The Long View: Romance seems like an elusive butterfly


Having lost my fine romance, the first head-over-heels tumble since divorce, I am once again, “on the market.” Regrettably, I am just as bad as seeking companionship as I ever was.

Truth be told, I’ve never been good at dating. An evening out was almost exclusively shared with a girl I was already swooning over. Typically, the swooning was mutual so there was never much trying to impress a date at fancy restaurants or getting to know one another; we were familiar enough to share swoonage, and that allowed us to think the world of each other and whatever hole in the wall we chose for dining or movie viewing or whatever.

Way back when, of course, the girl and I likely shared a school, economic status, maybe a ZIP code. Having things in common gave us a head start.

College introduced me to girls I hadn’t known most of my life, but dating only happened after hanging out and being vetted by one another’s circle of friends. We’d know a fair amount about one another before we agreed to share a Friday evening.

The current end of the dating pool – that is to say, where people are a little wiser and a lot older – has a different depth. Finding a companion now has little to do with raising a family or furthering careers. Rather, men and women my age are looking to enrich their remaining years with a meaningful relationship.

Unfortunately, this requires knowing yourself enough to understand what you want out of the life. So if you’re uncertain about what you want or who you are, how can you match well with a partner?

My therapist says I am ready for a new relationship. I am not sure. He also says there are a lot of good women out there looking for someone like me. He has yet to come across with the phone numbers of any good leads.

For the moment, I am not trumpeting my renewed singlehood lest I endure being set up with this or that friend of a friend. That’s kind of stressful; if you and the designated stranger don’t hit it off, you feel like you’ve let down whoever arranged the date.

Fact is, my deepest fear is having to reject someone with whom I’m not hitting it off. Eventually, you must admit the lack of chemistry to yourself and the other person, and crushing someone’s hopes and dreams is my least favorite thing. I am still haunted by breakups from my past.

The easiest solution would be a scene from a movie: her eyes meet mine across a crowded room and everything goes silent save the swell of violins playing, “Some Enchanted Evening.” That would certainly be less work than the painstaking work of finding a woman who shares my tastes in music, cuisine, politics, or whatever. But it also precludes the opportunity to learn and grow.

Keeping my heart open to the possibilities, I will try to discover more about who I am and what I want. That will probably lead to better dating, and help me find someone to really connect with.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at

The Long View: Romance seems like an elusive butterfly