never married, over forty, a little bitter

facebook, part II

When I got on Facebook two years ago, I thought it was going to be my magic solution.  I would go out to events that interested me, meet men I had things in common with, and then send them “friend” requests.  As far as aggressive behavior goes, that seemed at the low-end and something I felt comfortable with.  I also felt like it was much like online dating but with the advantage of having met in person first.  The man in question and I could, at our leisure, read over each others’ profiles and find out salient details.  If the man was interested, he could make a move from there.

Well, I have employed this method more than a dozen times, and thus far… crickets.


online dating- what happened?

I have spoken to my newly-divorced friend about online dating, but I can no longer recommend it much.

What has happened to online dating, anyway?

When I first dipped my toe in its waters back around 2002, Nerve/Salon/The Onion had a great dating website whereby you could have a hidden profile that you were able to send only to members you emailed.  I liked that privacy, especially since I worked with the public and at that time was living in the mid-sized city. Also, you didn’t have to buy monthly memberships but simply paid a small fee each time you contacted someone.  That site was taken over by Spring Street and more or less ruined.

In my mid-late thirties, when I moved to the large, coastal city, I was left with Match and OKCupid, but I did get a fair amount of dates out of them.  Of course, I had to write the men first, but many responded and out of those, most set up dates.  At the time I felt the response rate was low, but I had no idea how bad it would eventually get.  The risk of exposure felt worth it because for the most part, I was getting decent dates out of the endeavor.

Cut to five years later.  I dip my toe back in once or twice a year, but now many of the faces on those sites are ones I’ve seen on there for years.   Facebook has arisen.  I’m older– past the age of 40.  And now I’m lucky if I get ONE person to respond to my emails.   And usually that one person has some obvious flaw that would cause dating difficulty.  It is simply not worth the risk, money, and time anymore.  The payoff is zilch, and I end up feeling like I’m in the bargain bin, desperately hoping for someone, anyone, to purchase me at a huge markdown.

I have to laugh when I see those bitter posts by men saying that all women on dating websites are flooded with emails.  I don’t have children and am slim and healthy and financially solvent, but my inbox sits empty.

married life

When I picked my friend up tonight, there were several young couples hanging out in the yard across from her with their young children.  She told me that all three mothers were best friends and the fathers were also friends, and they hung out together all the time with their young children.  I had an intense internal reaction of, “Oh, that’s what married people do while all these years I sit home alone.”

It is a fear of mine, that couples have a rich social life of going on vacations together, inviting each other to parties, etc., while my social life is barren.  I also fear that all my former friends, most of whom I never hear from, still keep in close contact with each other because they are married with kids.  I do have evidence for these fears.  On the other hand, I have friends who have married and had children and then complained to me that they had a terrible time making friends with other wives and mothers and felt very isolated and lonely.

My friend, who is 38 and recently divorced after fifteen years, said something very interesting to me last night.  She said that marriage had been quite boring and insular and it had consisted solely of hanging out with other couples.  I told her my view, that while I had certainly had a lot of adventures I couldn’t have had if I had married young and that I had a decent social life with other singles in my twenties and early thirties, after about 33 or so it had been one long, lonely slog socially, and I felt I had my nose pressed up against the glass of married life.

I fear this friend is going to be terribly disappointed, entering the social scene again at 38.  On the other hand, divorced people seem to find each other quickly enough and remarry.  They understand the world of marriage, would be my guess.

As for me, my dating pool gets smaller and smaller, because I prefer never-married men without children, like myself.  I just can’t relate as well to men who have spent decades in the world of marriage.  It has not been my scene, so to speak, and having been shut-out by it, I have ambivalent feelings about that whole world now.


I can’t spend any more nights in bars.  I didn’t hang out in bars much in my twenties, and I’ve NEVER met a man in a bar.  I simply cannot spend another night in a bar just standing there hoping to be noticed.

Thus far in 2012, I’ve accompanied two single women to bars as a favor.  One was on New Year’s Eve– what a nightmare.  I knew I wouldn’t meet anyone so just hoped to have an enjoyable evening talking to my friend.  Instead she sat there miserable, wondering where all the single, attractive, fortysomething men were.  In a mythical bar in your mind, I wanted to say.  The second time was last night– my divorced friend had been “texted” by a man she had previously met in a bar that maybe he would meet her out with some friends that night.  All kinds of wrong there, and I knew it was doomed, but I was the only person she had to go with, and she’s so recently divorced (after fifteen years) that she simply hasn’t the experience to look at these situations with a critical eye.  Nightmare, again.  Loud, hot, crowded, nowhere to sit, women competing on looks only, most everyone seeming about ten years younger than me.  The man finally showed up, sans friends, spoke to us for about five minutes, then went to the other end of the bar and started chatting up some other women.

In my thirties I got into partner dancing, which seemed a much more civilized way to meet people.  It definitely is, yet there are problems in that world too, which is for another post.  In any case, at least you learn a skill and get some exercise when you go out dancing.


I’ve always enjoyed time alone, even when I was going out to parties every night in my early twenties.  I’m a person who prefers to run errands and attend events unfettered and to spend a lot of time at home reading, cooking, listening to music, and watching TV alone.  At the same time, I always liked being connected to a social scene and having really good, close friends I could have real discussions with.

I’ve really, REALLY been enjoying my time alone lately, perhaps TOO much.  I’m loving reading, taking hot baths, surfing the web, etc.  But I know I’m also hiding out from the world, because it’s just gotten too much… the feeling that after all I’ve tried, finding a partner and/or a social group is just. too. difficult.  And I can’t keep trying anymore.


herding cats

As I mentioned in my first post, I started this blog as both a place to vent and a place to reflect.  I turned to a blog because I simply no longer have real-life friends to talk to about being a never-married woman at this age.  I have a few friends who are getting divorced, but it’s not the same.  They are overly excited about their dating prospects, even after listening to me complain about the difficulties of dating at this age.  It’s a little insulting, really– like they assume they won’t have similar problems.

Sometimes I dream of starting a group of women in my predicament, but from what I’ve seen on Meetup, it’s an idea that will probably fail.  A few women have created Meetups of single older women, and it seems that only two or three women attended the events before the groups went under.

I think the problem is that being single is seen as a stigmatized but transient stage that most people hope to get out of ASAP.  There’s not much interest, therefore, in identifying oneself as a member of the group.  Also, single people are at all different stages:  some are resigned, some are happy with their status, and some are desperately trying to find a partner.  It’s hard to organize a group around that.  Also, when you get outside your immediate circle of friends and open a group up to the public, you are running the high risk that a nutter will show up and cause the whole venture to crumble.

The internet has somewhat saved me, in that I’ve found solace in a number of blogs:  Bella DePaulo’s Living Single website and the blogs “Sex, Lies, and Dating” and “The Plankton,” among others.  But I’ve still begun to feel that I need my own place to truly be honest.  I want to feel free to really put stuff out there that most single people are too afraid to say or even feel.