Question: Dear Luise: I am an older woman who has not had a relationship in my life for over 20 years. 3 years ago I fell for a much younger man who did seem interested but then backed off. I can’t seem to let him go. I feel he is/was my last chance for a little bit of love. I don’t know how to let him go. We still talk (mostly on line) and he does stop by once in a while but I am in constant pain wanting more from him. How can I let him go and just not care any more? D.
Answer: Dear D.: I know of no way to not care when you do care. You are asking how to not feel what you feel. And it really isn’t a case of letting him go, is it? He’s already gone. Acceptance may be the big issue and choice may be the solution.
There is very little chance that the guy doesn’t know what you are going through. He may think that throwing you a few crumbs online and offering an occasional drop-in is kindness. You have a choice about that when you don’t experience it in a positive way. It sounds like he might just be keeping the wound open.
The age difference, which you can do nothing about, may appear to be the big problem but this happens to people of all ages and persuasions. Both are interested at first and then one wanders off. The one left behind can get stuck in unrealistic hopes and “what might have been.”
The way out of your pain is diversion. What often happens is that some people would actually rather exist in false-hope than face up to the tiger of loneliness and isolation. The pain of loss sometimes wins over the pain of nothingness. So, along with all of the feelings that you are dealing with remains the fact that you may dread the other option more. Diversion is taking your love and redirecting it. There are hoards of people and yes, animals, that need love. You have a lot to offer beyond self-pity…(no matter how justified.)
If you have a church affiliation, talk to someone there about where the local needs lie. It may be in a nursing home or an adult daycare center. We have one on the retirement campus where I live and you might be surprised to know that there are people there who never, *ever* have visitors. Activities directors need assistants, too. There are daycare centers for children that have the same needs…kids out there with no grandma to “make it all better.”
If you don’t have a church connection, you might find establishing one a positive step toward healing. Or you could establish a relationship with a counselor to help you through this. It’s OK to need an advocate and some direction to help you turn this corner in your life.
What isn’t working is staying stuck. You have love to give and when you find a way to do that that works, you will feel the flow of love back to you. We all need that. Blessings, Luise