never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: socializing

racing ahead

I decided I needed to get out this weekend, even if it meant making an hour drive somewhere. I scoured the papers, located a really interesting event that I could enjoy alone, and bought a ticket.

Because said event was in the same neighborhood as a man I had written off as a romantic possibility, I emailed him and asked if he wanted to go. I figured it couldn’t hurt to make a platonic connection. He enthusiastically agreed, and we had a good time. We have a ton in common, but I was happy to leave it at that, as there are reasons I doubt it could be something more. He extended the evening into drinks, however, and it took a romantic turn.

As much as I hate to admit it after all this work I’ve done to get to a place of calm acceptance, I was in a better mood than usual the next day. I let my mind stray into “what if” territory. What if something could work out, what if I finally had a story to tell, what if I could start making plans with someone, what if, in the absence of children, I could have a partner.

His behavior, however, leads me to believe that my “what ifs” will likely remain just that. It’s way too early to tell, but there are some signs. If it doesn’t work out, I will have learned something valuable– that despite being an introvert and enjoying a large amount of solitude, I’m forcing myself to adapt to more of it than I prefer.

Unlike in my youth, however, I don’t find these detours fun if there’s no serious intention behind them. They knock me off my hard-won center and take precious time away from other goals. And I’m simply not in a good place to weather more disappointment.

In the midst of all this, a high school friend of mine, a woman who married in her early forties and called her wedding day “the best day of my life,” posted a photo of the newborn she just adopted.

the new world

I posted a question about whether it was “pathetic” to have roommates in your late thirties on Facebook and received quite a few interesting responses. My cousin, a professional in her early forties who has had a roommate for years and has saved a busload of money responded “There is nothing pathetic about it! The world is changing. Growing up, getting married, having kids, buying a house, and going into debt is not the way we have to live our lives anymore. The rules of the game are changing!”

Really, there is nothing pathetic about sharing resources with a group of like-minded people. If anything, we are at the forefront of a brave, new world. A world where seniors are choosing co-housing villages over bland retirement communities, where open learning communities are decommodifying education, where car-sharing and coworking spaces are becoming the norm, and where choosing roommates beyond the twenties is a sign of being wise enough to recognize that individualism is overrated—and most definitely isn’t a marker of having “made it” in the world. In fact, I’m learning that cultivating the ability to work and live with others in a way that ensures the well-being of everyone involved, while sharing resources and respecting individual needs is the new paradigm—the true sign of being a real grown-up.

the same old

Recently I met a talented man whose work I have long admired. I was thrilled to finally meet him, although, admittedly, I had written off our possible encounter long ago with the thought that nothing in L.A. ever develops into anything anyway. He identifies as straight, but I’m not completely sure.

Knowing that I’d have zero time for any correspondence once the work week began, I sent him a couple of emails the next day about topics we had conversed on. I suppose that makes me a brazen, desperate, aggressive hussy, but so be it. It’s such a rarity that I connect with anyone intellectually. He had mentioned getting together the next weekend, but after his responses to my emails, I didn’t hear from him again until Friday night.

Embittered old crone that I am, I read this as a bad sign, but I responded with a nice email just the same. The next morning he invited me to an event, one that would entail several hours of driving and a parking nightmare. I mulled it over for hours. Would all the trouble be worth it? I studied the logistics of fitting it into the weekend I had already planned for myself and getting to the location. Because I’ll be unavailable for the next two weeks, I finally decided it would be worth it to ignore some of the bad signs and go, and I answered in the affirmative.

Later that day he wrote back that his schedule had changed and he couldn’t go after all.

I am beginning to think that the remaining decades of my life are going to continue in this exact same vein.

On a positive note, I’ll be spending the day attending some local get-togethers that will perhaps help me forge more connections in my new location.


A common experience among women posting to the online bulletin board was a sense of isolation from the “fertile world” and the feeling that they were somehow “different” to other women. Many women talked about how not having children of their own meant that they were forever “on the outside looking in” on their peers becoming mothers and raising families. The knowledge that they would never be admitted into this “mum’s club” evoked a range of strong negative emotions in members of the online community. Emotions commonly expressed in the postings included intense feelings of grief and anguish at the loss of their opportunity to become biological parents, as well as anger that this role had been denied to them.

“I constantly feel like an outsider in this world. Wherever I go or whatever I do, I feel like the odd one out. I work in a female dominated environment with either younger girls having babies or the older women becoming grandparents. There are always happy family photos being passed around, so I do feel ‘different’ to everyone else.”

Several women also described how being unable to conceive a child of their own, appeared to have changed their outlook on life in general, which served to further separate them from other women around them. For example:

“One of the things I find hardest to deal with is people with a child talking about the next or one planning their first as if they are going to order one and the universe will deliver, at particular age gap, what sex they want and that be most convenient after their holiday so they can enjoy a drink!! But the reason it bothers me so much is that I’ve had to learn that life isn’t like that when it appears others don’t have that lesson taught. It can make me feel singled out for some hardship and it’s so unfair.”

Hearing about other people’s pregnancies appeared to be a particularly painful experience for women in the online community and served as a poignant reminder that they were unable to conceive themselves. For many women, receiving news that a friend, colleague or family member was pregnant resulted in a mixture of joy, despair and feelings of jealousy. Such news often prompted members to access the online community, in order to vent their frustration and express these conflicting emotions to people who could empathize with their experiences. In this context, the online community served as a unique environment in which women could alleviate their sense of isolation and connect with other women in similar situations.

“I went over to see a friend yesterday to ‘mourn’ the breakup of my relationship and she announced that she is pregnant. I wouldn’t wish this feeling of isolation and hopelessness on anyone, especially a close friend but it felt like a kick in the gut non-the-less….”

Some women also described feelings of distress when they heard stories in the media about motherhood or attended family gatherings, where there were young children present. These experiences heightened their feeling of being “the odd one out” and once again brought home the realization that they would never experience motherhood.

“TV personalities seem to get pregnant at the drop of a hat or they have fertility treatment and it just seems to work first time for them. Reading these stories makes me really upset and angry”.

To protect themselves against reminders of their infertility and feeling like an outsider in social situations, several women reported avoiding certain family gatherings or cutting themselves off from friends who were pregnant or had children. Although this coping strategy was effective in avoiding painful feelings in the short-term, in the long-term it appeared to create a vicious cycle with members feeling more isolated and alienated from society as time went by:

“I have had an in built safety mechanism for years in which I distance myself from any friends/work colleagues/family of child bearing age, hence I was left with very few friends of my own age and have gradually felt more and more isolated.”

“I always dreaded family gatherings and made excuses not to go because i hated feeling like the odd one out whilst everyone around me had children or were expecting them. I tried to protect myself because i found it all too painful but at the same time i have found the feeling of isolation really painful and difficult too”.

the anomaly

My new place of residence is quite pleasant. It feels like a friendly small town. People are easygoing and welcoming. There are lots of nice restaurants and shops and farmers’ markets and plenty of opportunities for yoga and dance and tennis. And, of course, there’s the beach. I meet a lot of straight men, though most are married or divorced.

It is a different lifestyle from the anonymous, urban, and gay-friendly one I’ve been living for the past two decades, both in the center of L.A. and in the hip city I just moved away from. If I want to go to an art gallery, jazz bar, alt-comedy show, art film, or museum, I am, for the most part, looking at driving an hour into the city.

Although in the last few years I was only taking advantage of those things about once a week, it is true that “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” I had stopped going out almost entirely as my job search dragged on this past fall, so I am somewhat used to spending my time cooking and studying instead, but this will still be a bit of an adjustment.

I do feel like a bit of an anomaly here as I find my way.

diner’s club

Mrs Cunningham said she was inspired to help by James’s “bravery” in taking out an advert and rejected the “good Samaritan” label. Instead, the 52-year-old councillor said James was helping her and John to deal with what is normally a difficult time of year.

She said: “We have not got any children and I find Christmas quite lonely myself because I had miscarriages in the past.”

the maldives

If only some of my friends and relatives would get the memo:

Try to imagine a house that’s not a home,” sighed Mud on their 1974 No 1 single, Lonely This Christmas. “Try to imagine a Christmas all alone.” A Christmas all alone? What’s the problem? I’ve spent Christmas all alone for years, and I can’t think of anything better.

By “alone”, I really mean alone: without family, friends or, usually, neighbours (the woman next door did once bring me a slice of Christmas cake wrapped in a napkin because she was worried about me). And it’s glorious – 24 hours when I don’t have to talk to anyone or do anything I don’t want to. I look forward to it like other people look forward to a week in the Maldives. That’s what it’s like: a week in the Maldives, compressed into one day, in a terraced house in south London.


I get impatient when friends tell me they “admire” my way of celebrating Christmas, and that they wish they could do the same. So why don’t they? Obviously, it wouldn’t work for everyone, but happily single people with no kids could find it a revelation. For those tempted to give it a whirl, I suggest getting in ample food and whatever your poison happens to be, and the new book, DVD or music you’ve been yearning to get around to. Having said that, the most important thing is attitude. Being alone is only lonely if you want it to be.

Somehow, the image of a family happily unwrapping Christmas gifts is greeted with joy, yet a solitary figure sitting by the fire, sipping a glass of wine, and reading or contemplating her past, present and future is less than palatable. Why? And why do those of us who choose to spend Christmas alone have to endure unending condescension and pity from the likes of those who think that being together is the worst fate that could befall someone, especially towards the end of the year?

This makes Christmas very hard for those who have no family or friends descending on them this festive season. We may not actually like our family – in fact, we probably remind ourselves annually that there are more family arguments and even homicides at Christmas than any other time of the year – but if we’re on our own, we feel their absence acutely. I know I have. And endless repeats of Love Actually and the Fezziwig scene in A Christmas Carol only make this worse.

But the fact is that more and more people are spending Christmas on their own or with one other person, or just with the cat. We live further from our families. We remain single longer. We have children later. We get divorced more often. So there are fewer and fewer teeming households out there for Uncle Jamie to arrive at with his pile of presents. In any case, he has probably ordered you something from Amazon that will be delivered ready-wrapped by post, or bought you shares in a goat. Yet those of us without a house full of guests guffawing under the plastic mistletoe tend to feel bad about this, as if we are the only ones left on our own this Christmas.

There is also the matter, this time of year, of mass behavior. Everyone is expected to participate. Annoying as this may be for cultures that do not include Christmas as part of their traditions, it is also annoying for those of us raised in the culture but wishing to have some control over how we pass through these days. Every year, it feels like all the secular autonomy we have so desperately struggled for over the years passes out of our hands when we are dealt the annual trump card of Christmas. Sure, play your hand the rest of the year as you see fit. Pretend to be independent the rest of the year. That’s all very cute. But this is Christmas, damn it! Resume your family role!

I celebrate your independence as I celebrate the independence of this nation from all superstitious tyranny.

The crowd is a tyrant, and you must resist. By resisting the tyranny of Christmas, you save your own soul.


I couldn’t have said this better…

Over 50…Are We Now Invisible?

Posted: 7/24/2013 1:27:54 PM
First off, you are not missing anything not attending singles events. Nothing to be gained. Message 6 sums it up pretty well.

I am 46 and started dating at 42 after being out off the market for 20 plus years. Invisibility starts in Los Angeles alot the idea of being 50 doesnt bother me! Will probably feel like it does now. But, remember…alot of men are married now..this is a different era in people’s lives. This isnt the 20’s or 30’s where there is still that push to “start your life”..people are now IN their lives. I’m finding many married men flirting and flatly offering up…not a situation I am looking for, but I can see if we were all single, I’d probably be much busier dating..but as it stands, many men are simply in relationships, or not fit as dating material..socially backwards, dont know how to relate to women, etc.

What I decided to do was dump the singles and online stuff and just join interest groups. I go hiking twice a week, and I’ve had dates as a result. But there is no pressure..its not a singles you can talk casually, see people week after week and get to know them gradually. Feels more natural.

I also have just removed dating as a major priority in my life. I spend more time with my hobbies, exercise, work, other projects. I take care of myself and accept compliments and keep my ears and eyes open, but dating just is not the focus now..I’ve learned chances of a normal healthy relationship with an available man have been cut drastically, either because of my age or because alot of people are already involved…maybe a combo of both.

You have to find happiness in other areas of life, and if you DO start dating, be discerning..dont hang around someone who is not good for you because you dont think you’ll ever find anyone else.

Another thing I have learned is that despite my loneliness, I’ve found it is a far more lonely feeling being with someone who isnt right for you than being single and willing to wait for something loving, healthy and real.

starting from scratch

I pushed myself out of the house this past weekend and am glad I did. I went out to hear live music and was asked to dance several times and also attended the screening of an environmental film that gave me some idea of how I can spend my free time if I end up staying here long-term. I enjoyed that latter group, although it consisted of one man fifteen years younger than me and the rest around fifteen years older. So be it.

I wavered a long time about moving back as I had doubts about my ability to build a social life here. I finally decided that, if I moved back, I would concentrate on my personal goals as opposed to a social life. I’m glad I prepared myself, as my fears were not unfounded.

Turns out that, yes, you can never go home again. People here are friendly but finding real connection is going to take some effort.

On the plus side, I haven’t run into any of the three women with whom I have had “falling outs” with in the past. On the negative, a friend of mine from college has still not found the time to call or see me in the six months I’ve been here. As I’ve written before, one of my friends moved to Los Angeles right about the time I arrived in town. Another one, someone I did hang out with a bit, moved to a house much farther away with his girlfriend a few months ago and I haven’t seen him since. I saw a few old acquaintances at one of his parties but not again. I reconnected with some work colleagues when I first arrived in town but those connections faded as my job search dragged on. After seeing him a couple of times upon first arriving back, I cut ties with my old fling. Another friend has been drowning in depression and that has kept any kind of friendship at baby.

I’m so even-keeled these days from all the kundalini yoga that I don’t feel angry about this in the way I would have in the past, but it’s no wonder the loneliness has been amping up. Out of necessity, I’ve grown accepting of the fact that some people are never going to reach out and others will be so busy that they will just stop answering emails. It’s funny what we accept in this modern world. We come to terms with the fact that most people are too busy to meet in person or talk on the phone, and then we grow accepting of the fact that they can’t even find the time to keep up an email conversation after the first reply.

I’m in fairly regular contact with three women– two married and childless (and one of those I struggle mightily to find common ground with) and one a single mother. Mostly I talk to people in my classes, who I tend not to see again when class ends, and people on the farm, who I don’t see a second time either. If I stay on, it will almost be like I’ve moved to a new city where I don’t know a soul. I will have to start all over and make connections from scratch.

I’ve accomplished a lot, but this is the point in time where I start to wonder about this move and whether it was worth it. My suspicions have been confirmed. Being single at this stage is a problematic status no matter where you live. Pulling a geographic won’t magically solve the difficulties.

abre los ojos

In Spanish this week our chapter is on the stages of life, and thus it concentrates on Spanish terminology for birth, childhood, adolescence, marriage, parenthood, retirement. It could have been triggering, but my professor, who is in his forties, is single and childless, and that has ameliorated the situation. He has talked about the fact that he can afford to teach at community college only because he doesn’t have to support a family.

It’s nice to look around and find those people with whom I can relate. Today I spoke with a long-ago friend from grad school; she is my age but she took a straight shot up the ladder while I zigged and zagged. I wanted to get her take on working in a top position.

She married in her thirties but divorced after moving for her job at the top. She said it was much more difficult making friends as an older single woman in a primarily suburban area than it had been as a twentysomething in an urban area. Today most of her friends are much older than her because the people her age are all raising families. She works in a wealthy area, and thus had to make the difficult decision to accept a long commute, as she can’t afford to live in the area.

She likes the job, but would prefer not to have to have one. Working in a wealthy area, she doesn’t feel like she’s necessarily contributing much to the world.

She also said she’s had to put her foot down in regard to people thinking she’s available at all hours due to being childless. She makes it clear that she has priorities outside the job.

It all sounded very familiar, although she does, at least, have a boyfriend.