Ken died when I was 44 years old. This led to some early and compulsive dating caused by my initial grief impulse that went something like this: HELP. I CAN"T MAKE IT ON MY OWN. MUST HAVE NEW HUSBAND AND FATHER FOR MY KIDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
After about two years or so that included many, many nights spent on Match.com, EHarmony, Green Singles, and J-Date, (Yes, I used them all, sometimes all at once) many hopeful yet ultimately fruitless meetings with men in coffee shops, a couple of very weird and not particularly satisfying attempts at an intimate life, and a couple of actual, though brief relationships, I got over the fantasy. First of all, my kids, who were 10 and 6 when he died, didn't share it. They weren't looking for a new daddy, they were still getting over losing theirs, one of the best men and fathers I have ever known. And I realized, in fact, that I was making it on my own. I didn't need to be SAVED.
This doesn't mean that I don't want a partner, that I like being widowed, that I've decided to give up on men, or even that I never want to get married again. Now, 5+ years after Ken's death, I've finally settled down into the life I have. This life, as of today, includes being with a man for the last 10 months. He's divorced, has two young kids, and we both have our own households that won't be merging any time in the foreseeable future. So what is he to me? The classic term is boyfriend. But come on. I'm going to turn 50 this year. Boyfriend sounds so high school. Lover sounds simply ridiculous. Partner is OK, but Mark isn't exactly my partner because a lot of our lives are lived kind of separately.
Mark is my manamine. He's no boy. He's my man.