Single For Years? It’s Not Necessarily You…

Two weeks ago in the New York Times, Sara Eckel described how difficult it was to explain to her dates that she hadn’t had a serious boyfriend in eight years. EIGHT YEARS.

One of her dates actually asked her: “What’s wrong with you?”

“I don’t know,” she answered.

Eckel worked hard to fill her life with activities to avoid the pain of being single. She writes “I went on Internet dates, speed dates and blind dates. I had great hair and a confident smile. But I was still alone. And in the dark of Saturday night, I still asked myself, ‘What’s wrong with me?'”

After dating her future husband for a month, she revealed her eight-year relationship drought. “Lucky for me,” he said, “all those other guys were idiots.”

To him, she was not a problem to solve, or a puzzle that needed working out. She was the girl he was in love with.

This article has been a very popular one – one of the most emailed New York Times pieces this week – because it pretty much says that you will fall in love and that nothing has to change. Who wouldn’t like that message?

And while I’m pretty sure I’m not “The Man” she refers to in the article, the tips she mentions to finding love aren’t necessarily bad ones. Furthermore, there is no love without opportunity, and though the author seems to think that it just happened when she met the right guy, it REALLY happened because she went through that process of learning and dating and soul searching. Ms. Eckel didn’t just sit on her ass, complain that men suck, and give up on dating. Even if she didn’t have to fundamentally change who she was, she had to have enough experience to appreciate the good man who finally appreciated her and wanted to lock her in – instead of bailing on him because he was “too nice” or “safe” or “boring”. This, by the way, is essentially half of my message – appreciate the man who appreciates you (the other half being “be the best partner you can be”).

So, do you feel like Sara Eckel? Do you think that it’s silly to try to do something different to achieve a different result? Do you think that the best way to fall in love is just be yourself and hope?

I don’t believe this at all – Ms. Eckel did indeed get lucky – but I can acknowledge why women have been passing this article around like a joint. The best kind of change is the one that you never have to make.

Read the piece here and share your feelings in the comments below.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Shoshi

    Sara didn’t give up and did exactly what you, Evan, is telling us women. Don’t give up and go on dates. You can meet the ‘man of your dream’ anywhere, but you have to take your chances and put yourself out there. And when this wonderful man comes along you’ll appreciate him for appreciating you. But from my experience, it took me a long time to realize the latter…. I believe that I’m getting closer to meeting the right man, because I did the soul searching and learned from my experience as Sara did. I changed my beliefs…

  2. 2
    Gina

    Great article! I was just talking to one of my girlfriends this morning about this very same topic.  We both realize that the reason why we are still single isn’t because there’s something so wrong with us that makes us unlovable. Yes, you’ve got to consistently put yourself out there to meet someone, but ultimately meeting the right guy is pretty much a numbers game. Although you increase the likelihood of winning the more you play, but there aren’t any real guarantees that your lucky number will come up.  The other thing that is sad but true is that some women, no matter how hard they try, may never end up meeting the right guy.

    1. 2.1
      DeeGee

      Good post.

      In my experience, women tend to have a longer list of what they want in a man, with many items on her list being totally unrealistic, and she will reject every man who doesn’t meet every requirement.

      Every man I know does not have this long list of what they want in a woman.
      My list is only about six items with only a couple of them being solid deal-breakers.

      FYI: I’m in my mid 50’s, divorced over 15 years ago, not a player, dating but single for all of those years.  So I can relate to the author’s 8 year stretch.

      1. 2.1.1
        Amy

        @DeeGee,

        Oh, I have met men who want the perfect woman as well and have a long list of unrealistic qualities they are seeking for. I had a classmate, literally tell us that he never had a relationship last longer than six months. We understood why, because he was looking for a mythical creature, not a woman.  On top of that, he was in loved with himself and is a jerk. Then, he cried about why he is still single for years, wants kids, and blamed it on everyone. He went on EIGHT dates from women he met online in one week. Something’s off with him.

        I didn’t have a long list of qualities. If I did, I would have missed out on the man of my dreams today.

  3. 3
    melie

    Sara Eckel seems to have it all, except the one thing she thinks she really wants.  Why does she not admit to not meeting the man she hoped to be linked with for life?
    And why does that mean there has to be something wrong with her?  I believe that not getting with a person that you don’t like to be a good thing.  If he gives you the creeps, move on.  If he doesn’t want to work around your schedule, move on.  I am not talking about finding fault with everyone you meet, but why do we have to just like and be interested because they are interested in us.  Ewwww.  Some of the men that have expressed and interest, only a mother could love, and if she knew what they were really like?!?! even that would be doubtful.  And I don’t blame Sara for cringing when a man asks, when was your last relationship or how long has it been?  You never know what he is thinking unless he tells you and even then it may be a nice cover for>>>>>Oh, goody!  She is ripe!  Hasn’t had sex in ages!<<<< Yeah, no wonder the fairer sex is sooo jaded!  Men really can be asses!  And yes, even the ones we may end up marrying. LOL 

  4. 4
    Teresa

    I don’t see where she says just be yourself and hope.  She worked on her issues, consulted the self help experts, internet dated, speed dated blind dated changed her looks had an active life.  Then she met someone and there was mutual appreciation and acceptance.  As title is “Sometimes It’s Not You” this would not be applicable to all women.  What I get from the article is at some point you got to stop beating yourself up because you are still single.  Because you can be the best you possible,  love yourself appreciate men and still be single

  5. 5
    Ruby

    The great thing about Sara’s attitude is that she didn’t force herself to be in a relationship with the wrong guy. I’ve seen too many people, both men and women, do this just to avoid being alone. It’s always seemed ironic that the men who have been the most judgmental about my being single had terrible marriages and relationships  themselves – maybe they couldn’t stand the thought of being alone?

    Sara did learn, and date, and soul-search, but she also did – ultimately – meet the right guy. Who says that has to happen to everybody by the age of 30? Could it also be that after 8 years of singlehood, she was, finally, ready for the right man to come along? Would he have been the right man for her at 24 as he was at 39?

  6. 6
    Kate

    It’s a nice story because it is inspiring. It feels like the columnist version of a trailer. I say that because she did not share what happened in her path to get her to that point.
     
    Was it because she came to some realization? Was it the length of the courtship that made her finally fall in love? Was it because he was the only guy that kept showing her interest? I think EMK is suggesting that it just took her this length of time (a critical mass of experiences so-to-speak) to finally accept the next man that was seriously interested in her.
     
    If my math is correct, I also notice that they were dating 5 years before getting married. So there still does sound like some commitment issues there!
     
    I’d love to know more of her story. This is the puzzle that was not shared in her article!

  7. 7
    Helen

    Not to keep bringing math and statistics into this, but it is relevant here…

    It seems pretty obvious that as long as you keep searching, you’ll have a better chance of someone who accepts you just as you are if you keep going at it for a long time.  The world is vast, and there are many types of people; you just have to keep meeting new ones.  If you want to find someone in a shorter amount of time, then it makes sense to try to change yourself.

    Then again, as Teresa pointed out, Sara did try to change herself.  But she didn’t make it clear in her piece whether those changes made it easier for her to get along with her man, or whether those changes made no difference. 

  8. 8
    Allison

    I was hoping you’d comment on this article, Evan!
     
    …but I agree with Teresa.  I don’t think the author is saying don’t work on yourself and don’t try to create opportunities to find love.  She DID all those things– she just still had to wait a long time to meet the right guy.  And when you can genuinely look yourself in the eye and know that you are trying your best, making all the effort you can, and not sabotaging the relationships that do come your way (because you’ve read everything Evan’s written that you can get your hands on!:), and you’re STILL single, the only thing to do is keep making an effort, enjoy your life, stop thinking there’s something wrong with you, and hope in the future. 
     
    My own dates have gotten a lot better since I stopped beating myself up for being single.  Sometimes you just really haven’t met the right guy. 

  9. 9
    Diana

    My impression about Sara’s experience is that she created opportunities for herself to possibly find love, but she stayed primarily true to her authentic self. Would any of us really want it any other way? No, of course not. As for opportunity, sometimes opportunity does come knocking, but most people simply don’t recognize it and they never open the door. And yes, sometimes we have to create those moments, too.
     
    I guess I sit on the fence about all of this sometimes. Should one change their appearance, demeanor, lifestyle, etc. to find love, when in fact, sometimes those changes can bring about a sense of uncomfortableness or maybe even an undertone of unhappiness that will be picked up on, if not directly, then in some other way that equates to still not finding love? If a person chooses to make changes that are positive and real for them, that’s fantastic, as long as it feels natural.
     
    Without knowing Sara, I don’t think the issue was with her, per se. It sounds like she lived a full life, but nothing too overbearing that would have excluded love and commitment. It’s that people can be so easily influenced by what others and society in general think, instead of carefully listening and following their own inner voice and instinct. Sara had simply not met the right man. Nothing more; nothing less. Despite what most everyone thinks, there’s no real timeline on this. It’s all a fabrication. The fact that it took her longer than most women is an unfortunate stereotype that some women choose to carry, thus likely making their search more painful and arduous which can create its own issue. People can smell desperation.
     
    By not having a boyfriend for eight years, she likely saved herself a lot of heartache, and a pattern that would have generated even more self-defeating, destructive thoughts about what was wrong with her, why did he leave and/or cheat on her, what could she have done differently to keep him, etc. Having a “boyfriend” guarantees nothing. She could have been in such a state that when she met her future husband, it would have never happened.
     
    IMHO, there are reasons for why things happen as they do. 🙂
     
     

  10. 10
    Honey

    Nowadays, I think that it is FAR easier than we want to admit to find someone that is compatible with us.  We just have to play the field for a number of years until we will admit it.  Now that I have been with Jake for five and a half years, I look back and think that I probably could have made it work with many of the men I dated, I just wasn’t in that place yet.  Jake isn’t THE right guy who finally came along, he’s one of the many potentially right men who came along THE MOMENT I WAS READY.

    1. 10.2
      Noemi

      I agree. I’ve encountered plenty of wonderful men along the way. This is why it boggles my mind when people complain about the lack of quality men/women out there.

      They’re everywhere, even possibly under your nose! They’re your friends, coworkers, friends of friends, friends of the family, they’re standing behind you at the grocery store, they’re at the gym, they live in your neighborhood and walk their dogs in front of your house, they’re a member of your running club, etc.

  11. 11
    helene

    You know, I’m not sure about what Honey just said… Like Sara, its 8 years since I split up with my husband, and I’m still single – I did have a 2 year relationship about half way through the 8 years but whatever, I’m STILL single. When I got divorced, I think I truly imagined I’d meet someone and be in the early stages of a new relationship within a year, and I am staggered that 8 years on, it still hasn’t happened. This has led to a lot of soul-searching, and I DO sometimes go over the long list of people I’ve dated in that time and wonder if I missed a good’un because of not being ready/looking for the wrong things/too high expectations etc…etc… But I honestly don’t feel that’s the case. There’s not ONE guy whom I’ve dated and broken up with who I regret passing on, or think I ought to have stuck with.
     
    I just turned 47 a week ago, and I am having to seriously consider whether its a good idea to continuing dating after all this time. Like Sara, I’ve done internet dating, speed dating, singles holidays, dance classes etc..etc… and I feel I’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues. I feel like I’ve dated every guy in my entire city! At what poiunt does it make sense to just stop? Like the hopeful young actress going to Hollywood to make it big and waiting tables to make ends meet in the meantime, when does “pursuing your dream” become “flogging a dead horse.”?

    Some may argue you’ve nothing to lose by continuing to actively date, but having done it for so long I would  disagree with that – it takes time, effort, commitment and energy to peruse websites, keep yourself “date ready” actually GO on dates, plus all the emotional drain it can place on you when nothing’s working – at what point do you stop putting yourself through this and decide to live your life in another way? Maybe some people have the energy to do the whole dating thing AND live a great life in other respects, but for me all the dating effort DOES take a whole chunk of  my personal resources away from other areas. Yet i know that if I stop ACTIVELY looking then my chances of meeting someone drop to almost zero – I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of dates I’ve been on in 8 years that occurred “naturally” by just going about my daily life. So people, anyone got any thoughts? When do you call it a day?!

    1. 11.2
      lisa

      Omg I totally give it up for periods of time. The ups and downs of dating are excruciating and there are times you need to throw in the towel and just buy a chocolate cake, read, go to the gym, shop, whatever u can do that gives you a guaranteed reward. Then get back into it when you have the energy for it all. Don’t feel bad about giving up temporarily.

    2. 11.3
      DeeGee

      Great post helene.

      I am in exactly the same boat as you.  You are not alone girl.
      I am now in my early-50’s, divorced for over 15 years, and still single.
      I have dated a dozen train wrecks during that time, if you want to hear some real doozies post a reply and ask, I have some great date-from-hell stories.  🙂

      I also waffle back-and-forth on dating, sometimes going for a year or more without any desire to get back into it.
      I just had another date three weeks ago, I like her, but it looks like she is going to be a flake, so I’m out.  Too bad.

      I get frustrated because it seems that all women in my city are crazy.  I am relocating to a much larger city in a year or two (my tech firm is about to boom), and I am really looking forward to that, since my dating pool should increase substantially (along with the increase in crime rate and my taxation rate 😉 ).

    3. 11.4
      Karmic Equation

      I second Evan’s advice. You don’t.

      However, you don’t need to “actively” look either.

      You do need to find hobbies that make you feel good about yourself AND which makes sure you get out of the house AND which ensures that you’re in the company of men.

      Have you tried to join a bowling team? How about getting some lessons and then going to a pool hall to practice? You might even get asked to join a team. Most teams look for “newbies” to help with staying under team handicaps. You meet a lot of men in pool leagues. I also used to karaoke a lot.

      And all of the above I did solo and never required to have a girl friend to do it with. I have a girl friend who NEVER does anything by herself. So she never gets approached. I used to get approached all the time. The “worst” that ever happened was I got a lot of table time practicing and getting better at pool. The middle-of-the road experiences was I had a great time shooting pool or singing with a new friend. The best that ever happened was a 6yr relationship and my current 5 month relationship. Oh yeah, and a marriage back in my late 20s.

      However, I was approached because I was very into what I was doing. Very intensely concentrating on my pool game. Or having a great time laughing and chatting with friends at karaoke. I didn’t do those things TO meet men. I was doing something I really enjoyed that HAPPENED to be in a place where available men were. And I never felt bad if men didn’t approach me because I wasn’t there to be approached. Being approached was a bonus.

      I guess what I’m saying is that you need to find hobbies that enrich your life and make you happy. When you’re concentrating on making yourself happy — OUTSIDE YOUR OWN HOME (very key, you know 🙂 ) — men will approach you. Men like happy women.

      Some activities that may are male-dominated:

      -Flag football

      -Ultimate frisbee

      -Softball

      -Archery

      -Bowling

      -Pool (On any given night, I might be the only woman shooting pool in a pool hall)

      -Martial arts (definitely! and you can learn some valuable self-defense skills)

       

      1. 11.4.1
        Butterduck

        So true, what Karmic Equation said. I was never approached so much as when I was happily doing something that gave me pleasure in itself. I guess I gave off a good vibe. People gravitate toward people who genuinely seem happy.

    4. 11.5
      Alisa Smythe

      I think you perhaps are secretly putting all the blame on yourself as to why you are single.  Some people get hitched when they are 18, and others never ever get hitched because they never ever meet The One.  And there are plenty of others who fall all over the middle of that spectrum.  Instead of being obsessed with meeting someone, keep going out, but don’t expect anything.  Just realize that it’s all luck and there is nothing you can do to change that.  Just “do you” as they say.

  12. 12
    MaleReader

    This is what I have learned by dating women who are in their thirties:
    1) they are generally morose and unhappy
    2) they have had their share of abusive relationships, fwbs, exploring their sexuality in the 20s that have left them jaded and with very little enthusiasm for a true partner
    3) they have less power in the dating marketplace and are being ignored by most of the desirable men
    4) they think men who are willing to date are also willing to commit. A women can date(short term relationship) a significantly more desirable man but if she wants investment and longer term commitment then the man would have to be relatively less desirable

    None of this is a complaint, just an observation. I do my best not to date women in their thirties with a lot of emotional baggage, and I am pretty sure all other men are trying to do the same. But many men will not have that option. Thus women in their thirties have a significantly harder time attracting men’s attention.

    Have you ever heard of a 25 year old girl complaining about dating?

    1. 12.1
      Lau_ra

      Actually, yes. Don’t know how it is in USA, yet where I live its exactly like that – girls in early 20s already complain about dating. A lot. I have a crowd of girlfriends aged 22-35, and lately I notice the tendency that 20-something girls say the same stuff as 30-something women do. They get wiser and more experienced earlier now, I guess.

    2. 12.2
      m

      “Have you ever heard of a 25 year old girl complaining about dating?”

      I’ve heard 18-year-old women complain about dating.

      Of course, that has to do with the behavior – and entitlement complexes – of the men they date, something you don’t touch upon in your “list” but which certainly jumps right out at a reader in your fourth “point”, especially if that reader is reading carefully.

      (Actually, I could get into how the NiceGuy™ complex & resentment are bleeding out of your entire “list”, but I don’t have that kind of time.)

      1. 12.2.1
        Ava Wilson

        You go gurl. 

    3. 12.3
      Alex

      As an 26 year old male I have to agree. Sorry but women in their 20’s teach men to NOT marry. it’s funny because when men are loving and caring we become “Nice guys” and the only reason we are able to continue on to find dates is to do the opposite. NOT CARE. being a jerk protects us from getting close and getting hurt again. The Moment a man opens himself up to a woman in her 20s he is looked down on as weak and then kicked to the curb.

      So we get laid MORE, we have women who want to stay around longer and things work out better when we stopped caring. A Man can only be Mr. Charming so many times before it becomes a rehearsed act. We can only fall in “true love” so many times before we have heard it all. It has nothing to do with us wanting to be dominant. . We just get tired of “being a Man” when in reality too many women just want an “Entertainer” instead. They just want a good time they can kick to the side once another good time came around.

      And the few “good guys” who are left often get called creeps Just because they suck at talking to women, Aka They dont have a bunch of 1 liners and experience from screwing around with tons of women. That’s actually a good thing because an Honest man is a real man. But even then they end up becoming targets and realize they need to become “jerks” to have any chance in the dating world.

      1. 12.3.1
        starthrower

        That’s interesting because another guy up above says he won’t date women in their 30’s for being jaded an having baggage, just like you’re blaming women in their 20’s for causing you.  Women can’t win.

        1. Ted

          Nope, women can win, it just requires that they get over themselves. Even into our 30s there’s plenty of us guys out there that are worth having, but haven’t been married. Even more if you don’t mind guys that are divorced and/or have children.

          It’s just that you have to be open minded enough to give us a chance.

          OTOH, once you hit your 30s, the time available for having children starts to get narrow extremely quickly and by the time a woman is 40 she’s unlikely to be fertile.

          Also, it helps if you’re nice to the guys that approach you and are willing to initiate the conversation. It’s a shocking amount of work to ask women out, even if you don’t mind the ego hit that results from being rejected.

    4. 12.4
      Kara

      Spare us the trolling with your manosphere bullshit. We’ve heard it all before here.

      If so many men like you want nothing to do with 30 and 40 something women, why do you spend your time trolling a website pretty much devoted to that demographic? Just go get your 25 year old hotties you believe are drooling over you and leave the rest of us alone to do what we came here for and learn how to improve ourselves and have healthy relationships.

      Do you also go to Weight Watchers meetings in your No Fat Chicks t-shirt and give a speech about how no guy likes fatties and then pass out candy bars?

      1. 12.4.1
        Ava

        Another keyboard warrior. I’m sure none of the women on this thread would date him and I think the only way he would get a 25 year old is if he paid for it! Like most men out there with as much baggage as this loser has!!!!! 

      2. 12.4.2
        Anna

        Awesome, Kara!

    5. 12.5
      Sheila

      This is a load of generalisations and assumptions In fact its utter rubbish.
      BTW I was gorgeous when I was 25 –  I still had difficulty dating But met my late husband by sheer chance.  

    6. 12.6
      DeeGee

      lol at MaleReader and Alex.

      Sorry guys, although I found your posts entertaining, I have to go with the ladies on this one.
      I work with mostly women, who range from their mid-20’s to their mid-50’s, and for the most part they are not like what you guys are saying.

      I am early 50’s, divorced (over 15 years ago) and dating, and looking for a woman in her 30’s or 40’s.  Preferably a professional as I am one (I own a tech firm).  I would never date a teenager or girl in her 20’s.
      I would only classify myself as around a 5-6 in looks, but I do strength training and am fit and eat clean, and I do clean up nicely.  😉
      My biggest downfall in attracting a woman is I am a bit quirky (and I know it), which might turn off some women who first meet me, think Sheldon (Big Bang) + Danny (Undateable) + Dr. Reid (Criminal Minds).

      1. 12.6.1
        m

        I know this is an old post, but I can’t bear to have Sheldon & Dr. Reid classed in the same category.

         

        Dr. Reid is hawt.  And  also cool.  Sheldon, by contrast, is rude, takes pride in his lack of social skills, and has a tendency to blame women for his social  problems.

        The fact that they are lumped together here says something … but I hesitate to muse too much on exactly what.

        1. DeeGee

          I meant the original naive and quirky but likable Sheldon from the first seasons, and not the moron and sometimes jerk they made him in the later seasons.  🙂

      2. 12.6.2
        Anna

        DeeGee

        Thanks for supporting women.  But I’m just curious, why are you only looking for women in their 30s and 40s?  What is wrong with women your age?  I have had 4 men in their late 50s and early 60s ask me out recently (I am 38) and I find it a bit disrespectful (to me and to older women).  Not because “how dare a man that age ask a woman my age on a date”, but because one day I will be their age and I may be a perfectly good woman looking for companionship, but men my age will only want to date someone 20 years their junior?

        1. DeeGee

          Anna said: “why are you only looking for women in their 30s and 40s?

          Because there are virtually no women in their 50’s in my region on the dating site I was on.
          So I started out looking for any women in the range of around 38 to 49.
          However, I messaged at least 75 of them, and after being shot down by all of them for reasons of:
          – “you are too short” (I’m 5’8″),
          – “I prefer tall dark and handsome men” (I’m average redhead and average),
          – “you are not rich enough” (I only currently make ~$85k/year),
          – etc.,
          I gave up on 38 to 49 and changed my search range to 45 to 60…. and ended up getting any responses from these women who had the exact same superficial reasons as to why I was undateable.
          So I discontinued my dating site payments, left the dating site, and sit here alone at my keyboard responding to blog questions such as yours.  😉

    7. 12.7
      Bestsoylatte

      Yes. I’m nearly 24 and I’ve been single for 5 years because I want an intelligent, funny man which are sorely lacking in the area I live in. Most men my age are looking to hit it and quit it or are borderline illiterate that I can’t take them seriously. I honestly feel dating would be easier when I’m older.

    8. 12.8
      dani

      I’m 25 and I complain about dating all the time lol. Although I’m a 25 year old woman, not a 25 year old girl. So there’s that.

  13. 13
    GeminiDream

    @helene #12 
    I could have written your words.  I’m 47 years old, and it’s been 6 years of singlehood for me.  As Evan’s short reply stated, “you don’t” call it a day.  I’ve learned that I have to be my own best friend, advocate, and most importantly, cheerleader.  I have to keep putting myself out there.  I know that by putting my best out there, my turn will come, too.  Don’t give up!

  14. 14
    zann

    @ Helene — I feel your pain.  I’m quickly approaching 59 and have dated for most of the past 12 years. Most people who meet me are shocked to hear I’m still single (unless they’re also single women still in the search). Your question has crossed my mind many times: When do I call it quits and accept my single life as enough?  

    But why do we ask that question in the first place? I wouldn’t ask myself: “When do I call it quits at trying to be a writer? An artist? A fun, loving grandmother? A supportive mother? An independent woman with an admirable work history and career?” Those are endeavors in my life that ebb and flow and are part of what makes up the story of Me on this Earth. Why would you ever want to quit staying open to love?

    I totally agree that actively dating does require time, money, energy, and a certain level of humility. But so do a lot of other things. I often take breaks from the dating endeavor to re-focus, get a different perspective, and just concentrate my efforts and time on other things I enjoy. It’s not a question of when to quit, there’s no deadline that I know of.  I think it’s more a question of “How much energy do I have right now to pursue a relationship?”

    The reason this article was comforting to me is that it reminds me that I’m not alone in my quest. And as long as I don’t fall into the negative thinking of: IS IT ME? Or WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? then my life looks and feels better to me, with or without a dedicated man in it. I’m a firm believer in continued growth, regardless of my age, so learning new ways to improve my relationship skills with men is just part of that desire to not stagnate. But there is no requirement that I fulfill any goal, or that I’ve lost out if I don’t find a man. My life still has value and depth and not lacking in other kinds of love.

    Do I sound like I’m my own cheerleading squad? Probably, but, ya know, whatever works.  

    One last thing. Without putting too sharp a point on it (me? never.) — I do think that people who are IN relationships tend to be less realistic about how genuinely difficult it can be to be out there seeking, attempting to stay optimistic, maintaining self-esteem in a world that is still terrible slanted towards “the couple.” Single does not equal Loser.  Coupled people who judge and advise single people can sometimes come across as smug — whether intentional or not. A women recently came up to me at my niece’s wedding reception and asked me if there was a special man in my life now. I know she meant well — perhaps because my ex-husband was also there with his woman — and when I said, “no,” she immediately said, “Well, we’ll just have to do something about that!”  

    To me this infers that I’m not keeping up, have lost status, and assumes I’m not happy just the way I am. I’m pretty sure I was drinking wine & dancing, for pete’s sake.  Poor me.  It’s kinda like my Aunt Ruth saying years ago, “Karen is such a pretty girl; it’s a shame she’s got her mother’s heavy ankles.”  
     

    1. 14.1
      Karmic Equation

      “Karen is such a pretty girl; it’s a shame she’s got her mother’s heavy ankles.”

      “no,” she immediately said, “Well, we’ll just have to do something about that!” 

      These are the reasons why I rather have guy friends than girl friends. Why I’d rather be in male company than female company.

      Men don’t give back-handed compliments. They don’t imply there’s something wrong with you. They’re either going to give you a fulsome compliment or diss you directly 🙂

      It’s this reason why so many women take issue with my posts. They read into my posts intent to put them down when I was telling them they were DOING something wrong (a behavior they can change) NOT that they were wrong as human beings (a judgement of their character, which FTR, I was not doing). THAT is the biggest difference between male and female communications. Women hear disparagement from men, because they’re so used to hearing the implied criticism from other women.

      With most men, with good men, they’re going to tell you you’re off your rocker when they think you are; they’re going to tell you you look fat in that dress if they think you do; they’re going to tell you you’re overreacting when they think you are. They really don’t have the wherewithal to give you hidden messages.

      So Zann, and all women who have mostly female friends and very few male friends: You all might just want to consider take a girl-a-tus from your girlfriends in addition to or instead of guy-a-tuses from dating when you feel the world is “putting you down” because you’re single. (And remember, it’s usually women who do this putting down, not men.)

      That way maybe you can reset your internal interpretation hamster (haha), so that you only hear the positive side of compliments and automatically ignore the backhanded disses.

      Happiness is a choice, right?

  15. 15
    Ruby

    MaleReader #14

    So now we have yet another (presumably) 30-something man complaining about women in their thirties who complain about the men they date. 

    As far as 25-year-old women complaining about dating, yes, I was one once, and I complained about dating, as did my girlfriends. People can have problems with dating at any age. Most of my married girlfriends got hitched in their late 20’s-early 40’s, so apparently they weren’t that jaded or undesirable.

  16. 16
    nathan

    Going out on a limb a bit here: giving up might be exactly what some of us need to do. Specifically, giving up the attachment you have to finding and having a committed partner in your life.
     
    The way I see it, the effort of going on dates, trying out new ways to meet people, and opening space for dating and a potential new partner are all necessary ingredients. However, at the same time, none of that will necessarily lead you to getting that person you want into your life. And to push the idea above further, there’s a point where focus on finding a partner slides into obsession.
     
    In other words, sometimes more effort and mental energy are not at all what’s needed – letting go completely is is what’s needed. Because when you actually finally do that, you realize what I think Zann above is talking about – that it’s all an ebb and flow and that letting go of your desire for relationship doesn’t have to be some depressing finality, but that it’s basically about admitting that you don’t know. Don’t know if doing anything else is needed. Or if it’s going to happen or not eventually.
     
    How can you find joy and satisfaction now, as you are? Not only is this attractive to other healthy, intelligent, creative people, but it’s also an attractive way to live, period. But in my experience, it seems to require being ok with not knowing a lot. With learning to balance intelligent effort with some form of faith that it will all work out in the end.
     
     
     
     

    1. 16.1
      X

      I agree with this comment. Very spot-on.

      I’ve struggled with the concept of dating for years. I’ve tried many different methods. Some I’ve ruled out completely, because they always made me miserable, bitter and jaded, regardless of my change in strategy or attitude. When we go through a conveyor belt of people, dating one after the other, we eventually lose sight of what it is that we really want. Being single has, in effect, put me in touch with my deepest needs, and I realized that what I want is something that has to happen. Chasing it has only made me miserable. In effect, I learned and grew by NOT dating.

      Because I know what I want, I don’t feel the need to go on a conveyor belt of dates with different men, trying them on like shoes at a store. Do I still “look” for single men? Of course, again using the methods I like best. But I can’t do this all the time, or turn it into a job. The looking, in and of itself, is neither satisfying nor rewarding nor has produced any success whatsoever.

      I met my ex-husband when I wasn’t looking. I met all successive relationships after him when I wasn’t looking, either. I met them at work, or during my daily routine.

      Things are different now, in that I no longer work in the same environment. The environment I’m in now does not provide a lot of single, age-appropriate men. So I search in other ways – but again, in moderation.

      I am focusing on self-improvement now, as in, can I improve my health and wellness, my daily routine? Are there any unnecessary stressors I can remove from my life? I’ve done a bang-up job identifying these, and one of those stressors is wanting a partner. It’s simply too much.

      I struggle with the release of this desire. I guess I’m afraid that if I stop wanting it, it will never happen. But it hasn’t happened the entire time I obsessed over it, and that’s my point. I have to release the burden of wanting it so badly. These things happen when they happen, not just from my own experiences but from others’ stories as well. Even if you are “looking” – online dating, singles events, whatever – it still happens when it happens; you could be looking for years until it does. In the meantime, why not live life with less stress and pressure?

  17. 17
    Gina

    @Zann and Helene: I understand exactly how you both feel. I’m 49 and although it’s only been 9 months since my last relationship, at the moment, I find the whole online dating process to be difficult, stressful and exhausting. I met my my last two boyfriends online and both relationships lasted for about a year. So I do think that online dating can work, but l haven’t had much success with it lately as I seem to only be attracting undesirables. Therefore, I’m taking a break from it and trying a  more traditional approach. I’ve joined some dating/social groups through an organization called Meetup.com. My attitude is that I’m participating to have fun and meet new people. If I happen to meet a great guy as a result, that would be awesome. In the meantime, the pressure is off and I’m simply having a good time. The plus is that it also gives me a chance to see how the guys who attend the various social events behave in a variety of different social settings before I date them.

  18. 18
    zann

    Nathan — I think you said it perfectly.  

  19. 19
    Diana

    To Nathan and Zann, very well said. It’s about living a full life, while letting go of so many sometimes destructive and counter productive expectations and thoughts. There are no guarantees that every single person will find the perfect mate for them, no matter how much internal/external work they may do, or the various methods they may try. And this idea that maybe you did cross paths with the right man/woman at some point in your life, but your self-sabotaging ways/thoughts caused you to turn a blind eye on what could have been so promising, but never came to fruition doesn’t feel right to me. For that moment in your life, and for the person you were at that moment in your life, they were not the right person, regardless of potential.
     
    When we allow ourselves to live in the moment, to love and enjoy ourselves and our life, we release so much negative energy that can get in the way of finding someone special. We feel more like our authentic selves, and we enjoy the dating process more. It feels more like an enjoyable hobby, instead of a miserable way to a self-imposed means. We think we know what we want, but we’re often wrong. Living this way also provides no guarantees, but above all else, you will always have yourself no matter what, for which there is no greater gift, and there is no timeline or expiration date on having hope. 🙂

  20. 20
    Helen

    nathan #18, amen. Love your comments.
     
    Life is short and is so full of riches. There is so much more to do and enjoy in life than a frenzied pursuit of being partnered. Being partnered shouldn’t become an obsession, because then more emphasis is placed on being coupled at last than on being with the person who is right for you.
     
    I find it a shame that there’s still a social stigma about being single. If this social stigma didn’t exist, maybe fewer people would feel desperation and depression when it comes to years of dating.  Dating shouldn’t be grueling work; it should be fun and lighthearted. Likewise, it shouldn’t be the default to assume that something is wrong with someone just because they haven’t found “the one” for years. Maybe some people just like doing things on their own or with friends. There is nothing wrong with that.

    1. 20.1
      m

      “I find it a shame that there’s still a social stigma about being single. If this social stigma didn’t exist, maybe fewer people would feel desperation and depression when it comes to years of dating. “

      QFT and RFE (repeated for emphasis).

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