away you want to video chat. If they hesitate, move on. Seriously. You want to see that they are who they claim they are immediately, no exceptions. If you work in an office you have access to some kind of computer with a video camera. Skype is a free service you can download and use for Skype to Skype chatting. You are both safe to just turn your webcams on and have a chat so you can each see that the other is for real right away. There is no reason for someone who's honest to hesitate in having a quick video chat meet just so you can see each other.

But if you've made up your mind that the online thing is just not for you, that's ok. 

I wrote a Hub about Dating Again, and much of it applies to you and your situation. I talk about your living space, what to talk about on a first date, and I make some suggestions on where to go to meet people. Your working in a big office gives you an advantage. Please don't turn down those invites to Happy Hour. Everyone is welcome at a Happy Hour. If they didn't invite you along before it was probably just because they assumed you preferred to go straight home to your wife. Now that your situation has changed, their invite statuses may have changed. If you try it and for whatever reason it's uncomfortable, you don't have to go again. But you'll never know until you try. 

Here's something to think about. The way you described how you feel lonely, and you want someone to have dinner with and to do things with, you aren't the only person that feels that way. All it takes here is someone to go first. Did you ever see The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Eli Wallach? Sometimes different people are alone or lonely for different reasons. Maybe you have someone in your office whose partner is in the military and is stationed someplace else right now. Or maybe someone's recently single, or new to the company. Maybe they'd like to grab dinner and a movie one night as much as you would. You have to kind of put yourself out there and be open to different situations. Don't dismiss invites as pity. And even if something is extended to you because someone feels sorry for the situation you're in, so what? Is that really a bad thing? I feel sorry about it. It's human. It's good to feel for other people. 

If you're someone that likes to grill, look into having a few of your neighbors over for a casual barbecue. If you have a dog, take the dog to a dog park and try to strike up a conversation with some of the people there. 

Look at these opportunities as networking possibilities. Even if you and a neighbor have nothing in common, maybe that neighbor has an aunt or a godmother that would be someone you'd like to meet. You never know. So be open to it. 

Since you specifically said "companion" consider trying to meet someone through activity based events. Try going to bingo, or a political get together, or a neighborhood watch group. Join a bowling league! Those are always fun for all ages. If there's a sport you like, maybe you could go around to your local schools or orgs and offer to be an umpire or an assistant coach. It's a great way to meet parents and grandparents. 

Feeling like you want to have physical companionship again is healthy and normal. The funny thing is, it works similarly to how it worked when you were 19. If you get to know a person first as a friend, and you build a little trust, it may lead to that direction. Your note didn't give me the feeling that this is your primary goal. Maybe just seek out some new friendships and companions and see what comes your way. If you wind up meeting someone you're attracted to, if you just honestly let them know how you feel and ask them on a date instead of just a get together, you'll probably do just fine.

There is a cafe near me that does trivia nights, and there is another coffee house that does open mic nights. They are super friendly events and people are just drinking coffee and hanging out. Something like that may be really fun. I know it's hard to show up someplace alone, but you might be surprised at how easy it is in a casual setting to just start talking to someone. Sports events are often like that. You can do the sports bar thing, those are easy on a game night. Or you could attend a local game at a high school or college.

Of course you can always think with your heart and see if there's a charity in your area you could volunteer an hour or two with a week. A food pantry, a soup kitchen, an animal shelter, a meals on wheels, a big brother organization. Some clubs like The Elks or the VFW's have drives and fund raisers for various charities, and often they do other events that might be fun. Car and boat shows, fairs, horse shows, one of those 2 day tiling classes at Home Depot, a book signing, a Christmas play, try out some different events and see what happens.

One thing that happens is that your energy changes. When you are giving off that vibe that says I'm alone and lonely, that's only going to open so many doors. But when you put off that vibe that says you're free, you're looking for things to do, you'd like to meet people, you're up for anything, you're easy to talk to and you enjoy going out sometimes, you will attract like minded people.

Robert, again I am sorry for your loss. There is a lot that you can do to try to get out there and find some companionship again. I hope this helped and gave you some ideas. Best of luck to you.

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15 comments

Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 6 years ago from Sydney

Veronica, can I suggest a change to your advice, from someone who's been there?

Since you have (rightly) suggested he choose dating sites that can provide local results, he can go one better than a video date. He can suggest meeting for coffee, in a public place, straight away.

If he gets a cheap mobile phone specially for dating purposes, he can offer his contact number to the woman without any concerns, and that will make her feel safe enough to contact him.

Regular coffee dates with women will be a nice outing for him, even if they turn out not to be suitable.

Some dating services also offer social evenings. I recommend them - they're not nearly as bad as you might imagine!


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Marisa,

With turning the video on for a second you can see that the person you are talking to is really who they claimed to be. The phone you suggested doesn't help with that. Showing up for coffee doesn't either. If it's any kind of a predator, he's vulnerable. I am sticking with my advice, especially for anyone who could be getting set up to get jumped. Insist on a quick video chat quickly just so you can each see each other first. Nothing is 100% but that to me is the smartest safest thing to do, which is what I was going for since he was afraid because of the article I wrote about the guy with the dating profile posing as a woman.


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 6 years ago from Sydney

Veronica, I think if Robert followed your advice and used a reputable PAID dating site, and arranged the date in a good neighborhood, at a busy coffee shop, in daylight, he'd be fine. As you say, the predators get easy pickings on the free sites, they're not going to invest even a few dollars on the paid ones. I'm just concerned that the kind of ladies Robert would like to meet may not have video capability.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Winkles,

I use a stock photography site mostly. Once in a while I will take a photo myself of something specific, but most of the images I buy from one of a few stock sites, or browse their free images. The blog size images that are perfect for hubpages are usually pretty inexpensive.

Thanks for asking. It always bothers me to see stolen images on people's hubs: images of celebs or whatever that you know they do not have the right to use. I always think well if they were willing to steal photos what else in the article is stolen. As a writer I just have to respect copyrights. Do onto others, you know what I mean? Thanks, Winkles.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Good point Marisa. Also good to know that those events can be fun.


 6 years ago

Veronica, I think this is excellent advice. And I do applaud the writer for wanting to get back out there and meet people. Some who are widowed take much longer to feel like meeting people again. I have been widowed for a number of years, have been in two long-term relationships that were nice but were not meant to be more than that. I have used paid dating sites and found it mostly a waste of time and money. I have dated from online and there are nice people there, but I found it very time-consuming. I would rather be out living life, doing what I love, meeting people in real life. I love the idea of suggesting volunteering as it helps for those seeking to almost not be seeking, but rather to be giving and enjoying the rewards of feeling valued. I know everyone feels different about being widowed, and I think each person has to find where they feel most comfortable. I think your advice is extremely helpful and I can understand Robert's desire to share desirable companionship. as always, thanks for sharing.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Thank you for the comment. I appreciate the input. My husband and I volunteered for 12 years with a charity, and met many people through it. It's been my experience that meeting people through activities even something as simple as playing darts in a bar, can be a lot of fun.


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 6 years ago from Sydney

Veronica, this Hub has been haunting me ever since I left my comment. You know I admire your Hubs and your advice is usually spot on - but in this case, I have to take issue with you.

Single older people already have many fears holding them back - fear of technology, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown. They need encouragement to overcome their fears - adding MORE fears is a really irresponsible thing to do.

For instance, you mention a gay man who got bashed in the same situation. That is totally irrelevant! Gay bashing is a sport which some twisted people engage in, and that kind of twisted person enjoys playing games with their prey, like a cat with a mouse. But there's no such thing as hetero-bashing, so to put that idea in Robert's head is just making him needlessly fearful.

If someone was going to go to the trouble of setting up a straight man for a bashing, they'd make sure he was carrying an amount of cash worth stealing - so they would offer to sell something valuable, not just offer a date.

Second, you tell Robert he has to be careful because he's "older and more vulnerable". He is not a frail, doddery old man - he's in his late fifties - the same age as Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan or Tom Hanks. I'm also in my late 50's and I can tell you, those men are not unusually young for their age - they look about the same age as my husband and many of my friends. So muggers are not going to see Robert as an easy pushover.

In fact, men and women of Robert's age are statistically the LEAST likely to get robbed. Muggers would rather target younger people who carry stuff worth stealing, like iPods, nice cellphones and sneakers - or very old people who will hand over cash without a protest.

So the chances of anything awful happening to anyone in that age group - male or female - at a meeting in a coffee shop in broad daylight are very, very low.

Finally, I can't shake a picture of a lovely widow, who can't afford a computer and uses the PC at her local library. She may be Robert's perfect match but he will never know, because you've told him not to risk meeting anyone if he can't see them on webcam first.

Or perhaps the widow is reading this. She's just plucked up courage to sign on for a dating site, but now she thinks, "Oh dear, I can't do this - because I don't have a webcam and it will be too dangerous to meet any of these men, even for coffee". So she goes home to her lonely bedsit.

Of course, Robert and my widow should be getting out and going to evening classes or volunteering for charities, and they will meet people - but the fact is, many of those people will be spoken for. Online dating really is the best option for many older singles.

Yes I agree the webcam idea is the ideal. But you're talking about an age group that may not own a PC let alone a webcam. Please don't isolate them by putting the idea in their head that even their local coffee shop isn't safe.


Robert 6 years ago

Marisa Wright,

I think the advice was very safe. Older folk are often robbed for their insurance cards or their identities. I am glad you were not the one I turned to for advice.

Veronica thank you for your email asking me to read the new comment. Thank you for all your emails. You were right as soon as I reached out people were happy to help. You asked me to share an update so here it is. I took your advice. I go to the happy hours at work now. People from the happy hours include other offices. I did not know that. I meet people all over our area. Sometimes they will bring people the next week just to meet me. Through all these people I always have someone in the area to have dinner with if I want.

They encouraged me to join eharmony like you said. I did not want to. I am trying it. I met 3 women so far. I always video chat first. One woman didn't have a webcam. She picked up one at Walmart for $14.99. We chatted that night. They were nice but seemed desperate. I don't like eharmony. I meet the most people at happy hour. They are fun people. I met a group of single men my age from another company. That has been very nice. One met a woman online who kept saying she did not want to meet yet. After 2 months she finally confessed she was not who she claimed. Everyone says this happens all the time. He was not robbed but he was heartbroken. Another kept sending the girl money to come meet him and she never came just asked for more money. By then he was emotionally invested. When he found out he was hurt. I am glad you are the one I turned to for advice. Your example was simple. People are not always what they seem.

One more thing I would like to say. Marisa accused you of adding to my fears. Nothing you said scared me. I felt very safe with your advice. You made me feel like I could be in control. Marisa is the one that makes me scared. She doesn't even know why older people get mugged? She made up dangerous advice. You gave a smart example of people being fake online. Anyone reading it can understand what you were saying. You wanted me to be careful. You told me how. It went over Marisa's head. She only saw heterobashing from that? I wrote to you for advice. I did not write to her. She was rude about your advice. But she didn't even understand it. She said your advice haunted her. She wrote she takes issue. Who is she to take issue?

Thank you for your good advice for me Veronica. I am much happier now thanks to you.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Robert,

I'm so happy for you! Thanks for coming back on here and filling us in as I'd hoped you would.

You had said the online dating thing isn't for you but I am still glad you gave it a whirl. It sounds as if you are doing great going to happy hour in your area, and meeting people that way. Most of all I am so glad you are reaching out to those around you in your safezone, where you felt comfortable to take a chance, and I see it's working. I am glad you always have someone to have dinner with, that put a big smile on my face. Best to you, Robert! Please keep in touch!

xoxo


Lala_Lisa profile image

Lala_Lisa 6 years ago

Un-fucking-believable!!! Marisa Wright's advice is ridiculous! That whole rant how you're just trying to scare this guy and call him old?? I am glad Robert even said how ridiculous it was that her only draw from the example you gave him was heterbashing!!! What planet does she live on?? She thinks people only get mugged for ipods sneakers and cash?? Keys to a car, keys to a house, one piece of ID is all hackers need for identity theft!! And watch the freaking news, it happens all the time!! Nothing you said was at all scarey, it was just good sense. I'm with robert what's scary is this person that leaves three comments on your hub that has nothing to do with her and says things like she is haunted and she has just got to take issue with you. What the hell?????? What a looney! I'm so happy for robert but I'm just so shocked at that crazy comment from marisa.


Your Twitter Friend 6 years ago

Well that was an interesting Twitter/Tweeting session. I think you're right that engaging people like that is a no-win. I probably wouldn't either. But I also wouldn't have posted a comment from someone that "must take issue" with me and demonstrates a much less than rational line of thought. Look at it this way. You had another comment on another Hub this week where someone accused the boyfriend of being secretly married. The commenter said it happened to them. Umm... Project much? I thought you handled that one very nicely, saying that happens but there were no indications in this situation of that, and you didn't think that was the case here. More comments followed from the person and it just got to be very sad and obvious on her part. That's my advice to you and it seemed to me other Tweeters agreed. Someone who could only conclude "hetero-bashing" was all that could be drawn from your example of people luring people into meetings, clearly will out themselves as they speak. This one here did in her argumentative comments. Having no idea why people get mugged and going after you for a fair warning is really a reality check. Someone on Twitter started posting links to news articles of exactly what you were warning, that this woman couldn't even imagine. Believe me, you don't have to worry or do anything. Someone has come across as rational and careful, and someone is coming across as not-all-there.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Alright. Enough. I don't want to host this kind of forum. It's done. I'm not posting any more comments from anyone else. Thanks.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay

wow, Veronica. I saw this on the front page and wanted to see the comments as I knew I had responded a few weeks aog, for some reason, my name didn't show up above. I must have been signed out. I'm thrilled to see Robert is taking your advice and getting out and meeting people. That's a big step, and once taken, it becomes easier to be meeting new people.

I really appreciate the time and thoughtful advice you put into your responses. Obviously, it has helped Robert a lot and I'm sure will help others as well. Cheers!


sid_candid profile image

sid_candid 6 years ago

Wow Veronica, have to say this is one of the best hubs I have come across. Really useful and good information. Thanks a lot.

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