December 2017

A Widow Finds Love through Perseverance


My Instagram Post with tags “#SecondChapter” and “#InLove”: What mushy optimist posted this drivel?

I recently got an email from a widow of fourteen months who asked if it’s okay to fall in love again?

Hell yes! We deserve love and we deserve to be in love. I wrote about that here.

I just didn’t think it was possible for single people over forty. We carry too much baggage. We’re too idiosyncratic, too entrenched in our ways. We don’t want to disrupt our lives. We want our meals and our rooms just so. Our schedules are sancrosanct.

But then, I found my person. Actually, he found me.

In  September, I was again trolling through my OK Cupidity messages when I got one that said, “We’re both culturally Jewish, nonreligious lawyers who are looking for a relationship. We live ten minutes apart. Do you want to talk?”

”Sure,” I typed back. He turned out to be awesome. He still is.

I’m no longer a cynic. And I may be out of weird dating stories. (Almost). But not advice.

I wish I could say I did something miraculous to find my guy, but I just hung in there, staying online (I even tried Coffee Meets Bagel), answering messages, going on dates with promising people, and smiling so much I thought I had fishhooks embedded in the corners of my mouth.

I hung in there even when I didn’t believe the right person even existed. Prior to meeting my boyfriend (who I hope isn’t reading this) I was dating a polyamorous doctor with a Wharton MBA who’d abandoned both medicine and business to become a tantric sex instructor. I didn’t see it as forever–more like a weird field trip—but at least it was interesting while I kept up my search.

The best dating advice I’ve received:

There’s a reason all these people are single.

But there are good guys out there. The men who’ve commented on this very blog have been thoughtful and perceptive even when I’m verging on man-bashing. I joined a hiking group on Saturday mornings and there were several articulate, nice, apparently available, guys, including a few widowers who described their losses with real depth. (It’s the Hike On! group in

So, my very best piece of dating advice:

You are going to want to I've up. Don't


If I’d given up when I was getting sick of the process, when I was getting messages from the disturbed, when I was sick of rejecting and being rejected, I never would have met my current boyfriend. And once I met him, even on our first date, I knew I was done. (I even agreed to dinner instead of coffee for a first date).

My second best piece of advice:

Do Not Settle for Less than You Deserve.

I learned this the hard way after dating the emotionally abusive guy I’ve talked about here.  I wasted a lot of time dating guys I was never going to have a future with. (Being a writer, I could call it research). George was my high school sweetheart, my one and only. For a while I was looking to have experiences since I never had them when I was younger. But later this year, I wanted to be in a long-term relationship.

What helped me to figure out what I truly wanted was making list of the qualities I sought in a man. My friends had said to do this, but I ignored them.  It wouldn’t change who I met. But it did change how I filtered people out.  Here’s my list:

Debbie’s Guy:

  1. Can be a grown up if necessary
  2. Gets my sense of humor
  3. Good with time apart
  4.  Wants to travel
  5. Socially appropriate and articulate
  6. Non-workaholic
  7. Emotionally available and affectionate
  8. Quiet about former partners
  9. Positive outlook
  10. Financially stable

The list grounded me when I got caught up in messaging with someone who wasn’t right for me. I just think a guy over fifty shouldn’t be living in his adult kid’s basement. Even if he is really cute.

So now, I’m trying to be more positive. I’ve stopped prefacing all my sentences to my new boyfriend about the future with “If we don’t break up by then.” Then he can stop prefacing his future plans to me with, “Stop being so negative.”

I feel a sense of possibility. I even cleared out my spare room of all the excercise equipment I no longer use. So, now it looks like this, empty and open to something new:

Debbie's Empty exercise room with Billy Idol poster

My Empty Room

So that’s what I want for all of us this season: a sense of possibility and expansiveness, in all areas of our lives. Tell me what you want for the new year, or ask me your dating questions. (Hell, ask me anything, it’s lonely being a writer), in the comments below.



P.S. I was so surprised and grateful that Feedspot listed my blog in this list of top 50 blogs for widowed people.



A Widow Finds Love through Perseverance2017-12-21T17:04:37+00:00

November 2017

Recognizing When You are Being Emotionally Abused (in Ravishly)

Woman looking beleaguered

Thank you Ravishly

It’s what I do. Get into embarrassing, sad situations and write about them publicly.


I never realized the depths to which loneliness could drag me. Thanks to the awesome editor at ”Ravishly,” here’s my story, polished and story-ish:

“Are you okay?” the man in the parking lot asked me. “What do you need?” The rest is here

Hey, since then I’ve met someone kind and wonderful. My next post may be about meeting his mom over Thanksgiving.

If you’re new to my blog: Sorry, I don’t just link to my published articles. Please check out my prior post about recognizing the signs of emotional abuse. And here’s last year’s take on surviving the holidays when you’ve suffered a loss: Widowhood and the Holidays. .  Also, you are grieving just perfectly.

Grateful to have company on my journey,

Love, Debbie

Recognizing When You are Being Emotionally Abused (in Ravishly)2017-11-20T16:40:59+00:00

October 2017

Tripping on the Path of Widowhood: Living with Emotional Abuse


Sunset on an abusive relationship

On July 29th, my boyfriend had a public meltdown and yelled at me. For the very first time I realized:

He’s emotionally abusive.

So, I ended it.

It took the ghost of my late husband George to save me. July 29th was George’s birthday. It was my wake up call, the first time I used the word abusive. It also took a stranger to come to my rescue (but that’s in my next real article so I can’t write about it here).

But even after I’d broken up with my boyfriend, I still took him back for the occasional night or dinner. We’d been together for over two years. I missed him. Not who he was now but the guy who was sweet and sexy and crazy about me when we first started dating. The guy who took me to see Todd Rungren on our second date and Lake Tahoe on our fifth. The one who saved me from the tedium of online dating and the gray haze of widowhood.

But he wasn’t who he used to be. He was angry and depressed. He hated the world and, by extension, himself and me. He wasn’t getting help for his depression.

When I finally broke up with my boyfriend he still wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept coming to my house without calling, refusing to leave when I asked him to. I finally called the police. They hauled him away in handcuffs as he blathered on that it wasn’t his fault. “Alcohol makes people do strange things,” said one of the officers.

I should have ended the relationship far sooner. I saw who he was, but shut my eyes, trying not to see the real him. I was embarrassed to tell you about it. But I have to if I’m going to continue to write about my journey through widowhood. It’s a dark, meandering journey full of holes. Sometimes I fall into one of them and twist an ankle.

Loneliness made me accept the unacceptable. Loneliness plus inertia. When you’re happily partnered, life floats along companionably. Not being alone when you’re single takes work. I spiral through endless text threads to organize a dinner with friends, a movie with the girls, a date with a stranger.

All of which could get cancelled at a moment’s notice. And the date often felt like working a job I never wanted to apply for. I’d come home to stare at my ex-boyfriend’s photo, looking at his almond-shaped green eyes, then almost involuntarily, responding to his texts that he missed me.

And ignoring his texts that I was a jerk for dumping him.

I have no excuse for taking him back time after time. Just a penchant for darkness. If this is what fate has dealt me, let’s go with it. Prematurely dead husband? Yup, time for make-up sex, whiskey and nihilism.

The loneliness of widowhood made me vulnerable to being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Despite my financial security. Despite my great dad and step-mom. Despite my yoga and my girlfriends. Despite my 32 years of having been in a loving marriage. Despite an outward appearance of confidence.

The Signs that I ignored:

Of course there was stuff I noticed, I just chose to ignore it.  Maybe you recognize some of these signs in someone you’ve dated:

1. My boyfriend was negative and unsupportive. Did that make him emotionally abusive? No, but it made him a jerk sometimes. And from there, he sometimes slid into angry and insulting.

2. My girlfriends didn’t like him and kept telling me I could do better. I thought they were being sweet. They were telling me to run.

3. I felt sad and agitated. My instincts knew to end it, but my brain kept rationalizing why I should stay with him. I could help him change. He was just in a bad mood. He loved me in his way.

4. He had addictive behaviors. When he drank, he drank.

5. He couldn’t control himself when he got upset.

If you relate to this post, maybe you’re in, or have been, in a similar situation. Maybe you’ve rationalized that it’s okay. But it isn’t.

We deserve to be treated with kindness.

I should’ve ended it far sooner. But it’s hard. One minute, life’s great with travel plans and hiking meet ups, the next it’s looking around a preternaturally quiet house with only ghosts to talk to.

I tripped on the path of widowhood. Have you? Please share if you know someone who could relate to this post.

Love, Debbie



















Tripping on the Path of Widowhood: Living with Emotional Abuse2017-10-26T15:30:28+00:00
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