Recently a friend declared that she simply wouldn’t know what to do if, after 25 years of couple-doom, she had to go into the dating scene again.
Well, she would, it just wouldn’t be easy.
Being single and over 40 in 2016 is a constant learning curve.
First there is the ‘where to start’ aspect.
The internet has provided platforms for singles that are equally useful and useless.
Photos of your favourite pie, beer, or football club or happy snaps taken 30 years ago when you were 19 and on holiday in Spain do not give a realistic view of who you really are.
At best, the person you manage to convince to meet up with you will walk past you at the bar, at worst they will call you out to your face and then tell all their friends about your vain folly.
If you are looking for a hook-up, you could just post a picture of yourself in action, but in all honesty, your genitals are not as sexy as you believe they might be.
Porn pictures require an art director, professional photographers, lighting, models, and air brushing. Your bits in all their blood flushed glory might do an amazing job, but in horrifying 2D, they look like they belong on a science journal, not someone else’s mouth.
The brave new world of internet dating is a place to start though. You just need to go in there with a great big dollop of humour. Try not to take everything as real, the interweb is where we write the narrative we want people to see. No one posts pictures of themselves snoring with their mouths open, drooling onto a pillow. However if all you see online are pictures of their car or their cats. Swipe left.
Don’t despair. You can do this, it just takes some effort.
In the old days, when you were good at this, all that was required was a boozy night out with the girls and something would emerge.
It’s not quite the same now. Let’s be honest, over 40 and ready to mingle at the local disco is somewhat tragic and not a little threatening to some people.
Plus, you need a posse, or wingmen/ women.
If you head out with the 20 somethings from the office there is a strong chance you will end up looking like mutton dressed as lamb and, as you watch even the ugly and brainless young things buddy up with the type of people you would normally throw under a bus (but tonight look alright) you sit and stare disheartenedly into your overpriced, super sweet, sickly cocktail, you start to consider whether the partner you used to secretly imagine poisoning was better than the stretch of self-loving ahead of you.
Bars are good if you are looking for someone to be blotto with. If you want more, try a shared experience club like a sport you like, or a hobby you have- or can tolerate for now.
Being single isn’t so bad. When you were younger you thought more things were amazing. Now you have certain things you like a certain way. Nothing wrong with that, so do the people you are meeting now.
Some people are always single because they are REALLY hard work…..do you want that in your life? Do you want someone who has never shared their space?
Worse, imagine having to break in a life partner in their middle age. What, no one already told you that your farting in the bed is as offensive as your farting at the table? No, location doesn’t equate to context, take that trumpet to the bathroom. Really, you always watch this particular show come hell or high water? Even if sex is the other option? Or food? And your last relationship didn’t work out?
Sound like fun huh? Here is the reality, these days in a number of countries 60% of marriages end in divorce. So that means that being single is a thing.
In fact, as we live longer and we live better, being single and vital in our 40’s,50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is a thing. Even in our 90’s.
Our reproductive years may generally last 20 or 30 years, our bodies and our minds live a lot longer. And our hearts? They last a lifetime.
So no, it’s not easy being single in middle age, and dating is tricky, especially when we feel a bit wrinkly and vulnerable, but take heart. Statistically you are not alone. There are 60% of people out there looking for you too. You are going to be fine no matter what happens in the next few years.
Most of our sadness at being single in middle age stems from the belief that everyone in a relationship is much happier than us, but you know in your heart that that’s not true. Would you rather be single or in a crap relationship? Yeah, there is your answer right there in your gut.
If all you do is pay attention to TV shows and advertising that plays on our fear of being alone (and thereby obviously being unlovable) it really is a couple world, unless you are a single, in which case it’s your world too.