Dating at Midlife/Still single and still trying to enjoy my life as a 'single' woman
QUESTION: Hello Philip,
I hope you can advise me.
I am a 48yr old woman, and have been single for 6yrs now, (not by choice) and realise that as I get older, it also gets harder and harder to meet the right person who is single with compatible personality, and emotionally available to start dating, and also open to the idea of a monogamous relationship.
I enjoy my life, and I have a pretty good life, but I know I would enjoy it more if there was someone special romantically in my life to share it with.
I always believed there was a Mr. Right for me, and for a long time was convinced that my 'Mr. Right' was waiting out there just for me, and would come into my life when we were both ready for it to happen, but now I come to realise that possibly there is not always a 'Mr. Right' for everyone, but possibly 'something else' a person that comes a close second or third to being 'Mr. Right'.
How do I as a 48yr old woman go through life as a 'single' woman, but remain positive, and hopeful that I will meet someone worth while in my life time? Positive advice would be gratefully received. Thank you.
ANSWER: Hello Uma,
Charming question. Thank you.
Everyone has a theory about relationships. For me,
I think it's very very rare to find that perfect match.
For me, a relationship is a collaborative work of art, a dance
created by two.
Each has an idea of what would be ideal, and then
between the two of you, you negotiate something that pleases both of you.
As with any work of art, the vision is almost always better than the reality, even though
the reality can be pretty good.
There are almost always struggles.
You are almost always tested.
As you get older, you tend to react to those tests with less indignation and more
So if you are without a relationship, you want to be looking for someone
close enough, interesting enough, promising enough,and willing enough,
and then you get involved to see what might be possible.
Early commitments are tentative, a probation period, pleasant but
at some point the challenges and the promise become clear and then
you both get tested.
So you have to have a generous and accepting attitude toward that.
Don't worry so much about whether someone is out there. There are sooooo many people
out there. As you lighten up about this you'll see that many folks are desperate or have a resentment and
you will stay away from them... or realize that you used to be like that, too, and potential people stayed away from you.
There is the problem of sex. For many, they do a kind of re-visit to adolescence and a lot of experimenting to see
what works for them. It's risky because sex is so bonding and can blind you to other things. There are a million solutions to
You probably want something more specific.
I'd need to know more about you.
Sometimes it's interesting to do a make-over. It's something I learned more from theatre and acting training than from
psychology although there is good support for it in psychology. You spend some time thinking about yourself as partner in an intimate relationship. It's the same way actors develop characters. What would you look like? How would you dress? What would be sexy, interesting, fun?
You experiment with clothes and hair and hats. You do what's called in spiritual literature "Prepare a place." It's what evolutionary biologists called, "Construct a bower," or "build an attractive nest." You find that part of your character and personality that is really really happy sharing a life and you spruce it up.
A lot of single folks avoid that because they don't want to be rejected, etc. So they become more devoted to being single than to being available.
It's why people go to art school, graduate and then never do art again. You can't do art to get famous. You can only do it for the pleasure of doing it. Same with creating this personae of yours that would be a great partner.
Does this help?
Feel free to follow up
Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello Philip,
I like your writing style and the clarity of your response.
Thank you for your very indepth answer. It gave me plenty of food for thought.
I have a dear friend who only married for the first time at aged 65yrs, (first time for everything) only to loose her husband (10yrs her senior) 8yrs later.
When I asked her what she thought of marriage, she told me she enjoyed the 8yrs they had together, and she's glad she'd had the opportunity to try it, but if she were younger she would not marry again. She said that earlier in her life she had given up on marriage and thought it would never happen to her, and so when he prosposed to her she said yes, not because of a deep love, but because of the deep friendship they shared.
This also showed me that not all 'successful' marriages/relationships are based on 'Love', but they can and do still work out, because as you say it is a 'collaborative work of art, and not necessarily because it is a 'perfect match'.
You wrote that I should not worry so much about whether someone is out there, and that there are sooooo many people out there.
The funny thing is, I can't find them! Where do the men my age or older 'hang out'? Do they even 'hang out'? Or is it more the point that I am 'looking' when I shouldn't be?
Also, what is a man of my age and/or older looking for in a woman? I've heard all sorts of reasons rangeing from 'Lover, trophy wife, companionship, housekeeper, nurse! What are you thoughts on this?
OKay. I think you've asked three questions.
1 something about the friendship which was not a passionate love
2. where do older men hang out
3. what are older men looking for. vis trophy, lover, companionship, etc.
Let's do the last one first.
They are all over the place. Many of them are looking for sex and passion. I know many men over sixty who have many friends with women their own age, but they want to have sex with younger women. And there are younger women who find these older guys interesting, especially if they have a bit of wealth and authority and are gentle. In general the older guys are, the more years younger they will consider a relationship. A man 60 will consider a relationship with a woman 40. A man forty will usually not want a relationship with a woman 20. So you just forget those guys.
In general, the older people get, the more complex their thinking becomes. They are less likely to be swept away. Often they are looking for something more solid, stable and spiritually rich. On web sites, the code is "walks on the beach and evenings by the fire." These people however do still enjoy sex and that's still important. Your friends story struck me that way. She had a lovely lovely friendship and that was satisfying.
If there is anything to be said about older people, it's that you can't generalize. When I give workshops about aging I start with this example: If I told you that there was a person in the next room I want you to meet and talk to and then write a report about and then I told you that the person was 6, or 10 or 16 years old, you'd already have a good idea what to expect. If I told you the person was 70, you'd have no idea what to expect.
So who you are after 55 is a combination of genetics, and personal habits and attitudes and spirituality.
Since relationships have always been my fascination and since I am also a musician and moderately athletic, I learned and teach argentine tango and one of the best, most fascinating and vital tango dancers I know is a woman over 80. (And dancing, often tango, is a great place to meet older men. Also, even if you don't get a romance out of it, you have the pleasure of a sensual embrace to romantic music and so that's a pleace to look and often there is a social group that takes you in. I think there is good tango in al the major european cities.
I'll tell you another story about tango. A friend of mine, another psychologist, a specialist in gero-psychology, did a study. She was looking at the effect of moderately aerobic exercise on the cognitive functions of people over 75 who lived in assisted living. She set up two groups and trained them differently and then, the second time she did the study , she added a group and taught the tango. There was one detail she didn't write up and i think it was the best part of the study. You'll guess the outcome when I tell you the set-up. At the beginning of the study all three groups showed up wearing those senior citizen sweat clothes. running shoes, velour pants with stripes, etc. At the end of three months the first two groups still were in their exercise clothes. The tango group showed up wearing dresses, sexy slacks, heels, suits, ties, and so on. I think that says something. And that was about people very late in life. That romance impulse never dies. I just finished Gabriel Marquez's Memoires of the Melancholy Whores, a story of a man who turns 90, very interesting perspectives on male thinking.
But the main thing is to have a life. To find something you love, book clubs, golf, cards, volunteer work, something you have a passion for. One woman found her true love when she joined a chorus. You want to be involved in something that fascinates and excites you.
Often in late midlife we re-discover passions we'd set aside. "I found my old guitar in the back of the closet and brought it out and played it and forgot how much I loved it. I thought I'd outgrown it." Like that.
And then you keep your eye out. You make connections. One of the tricks the tango ladies do is they make sure they say hello and make contact to those five or six guys with whom they like to dance. It's the same elsewhere. You stay connected and you stay open to connections. Little hello's and not much more. Eventually you connect with someone who is interested in more.
I hope this helps. Please feel free to respond.
Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.