The New 60: Newly Single
BY Robert Levithan
June 07 2010 5:40 PM ET
My dear departed friend Felicity Mason wrote a memoir called The Love Habit when she was my age, all about her liaisons with young men: “I don’t subtract, I only add,” she would say.
I remember being at tea at her apartment on Central Park West, a gathering which included both of her ex-husbands, one with his third wife; Felicity’s long-term ex-lover and his male lover; and the boy from the copy shop she was shtupping at the time. Felicity is one of my role models.
The other night I was strolling back from an early dinner with a romantic friend when out of nowhere, he said, “You’re still in love with C., aren’t you?” At first I demurred. Then it became clear. “Yes, I’m in still in love with him. I’m still in love with M. and A. and you!”
Forms change. I don’t stop loving.
When my father died, C. was there to hold my hand and walk with me behind the casket, to shovel dirt on the coffin. M. was there as well. To paraphrase Freud: Life as we know it is just too too difficult to go it alone. Does that mean we need a partner? I’d like one, and I know that on my own I am whole — and surrounded by support. And I miss being someone’s number one. I miss having that special someone whom I call first when I get big news of any kind. I made an offer on a loft last week; C. was out of town, and I felt painfully singular. M. kindly came over and saw the space, but somehow I missed the sharing of it as “we.”
For now, I am a single man, almost 60.
Some men find my life crowded. They want more emotional exclusivity. A man I dated recently said he felt the presence of my exes. I felt the lack of his. To me, it’s a bad sign when all of the ex-boyfriends are assholes. That would make me just the next asshole-in-waiting.
We’ll see who’s up for the next part of the journey — and my baggage: a full rich life that includes an overeducated Labrador and some wonderful exes.
Is it unrealistic to see the heart as continually able to expand? I hope not.