Just seeking relief from the loneliness

Dear Annie: I am a 76-year-old man. After 46 years of a happy marriage, my precious wife passed away four years ago.

I live in the country and have become acquainted with several single women around my age who are widows or divorcees and live within a 20-mile radius. I have taken a few of them out to dinner or to a play. They go with me once or twice and won’t go again. They tell me they are too busy with their grandchildren. One said, “We are too different.” Another said she is not in the dating mood. All have told me that I am a real nice guy, and it’s not because of anything I did or said.

I’ve never made inappropriate advances toward these women. I’ve only asked for a little hug because I miss holding my wife. But it seems they do not want to be touched, and two of them told me that I am expecting too much. I have never indicated that I wanted more than a hug, although I have to admit, in my own mind, I have hoped that after going out a few times, we could go a little farther than that.

I’m not looking for a serious relationship. I am just extremely lonesome and would like to have a companion to go places with and be together occasionally.

I’ve never really understood women, so I’m at a loss here. I don’t own a computer, so I cannot try meeting women online. Do you have any suggestions? Please tell me what I’m doing wrong. – Lonesome Okie

Dear Lonesome: We don’t know what you are doing wrong. If you are giving these women the impression that you want physical affection, but not a serious relationship, they may not be interested. Asking for hugs on a first date may be too forward, or it may frighten them. We know you are lonely, but please slow down. You might be coming across as too needy, which is not attractive. Get to know these women as friends first, and see where it leads. And if you are interested in online dating, your local library can provide a computer.

Editor’s note: Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to anniesmailbox@ comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.