Am I being mean to a widower?

A letter writer doesn’t share many interests with the man she is dating, but she feels mean breaking it off. Can our elder help?

Dear EWC

A friend I have known for about a decade has tried to start a dating relationship with me. I do care for him. His wife passed more than two years ago. My fiancé passed in 2008. The problem is he is very inflexible. He is retired; I am not. I have bronchitis and have undergone multiple ear surgeries; my last one was in June. He wants me to meet him at local bars late at night and listen to loud music. There is not thing about this that is appealing to me. I have told him so.

I also get afraid because I live in Las Vegas. I have been here 12 years with no problems. If he was going to pick me up and take me home, well I guess I could go. But he always says meet him there. I still wouldn’t want to go frequently. Maybe a couple times a year?

I usually only get one day off work. One day I had off we had discussed going to a movie. I really wanted to see ‘The 15:17 to Paris’. I did not think it would be a box office hit. I was afraid if I didn’t go see it then it would not be playing in theaters the following week. He wanted to see ‘Tomb Raider’ and told me the new Laura Croft was hot. I would have gone with him the following week but he refused and went to see Tomb Raider by himself. I went to the other movie with a girlfriend. I consider this a deal breaker. He has seven days a week to go see any movie he wants.

In his defense he has confided in me that he has only dated one other woman in his life besides his wife. He has told me straight out he does not know how to court a woman. I told him that I really enjoy comedies. Movies, comedy clubs and because we are in Vegas many big names put on comedy shows here. He simply has zero interest in that. At the end of the day we certainly do not share the same interests. But I feel like I am being mean to a widower. I am big hearted that way it always seems to get me in trouble!

Ms. JuliaJ replies

As I read through your letter, my first thought is that what you and your widower friend have in common is that you have both lost your partners—he his wife and you, your fiancé. It is natural for friends who have gone through such grief to band together with those who can understand what they have experienced. The fact that you have been friends for ten years tells me that you do like and respect each other. However, that does not automatically extend to a dating relationship.

I am wondering if you go back to thinking of your friend as just a friend if some of the negativity you are feeling towards him will end? We don’t expect our friends to have an interest in all of the things that we do and they don’t expect us to go to all of the places that they like to frequent. When your friendship took on the added layer of ‘dating’, expectations from the both of you came into play, which you then put upon each other. In your case, this led to a recognition that the two of you are not suited to dating each other at this time.

If I were you and I wanted to keep this person as a friend, I would just have a talk with him and tell him that I valued his friendship and did not want to complicate things by turning a good friendship into a dating relationship. I’m sure he is lonely after the passing of his wife and he may be looking for another permanent relationship but you cannot force an attraction that is not there. This is not being mean to him. It is far kinder to him to let him know you just want to be friends than to let him think he can be more to you. He may have his feelings hurt and end the friendship, so you need to be prepared for that possibility.

I hope my thoughts have helped you think about how you want to handle this situation. Good luck and write again if we can be of more help.

Reference 427764
Category: dating/relationships

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