The New 60: Newly Single

BY Robert Levithan

June 07 2010 5:40 PM ET

I’m turning 60 and officially single.

In our culture this is considered semitragic. We are so couplecentric and ageist that to not have a partner after 40 is often seen as a kind of failure. I don’t buy it.

Many of my clients struggle with this. Yesterday, a 60-ish client talked about his hesitation at ending a toxic relationship for fear of being alone for the rest of his life. We talked about solitude versus loneliness, and about balancing solitude with relationships, romantic and otherwise. It’s important to be at home in oneself. I always tell my clients that a healthy relationship has “two I’s and a we.” We should all be working on our healthy “I.” To create and nurture a “we” is both challenging and enlivening.

I do want a partner.





In the song “Being Alive,” composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim writes, “Somebody hold me too close / Somebody hurt me too deep / Somebody sit in my chair / Ruin my sleep / And make me alive ... ”

He speaks of not really having a relationship until he was 60. I like hearing that — that there is time for another great love.

My last relationship, with C., was a success. We are both better, stronger, more realized than when we met almost six years ago. We were always honest and respectful and told our truth as fast as we knew it, and we remain “exes with benefits.” However, we let go of plans for a joint future a few months ago. My first long-term lover has been like a brother for over 25 years, and, A., the man who took my virginity in Italy almost 40 years ago, is my friend and current landlord.

Why not?

Forms change. I don’t stop loving.

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