Relationships are complicated at any age.
“I want a girlfriend I only see once a month,” declared my friend and colleague Seti. At first, I was appalled. The first reaction is that he was simply looking for a booty call twelve times a year. But, as we discussed the concept, it started to make more sense.
In our 50’s and beyond, relationships get even tougher in many respects.
The divorce rate is 50 percent for first marriages, 67 percent for second marriages and a whopping 74 percent for third marriages.
When we were younger, many of us had the goal of finding that fairy tale prince or princess, getting married, having kids, living in some version of the Barbie Dream House and spending our retirement years traveling the country and having empty nest adventures.
But, as the above stats show, life is not playing out that way. Many people come out of marriages (either divorced or widowed) with lots of habits and baggage. Some of the bags are fine leather and others are discount suitcases, stuffed with dirty laundry and half-used travel-sized toothpaste tubes.
My own grandparents used to fight like Punch & Judy until they both died in their 90’s. It was a third marriage for both of them and although they truly loved each other, they often got on each other’s nerves.
Keeping things positive, Seti’s concept of a “once-a-month-lover” (OML) came out of his honest acknowledgment that he works really hard as he’s scaling a new business (also a change from generations past). He likes his free time, and he wants the woman in his life to experience the best parts of him when they hang out. I use the term “lover” as someone to love and someone beyond friendship; not implying a hook-up.
I quizzed Seti about the “rules of engagement” in this relationship and here is his concept:
Rationale: “I currently work 60-70 hours a week and sometimes over the weekend. I do not have time for a girlfriend in the traditional sense.”
What do you do when you get together? “The perfect date would be a fun, exciting, and a romantic long weekend spent in town or a mini vacation a short drive or flight away. Two to three days spent together would allow for spending quality time with that special person that I care about.”
What about important family events? Funerals? Weddings? Important celebration? “There are always exceptions and it would depend on where the relationship was at.”
Vacations? “Vacations are wide open. Why not? When the time comes to take time off then it only makes perfect sense to spend that time with the most important person to you.”
Monogamy? “Absolutely! Although the concept is not traditional, the idea of developing a strong, intimate and loving bond is still paramount. The once-a-month girlfriend is designed to be temporary.”
Some people (men and women over 50) may be shocked or disgusted by this idea. It’s clearly not a model for everyone.
Many want the “traditional” structure of a person in their home 24/7…sharing the details of each day…waking up together every day, morning breath and all.
But perhaps something can be said for the “absence making the heart grow fonder” thinking behind the OML.
I showed a draft of this article to a 50+ girlfriend, who turned me on to the whole theory of attachment styles. Even as a Psychology major, I have never given much thought to that category. I’ve taken the 5 Love Languages quiz and listened to Crucial Conversations in my attempt to “get better at relationships,” but this area of study (adult attachments) is fascinating.
As we live to be 80, 90, or well into our 100’s — thanks to the advances in medicine and bio-hacking — maybe we need to redefine the ideal relationship for each of us.
Perhaps people should be required to post their attachment styles on their online dating profiles.
Certainly, some people are wired for long-term and healthy relationships, making a commitment to motor through richer, poorer, sickness, health, and everything in-between for up to 10 decades.
But for others, spending one romantic weekend a month at a spa might be more fun than arguing over who left the seat up or why only one square of toilet paper was left on the roll.
What’s YOUR view of the OML relationship? Does it just apply to my generation or can it work with entrepreneurs and career-builders of any age?