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Lonely Hearts Club

October 18, 2021 (802 words)

In the dating world of ‘mature singles’ there is something known as the “90-day syndrome.” That’s how long it takes for a new infatuation to run its course, and for the two adults involved to realize that maybe they don’t have that much in common, after all.

After recently experiencing this syndrome first hand, I’ve been forced to regroup a bit, reconnect with the familiar things that feed my soul, and reconsider just how difficult it will be to actually find a new significant other this late in life.

Part of the problem is being a little crotchety and set in my ways, as any older man or woman is prone to be. But the situation is further complicated by how so many of the things I most enjoy are essentially solitary pursuits.

My spare time is best spent out in the yard planting things, and weeding the beds that have already been planted. I also like to putter around the house, mainly organizing and re-arranging, with a little re-decorating thrown in from time to time. I do much the same thing at work, seeing to it the warehouse never gets too cluttered. As a general rule I like to create order and make things look nice. Symmetry facilitates my thought process, which in turn fuels my favorite pastime: writing. And isn’t that the most solitary pursuit of all?

As for other diversions, I have never really found anyone who shares my taste in music or movies, so I have grown accustomed to pursing those interests on my own, and have discovered a deeper connection to whatever I am listening to or watching as a result.

This runs counter to what people always say: “Everything is better with someone to share it with.” I have not necessarily found that to be the case.

But don’t go getting the wrong idea. It’s not as if I am devoid of social graces. I am always solicitous toward children and strangers, and can muster a requisite display of bonhomie around my peers when it’s called for – at least in short bursts. My charming public façade is sincere, but it is on a strict timer. Behind my smile I always end up looking for a polite way to take my leave. Retiring to my own company gives my mind a little breathing room, and lets me mentally wander and explore uncharted territory.

And there is no accounting for that nervous tick I sometimes display around others. I’m prone to giving long drawn-out answers to even simple questions of a personal nature, the ones most people quickly deflect with a pleasant-sounding cliché. When falling victim to this affliction I can inadvertently come across as a bit of a bore in what is otherwise a casual social setting.

For the record, I never set out to be this way, with such a pronounced solitary streak. It’s just sort of hard-wired into my DNA. Even when I was in my prime, which is a few decades ago now, I felt like a Benedictine monk who just happened to be happily married with four wonderful children. That may not speak well of my performance in the role of husband and father, but looking back I think I did okay on both counts.

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So how exactly do I now intend to identify someone who might want to find themselves a place in this picture? And who might care to include me in theirs?

They say opposites attract, but I’m thinking next time a little less opposite might not be a bad thing. Finding someone with an affinity for the arts and the creative process might be a good idea. As long as that person is not annoyingly artsy-fartsy about it.

And finding someone with an affinity for the entrepreneurial spirit might also help. As long as they see business as a calling, as a form of creative expression – much more than merely a means of making money. Entrepreneurs have the unique opportunity to transform the mundane task of earning a living into a vehicle for inner development – their own and that of those around them.

Just as important will be to meet someone who is already ‘not lonely,’ and doesn’t need to be carried away by the infatuation stage, with its constant texting and talking on the phone and trying to get together. Sure, all that stuff is fun, but it’s hard to maintain such a frantic pace.

One would hope a little infatuation will always be part of the process, and by all means should be enjoyed by both parties. But maybe it should not be allowed to take over our lives, and distract us from the things we have come to enjoy the most as individuals. Some of which may very well be solitary pursuits.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr
October 18, 2021

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