I think many of my single women friends can agree with me that being a middle aged single woman isn’t easy. Certainly, it isn’t the worst thing life can hand you, by far — many people live lives much more challenging than a single woman living in the suburbs. But I think we can agree that this a couple’s world. At least my world is. And moving through life without a partner is hard at times. Satisfying in many ways, but often lonely.
I’m thinking of those times that present challenges that aren’t unscalable, but would be so much better if there was someone else there, if for no other reason than moral support. Fighting with the IRS. Fighting with a teenager. Fighting with the frickin water heater when the pilot light goes out. (So much fighting!) It’s not that I can’t manage those things on my own. I can and I do because I have to. It’s that I’m just tired and I’d really love a person there to say, “It’s ok. You can do this. You aren’t alone.” And maybe also to light the damn pilot light.
So, like many of my friends, I have hoped and dreamed and prayed for that person with whom I can navigate the hard times and celebrate the magical ones. And having found the above methods fruitless, I have turned to the delightful world of online dating.
Know that I tiptoed into that world because of the stories I’ve heard that so-and-so met their spouse on that app and really it’s a numbers game and hang in there and your guy is just around the corner. (I’d like to say on record that many – not all – “coupled” people have this strange vested interest in finding single persons a mate. I’m certain it is with the best intentions, but putting the primary focus on one’s relationship status is by default ignoring all the other awesome things about that person. I can’t tell you how many times the first thing out of someone’s mouth after not seeing me for some time is a variation of, “Are you dating anyone?” “Have you found your Prince Charming?” or “Why are you still single?” There are so many other questions one could ask in that situation. “How are your kids?” “How’s work?” “How’s your backgammon game coming along?” If we put our minds to it, there are lots of options. AmIright?)
Why am I still single? I’ll tell you why. Please let me regale you with a sampling of recent dates I’ve had:
- The scientist who could not look me in the eye and did not ask one question.
- The gay Korean pastor (If history has taught me anything… Trust me on this one).
- The promising VP of a Fortune 100 company who turned out to be a major d-bag. ‘Nuff said.
- The ecstasy-dropping atheistic pansexual rabbi (I learned these fun facts and many others in one two-hour lunch.) (PS: I had to google “pansexual.”)
Hand to God, these are men I have gotten excited about and then quickly learned… well, you see.
Facebook is no help in building your confidence in this area (shocker). There is this weird phenomenon that comes over me as I scroll through my feed of smiling couples and intact families. I somehow come to the conclusion (delusion?) that I too am promised a fairy tale ending. Now, we all know that what we see on FB isn’t the whole picture, that what people post is a sliver of their real lives and they most likely have struggles like the rest of the people on this planet. But that doesn’t stop me from hating them a little bit.
I am FB friends with a particular woman who is a knock-out. Dazzling smile, gorgeous figure and a perfectly lovely person. I also know that she has had her share of tragedy. Truly, she has suffered hardship I cannot fathom. She was recently divorced and then very quickly found a hunky, tall, successful man whom she married. Bitch.
I KNOW. I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON AND I AM GOING TO HELL. LEAVE ME ALONE.
I was jealous. All I saw was that she found a guy and was incredibly, outrageously happy. I was so stupidly jealous. I may or may not have unfollowed her.
A few lame dates later, I was having lunch with a dear friend I’ve known for decades. After I shared with him my tales of dating woe, I said, “You know, I think I’m due. I think I’m owed some sort of back credits, right?”
This is what he said: “Why the hell do you think that?”
“Sure, your life didn’t turn out the way you thought, but really?” he continued. “Laura, there is no guarantee you’ll find a partner to spend your life with. And so what are you going to do with that? Be sad and bitter the rest of your life?”
I sat there dumbfounded.
No one had ever said that to me before. Seriously, people all around me say, “You’re going to find someone any minute now.” Or, “The right guy is just waiting for you.” Or something equally as patronizing.
Until now, no one has ever said, “What if he isn’t? What will you do with that?”
In that moment, I realized, consciously or not, I had been pinning my future onto some unforeseen person that may not exist. Holy crap. Now that is delusional. Since then, I haven’t stopped thinking about that possibility. That my future may not involve a soul mate with whom I share my life. I am thankful that I am capable of building a good life for myself and my kids, but the idea of doing it alone takes a minute to get used to.
So. What to do.
Here’s what I know:
I have an incredibly satisfying life.
I have two daughters I am proud of beyond expression.
I have a deep bench of faithful friends, without whom I wouldn’t be standing.
I am loved.
I will never be alone.
And though self-pity sometimes rears its ugly head, if I can remember the truth, if I can take a breath and remember what I already have, I will be okay.
I will be more than okay.
I will be FABULOUSLY okay. And that is something, for sure.