The challenge of finding love

jose at pulitzer01

My sweetie, making photo history by photographing the Pulitzer Prize journalism judging — his idea!


By Caitlin Kelly

In the romantic sense, anyway.

I see a lot of anguish among my friends who are single, no matter their age. One is desperate to have children but has no partner. Another has had her heart broken a few too many times.

Another already knows men her age insist on dating women decades younger.

One of my Sunday morning pleasures is reading The New York Times wedding announcements, aka the social box scores. I admit it — my mother’s wedding and both of mine made the cut. And, for every kindergarten teacher marrying an investment banker, or a Harvard-educated physicist marrying a former White House speechwriter, there are a few fun couples you just want to cheer for, like the 71-year-old therapist and mandolin player who married an 80-year-old — and met him while sharing their love of vintage Porsches.

I married for the first time at 35 and he bailed after barely two years, re-married to a colleague within a year. He was “perfect on paper” — a tall, handsome, medical student who played clarinet and guitar and also loved to travel. But it was not to be.

Divorced (no kids) for six years, I had plenty of time to re-think who or what I most wanted — as I missed being married. One of my hopes (realized!) was to find a partner who was interesting, well-traveled, accomplished yet also modest. In New York, that’s almost impossible; I was way out of most leagues, not having an Ivy degree, let alone several.

In those years I dated a computer geek of Greek origin, a ship’s engineer and a Jewish man whose parents’ first question to me was: “Are you Catholic?” (No.)

I met a few charming liars, as anyone does when meeting people on-line. Even a convicted con man. Terrifying!

Then I wrote about online dating — still a novelty then — for Mademoiselle, a now-defunct national women’s magazine. My profile headline read, truthfully: Catch Me If You Can. Jose, now my husband, liked the challenge and we met and…that was it!



In sickness, surgery and in health…


We would never have met any other way, as he lived 30 miles south of me in Brooklyn and worked full-time, an odd schedule, at The New York Times. The day he was to have moved in with me was 9/11.

Yes, the 9/11.

Our first few years weren’t smooth. We loved one another, but were tough, prickly, set in our ways and, typical of successful journalists, extremely competitive. Whew!

But we’ve also always been quick to laugh, to hug, to forgive. We share a ferocious work ethic. We love to mentor and entertain, to share what we have with those we love. Our sofa is well-used by visiting younger pals.

We love to travel, whether in a tent (rarely!) or an elegant city hotel. We both have spiritual practices — mine, Episcopal church, his Dzogchen Buddhism; you can see his mala beads on his left wrist below and the stained glass of the tiny wooden church on Toronto’s Centre Island.



September 2011


It’s never easy or simple to find a great match, especially later in life as career and education and children enter the picture and each of which can make a commitment more challenging.

I was unhappily single for years in Toronto because I knew I really wanted to move to New York — and who would move with me, legally? It all worked out (moved here with first husband who I met in Montreal), but who knew at the time?

I’m so grateful for how it worked out.

How have you found romantic love?

30 thoughts on “The challenge of finding love

  1. carolyn

    I did! In November of 1984 I attended my 5 year high school reunion with a friend and met a former classmate who had attended after a breakup with a longtime girlfriend. He called the next day and asked me to the movies. That night he went home and told his parents he’d met the girl he was going to marry. Our next date was to the Philadelphia Zoo, where he asked me what i planned to do the rest of my life. I guess I gave the right answer because by New Year’s Eve we were engaged and married that July. This weekend we will celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary! I’ve had health issues the last few years and they have brought us closer together and I am so grateful for him every day. As in all relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs, especially in raising 3 children, but have never doubted our relationship or our love. I’ve always felt blessed.

  2. I also did! My M and I met almost eight years ago and have our sixth wedding anniversary coming up next month. Like you, we were both older (and also had grown kids; his were very accepting of us, mine was not), had established careers and a whole lifetime laundry list of things to figure out. The thing was that we WANTED to figure them out, because we so enjoyed being together. We like many of the same things – cooking, (and eating), wine, travel, reading, each other’s company. 🙂 He’s not hung up on my clothes, hair or weight and encourages and supports me. In three years, I’ll retire, and we’re planning that now (he’s working on it as he’s already retired). I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my life with him.

  3. Me too. I found love because I never stopped believing it was there for me. My heart had taken a beating from women and girls ever since I first got that funny feeling when I looked at one. Sadly, that usually happens when people are at their apex of heartless cruelty.
    You can hit me as hard as you want and I can shake it off because I know what Hurt (Intentional cap) really is. When you have a crush on a girl and she sends you a note, itemizing all the reasons, real and imagined, why you don’t have a chance in Hell, then sits laughing with her friends while you read it… a punch in the face has nothing on that.
    One might think I would learn something from a thing like that, but I didn’t, and look at me now, happily married to a beautiful woman with deep strength and sterling character who loves me as much as I do her. Because I believed. Nice try, bitches.

  4. I’m very aromantic, so I don’t really care for relationships like that. I haven’t totally given up on the idea that there’s someone out there for me, but I just don’t care enough to search. There are more important things for me to find in life (and I’ve been lucky to find a few in the past few years).

    1. OK dude, I had to do a double-take here. I missed the “N” in “Aromantic” and I thought I might have some good advice for you. Good thing I read over it again. Best of luck, mate.

  5. I took a leap into online dating last year, using an app. It wasn’t something that I ever imagined myself doing and I felt a bit weird about it: swiping on strangers on a screen and putting myself out there to be swiped on too. But it worked – my boyfriend and I met in January after four weeks of chatting via text. We would have met in person sooner but he was visiting family in Spain during the Christmas break. He works all over the UK so part of our (short, thus far) relationship has been long distance, which is tough.

    Love that photo of you and Jose in the church! I’ve seen it before on your blog and it’s gorgeous – beautiful colours.

  6. Oh, a timely topic! For me, at least. I’ve been talking to friends about Gwyneth’s marriage–and how they don’t spend 7 days per week together. She’s gotten so much guff for it–and yet, I see the wisdom in having spaces in your togetherness. I often wonder if our modern ideas on love aren’t meant for another time and place–one in which we didn’t live as long as we do now and sport dual-career households.

    1. Indeed.

      If you married at 15 or 16 in the 1800s, not so unusual, lifespan was maybe 30 to 40…so maybe 15-20 years of marriage. If you marry today at 30 (late for some), and live to 80….that’s a LOT of years.

      Jose works at home more now, and it’s a one bedroom! So the balcony, cafe or library help relieve some of that pressure.

  7. isypop

    I’m not the so called “Cupid,” or “Love Expert,” but if I have some little advice on love. If you want to find a perfect man, you have the wrong eyes. Your love is someone you can always be yourself around. Someone who supports you, and will encourage you. You need to find someone who will never do anything to try to hurt you, and that’s kinda why I never found the one…
    Every guy in my town is either crazy or snooty. But that’s just my opinion on love. Other than that, look hard because that one will probably be the only kind of person you’ll get in life. So take that chance 🙂

    1. No one is “perfect”. No one. Ever.

      Sorry your town is not offering you a decent set of options.

      I also think it’s unrealistic to think no one will ever try to hurt you…we all say things in anger at some point that are unkind. If we’re lucky, it’s rare and we apologize and mean it. We have.

    2. Here’s an old saw that still cuts: ” If you want the woman of your dreams, you have to be the man of hers.” That’s the only way I have ever heard it expressed, but it seems logical that the principle would apply to a woman seeking the man of her dreams.
      Sorry about your town, too. I know how that can be. Good luck.

  8. I’m single and very happy. I love my freedom, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want; I don’t have to explain anything to anyone. Sure, it’d be nice to have a like-minded companion with the same values/ethics – and who makes me laugh and has an enquiring and adventurous spirit. But for the time being, I’m just a happy single independent woman living her life, travelling, working, writing, etc.

  9. I took a long break from dating. I experienced a bad breakup. I decided to go after my business degree. I got it! What opened my eyes to love again was the passing away of my aunt 3 years ago. It reminded me that life is short. I truly want to experience real love. I don’t think my aunt experienced true love. It made my heart sad.

    I started dating again. I met my love online. It’s a long distance relationship so that has its challenges. He makes my heart melt. I love his quirks. I love getting to know each other. The bond between us. I’m excited about the future! Right when I said no more online dating I’ll try ONE more time that’s it! I met my boyfriend! We just laughed over a recent argument. It’s wonderful that we have an understanding of each other.

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