the noneventful life
Although I feel like I’ve just gone through (and sometimes still experience) the unacknowledged grief of never getting married or having kids, I’m realizing that, at middle-age, almost nobody’s life is a bed of roses. I’ve been hearing my co-worker’s stories lately– tales of ugly divorces, and disabled spouses, and dying parents. In comparison my life sometimes now seems like a cakewalk, although I still don’t know who I would call if I were in a real emergency.
I’ve also witnessed some unlikely marriages crumble. A woman I knew years ago who had a drug problem and who always struck me as supremely self-centered got married within a very brief window of time in her thirties and had two beautiful kids. She just got divorced and is already engaged to and moving in with a new dude, a man who will be bringing his own children into the new home. On one hand the speed with which she re-partnered is impressive; on the other, my intuition tells me that she is barging ahead with no thoughts for anyone but herself, and her kids will suffer.
Another acquaintance struggles with a disability, had an early divorce, remarried in her late thirties and had a child, experienced the death of her child and a divorce during the child’s illness, and within a year had a new fiancee and baby. Wow, is my thought. I can barely handle getting to a job and the gym and finding time to go on a date.
I know several women who have remained youthful and in shape, who have decent jobs, who are mature and sane and easy to get along with, and who have little to no baggage in terms of kids and ex-spouses, and yet year after year drifts by with nothing but brief dates and disappearing acts on the romantic front.
It’s all so odd.
Yes, it’s undeniable that there are plenty of people who are good-looking, bright, sane, and with nice personalities who just constantly strike out in the dating game. This is why I always find “dating coaches” and “love experts” so distasteful. Not only is their advice always some combination of the same re-hashed nuggets (“join clubs and activity groups” and “eat right and exercise to stay in shape” and “work on your own personality and self-esteem first”), but that advice is clearly unhelpful – or even flat-out erroneous – in so many situations. Which just reveals the whole “dating advice” thing to be, basically, just a grift.
If there was a “like” button here, I’d be clicking it for that comment.
All I can say is, more or less, “ditto.”
“almost nobody’s life is a bed of roses”
So true. Even if you do see someone who supposedly has it all, appearances can be deceiving, and you may eventually discover they are putting up with a lot of negative issues that they manage to keep from being on show. I’m sure there are people out there whose lives are rosy, I just don’t know any. As far as I can tell, almost everyone is just struggling to get through life as best they can.
If you have ever spent more than a few hours at Mumsnet in the sections called AIBU and Relationships you will see that this is the case. Mumsnet is one of my guilty pleasures.
If you read there regularly you will learn that many women’s lives that appear enviable ON THE SURFACE (2-3 young children, husband with FT job, house, etc). are filled with worry, betrayal, desperation, etc, and are NOT the “safe haven” we often idealise them to be. I lurk over there regularly just to give me perspective:
How about this first-class creep:
This one really got to me:
It’s very easy to idealize what you think others have, but the fact is that many, many LTRs are dysfunctional and unhappy in the extreme.
It’s not really a “mums” website per se, despite the name. There are a lot of non-mothers, and single women, that post there. If you think you have had bad experiences in the dating world, read about this poor woman:
There is also a lot of levity there. This is hysterical 🙂
Here’s a direct question ranty – what have you done since moving to LA to “encourage” promote you meeting someone?
In the last few months? Nothing in that I’m no longer actively looking, just living my life. I go to some readings, dance salsa, occasionally play tennis with a group, go to the gym, meet some men through work and work-related meetings, and once in a blue moon go to a bar (although I don’t drink much so that’s not my preferred avenue). Honestly, though, other than online dating I have no idea what else I could be doing even if I were actively looking.
sorry – extra word in there but you get the idea
I’ve come to the conclusion that sane, solvent and easy going count for little and that men are drawn to pain in the butt drama queens, or submissive women they can manipulate, just as much as women are supposed to be drawn to ‘difficult’ men.
The reason I’m asking is because you write a lot about working long hours, needing the weekend to recuperate, not socialising much in LA and not at all in your last months in your previous state and so on. I appreciate your honesty but there has to be a certain amount of mixing outside of work to meet someone.
I’ve come to the conclusion that men are drawn to pain in the butt drama queens- or women they can manipulate – just as much as women are supposed to be drawn to ‘difficult’ men.
I never expected my life to be a bed of roses, it’s the bone-crunching loneliness I can’t abide. If you’ve got no close family, or you’re not close to the few family members you have got, and most of your friends are coupled up, 10 years of singledom feels like a life sentence.
I’m in the same boat as your second paragraph but trying to reframe how I see things so that I can escape what has, at times, felt like a life sentence.
I’ve tried that too but sadly no amount of reframing can stop the dread I feel at the thought of yet another Saturday night in on my own!