never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: March, 2013

the brave

Loved some of the comments on the Lamott article:

blue yonder
SUNDAY, MAR 31, 2013 09:06 AM PDT
Oh too sad and too true, both Anne and everyone who has commented. We all want the dream, and by middle age perhaps we accept that the dream also comes with snoring and problematic sex. Then we can’t even find a way to meet this lowered bar! But for every long-term, sort-of-OK couple I know, there are those stuck in bad situations with partners they would just as soon see six feet under. They need the health insurance, or can’t sell the house and so can’t afford to divorce, etc. Keep on trying, ye lovelorn, but honestly, single isn’t so damn bad.

Van Helsing
SUNDAY, MAR 31, 2013 09:30 AM PDT
R — most of the people that answered are the ones that are now in a relationship. At some level, they have recovered. But it is just a fact of the statistics that healthy minority (close to 50%) of the population in what she’s looking at has a personality disorder. The ones that aren’t disordered are IN a relationship and unavailable.

It just makes it really hard, especially because no matter how wonderful A may be (and anyone single at 58 has some damage — I can relate) you’re often dealing with someone who will never successfully attach or has other particular empathy problems that make them unsuitable or worse — cleverly emotionally abusive.

Back when we lived in familial groups, Auntie A would have been absorbed in a larger group, and she would be occupied with all sorts of relationships that would prove to be fulfilling and meaningful. She said she doesn’t care about sex.

But that world is not the US that we live in. And for the most part, we don’t even understand the characteristics of the world we’ve created/allowed to be created relationally.

It’s just brutal. I feel for her.

SUNDAY, MAR 31, 2013 09:49 AM PDT
EVERY woman, including myself, over 50 who is bravely attempting on-line dating seems to be having the exact frustrating experiences. It’s as if we can never be attractive/smart/sexy enough for these guys who have reluctantly come to the conclusion that alas, young women are not into them. It’s as if they can’t admit that they are attracted to a woman close to their age, because then they’d have to admit that they too are OLDER. Generalizations stink, but I’ve heard over and over again the same disappointing stories. Let’s just admit here once and for all that at a certain point – fantasy is much better than reality!

same as it ever was

Met a friend for coffee today, and we had a timely conversation, considering the Lamott article I just posted. This woman is forty, fairly recently divorced (although she fought for the marriage), makes in the healthy six figures, is stylish, and has the stature of a supermodel. She is just venturing into online dating and has had the same familiar frustrations I’ve written about– only hearing from sixty-year-olds, getting “disappeared” on, finally experiencing a good date only to have the guy say he wasn’t ready for a relationship.


She’s also begun to grieve her lost dream of having children and wondering, “How did I get here?”


board games

Whenever I read or hear about a woman who is semi-famous turning to online dating, I feel like throwing my hands up in surrender. If, with their heightened visibility and connections, those women can’t find someone, who can?

I had experienced varying degrees of loneliness since my guy and I split up. After our breakup, I had just assumed there would be a bunch of kind, brilliant, liberal, funny guys my age to choose from. There always had been before. Surely my friends would set me up with their single friends, and besides, I am out in the public a lot doing events at bookstores and political gatherings, the ideal breeding ground for my type of guy. But I hadn’t met anyone.

People don’t know single guys my age who are looking for single women my age. A 60-year-old man does not fantasize about a 60-year-old woman. A 70-year-old man might. And an 80-year-old — ooh-la-la.

Almost everyone wonderful that my friends know is in a relationship, or gay, or cuckoo.

I went onto with a clear knowledge that relationships are not the answer to lifelong problems. They’re hard, after the first trimester. People are damaged and needy and narcissistic. I sure am. Also, most men a single woman meets have been separated or divorced for about 20 minutes.


This pattern repeated — a flurry of dates, followed by radio silence on the man’s part — and made me mourn the old days, when you met someone with whom you shared interests, chemistry, a sense of humor, and you started going out. After a while — OK, who am I kidding, sometimes later that day — you went to bed with him, and then woke up together, maybe shyly, and had a morning date. Then you made plans to get together that night, or the next, or over the weekend.

But that is the old paradigm. Now, if you have a connection with a man, he might have nice connections with two or three other women, too, and so each date and new dating level — coffee, a walk, lunch, and then dinner — is like being on a board game, different colored game pieces being moved along the home path in Parcheesi.

cute distractions

Last week I socialized with a couple in their early forties who met a couple of years ago, married, and just adopted a baby. They were both lively and charismatic individuals who had spent the first two decades of their lives working low-level jobs while pursuing acting careers. Like most people in L.A., they didn’t make it.

They now work “regular” jobs and have given up on acting. Instead they spend their hours off work concentrating on the baby (one of them actually said he didn’t want to go on auditions because it takes time away from his darling little baby). Naturally, the baby was all they could talk about, at least until I got them to open up about their pasts and show a little bit of pre-parent personality.

I didn’t feel envy, which tells me that I’m no longer interested in parenting. Now that I see my parentless state as something of a ticket to financial freedom, I don’t want to take on the added burden of a child, who would then necessitate another stressful job.

It seemed fairly obvious to me that, given the flame-out of their career ambitions, parenting had taken on a particular importance for this couple. Another couple might have adopted a rescue dog and spent their time obsessing over that.

Nothing wrong with any of that– I’m sure this couple will have fun as parents and gain meaning out of a new baby. I just wonder, though, if, after the newness wears off, and they realize they are now stuck in their mediocre jobs, their midlife crises will come roaring back.

nothing left to lose

I feel like I’ve been very much in step with the times in waiting to be established (or with someone who is established) and in a fulfilling relationship before marrying; the problem is, my fertility ran out before I could get it all together:

I actually think marriage has changed dramatically, which opened up the way for the possibility of imagining same-sex marriage. I actually think that marriage itself as an institution has evolved from one that was very utilitarian, very little about love, sex, companionship, and everything about transmission of property and production of goods, services and provision of human labor in reproduction. As long as marriage was defined in a very traditional way, you couldn’t imagine same-sex marriage, because marriage was about a utilitarian management of life tasks. Marriage began to change in such a way that we now think of marriage for heterosexuals as finding one’s soul mate, marrying one’s best friend, your partner in life, your other half. Once marriage has come to be seen as about what’s good for the self and what is a socio-emotional support system, then it could be imagined that the right person for you is the one you choose, disregarding other kinds of criterion including sex or genitals.


I think we fundamentally have made a shift in the meaning of marriage and we’re steering the course. Marriage will evermore come to be seen as something one works toward: one gets to a place in life where one has achieved enough to be married. You see that with the increasing age of marriage, which I imagine will continue to increase. This notion that marriage is something one achieves once you’re stable and earning a living, that’s relatively new. That will continue and even increase, the sense that marriage is an achieved status. I think that will be true for straight people and gay people.


I think that as we move to modern societies where people don’t actually need to be embedded in extended families with sharp divisions of labor in their daily economic lives that relationships in general are more voluntary. Even family relationships these days — whether or not you’re close to a sibling, all that depends on personal choice. Even with biological family these days, how close or distant we are is a personal choice based on the relationship quality. I don’t think we’re ever going to move back to intimate relationships that are not based on quality and free choice. We’ve moved far enough down the road in heterosexual relationships where women are no longer economically dependent on men. It’s possible for both people to support themselves without the relationship — being in the relationship is about improving the qualities of one’s personal life.


Maybe some people will find this sad, but the holidays barely register with me anymore. I always feel like, “Oh, that holiday is this weekend?” Except for perhaps Thanksgiving and Christmas, I actually find it odd when people ask if I am planning to celebrate. It all just sort of washes over me, and if anything, I feel relief that I don’t have another thing on my “to do” list.

One thing I do enjoy about the holidays, however, is that a popular dance teacher in town hosts a large, extra-long, all-levels dance class, complete with live music, every holiday (including Christmas). It’s both festive and inclusive, and that is something I can celebrate!

good grief

When I think about my journey over the past ten years, I see my mid-to-late thirties as a time of anger, frustration, and envy over what seemed to be happening to all the women around me– marriage and babies– but not to me. I was also angry and bitter over the subsequent abandonment I felt.

Then, in my late thirties, I moved into a period of sorrow and isolation. Then, in my early forties, acceptance and isolation.

At forty-three, after a year of sharing on this blog and others, I am finally moving out of isolation and into new dreams for my future.

Jody is right– grieving is important and only happens through connecting and sharing with others:

the knocking

Opportunity (or is it the devil?) has come knocking just as I’m halfway out the door.

Two possibilities have appeared in my current city. One that is on a lower rung than my prior job, but in a beautiful, posh, relaxing area with nice coworkers. I would probably make a little less money, though, and would lose even more if I attempted to actually live in the area the job is in. Most people would be married, and I might well be isolated and lonely. I decided against that one.

The second would be a promotion and more money– good money. Also nice coworkers although lots of supervisors on site. Both more and less stressful than my former position, probably. The cons: compressed workweek and thus eleven hour days (including lunch), necessity to awaken before 6 a.m. each morning, hairy commute, long-ass days sitting at a desk, no lunch options outside of fast food. I tallied up the extra rent I’d have to pay (I’d have to move and would still have a commute) and the commuting costs and found they would eat up at least half, if not more, of the extra money I’d be making.

The former me would have been greatly relieved at the thought that I’d gotten to have a break and then, with minimal damage to my bank account, had sailed right back into a job with benefits, picked up my pension again, and gotten a raise to boot.

The former me was also stressed, lonely, and frustrated.

The current me has been sorely tempted, but I think I am going to pass. I thought it through, and I realized I’d be committing to this city for several more years, and by the time I left, my chances of changing job course would be that much slimmer.

I do feel a bit insane, like I’m going against everything America tells me I should do, which is to take the good-paying job– family, rest, dreams, and friends be damned.



For me, these passages shed some light on the Sheryl Sandberg controversy. The plutocracy consists of such a small percentage of people, however, that I remain unconvinced that increasing the gender ratio of that tiny, elite group will necessarily help the pink multitudes in the middle. In fact, reading Plutocracy made me think us 99 percenters should just start forming communes:

What’s especially striking about this absence of women at the top is that it runs so strongly counter to the trend in the rest of society. Within the 99 percent, women are earning more money, getting more educated, and gaining more power. That’s true around the world and across the social spectrum. If you aren’t a plutocrat, you are increasingly likely to have a female boss, live in a household where the main breadwinner is female, and study in a class where the top pupils are girls. As the 99 percent has become steadily pinker, the 1 percent has remained an all-boys club. One way to understand the gap between the 1 percent and the rest is as a division of the world into a vast female-dominated middle class ruled by a male elite at the top.


Not too many people talk about the absence of women at the very top. That’s partly because, in a fight that’s been going on since the famous debates between Lenin and Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai, the left has a history of bullying women who dare to talk about gender at the apex of power. Doing so has been framed as a selfish concern of upper-class women, who are urged to focus their attention on the more deserving problems of their sisters at the bottom. As for the right, it has historically preferred to avoid discussion of gender and class altogether.

— Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, pp. 85-86

time out

The all-American creed that hard work will make us successful may still linger for a long time to come. But eventually, we will have to accept our limits. Work alone does not guarantee success, as taking time off and pacing ourselves are not equivalent to laziness. There must be time for both to make the whole person.

I made it through two months of a dry spell by selling my stuff, which gave me more time to focus on getting new business in the door. I’m not sure if I should be thrilled about that or just plain sad that my stuff only garnered me two months of a safety net but in truth the money was secondary to how good and free I felt with all of that clutter out of my life. What they say is true — when you get rid of meaningless clutter, you make room for the good stuff to come knocking.