February 12, 2010
Issue: 11.02
Love Does NOT Conquer All

When I was younger, and did not have such an established life, I believed that love conquers all. Now that I am older, I have come to recognize that my greatest happiness comes from within, from the life that I have created for myself. Thus, when I meet a man who also has an established life, with whom being in love and eventually marrying would result in my having to plug myself into his life and give up most of mine, I cannot help but wonder whether what I would gain would be worth what I would give up. Over the past few months, the men whom I have met have caused me to ponder this.

First there was Peter, whom I met online, who lives in Michigan. Our connection was immediate and strong. Our e-mails, reminiscent of the love letters of a Victorian couple separated by great distance, coupled with our telephone conversations, made me fall in love long distance. But his job as an in-house patent attorney and his two children, ages 14 and 12, meant that, to be with him, I would have to leave a city that I love, my friends and, most importantly, my father, who at 81 is starting to decline. Moreover, I have chosen not to be a mother and, at the age of 53, I do not want to become a stepmother.

Then there was Alex, whom I met through a friend, who lives on a ranch in rural Riverside County. A Professor of History at UCLA, his avocation is training border collies to herd sheep, a la the movie “Babe.” As a matter of fact, he participated in the worldwide sheepdog trials in Ireland, portrayed in that movie. Although I love being around both dogs and sheep, I’m not interested in doing a remake of “Green Acres.”

Finally, there was Sam, whom I have known for over ten years. When we were gym buddies back in Los Angeles, he was married, but nevertheless was a cherished friend who always looked out for my best interests. We’ve kept in touch over the years, and after his divorce, he wanted us to get together. I adore Sam, but between his position in a law firm and his four children, two of whom are 8-year-old twins, I would have to move back to Los Angeles, a city that I chose to leave, and become a stepmother to children young enough to be my grandchildren.

When I articulated this to Sam, he wouldn’t take no for an answer and wrote:

I was going to let you go, but I believe that I could take care of your emotional and other needs while being a father. In fact, my relationship with my children has made me a better listener. I do understand that, in the beginning, if we were to become serious, I could not see you every weekend because of the children. That is for their benefit and yours. I will not introduce my children to anyone, unless I am serious and am prepared to marry someone. It is not fair to them or to you. Yet, I could talk to you every day, write you notes, and make my emotional presence available to you on a daily basis. If we were to become committed, we would have to integrate our loved ones into each other’s lives. Even with children, I know that I could give you the adult attention that you need on a daily basis.

As I have become older, I have learned something important about love. It is the small actions taken each and every day that demonstrate how important you or anyone else is to me. I must demonstrate only a daily basis by word and deed that the person I am with is loved and appreciated. That is how I am and that is what I think you want.

Yes, this is what I want. However, having been down this road before, I know that the love that I would receive in return does not outweigh giving up too much of the life that I have built for myself. As much as I wish otherwise, love does not conquer all.

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