By Tom Blake
In 24 years of writing columns about senior romance, I’ve often been asked about senior couples cohabitating. The most recent question in that category came from Sally (not her true name), 69, a widow of four years.
Sally emailed: “I am financially secure, healthy, fit and attractive. I have been doing volunteer work for the last two years, which is how I met the man I am now seeing.”
Sally explained that she met him last spring when he visited the museum where she volunteers as a docent. He lives 34 miles from her. They’ve been dating on weekends since mid-May. He’s 56, 13 years younger. He told her the age difference doesn’t bother him.
“I like the way our relationship is now. We get a chance to miss one another because we don’t live together,” Sally said. “We have had some misunderstandings but have worked through them and grown in our relationship.
“He is hardworking and loves his sisters and 86-year-old mother, who live in Kansas. We visited them last November. He is not as financially secure as I and he still works full time, which is good. I am a retired teacher and I own a nice, large, mortgage-free home.
“He has never married. My late husband and I had a solid, loving marriage for 39 years and then he became ill and died suddenly.
“I always felt I would never marry or live with a man again, but I did want to find a special person with whom I could share a committed relationship.
“My man-friend wants to move in with me; we are ‘discussing’ it. I know what it’s like to be married; he does not. He has had a few live-in relationships of a few years each. What are your thoughts on his moving in with me?”
Tom’s Response to Sally
I see eight red flags if the man moves in:
- What you have now is a LAT, a living-apart-together relationship, which is becoming more common among seniors who want a partner in their lives, but who also want to keep their independence.
You say you like the way things are now, that you get a chance to miss each other because you don’t live together. Living with a person can change the relationship dynamic from day one. Why risk that?
- You’ve seen each other only on weekends. Have you tried weekdays as well?
- You’ve already had differences. Living together isn’t easier; it’s harder. More differences could surface.
- I worry about his track record, namely, the “few” live-in relationships he’s had, none lasting more than a few years. Plus, he has never married. How do you know you two will get along living 24/7 under the same roof?
- The age gap is significant. Why is he interested in a woman 13 years older than him? With all due respect to you and your wonderful qualities, I suspect he likes that your home is paid off and you are financially set. Do you want to risk the financial security you worked so hard to accumulate?
- Moving someone in is easy. Getting someone to move out can be a nightmare. Do you want to take that chance?
- If he moved in, would he commute 68 miles roundtrip to work? Or, would he retire and be around the house seven days a week? That would drive you crazy because you treasure your private time.
- Why does he want to move in? To live on your money? What about finances? Would he pay rent and share expenses?
Sally, allowing him to move in is too risky; there are too many issues. Give it time. It’s only been eight months. And, even then, proceed with caution. You’ve got too much to lose and too little to gain.
Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businessman who has authored several books on middle-aged dating. See his websites www.findingloveafter50.com; www.vicsta.com and www.travelafter55.com. To receive Tom’s weekly online newsletter, sign up at www.findingloveafter50.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.