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Advice & More November 2017

Ask Miss Nora

Love in a Local Climate

One of the few complications of romance in our twilight years is the presence of defensive offspring. Adult children can be fiercely protective and deliberately obstructive – and nothing spoils a potential romance like a brood’s blockade.

Dear Miss Nora: I'm in love with my next-door neighbor. There! I finally said it. I have known this man for ages and always felt a sort of connection with him but kept a dignified distance while his wife was alive and convalescing from one illness after another. I was supportive after she passed away and always let Mr. Neighbor know that I cared. But, just lately, I've been making myself more available to him and I'm almost certain that he feels the same way.

It’s been too long to calculate since I've had a romantic interest (I've been a widow for 10 years) and I'm not sure of the rules for this sort of thing. Would it be wrong if I invited Mr. Neighbor over for dinner? Do women do that sort of thing nowadays or should I wait patiently for him to ask me? --Really Hopeful in Houston

Dear, Really: There are so many directions that this scenario can go in. So, let’s unwrap this situation a little before you embark on a plan of attack.

First, you make no mention of other family members – his or yours. The passing of a parent is always a sensitive subject for children of the deceased when the other parent moves on “too quickly” for their liking. One of the few complications of romance in our twilight years is the presence of defensive offspring. Adult children can be fiercely protective and deliberately obstructive – and nothing spoils a potential romance like a brood’s blockade.

Second, you’re a dash vague when it comes to why you perceive that your neighbor feels the same way as you. Be forewarned: sometimes graciousness and gratitude can give the impression of interest. I fear this could be the case here particularly, as you say, you’ve been out of the dating game for a while and your radar for such things might well be a bit skewed. I caution you to gently test the waters before you commit to an all-out assault. Leave yourself room to discreetly withdraw from circumstances should you become aware that you are mistaken about your neighbor’s level of interest. I don’t know about you but I’d be mortified to offer my affections only to have them rejected by someone I’m then forced to wave a cordial good day to on a regularly basis.

Which brings me to my last point. You live right next door to your Romeo. If he isn’t interested – just chivalrous – or if this is what you thought but his children are indeed hostile to the idea and spoil all possibilities or, he returns your attentions but you then realize too late that without the spice of clandestine goings on, he isn’t your cup of tea after all, what then? It’s all well and good to be liberated or unconventional and I'm all about striking while the iron’s hot – especially since I'm lucky these days if my iron even gets warm – and granted, at our age, we need little else in the way of motivation than to want to do a thing – but have a game plan if this goes the way of the Beanie Baby (a reasonable gamble but flawed in execution).

To conclude, don’t be discouraged if this all comes to nothing. Try again but perhaps next time keep a little distance between you and your amour – at least a zip code or two.

 

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