I am still hanging out with the octogenarians and nonagenarians, and I have had another thought: do we get to a point where we are too old to find love?
Actually, that is not the right question because I know many examples of people who have been divorced or widowed and found love in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. But what about those of us who have always been single? Do we become incapable of not being single? I found an article, which cited data from the US Census bureau sort of indicating that was true. Although the median age that Americans get married has gotten higher each decade, it is still under thirty. When they are between age 35 and 50, 60% of women are married. Presumably, this number decreases at that point due to divorce and death of spouses. I guess somewhat heartening for those of us who want to get married, is that in 2013, fewer than 5% of people never married.
How do I know if I will be in that 5%? How many of those people didn’t marry purely out of choice?
I feel that as I get older, date more, get my heart broken more, et cetera, I become more accustomed to being alone. I have always been pretty independent. During the fleeting moments that I have been in relationships, I have really liked it, yet I have survived just fine during the long periods of being a “singleton.” Does this mean I will reach a point where I don’t need a partner to the extent that I am incapable of being in a relationship? Am I there now? I asked a man with whom I have had a long, friendship plus on-and-off relationship. He said I give off a “vibe of independence”, so I attract men who are not looking for commitment such as married men or those only interested in a fling. Simultaneously, I scare off the men who are looking for a relationship because they think I am only looking for a fling. I asked him how I can work to NOT give off that vibe. He couldn’t answer that one.
When I was an adolescent and teen, I yearned for a boyfriend. Every year, that was my wish when I blew out the birthday candles. My friends had them. (Those same friends now mostly have husbands.) When my family moved at the beginning of 8th grade, I thought the new state and school would be better. Then, I thought high school would be better. Then, I was sure college would be better, and at the end of freshman year, it was. I met my first love. He was eventually, after what must have seemed to him an interminable six months, my “first” sexual experience. In all senses, he was my first real relationship. He was amazing. It wasn’t perfect. I was a pain in the ass princess; he was stubborn; we got in stupid fights; and had great make-up sex. It was the best first relationship anyone could ask for, and many would have gotten married. Somehow though, I never saw it as a permanent thing. I knew I would eventually move to California to pursue my acting career. I don’t actually know if he saw it as permanent. I’m not sure I ever asked. We eventually broke up. It was messy. I rebounded quickly. Years later, we became good friends and I still consider him a friend, as well as his wife who he met a few years after we broke up.
My second love was what I still think of as my ‘one great love.’ I had just graduated from college, he was younger. He pursued me, and I resisted, but when I fell, I fell hard. I still planned on moving to California, but this time, I was willing to do it engaged. I adored him. This was Romeo and Juliet, stupid in love. I was still a pain in the ass princess and he was also incredibly stubborn. Our parents thought we were too young. He had a lot of growing up to do, but I saw potential, and he saw me in a way no one really ever had. He said he believed in my dreams, and he supported me. After I moved to Los Angeles, he followed, but the reality of my pursuit of my dreams, our lack of money, our youth, being a bit naïve and our crazy passion proved to be too much. When he left, I was devastated. It would be many years before I truly recovered, moved on, and could be happy for him when he found love and got married. And I truly am happy for him. I don’t know that we ever could have made it, but sometimes I fear that I let the one I was supposed to keep walk away.
After a couple of years of one-night stands, short-lived relationships and living life as a twenty-something in Los Angeles, I met one of the kindest people I have ever known. For two years, he treated me like a princess, although I had ceased to be such a pain in the ass. He was anything but stubborn, and we never fought. I loved him, but I was bored and I left. I left him, California and my pursuit of one career for another. I headed overseas and would spend the next nine years of my life living in three countries outside of the US.
From age 19 to 28, I had three two-year long relationships, which were all basically good, and I essentially let them all go. And now, at 39, I wonder if I am too jaded or “independent” to be in a relationship.
You may (or may not) be wondering what happened from 28 until now. What happened was a couple of seriously awful relationships, which can be (maybe) discussed another time, and the need to spend apparently nearly three years recovering from the last one, which left me a shell of a human being. I worked really hard at recovering. I started practicing yoga and meditation; I experienced a number of healing ceremonies; I went to drum circles and ecstatic dances; I got new hobbies; volunteered; threw myself into my rewarding job; made new friends; and eventually, tried (unsuccessfully) to date online. I healed myself. And then, I put my request out to the universe. Just like all those blown-out candles, I wished for a boyfriend, but this time I was specific. I had good and bad examples in my past, I was older, wiser and in a good place where I was happy on my own, but was ready to be truly happy sharing my life with someone else. So, I told the universe what I wanted, not in a physical sense, but in more emotional and intellectual ways what I wanted.
I then moved to yet another country with no expectations of meeting anyone, but I did. And he was EXACTLY what I had asked for; the universe had actually delivered. He was unbelievably smart, and worked in a very intellectual field, but he was knowledgeable in a wide array of subjects. He was funny and self-deprecating in a Hugh Grant kind of way. He was kind, considerate, caring and sensitive. He took me on actual dates when we first met, and then continued to do so. He never pressured me in any way. He called when he was running late, which was rare. He texted me from remote mountain tops when he got cell service. He would swoop me into his arms and kiss me just like they do in the movies every time we walked back in my apartment after an evening out. He liked his coffee just as I liked mine, and he was happy to eat vegetarian food at our favorite Indian restaurant, so we could share. He loved my many gay male friends; was as liberal as me; and loved to talk politics. Lying in bed, he’d ask me about my work in HIV, and I’d ask about his work in rocks. It was perfect. I used to watch him sleeping and marvel at my good luck. How had someone as fucked up, damaged and incapable of choosing good men and keeping them have been so lucky as to have gotten him? I felt as if he had fallen out of the sky and landed in my bed, and I was thrilled. I was NOT going to mess this up, so I was the perfect girlfriend and I loved it. I, the vegetarian, cooked him steak for crying out loud!
And then, decisions had to be made. Life was complicated; our jobs were tenuous. We both lived outside our own country, so visas were an issue. So what? I made it clear, I was in it for the long haul and he agreed. I have landed on my feet many times, and am not needy. I told him I was adaptable, and relished the opportunity to start an adventure together. He agreed. He said the words, “I want to be in a relationship.” Then 48-hours later, he freaked out and left. I never knew why. And I broke. Again. Had he sensed something about me or was he the one that after so many years of being alone was incapable of being together?
Now, over a year later, I am still single and wonder if perhaps that is as it is meant to be. People tell me that if I ‘settled down’ somewhere I would meet someone, but I have been settled, albeit temporarily, in places and have not met ‘him’. I have also made it clear to those with whom I was in relationships that I don’t have a set agenda or geographical preference, so I can ‘settle down’ anywhere. That hasn’t worked thus far.
I am not overly ambitious. I have pursued dreams, and I have always worked and supported myself, but as I said to my last boyfriend, I would have moved for him and not seen it as a sacrifice. If my partner’s career and the location of that career is a top priority to him, I don’t have an issue going where he needs to go. I can literally get a job anywhere, and have done so in the past.
I have a number of peers who are also unmarried. In some cases, we became friends later in life perhaps because of our common place in life, but in other cases, I have known them forever. In fact, more of my friends both new and those since childhood, male and female, gay and straight are unmarried than married. Is it a personality trait that brought us together even when we were just young children? I was talking to my yonger married brother about this. His friends from growing up and college are all married. My even younger married sister is in nearly the same boat with her peer group. My closest friends are not. I am not ‘always the bridesmaid.’Are we collectively ‘undateable?’
My uncle, who I have been staying with, is 80-years-old and has a wide circle of friends. He has three extremely good female friends who have, like him, never been married, and he has been friends with each of them for decades. These women all had careers, they all have lively personalities, they are all kind-hearted. One of them, I met first when I was 16-years old, and I fell in love with her. She was born in the 1930’s, and became a pilot! She is stunningly beautiful and glamorous. She had a hugely successful career in the aviation industry. My point is she was and is a catch, as with these other two women I have mentioned. Why are they part of that forever-single 5%? Simply by choice or did they just never meet someone who was willing to stand beside a strong, beautiful and liberated woman?
This brings me back to my original point. When we have left our parents’ homes and set out into the big, bad world, many people meet and marry. Do those of us who wait because we want to see the world, pursue our careers or just live life on our own end up growing to be to independently minded? Are we not capable of sharing our lives? My past is a part of me, but I no longer let it cripple me. I am not the fun and feisty 25-year-old I once was. I am still fun and feisty, but I am almost forty, so I am more demanding, more mature more self-aware. This makes me more of a challenge. Does this make me less desirable?
My father is always telling me that men are threatened by strong, beautiful women. Let me be clear that he has never encouraged me to be anything other than strong, but he is simply stating what he believes is true. That seems old-fashioned, but are men inherently afraid of women like me and my single girlfriends? Or is it us? Are we afraid of losing something if we become part of a pair?
This blog feels a little like it should have started out: “Dear Diary, have you ever wondered why you don’t have a boyfriend?” (I’m pretty sure there is an actual diary entry circa 1991 that says something similar somewhere in a box in my parent’s house.) I’m asking a lot of rhetorical questions, which may not have answers.
I’m often asked why I’m not married. It’s not rhetorical most of the time. My usual retort usually is, “Ask my ex boyfriends.” Some answer their own question with, “You’re too picky,” or “You’re just waiting for the right one.” I supposed that is true. I won’t settle. Why should I? In 2016, I certainly don’t NEED a husband to be successful or indeed to be happy. I have always described the notion of a husband as the icing on the cake: My life is a big, moist, delicious, rich chocolate cake. It is perfect and beautiful. Butter crème frosting would only make it that much more delicious!
In a time where women still have to fight for a fair wage; victim blaming of rape survivors is still present; far more men run companies than women ; and women’s “emotions” are blamed on their lack of success, it is sometimes difficult to believe that men are prepared to be equal partners with strong women. I discussed this in another post. I truly hope this doesn’t make me sound bitter because I am not. I love men. I still love and care for my past boyfriends (with two exceptions who I didn’t even bother mentioning here), and wish them well. I don’t wish I were their wives because life works out as it is meant to be, and they met their true loves after me.
I am just wondering if we reach a point where we are no longer marriage material because we are so used to being happy humans on our own?
This blog is dedicated to all my fierce, fearless, gorgeous,
kind and otherwise amazing single friends!