SINGLE OVER 50... YOUR NEW NORMAL? - 1010 Park Place
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SINGLE OVER 50… YOUR NEW NORMAL?

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I’ve always been comfortable being alone. Perhaps that’s because I was an only child and I’m good at entertaining myself, but I know a lot of single women and men over 50 who hate being alone. It reminds me of Susan Sarandon’s comment in the film, Shall We Dance, about why people get married. 

“Because we need a witness to our lives.”

“There’s a billion people on the planet,” Sarandon’s character said. “What does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things. All of it. All the time. Every day. You’re saying, ‘Your life will not go unnoticed, because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed, because I will be your witness.’”

While I’m happy living alone—I would feel differently if I didn’t have Annie—and I’m happy going to movies, concerts and eating and traveling by myself, Sarandon’s words resonate with me. I don’t have a witness. 

Since the beginning of time “two” has been an even number, a union, whether it’s two people or two parakeets, while “one” is an odd number. A division. Someone without a witness. 

I’m the first to admit it’s special to share a beautiful sunset, the view from the top of the Grand Canyon, the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten, or just to sit with someone who loves you and has your best interest at heart.

But what if you’re divorced or widowed and being single is your new normal… for as long as you live? 

There’s no way you can know that for certain, but let’s say it is. Will you let being single stop you from enjoying your life? Will you decide not to go somewhere or do something because you don’t have a friend or a spouse to do it with you?

I’ve been getting on airplanes and going lots of places—by myself this summer—including Mexico, and I have numerous airline reservations left on my calendar. Let’s not wait until everything is perfect. Until we find someone to go with us, or until after we have elective cataract surgery, or maybe we’ll wait until “next year” because there’s the chance we may no longer be single.

Life is like pie à la mode: The ice cream is melting! Eat it now!

As long as I’m waxing philosophical about age… Two weeks ago I saw the Rolling Stones, AGAIN, and it was THE best Stones’s concert I’ve ever attended because… I saw a DIFFERENT Mick Jagger. Jagger’s always been so serious, all business, all about the moves and the music, but this time, he was playful and silly. It was obvious he was having a blast, and it made me happy… for him. I’m playing amateur psychiatrist, but if I had to guess, I’d say his recent life-saving heart surgery—plus the day before the concert was his 75th birthday—might have made him look at life differently. Perhaps he’s realized the ice cream is melting!

Love, Brenda

50 Comments

  • Tara Dillard August 10, 2019 at 5:30 am

    You’re not alone Brenda, you continually take me along with you. Others must feel the same. You’ve got us. Your tribe.

    Thank you for the ride.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 4:27 pm

      Tara, I’m happy that all of you are my tribe, and I’m yours. When you think about it our tribes are our witnesses. Not in the same way as a spouse, but we know we’re not alone. Every generation congregates and finds those with whom they identify, but I think it’s more important as we get older and often become more isolated. Thank you sweet lady! xoxox, Brenda

  • Karen August 10, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Good to know you are enjoying life’s roller coaster. Love your articles…always learn something and forward on to many friends.

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      Dear Karen, The rollercoaster is a part of life whether we have a spouse or not. Perhaps that’s why it’s so important to promise ourselves we’ll enjoy the ride on the way up no matter what. Thank you for sharing my blog with your friends. I appreciate it. xoxox, Brenda

  • Judy August 10, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Loved this article. Thank you!

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Judy, Thank you for reading and letting me know. I appreciate you. xoxox, Brenda

  • Beckye August 10, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Good perspectiv, Brenda! And I agree with Tara. Thank you for sharing your life with us so we can join you on the ride! Love and appreciate you, and in awe. Have a blast on your trips! Can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks for being part of my tribe Beckye! You’ve been with me here on my blog for a long time and I value and appreciate your friendship. xoxox, Brenda

  • Lucy Wilson August 10, 2019 at 9:36 am

    Thank you for this post – and all the others that are so relevant. This one particularly resonated with me. I’ve never married, not deliberately a choice, rather one of timing, I was ready, they weren’t or vice versa. And I have been blessed with the best of people in my life. But the witness is so important and I feel that absence too often, just didn’t have a name for it before now.

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      Lucy, I think all of us who don’t have a spouse or a special person in our life are keenly aware of it, but we can make a deliberate choice to love and value ourselves by realizing life is meant to be lived! We’re not living if all we do is stay home. We’re just marking time until we die. The more we get out and do something by ourselves the more comfortable and normal it feels. I hope you’re grabbing fist fulls of life and enjoying them! xoxox, Brenda

  • Carole Fletcher August 10, 2019 at 10:53 am

    Love this article. I’m a widow and want to do all those things you mentioned. I stay at home before going by myself. You are an inspiration.

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      Carole, What if you start small with something like going to the movies by yourself? If you think about it, sitting in a dark theater not talking to one another isn’t a social event. Or for your consideration… What if you go somewhere for lunch and people watch! Don’t take a book or bury your face in your phone. I love the tearoom at Neiman Marcus. It’s not that expensive and I get to see all the pretty “ladies who lunch bunch.” Its fun to see what they’re wearing and how they do their makeup. Have a Bellini. The waiters are so nice. Then walk around the store and admire things… you’d never buy… for the simple reason they’re pretty. It makes me sad to think you’re not valuing life enough to live it! Or most churches have volunteer groups. Even if you’re not a member and have no intention of joining, they would welcome you! My church makes lunch for the homeless; they fix breakfast at Fischer House for wounded veterans and their families who are healing. It’s an opportunity to step outside yourself and help someone else and yourself in the process. xoxox, Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA August 10, 2019 at 11:38 am

    ANDIAMO!
    WE GO IN ITALIAN……………..DO IT WHILE WE CAN!
    I’m in total agreement!
    BEAUTIFULLY STATED!
    XX

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      Andiamo!! Look at that! I’ve learned some Italian! Thank you my friend. xoxox, Brenda

  • Sandra Sallin - Apart From My Art August 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    So perfect. Yes, don’t I know that ice cream is melting. That’s why I say “YES” to all invitations. Be it a concert or appearing on a new magazine page. “Yes!”

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Sandy, And that’s exactly why that magazine included you in their story or you were picked to be part of that national cooking bake-off! Everything about you says, “I’m seizing the moment, and I’m going to enjoy it!” You are my role model, and I love you for it. Brenda

  • Joanna August 10, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve never been alone. I can’t imagine not having someone sitting next to you while eating meals, chatting about your day, enjoying a before dinner glass of wine on the porch, going on trips, to restaurants, watching our kids & grandkids making their way in life. And more importantly – sex! Sex is important. It makes you feel loved, content, relaxed and sexy. I need this in my life. I need him in my life. I need my witness.
    But if I was alone, I would want to be as brave as you are, Brenda.
    ,

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 5:12 pm

      Joanna, You’re blessed to love and enjoy one another! I am so happy for you because I know what that’s like. I don’t look at myself as being brave. I’ve just seen what happens to single people who aren’t part of life. They have no zest, nothing to look forward to, and letting that happen to myself scares me more than not having a spouse. xoxox, Brenda

      • Joanna August 10, 2019 at 10:18 pm

        You don’t see yourself as being brave but you are. Look at the life you have lead, full of adventure. I’ve lead a life of adventure and I regret none of it. Do I have more life to experience? You bet! And…so do you! I truly believe, from my heart, that you will love again. You’re full of life, have an adventurous spirit, and are a sexy women. He’s out there. Find him!

        • Brenda Coffee August 12, 2019 at 8:07 am

          Thank you Joanna for reminding me… I am brave and proud of it. Friday I was on an airline flight with a 34 year old woman that was afraid of everything. Literally everything like what if she got up to go to the bathroom and the pilot turned on the fasten seatbelt sign after she’d closed the door? Her list of fears went on and on. So very sad. xoxox, Brenda

  • Heidi August 10, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Hi Brenda,
    That’s an interesting idea, that of being witness and having a witness to your life. I am married, our grown daughters live near us and we spend a lot of time together as a family. But when both my parents died I felt keenly the loss of witnesses to my early life, the life I had when I first started all of this, the people who knew me when. In a way I feel that those memories have been diminished or erased, because there isn’t anyone around who lived life with me then and who can bear witness to those memories. Makes me sad, not that I’m looking back all the time.
    Anyway, I’m a great believer in doing things by myself and experiencing things solo! I don’t have a problem with it, and my daughters have grown up to be quite independent and adventurous.
    I’m glad you get out and about and share all your adventures with us!
    Xo Heidi

    • Brenda Coffee August 10, 2019 at 5:18 pm

      Heidi you’ve given us another perspective about having a witness. One I hadn’t thought about, but I know what you mean. Perhaps that’s one of the many positive reasons I write. As Tara said, you are my tribe, and I’m yours. We are one another’s witness. Brava for raising strong independent women. By doing that you have blessed and influenced countless people and generations to come! xoxox, Brenda

  • Donna August 10, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Another great article… and analogy! I am so excited that you got to see The Stones again and had a great time, this time! I’m glad you’re not letting being single right now stop you from living fully! Keep it up, I am one of your many witnesses, and right now I’m living vicariously through you!
    XO

    • Brenda Coffee August 11, 2019 at 10:25 pm

      Thank you dear Donna. I appreciate you so very much. xoxox, Brenda

  • Colleen Fuller August 10, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Sometimes two can feel lonelier than one. I think you can experience something alone (a movie, an art museum, etc.) more abundantly than with a husband or partner. Did you ever go to the theatre and your partner falls asleep or a museum and the other person is totally bored? The worse scenario is going out to eat and the other person doesn’t talk. I’m with you, Brenda, I don’t mind being alone.

    • Brenda Coffee August 11, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      Colleen you’ve listed some valid points about why it’s sometimes more enjoyable going places alone. I know what that’s like and you feel the need to rush through the museum because your companion isn’t at all interested. I’ve been there but wouldn’t have thought to include it. Thank you. xoxox, Brenda

  • MP August 10, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Great article! I do have a husband “witness” who hates to travel. I love to go alone. Recent trips – Paris, Barcelona, DC! No problem. Thinking about Lisbon or Vancouver next. Enjoy your life, I do 🙂

    • Brenda Coffee August 11, 2019 at 10:31 pm

      Hi MP! Perhaps we should team up and do a post about traveling alone and make it comfortable for those who don’t think they can do that. Thanks! xoxox, Brenda

  • Sheila-Merle Johnson August 10, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks, Brenda, for another thoughtful and humorous article. I love the ice cream analogy. I am 74 and very thankful for a relatively healthy body which I work to maintain. I am aware that each day is a gift. I have been a widow for 15 years and really enjoy my single-ness. I travel alone quite easily, but I don’t go to movies, theater, etc. alone very frequently. It’s so much easier to stay at home, which I enjoy. I have many different interest groups I belong to – French conversation, Improv theater, and more – so there are some part-time witnesses, but I have been thinking recently about missing someone close to talk about the day or the week with. Not a partner, just a best friend, maybe. Something to cultivate.
    PS: I just bought a pink sequined skirt from Net-a-Porter that I think is the same as the one you wore to Diana Ross. I can’t wait to style it and post in a few weeks on Instagram. @sheilamerle1

    • Brenda Coffee August 11, 2019 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Sheila, When you post the skirt add @1010parkplace to it so I’m sure to see it. I wore that same outfit Friday night and had women coming up to me all night long about how fabulous it was… They love that skirt. I know what you mean about not having anyone to talk to about the day to day. I see my trainer at the gym three days a week so I do have someone in my circle I speak to on a regular basis. Very impressive all the groups you’re part of. I’m happy you’re enjoying your life. xoxox, Brenda

  • Laureen August 10, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Ditto! Ditto! Ditto, Brenda!! I don’t sit at home and wait either. Movies, plays, theater productions….if they interest me ~ I’m there. I, too, am alone insofar as a husband or a lasting someone special, for 36 years now. But I haven’t let that keep me from enjoying my life. I have spectacular friends, I travel when I can, recently retired for the 2nd time!! And am so busy volunteering with an organization that finds “furever” homes for dogs & cats that I am thrilled to be able to do…..life is for living! And enjoying! And sharing!! Best to you always my dear friend!

    • Brenda Coffee August 11, 2019 at 10:42 pm

      We’re alike in many ways Laureen. Retired for the second time? LOL! I didn’t know that. Love that you’re finding furever homes for these sweet animals. I couldn’t do that because I’d want to take them all home with me! How do you not do that? I love you as well. So happy you left me a comment! xoxox, Brenda

  • Rena August 11, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    I so much enjoy you ur uplifting postings. I will also be a single traveler in the near future. Do you have any advice and tips for the single traveler?
    I am looking forward to your next posting and thank you.

    • Brenda Coffee August 11, 2019 at 10:52 pm

      Hi Miss Rena!! I find that if I’ve done my research about where I’m going and have lots of things I want to do… even if I don’t do them all…it’s better than going without a plan. Its easy to get overwhelmed in a place you’ve never been. And I talk to everyone. I’ll get in a cab and after telling them where I’m going I’ll say, “So how’s your day been?” It’s fun to engage with drivers and wait people, the concierge at the hotel… You get better service by taking an interest in them; they appreciate you’ve asked them and you have someone to talk to so you don’t feel alone. Owners of antique stores always gave great stories about the treasures they just bought. xoxox, Brenda

  • Laurel August 11, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Another great post! I was single for 12 years between marriages, and I know it can happen again – especially because my DH is older than I, not that that guarantees anything either way. I’ve watched my mom bury two husbands. While I love doing things alone, there is something nice about a good partner. Getting older does definitely give us another perspective if we’re paying attention, though. The ice cream is indeed melting! 🙂

    • Brenda Coffee August 11, 2019 at 10:57 pm

      Laurel, In a perfect world having a compatible, loving spouse or partner is ideal, but if not, we need to learn to talk and interact with people we meet on our travels. I’ve also buried two husbands and don’t want to do that again. xoxox, Brenda

  • D.A. Wolf August 12, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    I’ve also always been comfortable alone — I married late (having traveled the world and had cool adventures, on my own) — and in the 15+ years since divorce, the bulk of those years I’ve navigated life solo, most of my energy is poured into raising two sons and just surviving, it’s in answering. There have certainly been enjoyable interludes, a little bit more travel though not very much, several iterations of starting over, and dealing with life’s inevitable bumps without a partner.

    And that is the difficulty. When you are faced with those inevitable bumps, without the financial wherewithal to “purchase“ support systems, and wishing that you had someone in your corner who could help. That doesn’t need to be a spouse or even a romantic partner, but it does need to be one or more persons who can ease the fear and assist with practical matters, even if only for a temporary period.

    There are never any guarantees, of course. Even if one is married, as those of us who have been through acrimonious and years-long divorces can certainly agree on. And even if one is outgoing, which I am, at least when I actually get out (chuckling) — long-term, I see isolation as a problem for millions of us. Myself included. As a practical matter.

    The experts also agree that without someone to help advocate and nudge in matters of health — and that needn’t be a romantic partner but it does need to be someone steady — as we grow older we are more at risk.

    I have a casual acquaintance, a single woman, who is roughly 10 years my junior. She works in a traditional corporate environment, male-dominated, and works many hours a week as I used to. She is very attractive, very fit, and very much wants to meet someone with whom to fall in love. I keep encouraging her to “get out there” now — try meetups, and try online dating while she is still “marketable.” Because, most certainly, by the time you are in your late 50s or older, online dating if you are a woman is, in my experience, a wretched and basically dead-end undertaking.

    On a purely emotional note, I do miss the company of a man. I love to flirt. I love the sound of a man’s voice. I love the passing of a knowing smile between two people who care for each other and who have built a history of experiences together. I love the charge in the air and the banter that accompanies twinkling eyes. I miss affection, and yes, sexuality that provides a sort of glue to emotional intimacy. Will I have any kind of social interaction with a man again? I have no idea. I am skeptical, increasingly, that it will ever happen.

    • 1010ParkPlace August 12, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      DA, You have nailed so many important points! It’s the bumps in life… like I need my yearly mammogram, and it would be comforting to have someone in the waiting room should they find something questionable. As we get older, the bumps get more frequent and more serious. I have friends I can call upon to drive me to procedures that require anesthesia. Friends who will be here for me if I need them, but they have their own lives, and I won’t impose unless absolutely necessary. Other than my age… a big “other than”… I think I’m a great catch but men are looking for a woman much younger than I am, or they want a caretaker, or they’re creeps! So I, too, am skeptical about finding a relationship. I’m happy with my life, and I’m not even looking. xoxox, Brenda

  • Rena August 12, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    I love this Brenda your outlook is so refreshing! I’ve been happily married for 28 years (next week) and I know just how lucky I am, BUT if I lost him tomorrow I would continue to live my life, to travel and have fun. He’s worked hard to give me a life where I don’t have to worry so much about the bottom line and he would be disappointed if I did nothing with it. I wouldn’t mind traveling alone, beats sitting at home alone!

    • 1010ParkPlace August 12, 2019 at 6:26 pm

      Hi Sweet Lady! You’ve touched on something so important. “He would be disappointed if I did nothing with it.” So many women feel like they would be disrespecting their late spouse if they had fun and continued to enjoy life, but I think their husbands would agree with you. And yes… Getting on with our lives beats sitting at home alone! That doesn’t work for me either. Thank you for these words of wisdom! xoxox, Brenda

  • Diane August 12, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    As I head toward 70, I’m seeing more and more of my friends living single. This is the best advice ever! Thank you!
    Sharing!

    • 1010ParkPlace August 12, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      Thank you, Diane, for sharing this post with your friends! Statistically, we’re going to outlive men, so hopefully this will give them something to think about. I appreciate you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Lee August 12, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Good stuff. Hopefully it will get some of your single ladies out there off their duffs and simply have some fun, on their own. The great thing is you usually run into others doing the same if you’re willing to put yourself out there. You are right about enjoying your own company. I do have to say I love having my witness in the recliner next to me or traveling down the road. ❤️

    • 1010ParkPlace August 12, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Lee, I’m hoping this will open the door for women to “consider” traveling and going places on their own. Sometimes we just need to know other people are in the same position as we are, and we can see how they’re doing. I’m happy you have a witness to share things with! I love that term… witness! xoxox, Brenda

  • Barbara August 12, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Brenda, I’m one of those women you mentioned who needs to see that other women are out there on their own. Like you! I love how you put yourself out there all the time. You give me courage and help me know I need to keep living my life. I love your blog and all the things you write about. I never know what to expect each week. Thank you! Barb

    • Brenda Coffee August 13, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Thank you Barb for telling me you like my blog! I appreciate you for reading and sharing your difficulties and feelings. Getting comfortable with anything is a process. It doesn’t happen over night but it does take a willingness and commitment to continually challenge yourself. Each time you will have a little more confidence and comfort with putting yourself out there. I heard something great yesterday: Life is experiential. It’s so true and being a part of an experience means you’re really living your life, not sitting on the sidelines as life passes you by. Perhaps you could start small and got out to lunch, by yourself, one day a week. Then go to a movie one day a week and then a museum or little theater. All of us have insecurities about something so please don’t think you’re alone. Blessings, Brenda

  • Nancy Donelson August 14, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Who is “Annie”, a little dog perhaps or daughter? Sorry I haven’t picked up on that. My little dog of ten years died a year ago and I haven’t felt the same sense. I am loving your blog. It is so on target.

    • Brenda Coffee August 14, 2019 at 11:19 am

      Hi Nancy, Yes, Annie is my dog. I never had children but I’ve always had dogs so I feel your heartbreak. I’m sorry. When Sam died I wasn’t sure I would recover. A good friend kept suggesting I should at least take a look online at the animal shelters and see if I saw a dog that interested me and I found Annie. No one can replace Sam, but I have room in my heart to love another dog, and Annie has brightened my world. Did you find another dog to love? I’m happy you like my blog. Thanks for telling me! Brenda

  • Marilyn L August 25, 2019 at 2:41 am

    Thank you for your post. It is very timely for me. Next Thursday will be the second anniversary of losing my husband very suddenly. He went in to hospital at 2.30 in the morning and by 10.45 that night he had gone. I wasn’t expecting that. From that moment I became the proverbial wimp. Learning to be alone is a difficult path as most of my friends were couples and you certainly find out who are the true ones. Many have disappeared, others treat you differently but I am learning that I have to open my horizons to new possibilities and not become the needy one staying at home. I have yet to venture on holiday on my own or go to the cinema or theatre but am at least thinking of it. I can understand Barbara and it is baby steps on a journey to find my new normal and learn to live my life to the full within my financial restrictions. Thank you, I have just found your blog and look forward to reading more.

    • Brenda Coffee September 24, 2019 at 4:56 pm

      Marilyn!! Please forgive me! I just now found your addition to our conversation. Oh, how I can identify with you. My late husband went for a walk and never came home. He died of a heart problem we didn’t know he had. Both women AND men feel threatened by women who’ve been widowed. I find that sad. If they only knew we just needed their familiar friendship and to see us through this terrible time. But to lose our spouse and be abandoned by our friends is unthinkable. I’m so glad you’re at least thinking about doing things by yourself. That’s wonderful, Marilyn! Keep thinking about that and when you’re ready, dip your toe in the water. I found that going to the movies alone was an easy first step for me because the movies isn’t a social event. We go and sit in the dark and don’t talk to anyone. This past Saturday afternoon I went to the movies, alone, and there were a number of other women of a certain age there. No one cares or looks at you differently in a restaurant or when you travel. This Saturday’s blog is an interview I did with a most fascinating woman, and at the end of it she says, “She would hate to be at the end of her life and realize she hadn’t done “all these things” because she was waiting for someone to do them with, and that’s me! I hope to see you, again, here, Marilyn! So happy you introduced yourself. I’ll look for you again. xoxox, Brenda

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