Being alone is a topic that’s come up among my friends and peers repeatedly recently and I think it’s our age.
As we pass middle age, we start thinking of our future as older and even elderly persons. If we aren’t sharing our life now with someone, it seems as though everyone else in our peer group is. We wonder why we aren’t. And, I believe, many of us are a little afraid to face the last years of our life alone. It’s not gender-specific either: I’ve heard it from both men and women these days. It’s made me think about some of the reasons people ARE alone in their middle and later years.
So if this describes you or someone you know, if a partner has eluded them in their later years, I’ve got a few questions that might shed light on the situation, and provide an opportunity to change it.
What do you offer a partner?
We’re not used to thinking this way, but maybe we should. Oh, I don’t mean money and things, I mean the intangibles. Are you warm, loving and fun? Are you active and involved in the world outside your nuclear family? Do you laugh a lot? Are you physically demonstrative?
We all have something to offer another and you do, too. It’s smart to cultivate those things.
Most people seek a partner that brings joy and happiness to their life–it really does boil down to what’s on offer. What kind of positive energy can you bring to a partner? Make a list of those things and add to it when you think of new things. Focus on them.
How well do you compromise?
Partnership takes compromise and being alone doesn’t allow us to practice that. If you’ve lived alone for long periods of time, as I have, compromise may not come easy. When we’re used to being alone, we’re also to having things are own way, for the most part, and sometimes considering another person’s needs doesn’t come easily. It’s not intuitive. Not if we’re unaccustomed to taking another into account. Sometimes it takes extra work to be sure we are accommodating their desires, too.
A caution: we’re often delusional about how well we compromise. It takes some deep, self-examination to determine where we stand on this. I can honestly say that compromise has been a huge challenge for me in relationships because I got used to making my own way in the world, filling my own needs. I have to think and think again to be sure I am taking into account what my husband wants, too. But it’s worth it.
So take a close look at this. It’s big.
What are you doing to put people off?
I know single people who are super-judgmental when they meet another–they always know best. And those who are super-busy. “I’m soo busy! Too busy to get together! Too busy to go out! Let me squeeze you in…”
I know others who are so nervous on dates they drink too much. I know some who smoke too much weed and some who don’t like to….fill in the blank: go to concerts, spend time in the city, go out to movies, go to parties. There’s an excuse for just about every activity a partner might like to do.
One really cool friend told me that she keeps people away by the look she’s chosen, which includes large tattoos and piercings. (Beautiful tattoos, by the way.) She doesn’t have to change that, but she might want to look for a man who appreciates body art.
How about: “I want a man to work at knowing the real me.” Well, here’s the thing: men aren’t going to do that. In fact, no one wants to work really hard to get to know another. If you’re not WYSIWYG–what-you-see-is-what-you-get–you are probably losing opportunities to meet just the right person.
If you want a partner, you have to welcome one and only you can know what you’re doing that might keep the very people away that you’d like to draw close.
What are you doing to meet people?
I’m here to tell you that if you sit home all day you’re never going to meet anyone.
If you’re straight and you spend all your time with gay friends you’re probably not going to meet a potential partner.
If you work in a breast cancer surgeon’s officer, chances are potential mates are not going to stumble across you.
If you’re willing to use online dating services, it’s important not to put your self-worth on the line. Some people like chocolate, some like vanilla. It’s not personal. Today’s online dating options often are niche-oriented: services are offered focused on religion, race, BBW, even farmers, Alaska and so many other niches. Because, as they say, there is a lid for every pot. Why not look for exactly what you want? And you might have more luck looking for a dating niche that fits you and your situation.
If you aren’t good at online dating, and I know some who aren’t, then tell every single person you know that you are looking to meet someone. That means your hairstylist, manicurist, golf buddies, people at the gym, your lawyer, your cousins, your in-laws, your doctor, your neighbors, the owners of boutiques you frequent–if you know someone and they know you, TELL THEM! and tell them a bit about what kind of person you’re looking to date. I’m not proposing that you accost every person you run into–but if it’s someone who knows and likes you, there’s no harm in telling them you’re looking. Because you never know — they may well know someone who is also looking.
And get out and about! Do things you love that have a side benefit — they will put you in the surroundings of the kind of mate you seek. If you play golf, volunteer at tournaments. Work at a museum. Take hikes with the Sierra Club. Attend a Parents without Partners meeting. Find something to do that you love. The worst that can happen is you are doing what you like to do. The best is that you’ll meet someone else who likes it, too.
Today’s world is full of opportunities to get out and have fun, and while you’re at it, meet people. Because, after all, YOU NEVER KNOW.
There’s no magic to finding a partner. But if a relationship has eluded you, it’s time to ask yourself these few questions. And in those answers, you’ll likely to find the reason you’re alone. And once you know that, you can do something about it. Change it.
And yes, meet someone.
Finally, I am a big proponent of therapy. If you think you might be depressed or want to talk over your situation, do not hesitate to find a good therapist. Worth their weight in gold.
So, what do you think?