‘Excuse me, do you mind my asking?’ In fact, “yes” we sometimes do since you politely inquired.



From the first frequent query of “How are you?” to the more intimate, “Do you have good chemistry, hint, hint, are you sleeping together?” we’ve found in our single status after 50, nothing seems off-limits. Whether it’s illness—“Was he in pain and suffering?” to financial queries of, “How are you managing and were you left okay?” the questions never seem to stop—like rapid-fire bullets in a war zone. And we’re the target.

We love the concern of acquaintances, good friends, and family…sometimes, depending on our mood, question asked, tone, and our relationship to the interrogator. However, we wonder if the sharing economy has brought forth a belief that everything should be shared and nothing is sacred, down to our financial net worth, sexual mores and our mental health.

This sharing obsession is pervasive, almost like the coronavirus Omicron variant that seems to be part of so many conversations. We know how to answer about Covid-19 topics but with this we are unsure how to respond to the nosiest questions without seeming snarky, rude, angry, or secretive. Like the Citi Double Cash Card Commercial says, “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone said what they meant?” It would be a delight to put intrusive questions to rest by responding: “It’s absolutely none of your business. Would you like us to ask you variations on these questions? How would you feel?”

What we’re saying

We don’t say what we mean, of course, to be polite and sweet and more often take one of a few different paths. Sometimes, we’ll quickly change the subject—“Have you tried the Caesar salad yet; it’s quite divine with fabulous croutons and an anchovy.” Other times, we’ll give a bit of an answer when asked about our dating status such as, “We’ve become very close friends,” without divulging that there’s no space between us when we are horizontal under the sheets. And at still other times, we decide to be more authentic when the follow-ups won’t let up. The questioner will say: “You’re not giving me much to chew on; come on, share how great he really is….you know…in bed.” We firmly say with a forced smile, “Please stop!” We have become better actresses in the process.

Now that we have a large audience—you, dear readers–let us speak honestly and explain where we’re coming from, what we’d like you to know or feel comfortable discussing and what we hope you won’t ask us or anyone.

Life has been challenging at times for us as we started to navigate—and continue to do so—our new lives as singles after long-term marriages, though we also know we’re very lucky in so many ways. Walk in our shoes and you’ll understand better. We relived our experiences after they occurred as we wrote our last book, Suddenly Single after 50 (Rowman & Littlefield), started writing our weekly blog, were interviewed, gave talks, and signed books. Yes, it became easier to talk about our situations after years of experience. One attendee at a book signing even asked Barbara who’s divorced: “How come you don’t sound angry anymore?” She gave a very honest answer, “I was angry back then and still could be but that would mire me in sadness and stop me from living a healthy happy life now.”

What we prefer

We really prefer to live in the present, stay optimistic, and not share the worst and also most intimate details. If we answer, “We really don’t want to talk about that,” please respect our wishes and don’t reframe the question. We’re not at a White House press conference, and our answers won’t impact national security or the economy. Let us share when and if we feel ready; otherwise stop prying, please. And we’ll respect your privacy, too.

Below are 15 questions we wish many would have avoided asking us. We suggest thinking them if you wish, but please keep them to yourself. Actress Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick was advised on an episode of The Good Wife TV show to say, “I’ll get back to you.” We might, too, or maybe we won’t. In the meantime, let’s all undershare more unless appropriate and when we bring up a topic.

1) I heard you’re dating. How serious is it?

2) How often do you see each other; daily or a few times a week?

3) Do you stay at his place or yours?

4) What’s it like to be intimate when you’re this age? Is it good or better than when younger? And does he ever have any of those aging male problems?

5) Do you love each other, really love, or is it just about companionship? He has said he loves you, hasn’t he?

6) How do you share finances—split them or does he pick up the check all the time and if not, why not? Don’t you feel odd paying for stuff if you do?

7) Do you like his kids, or how come he doesn’t have kids, or how come he never married? Isn’t that odd? Are you sure he’s not gay?

8) How well financially were you left? Have you had to change your lifestyle?

9) Where do you spend your holidays? With your family, with his, or do you try to bring everyone together, or avoid everyone and go away?

10) He seems so different from XYZ, or are they really similar and how?

11) Do you get depressed ever or feel down when you think about what you went through?

12) I can’t believe how well you are handling everything. It must be really hard. How do you do this?

13) Why won’t you talk more about what’s it like to be single at this age?

14) Are you going to live together? Or, why won’t you explain why you’re not living together when you’re together so much of the time it seems? It doesn’t make sense to me. Don’t you want to ultimately remarry?

15) Do you get left out since you’re not a married couple?

Margaret (Meg) Crane lived most of her life in St. Louis, was associate editor of the Jewish Light in the early ’70s and from 2001-2012, was senior writer for Jewish Federation. Two years ago, she moved to New York City to be closer to family living there. Barbara Ballinger, originally from New York, lived in St. Louis for 23 years and worked at the St. Louis Post Dispatch. She now lives in upstate New York. Follow their blog here.