Empathy, finding love, and an appreciation for music

Last week's message, that there is more to life after 50 than just finding love, struck chords in ways I did not anticipate.

I had no idea so many of you enjoy the song "Stay" by Jackson Browne, including my brother Bill, from Dallas. He and I had never shared that information before. Close to 200 champs clicked on the link to listen to it.

John, Pennsylvania, said: "I love the song 'Stay.' Having been in bands in the 70's, I recall those sounds Browne sings about: I can hear the sounds of slammin doors and foldin chairs, and that's a sound they'll never know."

Responses from people I cannot help

Responses came from people I cannot help, including the non-champ whose brief response was "Blah-blah-blah." Guess she wasn't too impressed.

Another woman I cannot help wrote,"I am soon to be 49 and just came out of another breakup--this time with someone I really fell in love with.

"I am panicked I am going to be alone the rest of my life. I attract men but then repel them. I don't know how to change what I am doing. What happens when you have so much baggage--as I do--how to disclose and not disclose?

"My baggage is 14 straight years of never-ending litigation with my ex--he sues me constantly. Unfortunately this is not likely to stop soon, and so that is a large part of the confidence issue. Professionally I am successful and independent. Aesthetically I am or at least have been told I am attractive (former cheerleader, etc), and I am in shape.

"I don't know how to break this cycle and now I have so much baggage and scar tissue I am literally petrified I am scarred for life and that no one I want will want me.

"How do I break this cycle of dysfunction so I am not single the rest of my life? I hired a shrink at the end of May after the last breakup.

Tom's comment to her:I cannot help you. You need a therapist and a good lawyer.

Responses from champs who found empathy in the message

Bobbi said, "I will turn 60 next year and the thought of looking for that 'love of my life' seems overwhelming and not possible. My folks are in their 80's and are losing their home; they will be moving in with me. Taking care of them and dealing as an entrepreneur in a down economy means no retirement on the horizon. Your newsletter helps me live vicariously through all of you. Keep up the trips, advice and the stories."

Joy:"I have endured hard times in the last few years. After my divorce (married 33 years), I became a realtor and was moderately successful for 16 years - until the bottom fell out of the real estate market and I had to give up. I had many debts to pay and wound up having to sell my beautiful home and car and move to a condo.

"Now, at 73, I work 45 hours a week at senior care giving (mostly Alzheimer's clients). I, too, am totally exhausted after my 9 hour days and at the low pay ($9.50 an hour through an agency) and have no money left to date. Gentlemen today expect you to pay your own way. Many are looking for women who will travel with them.

"I would love to do this, but the means aren't there. I haven't had a gentleman friend for over 2 years. When my friends ask why I am not out there dating, my stock answer is 'I can't afford a boyfriend.' I don't know if I will live to see things change or not, but I still dream that it will be different someday."

Pat,"We all are facing other priorities in our lives because of the economy, something we tend to forget when thinking something good should be happening in our love life. We forget the other person is probably as stressed as we are which doesn't make it easy to find the energy to keep dating, talking and looking!

"My Dad worked until he was 79 and I plan on working until 75, if not 80, as long as my health holds out and my company wants me. That is one way to help this economy turn around and help a little with the financial stress I am facing! That and swimming a mile every day or walking two miles on the treadmill seem to help me keep moving forward!"

My comment: I relate to Bobbi's, Joy's, and Pat's messages as I hope to continue working at my "day job," Tutor and Spunky's Deli, in Dana Point, California, for another five years or so. And, I plan to continue writing as long as my mind functions and my ballpoint pen has ink. We read that keeping our minds active and being involved in something worthwhile can add a few more years to our lives. We'll see how that goes.

© 2010, Tom Blake

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Tom Blake is an expert on dating after 50. He has appeared twice on the "Today Show" and has written more than 500 columns on dating and relationships. His "Single Again" column appears in The Orange County Register in southern California, is read worldwide and is often featured on msn.com. He is a professional speaker. He spoke at the national AARP convention in San Diego in 2002, and in Chicago. His book, Middle Aged and Dating Again, is a humorous account of his first year of dating after his third divorce. His second book is Finding Love After 50: How to begin, where to go, what to do. His latest book is titled How 50 Couples Found Love after 50. To ask a question or receive Tom's free weekly column on middle-age dating and relationships by e-mail, click on www.findingloveafter50.com or E-Mail.

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