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Readers respond: The new reality of dating over 65: Men want to live together; women don’t

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First thoughts

Maybe the women in the story is smart enough to realize that, hey, this guy has been married three times and none of them have worked out – she doesn’t want to be the fourth.

I definitely see a pattern of behaviour here. –Klens75

Finally an article that realizes that all those single older people living alone are not necessarily lonely, and that there is not an epidemic of loneliness in older people.

Maybe some are, particularly men, but plenty of us live alone because we like it that way, and would not appreciate government policies meant to force us into cohabiting arrangements.

All those predictions that older boomers would get together to share housing and live communally were wrong. It’s not happening because few people want to live that way. The hippie communes didn’t last for a reason. People want independence and privacy. –skyofblue

Let’s hope seniors have enough capital to fund that independence and privacy. Otherwise the state is going to need to build a lot of social housing. –Tricky

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I’m so glad to see an article on this topic. I’m going to show it to my father-in-law’s friend who is in exactly this position, enjoying a new relationship with him without feeling the need to remarry. She’s come to that decision on her own after many years of a bad marriage, and I’m sure she will be bolstered by learning how many women feel the same. –HilkkaW

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Her story

I (female, mid-60s) always did and do the raking, and I still love snow shovelling, particularly if the stars are out. Great exercise and i love the (usual) quiet and solitude of the task that shows immediate results! It also gets me away from the kitchen and vacuuming tedium. Maybe some of these couples should have learned to negotiate to get to do more of the domestic chores they like – switch it up for a while? –spcc

I was widowed at 51. I found that most of the couples around me after my husband died didn’t really know how to incorporate a single woman into their lives. Some women didn’t seemingly even want me around their husbands. I sensed this, real or not.

Most of the men that showed interest in me at this age were all the “older farts” who were themselves either widowed or divorced. It was a real turn-off because in my mid-50s to mid-60s I was not interested in someone 70 to 90. Any males my age definitely wanted a much younger female.

I finally met a gentleman who has largely been my companion for years, but both of us like our private parts of our own lives. We have different educational and family backgrounds, and different qualities in our own families that are endearing to each one of us separately. I am the one that is far more educated and monied.

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Alas, I am much better as is, living alone, even though it would have been nice to meet and marry a reliable, conscientious, likable and financially stable male … never happened. –B2thbda

I became single at 55ish after 25 years, it took a lot of time and pain to gain my confidence back and rebuild my social network. In the process I met a lot of men who seem to have little self awareness - they immediately complained about their ex-wives, had health issues and poor hygiene. I finally met my current partner and he said much the same about the females he met. He’s been single since his 40s and I had my new independence ... and for many other reasons neither of us want to co-habit. It’s worked out - we take care of each other - we have our space. Nothing magic here. A lot of people get it, but wow, i wish the rest would quit asking why we aren’t living together! –Mouse12345

Women don’t want to be saddled with all the domestic chores. That’s fairly obvious. Men like having someone take care of them. –fadodado

I’m a woman in my early 60s. The men I’ve dated haven’t needed or wanted a maid or a nurse. Nevertheless, living together is tough. When you partner young, you create habits and living styles together. But later, you bring together people with preferred ways of living (e.g. noise levels, cleanliness, autonomy, sleeping, etc.). Living together would be amazing, but I just think it gets harder to find or negotiate harmony and compatibility in a living situation as you age. And when women or men are financially independent (not rich but able to support themselves), living together becomes a choice but not necessary. –being_human1

I think it’s not that we don’t want to live with a man. In my case it’s more that, at this point in my life, I know who I am and who I want to share my life with, if at all. I’ve learned to become very selective. And that’s a good thing, for me, anyway. –Jackpine10

My story: 50 and divorced and I make double the amount of money as my ex-husband. We have 50-50 shared custody and I pay child support, obviously. Most of my peers are in the same situation financially. I think some are perhaps commenting on the situation from the 1980s. My family lawyer indicated that the tide is turning rapidly.

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Anyway, I will never live full-time with a man again. A few reasons why: My assets belong to my children when I die, not to anyone else. Also, while I worked very hard, I also was the primary child-care giver, house cleaner, clothes washer, kid taxi driver, etc. And yes he did most of the yard work.

He kept the house with the divorce. I moved to a townhouse where outside maintenance is taken care of and inside, when things need to be fixed that I can’t do myself, there is TaskRabbit or Google.

I am very happy living alone in my own space. I am in a relationship where we both have our own place. Seems to work very well. –sjackso222

I understand this. My husband is the only person I will ever live with. If something were to happen to him, I would live alone – even if I dated. There is a lot of compromise that comes with cohabitation and marriage. I am happy to compromise for my husband because I love him very much. We built a life together (been together since our early 20s) and he makes compromises for me. It ends there. Even though I am still in my 30s, I find it difficult to imagine loving anyone as much or having such a co-developed life with anyone else (degrees are obtained, careers are established). –Sickofpartisanship

His story

It has taken me almost 30 years to become financially independent. There is a zero-per-cent chance I would risk all of it on a woman. Being single is the ultimate form of freedom. –Colonel1972

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Once I’m done with this marriage – and not if, but when – I will never cohabit with another female as long as I live. They have made me see the happiness in being alone but sane. –William190

Heck, I know a bunch of 50-year-old women who are the same. I dated one for 14 months when I realized she had no intention of progressing the relationship, so I left. Simple as that. There’s a lot more fish in the ocean and, as you get older, there’s more for men to choose from as there are more women than men.

If the men don’t like it they should play the field. If the one you want to live with doesn’t want to live with you, then get another woman.

I believe senior women have a great network of female friends who do stuff together, whereas men have not established or maintained that closeness with other men and end up lonely.

I see that in my mother as she goes to theatre at the Royal Alex, live music at Roy Thompson Hall and cruises to just about everywhere with her friends and church group. –ramblinpaul

About my mom

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My father died when he was 61 and my mother 60. She never married again, but was interested in a few men. She’d always been what one would call a “man’s woman,” more interested in men and their interests than other women.

But she said the same thing: She was not about to live with a man again. Why? He would doubtless expect her to look after him – cooking, cleaning, etc. She’d loved my father and her children, but she was now done with that. (This may explain the trend of why separated or widowed women take a long time before finding a new relationship, but men are much quicker to.)

She did want male companionship – just not with that price tag. That was tricky too: At 60, Mom was interested in a man around her age, but in truth the 60-year-old men were look at women 15 years younger. She certainly was not interested in hitching her star to a 75-year-old at the time. –Gizella

Wife’s mom (who was in her 70s) had – it would seem – a heart-wrenching decision to make. After 50-odd years of great marriage, Alzheimer’s had struck my wife’s dad. What to do? Family met to discuss it, tip-toeing around the essential decision. So, finally, I asked mom this: “Listen, if you had a choice, what would you want to do? Would you want home support and continue to live with your husband here? Or live apart, find a great place where he could live safely and get the care he needs full-time?”

"Oh! Put him in a home!" she blurted.

And so, we did. –Rich Mole

FWIW my 83-year-old mother remarried a younger man, 82, about four years ago. They are extremely happy: She is still teaching and writing, he does the odd lecture in his former field as a professor. Everyone asked them why they bothered to get married (we kids teased her that she must be pregnant), but they wanted the formal connection. Yes, there is a prenup. However, what really makes this work is that they both have money enough to enjoy life, and money enough that neither is a caretaker or will have to become one in future. Money is the key to independence, married or not. –smartsaver

My mother told me that older men who want to marry (or remarry as the case may be) do so to have a “nurse or purse.” Either way, it’s no bargain for the women. –SLM1

Root causes

The other trend that didn't really get touched on sufficiently is that seniors now are vastly more wealthy than in the past. They can also count on better pensions and greater depth of financial support from government than previous generations.

That wealth creates options that simply didn’t exist before, such as separate households.

As it happens, some of that, like DB pensions, is going away, and so seniors 20 years from now may reverse the trend of having separate households, partially. –DollyParker

Something that hasn’t been mentioned is many of these women may have been involved in caring for their elderly parents (it seems to always fall to the daughter). They’ve seen firsthand what happens as we age and don’t want that role again. After generally being the main caregiver for the kids and then the parents, they want and need time for themselves. –Leese1

Are relationships only about companionship and household chores? What about sex? Why is that not mentioned?

I suspect most of the men want sex, while the women are not interested. I think that, in general, for men, sex is a goal; for women, sex is a means to a goal. –Galactic Hero

So a number of men have pointed out that men in their 70s will date 20 years younger if they can.

For the sake of argument, I’ll assume that’s true. But in that case, have you considered that the 70-year-old men who can’t get the younger women they supposedly want are probably no prize? So why should the 70-year-old women have to put up with them? If you’re a grouchy old guy who makes little financial contribution, doesn’t cook or clean, isn’t a ball of fun to be around and looks at women of his own generation as second-best, what are you offering an independent 70-year-old woman who can look after herself?

The sexes have become more equal, which means women have more choices. I expect there are also more wealthy and interesting 70-year-old women with 50-year-old boy toys than in the past as well. –Freshycat

Final words

Growing old together is one thing. Starting old together is quite another. –Ellevin

One widow’s advice, several years ago: “Don’t trade your pension for a prostate.” –You’re right but

Friends, with benefits. 60 is the new 20. –HabFan410

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