Read this. Read every word of it.
Noted blogger, Moxie, has written a powerful message to women in their late 30’s: take responsibility for your life.
I’d be inclined to publish highlights but that wouldn’t do this piece its proper justice.
So here, in its entirety, I offer you a very challenging post about women, written by a very intelligent woman. Feel free to post whether you agree or disagree with her assessment.
And while I might nitpick with a line or two, on the whole, I think Moxie knocked it out of the park.
Name: Betty | Location: New York , NY |Question: I am not sure if you have asked/answered this question before but I was wondering if you had any advice where a single woman in her late thirties could meet marriage/family minded men who are around my age? I have never been interested in dating men much older than me (frankly I don’t have a single girlfriend, married or single, who is so inclined). However, I have noticed over the past 5 years that the men who approach me have been getting exponentially older (seriously, I was recently contacted online by a 70 year old man – older than my father). I really want a relationship similar to all those in my family and social circle have – no more than a 2-3 year age difference. Do I really have to give this up? Am I going to have to settle for a man 10-20 years older than me and have a lackluster sex/love life? That just seems abnormal to me. Surely there must be men who come from a similar background (i.e. that spouses should be from the same generation so that the relationship will succeed for the long term). Any thoughts would be appreciated.
No, you don’t have to give that up. It’s just going to require more effort on your part. It’s also going to require that you ask yourself why, at 38, you’re still single. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
First, learn to accept the reality that a 38-40 year old marriage minded man is going to want someone a good 5-7 years younger than him if he wants kids. Maybe 10 years if he’s in his early 40’s. A 40-45 year old man who’s not interested in having children is going to want a woman who isn’t dead set on having kids. Most will assume that a 38 year old woman will want kids. And soon. The age we are at (35-40) is probably the toughest of all. In a man’s mind, we’re on the cusp between wanting kids and not wanting kids. A lot of men make this assumption on their own without ever asking us. Why? They have more options than we do and don’t have to ask us.
Online dating for women 35-45 is a joke. Do not rely on online dating in any way. I know exactly what you’re talking about in regards to being contacted by people you would never in a million years consider dating. The unkempt, unpolished guys. The husky, balding guys. The sleazy guys. The guys who wink or e-mail me within minutes of logging on. They’re contacting me because they think “She’s 38 and using online dating so she must be somewhat anxious or desperate and will give me a second glance.” If they’re not thinking that way, then they are men so lacking in self-awareness that you wouldn’t want to date them anyway. Of course, one or two of them are genuinely nice guys whom you might share a connection, but guilt by association screws them.
I was having a conversation with Evan Marc Katz recently. If you don’t know who he is, he’s a well known dating/relationship expert that started e-Cyrano, an online dating profile writing company. He’s also written a book called “Why You’re Still Single.” We talked about how frustrating it is for women (and I’m sure men) to only get contacted by people that they would never in a million years consider dating. Evan tried to tell me that women should just delete those e-mails and not give them a second thought. I agreed with that, but also told him that the reason why hearing from only those people is frustrating is that it makes you wonder what it is about you that is attracting only these people. It also serves as a reminder of what’s out there and…as I’ve said before….as you get older it becomes slim pickins. Having a reminder of those slim pickins in your in-box every day isn’t fun and can condition someone to believe that there truly is “no one” out there for them. What else is disheartening is for every one good date you might have, you end up having 3-5 awful ones. For 1 person that meets your expectations there are 3-5 that don’t. And, if you meet those “ones” online, then it’s very likely that they are someone else’s “one great date” as well due to the whole “kid in a candy store” mentality that online dating encourages. So use online dating in conjunction with 2-3 other ways to meet someone. But do not make it your only means of networking. Take a home improvement class or a cooking class or a writing class. Got to Barnes & Noble. Go to the gym. Join a special interest group. Definitely take advantage of the stand-bys but add some new ones, too. Move outside your comfort zone. Singles/social networking events are great but, like online dating, you shouldn’t rely on them to meet new people. Go to a few, like two or three, then try something different. Switch it up or do all these things in conjunction with each other. And always take advantage of every opportunity. Really work on being approachable in any situation. Walk with your head up, make eye contact, smile….be it at the deli, on the subway, at church…where ever. You have to be open to meeting someone at all times, not just in situations designed to encourage socializing. It’s very easy to become closed off, especially living in a big city. Don’t let that happen.
You’ll also have to throw away a lot of those silly criteria that we tend to apply to future mates.
Not interested in dating someone divorced? Get over it. We’re in our late 30’s. Many of the people in our age range are divorced.
Don’t want someone with kids? Again, let that slide a bit, since many singles our age are divorced.
Ladies – Stop going to bars to meet guys. Just forget it. Guys in bars are looking for the 25-32 year old gal. Or they’re looking for desperate women who will be easy to get in to bed. Go to bars to socialize, to hang out, to de-stress. But don’t go to a bar with the specific intent of meeting a man. Especially if you’re over 35.
Ladies – Stop going out in groups of 3 or more single friends. Men aren’t crazy about approaching a group of women. The fear of rejection is bad enough when contemplating your approach of just one woman. But three?
Choose who you socialize with carefully. If you and a friend are both burnt on the dating scene, then hang out with someone who is in a relationship or who is married. As much as you think that you can hide your frustration or disillusionment when you’re out, you can’t. It comes out in off-the-cuff comments, facial expressions and the tone in your voice. Surround yourself with positivity as much as you can so that their attitude rubs off on you. Nothing turns someone off faster than bitterness.
Learn when to walk away. Staying in a situation too long only to end up not getting/not being asked for a number or being rejected will only weaken your ego/self-esteem. Read the signs, pay attention to how the other person reacts to you. If you have to ask yourself , “Are they interested?” then they’re probably not. Stop trying to make them interested in you.
Ask yourself the tough questions. 38 and still single? Too focused on your career? Dating the wrong people? Ignoring issues that are getting in the way of being happy and secure? There’s a reason why you’re 38 and single. Figure it out and deal with it. Are you batting out of your league? Insisting on going for people that you think you deserve but who have no interest in you? Negative? There is a reason and it’s more than “I’m just picky” or “I’ve been too busy to date.” I haven’t met one person over the age of 35 who’s still single who wasn’t that way for a serious reason. And it’s usually one of these: We want it all right now. We want to know where we stand. We want to know what’s what right now. We aren’t willing to sit back and allow things to unfold at a natural pace. We assume that if someone doesn’t feel the same way we do when we do then they aren’t right for us. We grow resentful of those people who do have an easier time meeting someone and that resentment morphs in to bitterness and negativity. All of that stuff comes from a place of fear. A fear that we will never meet anyone, that we will end up alone. A fear that we will be hurt or left or abandoned or that we won’t be in control of the situation. If you continue to feed in to that fear you will end up alone. Or, worse, you’ll settle.
Sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut and listen. This one has a double meaning. The first refers to people who, when they meet someone new, brag or challenge people instead of saying something truly of value and listening. Learn the difference between selling yourself and pimping yourself out. Then, take a breath, close your mouth and listen. Ask more questions but don’t interview someone. If you pay close enough attention to what someone says then you’ll have plenty of things to ask. But if you’re listening just to recognize a buzzword that will allow you to go off on a tangent, expect that person to walk away pretty quickly. Also listen to the “voices” that come from within. Voices that come in the form of feelings and reactions. What are you really feeling? 9 times out of 10, it’s fear. So many times I’ve met men that were really great and I dismissed them. I convinced myself that I wasn’t attracted to them but really I was just afraid. “They’re way too serious for me” I thought. “They’re too anxious for a girlfriend.” Looking back, there was nothing wrong with them. The problem was with me. I was scared. Scared they would find out I wasn’t as together as they were. Scared they’d leave me first. Scared that they would figure out who I really was. I wanted everything laid out for me. I wanted to know what to expect and when. I didn’t want to feel that anxiety over whether they’d call or what their lack of response meant. All of that is rooted in fear.
Face the realities head on and become as self-aware as possible. Being over 35 and living in Manhattan (or any other major metropolitan city) is tough. Most women I encounter who are over 35 and single (and by single I mean “never married”) are single because they are completely unaware of the impression they make (anxious/self-righteous/negative/entitled) or because they are still sticking to that same laundry list of criteria that they wrote and laminated at 25. After a certain point, it’s time to get realistic. You’re competing with women younger, possibly thinner and probably making just as much money as you are and are equally successful. Either step up or move on to another league. And by step up I mean do the work you need to do to compete. That could be simply reorganizing priorities to dropping 10 pounds, to going in to therapy, to taking up yoga to learn how to relax. Is there something about you physically or personality-wise that might be turning men off? Because that might be it. Ask friends for a brutally honest assessment. Better yet, ask someone who isn’t that close to you. You’re more likely to get the truth. Forewarned is forearmed. Those who know that something is coming are better prepared to face it than those who do not know.
Would it be so bad to take a look at guys that maybe aren’t, at first glance, your “type?” Or are you one of those women who thinks that, by doing so, you’d be “settling?”
Get an attitude adjustment. People who tell themselves that there is “no one” out there for them or who focus on how they don’t have someone will continue to have bad luck in the love department. You literally have to stop yourself from saying things like “Every women/man” is this or that. You have to de-program yourself from thinking negatively. You’re basically setting yourself up to fail when you focus on what you don’t have or on people that aren’t interested in you. (Remember the other suggestion I made up thread – Learn when to walk away.) The more focus you put on what you are lacking, the more power you give to that idea and the more prevalent it becomes. It’s about thinking “as if.” In January, I joined Dating Dummy’s Blog Wide Workout group. I cut out pictures of Jessica Biehl and hung them over my desk on my bulletin board. Every day, I look at those pictures every morning and am reminded of what is possible. That motivates me to go to the gym. I also hung pictures of my ideal guys – Edward Norton and Matthew Rhys. Then, and I can’t believe I’m admitting to this but fuck it, I planned my wedding down to the last detail. I got pricing from the hotel for the open bar and food, wrote the guest list (only 50 people from my side, immediate family only and friends from high school/college/life) called the church I sometimes go to and booked a tentative date, (last weekend of April, 2008) and called my uncle and told him to save the date. Crazy? Maybe. But I’m now almost 20 pounds lighter and my sex/love life has taken a positive turn in the last two months. (Of course, it’s still in the early stages.) Every press mention my business has received has been clipped and hung on my bulletin board. I made a slide show of my affirmations, using pictures of everything from the type of body I want to have to piles of money to a clip of someone reading their credit rating to the new apartment I want to have. I view it every morning and every night. My business has tripled in the past 6 months. The money flows in and, like with most businesses, flows right back out. But it’s there and the amount deposited into my business account gets larger each month. It’s all about changing your thought process. Tell yourself that it will happen and it will happen. But counting the reasons why fate is against you and you’re creating a big wall that will be very hard to scale.
You have the ability to change your life and have the things you want. It all starts with you. You just have to truly want to change it. Stop focusing on what doesn’t work and start focusing on what does work.