Personals

Fabulous cook, avid golfer and puzzle solver, lover of books, music, and film: slender, attractive widow, a retired educator, seeks man, 60-75, with whom to share laughter, conversation, etc. Metro NY/NJ.

Sensual, passionate,successful artist. Quiet beauty, mischievous spark, and heartfelt warmth. Considered fun to be around and completely real. Slender, athletic, very physical, and outdoorsy. Enjoys hiking, cross-country skiing, painting, watercolors outdoors, community activism to make the world a better place, dancing, sailing. Relaxed traveler, comfortable anywhere (Maine islands to Cornwall, Greece, Provence). Good company and good sport, enjoys busy, happy life, yet looking for special zing with warm, personable, fit and active New England area man, 55 through early 70s, for dinners, movies, and perhaps more.

Merry widow, 63. European-born, American-educated college professor/writer. Tall, fetching, sassy, postmodern. Loves excitement of city life and peacefulness of nature. Seeks Philadelphia area, energetic, accomplished man, 58-73, to share it all: arts, travel, politics, dining, and then some.

Passion, depth,generosity of heart. Journalist, sports-writer, TV reporter, active leader in national programs for at-risk youth. Considered really good-looking, sexy, slender athletic figure, self-deprecating wit. Sympathetic, upbeat, and very real. Confident, young widow, classy, good friend. Four newspapers a day [. . .] Can conquer most any hill on a bike so long as a glass of Cabernet or chocolate croissant at the finish. [. . .] Seeks big-hearted man with good mind, full laugh, social conscience–fit financially, emotionally, physically, 5’9″+, 50-68, who resides or spends time in South Florida area.

Smart and beautiful,intellectually curious and athletic. Consultant/educator–tall, slim with natural radiance. adventurous with calm, warm demeanor, genuineness of character. Expressive, affectionate, divorced, 5’8″. Laughs a lot, thinks deeply, politically liberal. Interested in social change, literature, politics, nature, beauty. Midwestern roots, international outlook, has lived abroad, [. . .] Sunday Times, The Economist.Seeks healthy/active man (59-60s) with warmth and an intellectual bent–Boston area.

Personals from the New York Review of Books all, 14 by women in this issue, only two by men.

I wondered after reading them, “are there that many lonely widows searching for intelligent male life?” I wondered why women would go looking for male companionship late in life when they could, judging by the personals section, have more success at finding a female companion and friend. Is it about sex, then? Is it about needing a man?

After reading them, I wondered, “What would my personal ad say about me, if I were to write one today?” And “what would I advertise for, if I were to write a personal ad, directed at the universe?”

14 responses

  1. I do not know the marital status of anyone posting on this topic except Eve. And I find the observations a bit removed from the reality of “aloneness”. I found myself divorced at the “ripe” age of 45 after 18 stormy years of marriage. As directed by my counselor, I kept “celibate” (I did not date or even initiate any kind of relationship with the opposite sex) for two years. She encourage me to “heal” so that I would be less likely to bring my luggage into another relationship.

    I took a class a the vo-tech and it was there that I was introduced by another newly single woman to the world of internet personals. While posting on yahoo may not be as sophisticated as the New York Times, I found myself creating and reinventing myself over the years.

    Why? At times I felt incomplete. At times I felt a need to fill the void left by an emotionally unavailable spouse (or maybe just emotionally guarded–like Fort Knox–no one unauthorized was going to get in). Over time I have asked myself “Do I NEED a man?” The answer has become an emphatic and resounding “NO”, at least not in the “neurotic needy” sense.

    But I want one in my life…not like you want a new pair of shoes or a nice dress. I want to know that there is one person in this life who acknowledges my existence and my contribution. Like Susan Sarandon’s character in “Shall We Dance” spoke of after discovering her husband was taking secret dancing lessons–“We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, 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 of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

    My mother and father were separated for seven years before they reconciled. My mother vowed she would either remain single the rest of her life or be reconciled to my father. She said she did not have the energy left to get to know another man in her life time. Both my father and mother were dead four years after they reconciled. Their love was sweeter in the end.

    But that isn’t the point. Why do I continue to rewrite my personal ads (I have them on multiple sites)? Because I believe in what is written in the first 2 chapters of the Book of Genesis–God Himself said, “It is not good that man be alone…I will make a suitable partner for him”. We were created to live in relationship. A marriage is a mini community. It is also a safe haven to which one returns after tackling the dragons of the outside world.

    I am not sure that someone who has enjoyed a long and loving relationship with a spouse can really understand the depth of loss felt when you find yourself “single again” be it divorce or death that separates. It is like not really being able to relate to the loss of a love one to death until you experience it yourself. I may be naive, but if you have not been there, it is hard to imagine what it feels like in that place.

    And I have made many wonderful friends from personal ads, even if they did not become my lover or spouse. I AM still hoping that I will experience that in this lifetime. In the meantime, I AM trying each day to live the best I can even though at times it feels like limping along on one leg.

  2. Oh, I wish I had some brilliant insight for you. Right now I am feeling rather dull and stupid, fighting off yet another virus. My only thought is something I thought of earlier today: “Calgon, take me away!”

  3. Heni, yes, what would I be advertising for, if I were to advertise?

    Today and lately, I would simply want peace and quiet, and long long long amounts of time to myself. I have felt for a long time that I need a very long sabbatical or to live in a hermitage and continue to ponder how I can do this inwardly while my outer life requires so much of me.

    I am, as always, open to suggestions and strokes of brilliant insight.

  4. I found the exchange between Christopher and Gianna interesting because of the thoughts their comments provoked in me. Christopher’s idea is probably a popular one, e.g., many people would agree with him. However, Gianna makes a good point about a person’s circumstances. And now I’ll come along and make another point, which is that individuation is a two-edged sword that will add another twist to a conversation about friendships. First, the more individuated one is, the more unique (of course) and the more likely a person is to be perceived as odd. It is less likely, therefore, that an individuating or individuated person will be popular, liked, or understood by his or her peers.

    On the other hand, individuation is attractive, so it is also likely that the more individuated a person is, the more likely that s/he will attract people and even followers or disciples. Thus, individuation should lead to attraction and detraction among others.

    I find that the more I grow, the less likely it is that I will find anyone with whom I care to invest my time and effort, for my standards are higher for myself and the other person. And yet, I also find that the more I grow, the more others like me and want to be my friend. I suspect this is because I am user-friendly and give the impression of warmth as I understand what people need. It’s a paradox because I am less likely now than ever before to actually become intimate with another person. I hold my cards close to my heart, in other words.

  5. When my parents divorced — after I was married, so they were in their late 50s/early 60s — they both remarried within a year. I believe they both knew their future spouses already (both of whom were themselves divorced from others), through social connections. They both just didn’t want to be alone (but they didn’t choose their partners out of desperation, however).

    What would you be advertising for, in your personal ad to the universe?

  6. Those of us who don’t have time to ponder long ads can consider 6 word memoirs.
    http://tinyurl.com/djla23

    So much of society is built on male/female couples – bank accounts, taxes, wills, contracts, health care…

    There certainly are spaces in our lives that friends can fill, and being “single” is fine. But being/having a most important person in someone’s life is a big attraction. Not that it always works out….

  7. you’re very cynical Christopher…while it’s true personals may leave out warts, plenty of good women have circumstances in which finding friends can be difficult.

    I moved away from my home state 6 years ago where I have deeply bonded multiple close friendships with men and women both only to move to a new state where I’ve made no such friends.

    I don’t believe it’s because I’ve become awful overnight. And my old friends remain very close—I think they might say something if I had suddenly turned wretched.

  8. I have only just realized lately how much I thought I needed a man in my life to make me complete. I’ve spent my entire life believing this and searching for that man. Needless to say I never found him, although I did have a dream about him once, my very own masculine side. I caught myself at work the other day, looking at a man and I realized how much I do this, always. I am always looking for another, better, man. A man who will complete me, just like in the movies, in the books, in the stories, in the lies we’re told and we tell ourselves.

    I’m still looking for that love I didn’t get from my father, which sounds sad, pathetic and trite. Only it’s not. We do need our parents to love us.

    I’ve also realized that it’s time to stop looking without and to start looking within. Everything I’ve always looked for is inside of me waiting. It’s too bad it takes us so long to realize that. Better late than never I suppose.

  9. I think it’s fairly unlikely that these lovely ladies will find what they seek … and more likely that they will settle for someone unsuitable and then convince themselves that he’s what they actually wanted, thus depriving men in general of any impetus to grow up and become worthy of women such as these.

  10. Gianna, agreed. Both of my grandmothers were widowed. One remarried and one did not. I observe different interesting women making different interesting decisions toward the ends of their lives. I don’t know what I would do in their situation, but I don’t think I would advertise for a man, although I love men. And they tend to like me. ;o)

    I wonder too just how likely it is that these women will find a man on that level? It just interested me, that’s all. Of course, they sound so good (the women). So exceptional and smart.

  11. I wondered why women would go looking for male companionship late in life when they could, judging by the personals section, have more success at finding a female companion and friend. Is it about sex, then? Is it about needing a man?

    I understand your sense of puzzlement to a certain point. Indeed on an intellectual level it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but biologically, we’re wired to have companionship. And if not of the opposite sex, we are wired to live with people as well, biologically, evolutionarily we are meant to live in community.

    And in general in this modern day the people we live with once we enter adulthood are our spouses and partners and not friends or extended family.

    I think these women are seeking what is natural to human beings—community. They may be going about it the wrong way, but in a world where there is so much disconnect this is where they look.

    It’s also pounded into women that we need men. I think it’s hard for many people to see outside that box.

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