Do You Have A Fear Of Ending Up Alone?

A beautiful sad and unhappy young woman sitting in the green grass looking at the ocean

My friend Chris, blogging as Moxie, wrote a thought-provoking piece a few weeks back, entitled “You Just Might End Up Alone. And That’s Okay.”

The original question reads, “I am at my wits end. I am in my early 50”²s and I can’t meet a man. I have tried the online thing and it hasn’t worked. I have a guy I’ve been friends with, but he only sees me as a friend. We have even gone away together a few times, but nothing has happened. I don’t know what else to do and I don’t want to be alone the rest of my life. How else are people meeting and connecting?”

Pretty common complaint. Really uncommon answer. You think I’m blunt? Moxie gives this reader a full smackdown.

“Maybe it’s time to consider the possibility that you won’t meet anybody? I know that someone who does what I do isn’t supposed to say that. We’re supposed to spout trite sayings like, “It’ll happen when you least expect it!” or “There’s a lid for every pot!” You know what? Those are placebos. They’re fake bits of wisdom meant to encourage you and keep you on the path to finding love. I’m not saying you should give up completely. But I am saying that it’s time for you to reconcile with this fear you have of ending up alone. Because more than likely, one way or another, you will.”

It’s time to get comfortable with it being just you, because that may be how it turns out.

Now, I wouldn’t have said that because I actually do believe there is a lid for every pot. And if this was the only wisdom espoused (“Give up!”) I wouldn’t be sharing this with you. But Moxie was just getting rolling. She took the words right out of my mouth with this paragraph:

“To be honest, questions like, “Where can I go to meet men?” also tire me. You can meet a man anywhere. You can walk down the street and meet a man. You can go grocery shopping and meet a man. They’re everywhere. If you’ve tried various avenues to find a man and nothing is working, then it’s time for some introspection. Something isn’t working. I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t know you. Having me list out all the ways you can meet men isn’t going to do anything if the problem lies with you. Maybe you’re expectations are out of whack. Maybe you shoot out of your league. I don’t know.”

Finally, she brings it home with a crescendo, reiterating what I’ve said for years on this blog, which is that I’m not going to post your question if I agree with you and think you’re doing a great job. I’m only going to post an answer to you if I think I can see a blind spot and share something that may shift your perspective. Moxie goes even further:

“I would guess that confirmation bias is one of the leading reasons why so many men and women who seek long term commitment end up 40 or older and single. All their lives they’ve heard the same things over and over again. Their belief systems have been reinforced by perpetually listening to or being told the same thing day in and day out. You really want to make a change, OP? Get out of what ever vacuum you exist in and start fresh. This goes for everybody. Cut out all the people and places and ways you hear about how hard dating is and how awful men and women are and how this doesn’t work and that doesn’t work. Tune. It. Out. Because if you truly make finding a relationship a priority and you develop your own belief system based solely on your experiences and your experiences alone, your opportunities will increase ten fold. It’s time to get comfortable with it being just you, because that may be how it turns out. Until you’re okay with that possibility, you will continue to struggle.”

Yeah. That’s about right. It may not be the softest response, but it’s just about the most truthful one.

The full post can be read here. Your comments, as always, are appreciated below.

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  1. 1

    There is no question. There is a segment of the population that never couples up.   They end up alone.
    They end up alone for many reasons.
    I have an aunt like that. Total Vogue like beauty in her youth but could not find a man who would love her. I think it’s because she really wasn’t that kind and loving. Funny, yes, interesting, yes but not very loving and kind.   Just my opinion, of course.
    But yes, some end up alone.

    1. 1.1

      Well I have an aunt that was and is incredibly Beautiful and ended up alone, and guess what?? She is funny, charismatic, AND kind and loving, also, very social and outgoing. Her only downfall has been that on the inside she Always did have low selfesteem and didn’t realize these great things about her herself. She also wantet love, not just “some guy”.

      SÃ¥ contrary to peoples Believe, it’s not Always the singles persons own “fault” that they end up alone, it’s also about luck, being in the right Place at the right time to meet that special person!!

      1. 1.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        But what was she DOING to MEET single men?

        Men don’t grow on trees or drop out of the sky.

        So if she didn’t help her own cause, by actually going out to places where men can be found, it wasn’t because of bad luck that she didn’t meet anyone. It was because she wasn’t proactive about finding love.

  2. 2

    Great advice Evan   Because once you realize you could end up being alone, forever , then you can build a life with great friends, interests, learn new things and be grateful for what you do have.  
    I remember being told by one woman when I divorced I would have extreme difficulty finding anyone because Im middle aged and so I rebuilt my life   Ive found nothing has been more wrong than that advice !!!  
    Women of all ages who are happy from within, vibrant and radiant will always have magnetic energy  
    I saw a funny post on Facebook….
    Question… “what is an Askhole
    Answer …someone that asks your advice but never follows it!”
       Ive learnt so much from Evans resources that at 54 , I meet plenty of men and just have to sort out who is good for me . Im far more in demand now than I was at 23 !  

    1. 2.1

      Thank you so much for this post,  Kathleen! Having found myself suddenly single I keep hearing all these nightmare stories about dating and how tough it is to find a “good man”. I’ve had a tough time believing it initially but over time began to wonder why so many single women struggle. I so appreciate you sharing your story.

  3. 3

    Since most women end up outliving their spouses, it makes a lot of sense for most women to get comfortable with living on their own and managing their lives by themselves.
    Out of curiosity, I looked up the CDC tables on life expectancies (published in 2012).
    On average, in 2008 (when the stats were gathered):
    95% of white men survive to age 45, 90% survive to age 55 and 80% survive to age 65. 50% make it to age 80.
    95% of white women survive to age 54, 90% survive to age 64 and 80% survive to age 73. 50% make it to age 85.
    So if the OP wants to be 90% sure of having a husband at her side when she’s 73, that means she needs a fella that will be 55 when she is 73. If she’s OK with 80% odds, then he’d need to be 65 to her 73. If she’s OK with 50% odds, then a man her age or up to 7 years older than her would work.
    i.e. Unless she finds a man who is significantly younger than her (by a decade or two!) she would most definitely outlive her husband by several years.

  4. 4

    I love this advice.   In part, bc I see that there are far, far, far worse fates than “ending up alone.”    
    – A friend’s parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and the wife’s words to the husband?   “You’ve made my life a living hell for half a century, now.”     And no, she wasn’t trying to be funny.
    – A friend whose dad has cheated on the mom since their engagement.   40+ years later, still married to the same woman, he goes out and roams parties with a pocket full of viagra, his wife waiting for him at home.
    – An aunt who admits that she and my uncle have had nothing to say to each other for at least the last 15 years.   She says they sit across the table from each other, over dinner, in sad silence… not willing to divorce but with absolutely no sense of connection.
    – Another Aunt and Uncle who cannot have a simple conversation without it escalating into a shouting match followed by him: retiring to drink in the den alone and her: to cry on the phone to her girlfriends.
    Yeah, I’m sure that all these couples stay together bc they get SOMETHING they consider worthwhile out of their partnerships, but all of them seem pretty miserable.   I’m glad that most readers on this blog seem to understand that what we should all be looking for is not just a lifemate but a truly loving and supportive partnership.

    1. 4.1

      Thank you Henriette. I needed to hear that tonight. As I struggle to get through an impending divorce from my now sober alcoholic husband of 20 years, realizing that I can’t get past the years of abuse and what it did to me. I would rather be alone than with someone who brings out the worst in me. Being alone is not the worst thing that can happen to you.

      1. 4.1.1

        sophie – Thank you for being genuine.   After 14 years of alcoholic, emotional abuse, I realize it’ll never change.   Kinda heart-broken, but I’m finally [54] going to give myself permission to set some real boundaries, and people that don’t have my best interests at heart are off the list 🙂

        I’m turning into something I can’t recognize.   I’ve been motivated by the bitter neighbor who can’t wait to tell you “what a bastard he was, but at least she got the property…”   I gotta go before I lose my soul, and become a hollow husk of my younger self.

    2. 4.2
      Howard Greenstein

      As my brilliant father taught me, “No relationship is better than a bad one.” While I do miss the good things my last partner brought to the table, I don’t miss the bad.

    3. 4.3

      I like what you wrote Henriette


  5. 5

    You can always get some cats. 🙂

  6. 6
    Girl in the Midwest

    I think there are many people who are truly happy and content being alone.   But I know I am not one of them… I don’t know, maybe it’s in my genes, or maybe it’s my attachment style, or maybe it’s my dating history, but I just feel very empty when I am alone.   I haven’t been in a long term relationship, given the fact that my longest is 3.5 years, so I might not know what the hell I’m talking about.   I still hope to find a life partner.   I think it’s a desire to share with someone special.
    So I think if the situation is that you are likely to be alone, it’s probably better to accept it.   Because like Moxie implies, if you can’t accept reality, then it’s like fighting with yourself.

  7. 7
    Girl in the Midwest

    Also Evan, I ran across this post and I thought it is pretty good.   I think it’s in line with what you say on this blog:

  8. 8

    Girl in the Midwest said (#6):“I think there are many people who are truly happy and content being alone.   But I know I am not one of them… I don’t know, maybe it’s in my genes, or maybe it’s my attachment style, or maybe it’s my dating history, but I just feel very empty when I am alone.   I haven’t been in a long term relationship, given the fact that my longest is 3.5 years, so I might not know what the hell I’m talking about.   I still hope to find a life partner.   I think it’s a desire to share with someone special.
    So I think if the situation is that you are likely to be alone, it’s probably better to accept it.”

    I hope that I can articulate this in a way that helps, but I don’t know if I can.   However, your comment made me want to reach out to you.   Here goes:   I believe the desire to find a life partner stems from a less-focused (or a vague, perhaps even unconscious) desire to feel whole and complete.   For a lot of people, the most obvious avenue to achieve this seems to be to find the love of their life, which is why so many people feel empty when they have not done so.   Of course, we conveniently ignore the fact that people that are married really aren’t any happier.   They find a new set of problems to have.   Still, a lot of people attach finding the love of their life to what is the secret of life.   However, it’s like the Faith Hill song…. “the secret of life is that there ain’t no secret.”   Say what you want about Faith Hill, but I think the person who wrote that bit was “spot on”, as the Brits would say.
    What I’m getting at is this:   our life is nothing more than a short window of opportunity.   If you think about it, our lives aren’t really that important in the grand scheme of things (I don’t mean this in a cynical way).   Most of our time is spent being dead or not being born yet.   In the (relatively) very short meantime, there is so much to explore in the world, so many interests to develop, so many lessons to learn – all of which make us much more interesting people if we embrace this fact about our lives whether we’re alone or not.   In the end, I also think it makes us compatible with a broader set of people because, if we embrace this, it causes us to have a healthier outlook on life.  
    The best thing about getting out and developing a sense of curiosity, getting out of your comfort zone by dating without the intention of immediately finding out if this person is the one, and having many hobbies/interests, is that even though they may seem independent of finding a life partner, doing these things actually maximizes your chances of finding the person that you can spend the rest of your life with.   I don’t know, maybe that’s where they get the awful, awful saying:   “it will happen when least expect it”.  

    1. 8.1

      Your comment is really that helps to bring myself up. I have beeen trying hard to fibf a partner to share my life with him so I cab do eveything with him as travel or else. Nonetheless, being gay makes this difficult just twice to find the right one when all they want are sex or just opn relationship.

      Eeb though I am a decent, well looking and high education but love is just hard to fibd no matter how hard I try.

    2. 8.2

      Thanks for your very articulate answer. There is very little information for single senior women because we are suppose to be wiser.   I’m retired and have a very active life with golf, dancing, cultural and social events, church and quilting.    I just found out that my ex-husband remarried.   The much younger woman he married just posted the marriage photo as her first and only Facebook cover photo and that’s how I found out.   No one told me.   I just sent a short text to my ex-husband with congrats and well wishes. I talked with an older woman who I respect and she said families can be weird and not communicate.   She said this is just another pot hole in life, I don’t need a man to be happy, and pray for mercy at night.   My son called and said he thought his father would tell me since we are on good speaking terms, but he didn’t.   Since my divorce, I had several boyfriends with problems, one sociopath making my lonely life more miserable.   I discovered there are worse things than being alone.   Be very careful especially with online dating. The lonelier you are, the worse your choices in relationships.   Get out and find your people, dance, church, Meetup, golf,   etc. Live, Laugh and Love! The Sweetest Revenge is to live a good life!

  9. 9

    Agree. I was happy   single. Life was straightforward, I had a lot of time for my hobbies and interests,   I was involved in the community. I would go home and literally skip for joy to see my neat and orderly home, mine all mine!
    Then I met someone.

  10. 10

    I’ve been alone for many years and have grown comfortable with it.   I’ve even developed a bucket list of things I want to do in my lifetime…..I’m just living my life.   
    If a great guy happens to come along and wants to be with me, I’ll welcome him with open arms.   But if he never does… my life continues.   I think this is what I wish more women understood.   Life continues.   You still have a life worth living.   And no woman should ever feel incomplete because there isn’t a guy by her side.   

    1. 10.1

      Awesome Dora. You just summed my life and thoughts in a nutshell. Couldn’t have said this better.

  11. 11

    I’m happy being alone.   I’m happy with a partner.   In order to be able to be both, a person has to be happy with himself or herself.

  12. 12

    9 marymary, is that good news or bad news? Sounds like it could be both.
    There is nothing wrong with being single. Single people would have an easier time of it if the media weren’t always pushing coupleship on us. Notice I’m not blaming married people or otherwise coupled people. I haven’t had any married people pushing me to get married, and just a few examples of coupled people trying to set me up. But the songs we hear and the movies we watch and even the commercials with cheerful couples and families- all of these things make single people feel incomplete, even if no one was deliberately setting out to make anyone feel bad.
    It takes a strong and independent mind to be single and truly content with it given all the forces that push being coupled and familied on us. If you could take all the media away, a lot fewer people would be harping about being single, because there is no reason in the world we shouldn’t, as smart adults, figure out how to carve out fulfiling lives on our own. There is so much to do and see while we are alive, as Chance said. If you can do it with someone else, great, but you don’t have to.

    1. 12.1
      Pam Morgan

      Josavant everything u said is so true , I like being single but I also would love a man in my life I widowed 11 yrs now and only dated a couple men since it was a nightmare I only did it so I can say I’ve dated so my daughter and family would think I was so alone , I honestly feel ashamed that I’m alone and I resent the media and my family making me feel that way. What u wrote encouraged me , thank you.  

    2. 12.2

      Ignore the ” media ”   , it’s all scaremongering & trying to get everyone to fear & hate everyone else , & I don’t give a rat’s backside what other people think. Stopped watching TV many years ago , no surprise as it’s very anti male & always bashing men as worthless sex crazed   , expendable rapist   excreta.   Since divorce , I’ve realised I’m far happier flying solo , I certainly do not hate women , but I simply can’t be bothered with them anymore…..they all seem to be married to a smartphone anyway !!

  13. 13

    Joe nailed it. You have to be a complete person whether on your own or with a partner to be happy and content in life. There’s no getting around that. People who say they and their partners are “two halves that make a whole” worry me. To achieve long-term happiness, a couple needs to be two whole people who make a team of two; not two incomplete people who each need a vacuum filled by another warm body.

  14. 14

    I’m not too concern about growing old without a significant other. I am am however, not sure I will handle being an empty-nester very well.   I know that’s not a topic to deal with here, but my kids are everything to me.

  15. 15
    Jackie H.

    I believe there is a lid for every pot too although I cannot guarantee how long that lid will cover that pot…lol…Insanity is the doing the same ole things and expecting things to change as the saying goes…If you she wants a different result, she will have to approach this situation in a vastly different way than she ever has before…some may not be willing to get on path and end up being alone I think…

  16. 16

    Read Evan’s post, then read the whole article from the other advice person.   I’ve got to say that I suspect the advice person (sorry don’t remember the name) was having a rather bad day.   The article gets better as it goes along but it starts off pretty darn depressing.   Can you imagine a career councilor advising someone who was unemployed that they better learn to accept the fact that he/she may never find a job, to give up?   They won’t stay in business for very long and certainly wouldn’t be helping that person.   Yes some people end up alone.   Yes some people have marriages that are a living hell.   On the other hand, being in love is fantastic.   Assuming your marriage isn’t a living hell, at least most of the time, sharing your life with someone has shown to be a better indicator of health and overall happiness.   As a single person it has always bugged the heck out of   me when well meaning friends have said ‘well at least you’re not in an unhappy marriage’ as if it was black and white, and despite the fact that they themselves were in happy marriages.
    I do agree with the post about finding other avenues of meeting people.   Of course!   But really, telling someone to give up, didn’t sound very professional to me.

  17. 17

    This was an important thing to talk about Evan. I’m 26 and I live in NYC. I have lived here for almost a decade and have been single for most of it. I am one of those people who has had to train themselves into being comfortable with being alone and accepting of the idea that I may always be, and I’m satisfied with how far I’ve come. I was riding the train today and thinking about how grateful I am to not be dealing with the headaches and disappointments most people eventually suffer in long term relationships.  
    The gift of perpetual singleness is hard to appreciate, because it’s not marked by the same uplifting, intoxicating feeling that finding love is, but the gift is the absence  of the kinds of things Henrietta #4 mentioned in her anecdotes about miserable married people. The gift is peaceful neutrality.
    Sometimes I am effected significantly by what Josevant #12 talked about, and it can really knock me down, but I tell myself the same things Moxie told the woman in the blog post and I deal.  
    The only downside to having to deal is that I’ve become a lot less sympathetic to the relationship problems of people I perceive as being able to easily find partners. Much in the same way people with kids are unsympathetic to the problems of the childfree. I know of a picture perfect couple who married this Spring and have announced their separation this week. They’re caucasian, conventionally attractive, smart, funny, socially well connected; If they want they’ll be able to find equally good people whenever they feel ready to, given this, I could care less that they may be devastated by their split. I just don’t care about their pain in this particular regard because so much of my day to day is dealing with the pain of not having a shred of the luck they have.  

    1. 17.1

      Michelle, I’m also 26 & in NYC. Your response sounds a lot like myself.
      I’ve been single for almost 2yrs now — for the first time after being in 2 separate long-term relationships for nearly a decade. The last one was just completely emotionally draining & even verbally abusive. I feel very similarly to you. I have many friends who have no trouble finding an SO, getting proposed to, married, etc. whereas I can’t even find a man who has mutual feelings for me to take me to dinner. All I get are the guys I have no interest in. Then I met someone I really liked, but of course with my luck, he didn’t feel the same at all and now ignores me. So I can also say I do feel less sympathetic to my friends when they have relationship issues. I’d rather have a great bf who forgot to call me for the hour, than another weekend night sipping hot cocoa in front of my laptop…
      I have begun to accept the thought that I might end up alone. My life is already filled with friends, hobby, a developing career, etc. But I do feel that life is better with a companion. We are social animals, and I enjoy my solitude, but I do wish I had someone who felt mutually and wanted to be around me.

  18. 18

    I’m 51, and was married twice. In the past, I think that I came off as needy (and attracted dysfunctionally unhealthy men) because of my fear of growing old alone. What life has taught me is that: (1) Being married is no guarantee that you will not grow old alone, or that you will not be lonely (I have felt far more lonely as a married woman than I’ve ever felt being single); (2) Being single does not necessarily mean that you are lonely, or that you will grow old alone (Especially so, if you have friends and family that care about you); (3) You can do everything right (do the necessary work on yourself in order to become a better person, and put yourself in a variety of situations so as to increase your chances of meeting someone special), and still there are no guarantees. Likewise, there are no guarantees that if you meet the right person and get married that you will not end up alone in the end (statistically speaking, most women out live their spouses and end up growing old alone).  
    My late mother used to say, “We came into this world alone (me:unless we are twins, triplets, etc.) and we will go out alone.”
    I believe that it is important to live your life to the fullest regardless as to whether you have someone to share it with or not, because tomorrow is not promised. I am living a very happy and fulfilled life as a single person RIGHT NOW. If someone comes along in the future and is able to enhance my life even more, then I welcome that experience. If not, I don’t want to miss out on living a ridculously happy life because I do not have someone to share it with.

  19. 19

    With all due respect, Evan, Moxie’s overall blog, philosophy and message to the singles are drastically different from yours. I used to read her blog regularly (found it thru the reference on your blog) but stopped after a few months. Her blog is more about HOW TO navigate the world of online dating – decoding dating and mating behavior and culture, so to speak. That, in itself, is not bad; it’s educational for tons naive and inexperienced folks trying to find someone online. What really turned me off her blog was the “wake up and smell the reality : there is no lid for every pot, so you should just date for fun, and here is how to do it” attitude she promotes.  Moxie, if you are reading this, I’m sure you will rip me apart here with objections, but I  have walked away from my computer ever night feeling depressed and hopeless. Your blog, Evan, is both educational and uplifting, and it gives us hope – and tools – for actually finding someone.  

  20. 20
    Girl in the Midwest

    @ Chance #8:
    I like what you have to say.   I try to remind myself that my identity isn’t just a girlfriend or wife, it’s also a friend, daughter, mother (hopefully in the future), and healthcare worker (my job).   And I think my first comment does give away the fact that sometimes I put way too much emphasis on finding a life partner and expecting him to be my everything.   That has backfired in the past.   So thank you for the reminder.

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