never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: October, 2012

the drought

At the reunion I was updated on a friend of a friend, a woman who had never seemed to give one wit about being in a relationship.  She was probably the most self-contained person I had ever met.  She never put on make-up, had glasses, and wore her hair long and straight and unstyled.

According to these friends, she started a back and forth correspondence with a friend of a friend on Facebook, they struck up a long-distance romance, and they recently married.  He had done well for himself financially and they are now living a peaceful existence on a piece of land he purchased in a rural area of the country.

So I’m back to reconsidering Facebook again.  If my choice is between online dating, where I tend to “make do” with what’s available, versus Facebook, where I can find people who truly interest me, I suppose the latter is the better bet.

With that in mind and with the reunion as inspiration, I found a man on Facebook I knew briefly over twenty years ago and had heard lived in L.A.  We seem to have several friends and interests in common, so I sent him a nice email and a Friend request.  He accepted the request but then nothing.  Back to crickets, perfectly encapsulating my life here.

I’m not necessarily pursuing any of these connections romantically; I figure that friendships are a good place to start, especially since many of the people I friend request on Facebook have a level of fame, however small (that being the way I have heard of them).  Any kind of notoriety seems to create an impediment to relationship, but I can hope that the “famous” might have friends I like.

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.  That is how I feel here.  So many interesting people surround me, and yet I can’t seem to figure out how to cross the damn divide to get to know them on any kind of real level.


Having been away for a week, I felt like I would be fine with walking away from my job.  Just simply not returning, except perhaps to say goodbye to some people.

I did, of course, go back and spent yesterday wading through hundreds of emails.  The pile of work that greets me upon returning from a vacation makes me feel like I’m being punished for taking time off.  I can’t imagine ever taking more than one week; the return would be too brutal.

Also, while away I felt proud of the life I’ve made for myself in my home city, but as soon as my plane landed, I realized that I have absolutely no one to call anymore to inform that I’ve made it back.  It’s a strange feeling.

It also feels a little weird to blog again.  The impressions are dissipating now that I’m back in my apartment, but while surrounded by people at the reunion, my struggles were put in perspective, and I started losing my grip on them.  Everyone there was, of course, consumed with their own problems– their pregnancies, divorces, job loss/dissatisfactions, children’s issues, family illnesses and deaths– and as cliche as it sounds, I realized that my own particular sadnesses had grown disproportionately large because of my isolation.

All I know now is that whether I stay or go, the next year of my life needs to look different from this one.

old friends

Some impressions from the reunion weekend:

There were definitely uncomfortable moments.  Running into a group of now-married men I never knew well (already awkward) only to have our conversation revolve around their kids and how they have no social time for anything that doesn’t involve entertaining them.  Eating lunch at a “mommys’ table,” trying to figure out what to do or say while they all discussed their children (they didn’t ask me if I had them– it was the elephant in the room).  Having breakfast alone one morning next to a postcard-perfect happy family of four, with the father teasing the daughter about her “older” (by two years) boyfriend and the daughter merrily discussing the Christmas present she had bought for her beau.  Conversing with some good friends of mine, a couple I generally love, only to have them run down the laundry list of all the wonderful things that are happening to other people– their fabulous weddings, moneyed acquaintances, new babies, extensive vacations, and gorgeous estates.

I also, however, became privy to things that made me feel much less alone in my struggles.  I heard about decades-long friendships and work partnerships going down in flames and from people who confessed to me that they had lost all touch with their college friends.  Three pairs of college sweethearts are now going through acrimonious divorces, and several others are on second marriages.  A never-married man who has been through some family tragedies is now living with and taking care of an ailing parent.  One woman confided to me that she turned to a dating service in her late thirties, struggled through infertility after marrying, and finally had two miracle babies past forty.  Another friend, who I had warned off her boyfriend years ago, got engaged to him only to have the guy call off the wedding a few days before it was to happen.  I suspect that a few of the married fathers are alcoholics, and a few are in the closet.  Several people alluded to the fact that the bad economy had hit them hard; others told me of their struggles to find a new job or change careers.

My impression was that the most common age people had kids was 32, which was my magic number.  I spoke on the phone with my gay friend over the weekend, and he told me he understands why people have kids at that age.  He is in that range and is getting bored with his life and wondering what to do next.

Two of my female friends who have children told me over the weekend that they can’t stand to be around other kids now.  Their own are more than enough.  Another woman kept saying how glad she was to have a weekend away from hers and that being around babies made her realize she definitely doesn’t want another one.  I felt comfortable around these women, as well as lots of other parents who either talked little about their kids, or at least not solely about them, or at least didn’t make me feel like a freak for not having them.

I stole away for a yoga class before the madness of the weekend began and had an interesting conversation with the teacher, who is my age and quite attractive and fit (go yoga).  She grew up in my home city, attending college and living in the same place I recently moved away from.  At 30, she moved to NYC, and, unable to meet anyone there, decided, at 36, to pack it in and move to the small resort city where the reunion was held.  Two months before leaving NYC she finally met someone but carried on with her plans anyway.  Eventually they married and he moved out to the resort city.  She said it was hard to feel like she was “away from where things were happening” but that she eventually adjusted and is happy in a smaller place.

I also took an evening before the reunion to see a small movie featuring several (vague) acquaintances from my current city of residence.  I did feel proud during the weekend that I had made such a big move, by myself, to a difficult city where few had ventured and that I had made some inroads there, however faint.  I had listened to a podcast on the plane in which the host said that he and his wife were comfortable being childless in L.A. because people there didn’t really make a big deal out of having kids.  Something for me to chew on.

A few final impressions:

One married man talked to me about his ex-girlfriend and said he couldn’t understand why she never found anyone and got married (uh, hello?).

An exceptionally attractive female friend, who lots of guys (including, once, a date of mine) used to drool over, attended the reunion.  In an echo of my date twenty years earlier, a married man, seemingly clueless about how this would come across to me, stopped me at the dance to go on and on about this never-married woman and his long-standing crush on her, saying, “Men just can’t understand how a woman like that could fall through the cracks.”

Ouch.  Ouch, ouch, ouch.  At that point, exhausted by the weekend and demoralized by his comment, I caught a ride home and went to bed, where I tossed and turned and shed a few tired, hot tears.  I thought about how hurt I had been twenty years earlier by my date’s interest in this same woman.  Then I thought about how badly this man’s comments had stung, despite my greater wisdom.

I realized that, as an average woman, it was no great tragedy to anyone but myself that I had “fallen through the cracks” and that, as a middle-aged woman past my childbearing years, I was of even less interest to the world at large.

I traveled home the next day.  During the journey, I realized that I had become okay with not having kids.  My impression from the weekend was that only a few seemed to really get lucky in life and get everything they want, and even then, will it last?


Lots of time on my hands plus shopping nearby is a dangerous combination for me.  I broke down and bought myself an expensive piece of jewelry today, something I have never done before, and no man has either.  

I’ve inherited a few pieces from relatives, but I haven’t lived the kind of life where men have bought me expensive trinkets.


At least two (older) people I have spoken to on this trip told me they moved to this area because their kids live here.  My mother tells me the same thing– the people she meets in her retirement community moved there because their kids live nearby.

I do wonder what will provide that sense of direction for me when I grow old.


“We have failed to treat aging alone seriously as a policy issue,” Klinenberg says. “But a large proportion who age alone don’t see themselves as old and anyone who markets to them needs to know that.”

The rise of single households is a global phenomenon as people delay marriage and fertility rates drop, says Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban futures at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. .

“The long-term implications of 30% or more of women never getting married or having kids profoundly changes politics, society, economy and the value structure,” he says.

the big question

Article after article will quote the figure that 1 in 5 women reach the age of 45 without having children.  Well, what about the men?  I’ve googled that question and come up with absolutely nothing.  

Are we to assume it’s the same percentage, but it’s not worth reporting on because men still have the chance to have children past that age?  Or because fatherhood is not as important to men’s identities? Do most men eventually manage to have children whereas a healthy percentage of women do not?  Do we have to wait until the current generation turns 70 before we can answer that question?

space requirements

Author and researcher Jill Kirby said: ‘The gap between what  women want and what they can achieve is widening.

‘Many women are finding themselves childless not through choice but because of financial pressures to delay motherhood, and then finding it is too late. The postponement of marriage is also contributing. What women want has, I suspect, not changed.’

Author Patricia Morgan added: ‘Until we recognise that women need more space in their lives to have a family without being required to work full-time we will continue to have low birth rates, especially among educated women.’

Read more: 

the market


This is so true, and it doesn’t stop in the 30s, either. I’ll be 42 in a couple of weeks, and in two years of online dating, I’d say about 70% of the people who write to me are fifty and over, often MUCH over. I think the record so far is the 74-year-old who said he could have his daughter pick him up at the nursing home and bring him into the city if I were willing to meet for coffee. I wish I were joking about that.

Your last line is telling, though, and hints at the broader trend. I absolutely want to date someone age-appropriate. Unfortunately, it seems that all the men my age only want much younger women, which leaves me with the 20-somethings who think “MILF” is an appropriate subject line and write messages about being “into older women,” and the aforementioned geriatric (or borderline) set. The middle is one big desert.

If everyone is looking downstream, age-wise (except the few who have a “kink” for older types), where does that leave those of us who really are looking for a peer? Does this mean I’m only focusing on what I want? Should I adjust my objectives to what the market has to offer? This question is exactly why I’m on a dating hiatus at the moment, since I just can’t bring myself to seek out a much older man, or play the cougar.



Considering that all my initial plans to spend this vacation amongst friends fell through, I’ve been managing quite well.  My days are full of activity, I have yet to feel bored, and I’m looking forward to seeing old friends once the reunion begins.

As soon as I put my head on the hotel pillow at night, however, that old familiar unease resurfaces.  It has followed me across the country.  Just like at home, I have to go through a half hour to an hour of feeling ill-at-ease about my aloneness before I can fall asleep.

It occurred to me today as I was tooling around that if I had gone to college in my home state and settled there I would likely be married with kids just like all those people from my youth.  Or if I had stayed in this state after college and kept the same lifestyle, perhaps it would have been easier to meet someone. Of if I had headed to Los Angeles for college and then worked my way up through the Industry right after, I would definitely be much further socially and personally.

Instead I am living the proverbial nine lives.  I’m happy to have experienced so much, and yet the dark shadows won’t leave my bedside.