Dear Amy: I am a 73-year-old man who was widowed four years ago.
I’ve been dating “Maria” for over a year. She is 71 and was raised in Spain.
Maria is a genuinely good person, and she is madly in love with me, to the point of smothering. (Her late husband was not very kind to her.)
Maria has been professing her love for me since we began texting before our first date. (She is a neighbor of some friends of mine and apparently had her eye on me for a while.)
She says I am the man of her dreams and that she wants to spend the rest of her life with me. And she says this with total earnestness and wide-eyed schoolgirl innocence.
I do feel love for her, though not as intensely as she does for me. I’ve just never felt that special “click” with her.
My dilemma is this: I want to date other women. I want to find one that I really click with and without having to always explain basic Americana (like baseball, “The Wizard of Oz”, the Emmy Awards, etc.). Maria never really immersed herself in our culture.
But I know that breaking up with Maria will tear her apart. After my wife died, I had one relationship before this one; after nine months the woman broke up with me and I felt shattered. I don’t want her to feel that way and I know how badly she would take it.
I’ve already made two attempts at breaking up and each time she’s basically talked me out of it.
She says it’s fine if I see other women, but she needs to see me once a week because she can’t live without me in her life.
I enjoy her very much when I’m with her, but I don’t really miss her when we’re apart.
I also think at times, how can I give up a love this deep and pure?
I was with my wife for 51 years and I’m afraid I have no real experience in these matters.
– Still Looking
Dear Still Looking: You need to back slowly away from this relationship (the way you would after encountering a bear in the woods).
And then turn around and run.
If you don’t feel that special “click” with “Maria,” and want to pursue other relationships, then you need to break up with her. For real.
Maria is grasping a number of red flags and waving them at you.
This is not a deep and pure love – this is clutching and smothering.
You know that Maria will be hurt, but I suggest that what you’re really worried about is the intense discomfort you will feel because of her behavior.
She is capitalizing on your fear when she lures you back.
You should be both clear and calm. Tell her that you have decided to be single again and that you will not be seeing her. Stay focused, firm, polite and kind.
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