How do I make peace with being single?

For the past 4 years I have been single. Not single as in dating lots of people and having a great time, single as in wanting to die from the loneliness. I have been in a few long term relationships (one lasted almost 9 years) but, as should be obvious, these all ended eventually. I've been hurt and recovered many times, but this past few years have been miserable for me. When I was younger I could handle the failed relationships, dust myself off, and move on. Now that I'm in my late 30's and starting to feel like my dating days are numbered I'm getting to the point where I may have to face the possibility that I will be one of these pathetic 'old maid' characters who never found a man. It's weird because I'm not incredibly traditional and I don't want a family, but I had always hoped I would find love. Despite all the things I can do, have acheived, and have survived, I feel like a failure because I'm a still a single woman.

I'm a good person. I've read all the relationship and dating advice books I could get my hands on and as far as I can tell I did everything right. In retrospect, the only thing I may have failed at was seeing a relationship as a ticket out of the blues. I felt I loved the men I was with (at the time), but I wasn't aware of anything deeper than crushes or puppy love. I now feel I was with them primarily because I did not want to be alone. The way I grew up, I guess there are reasons for this, but now that I'm aware of it, I'm afraid of letting that happen again.

I try to be proactive and, realizing that I might be the common link between each of the failed attempts to find love over the course of my adult life, have done some work over these past 4 years. I've gone to talk and hypno- therapy, read a lot of books, worked with a relationship coach, attended workshops, developed my social life to the point where I am not desperately lonely, and, most importantly, focused on figuring out what makes me happy. Unfortunately, all of this work has opened my eyes to far more questions than answers.

Now that I have a more clear understanding of what it takes to have a successful relationship, I worry that I will never find a man I can truly love. I don't want to repeat the mistakes of my past and be with the first decent guy who comes along just to be with someone. That's why I don't date at all anymore. For once in my life, I want the guy I want to be with, not just the guy who wants me. The only problem is that he just isn't materializing and asking me out. In fact, after joining several online dating websites and a matchmaking service, I find that the men who are available are so far from being a guy I would want that I'd rather just forget about the whole thing.

So, after this long and dragged out explanation of my situation, how do I make peace with being single? I hate it because it's not what I set out in life to be and I feel it's not fair that I got singled out (pardon the pun) to not find love when everybody else seems to find it okay. If I can't find love and I'm no longer willing to settle, I have no choice but to be single. How do I learn to like something that causes me such grief?

Don't put it all on you. I am sure you are a good person who wants the comfort of a good relationship, we all do.The fact is that you can't count on the books to teach you. You have to go for what feels right to you. Look at it as the world being your bowl and you have the choice to pick from it what you like. You will not be alone for the rest of your life, you will find someone or they will find you. You just have to allow yourself to know what you want and not settle, even if it means being alone for a while. Give yourself some credit and it will turn around.

Making peace with being single to me says that you are not looking for that special one anymore....but as I read your post, I can see that deep down, that is something you still yearn for. Have you tried different avenues? Online dating such as EHarmony, Match.com? I've used both sites and met my current boyfriend off of one of them...he is the best thing to happen to my life. If you google 'singles in _______ (enter your city)' you will likely find events that are held for singles of different age groups, just like yourself. I'm 26 and I've done speed dating, singles dances and singles boat cruises...met a lot of great people.

If you are content with being single and just want to know how to live your life this way, well the answer isnt so simple...everyone wants to be loved. We have all been hurt in the past, we have all said to ourselves that we cant go through this again just to end up hurt and we have all thought that we couldnt possibly love another like we loved _______. But life goes on...please dont give up hope ♥

I must make a comment on this one however I have no Idea what to say. For one thing the late 30's and afraid dateing might be over, ah Im 52 so lets hope not. And remember these days my daughter is 23 and anyone I can find myself attracted to must be at least 20 years older than my daughter. Seems like Im looking for wrinkles on a nice lady taking a double shot of Geritol at the bar. But having been on my own for 5 years now, and you know how a bad longterm relationship is, many years in reality before that. Im playing it as finding peace where I am now. Exploring my interests and developing my abilities so that when I meet someone who identifies with that we can have a meaningful relationship. Has it worked?.. ah not yet. But you must want someone who wants you for you. Im too old to play headgames or try to act the super hunk.. ah at 145 lbs 5'6" thats kinda hard to do anyway. Be prepared to bless someone with yourself. No tricks and no amazing pickup lines. And enjoy where you are at this very moment. Dont sell yourself short. Be willing to bless this world and one lucky man with yourself.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement. The way people talk to me sometimes, I feel like there's something wrong with me for wanting love in my life. It's nice to hear that this is normal and healthy.

I fully understand the wonderful opportunity I've had to finally get to know myself and think about what I truly want from life. After many years of being a serial monogamist, I never really did this. (From the age of 19 to 34 I was in a series of relationships, with little time between each.) I'm more at peace with being single now than I ever was in the past, but I still don't see it as where I want to be.

Being that I was a 'serial monogamist' for so long, I never really dated. For some reason guys have never showed much interest in me, so when one did and I liked him enough to want to go out with him, it quickly became a relationship. The whole concept of dating is still uncomfortable for me. For lack of better words, I don't get it. I might actually say that dating is the main reason I hate being single. It isn't fun.

I tried a dating websites for a few years and I did make some great friends, but no relationships. I would scroll through hundreds of profiles but none of them made me stop and say, "I wouldn't mind meeting him!" (Men - seriously, you need to take a class on profile-making!) The guys who were sending me messages varied from horrible to totally inappropriate to somewhat interesting/but won't actually meet in the real world. In the end I saw the truly brutal nature of online dating - the minute I turned 36 nobody sent me messages or looked at my profile anymore. I'd fallen off of the radar for search criteria for age, as apparently women over 35 are no longer desirable. I just got rid of all my profiles and the misery they were causing me.

I joined social groups and took classes to get out and meet new people, but I noticed it was always the same cast of characters showing up at all the events. Either that or it was all women who showed up. I made some female friends and widened my social circle. Parties, clubs, events, concerts, the grocery store ... I'm usually out and about doing something, but couples are all I see. Honestly, I don't know how these people find each other! If you've ever heard a woman complaining that there are no good/available/straight men, THIS is the evidence she bases her theory on! I stay away from events specifically for singles. Once you pass the age of 35, you are put into an age category in which almost everyone at the event is older than you, sometimes by decades. It's very demoralizing to be prematurely aged that way.

Sorry, I'm bitching and complaining, but it's good to get it off my chest!

Aww sorry the dating sites and singles events havent worked out for ya in the past! Do you have any coupled friends who know any singles? The hardest thing about being single is trying to meet a fellow single who isnt a creep..perhaps if you have a mutual aquaintance you can avoid the creep factor a bit. And you are def NOT crazy for wanting love....who doesnt!?!

Gina, I don't know what it is, but there are very few single men in the social circle. There are always tons of single girls and couples around, but no single guys. I go to parties with a glimmer of hope there will be new and interesting guys there, but I'm always disappointed. I've had to unlearn that expectation and just go to the party for the party's sake. Friends of friends are sort of pre-screened, so I like that, but my friends know how picky and weird I am about guys, so ... well, let's just say I don't blame them for not setting me up!

Hey Heathecliff,
Wow! It sounds like you really are at a great point. You are taking yourself very seriously, you know exactly what you want, you are not about to "fall" into someone's arms just because they are there. I think that is amazing...and exactly the type of qualities a good man is looking for.

I think you are on the right path. Stay true to yourself but keep your heart open. You'll find him, and he'll find you.

Love to you hun...from another single...hopeful
Moongal x

I know how cheesy this is going to sound but it really works...even if you are not a confident women by nature, always walk with your head held high, a smile on your face and make eye contact - dont avoid it. Being the friendly chick has always worked for me!

Thanks for the advice and giving me some hope that I'm actually on the right track. When you get no results for so long you start to wonder. I must admit, I can get terrified around attractive men, if I'm ever fortunate enough to meet any. I'm not especially outgoing and the guys who talk to me in social situations tend to be these geeky lame guys, or drunken horn-dogs. Sometimes I'm afraid to walk around confidently in case I attract more of these types!

I keep telling myself that I'm a good person and that it would be a shame for me to not be available when the right man comes along. I just get tired of waiting and wish I could be more active in seeking him out!

And just what is wrong with us geeky lame guys?.. lol. My thanks to you Heathecliffe I learn so much about myself from your posts. Sounds like you got it all together. Remember when the start and finish is know the enjoyment is the road between. Enjoy every moment. Keep in mind what you want. And people will be attracted to that enjoyment of life.

I love geeky lame guys, I'm just not *in love* with them. I almost hate to admit this but, I have the best rapport with 'geeks' out of all the types of guys I meet. I'm a bit of a nerd myself and there's nothing I enjoy more than an interesting conversation. I just have a lot of trouble being attracted to most men, physically, so more often than not even a guy I'm having a great intellectually stimulating conversation with isn't going to be someone I'd want to date. This can make the road, as you call it, very rocky sometimes.

You really cant go wrong...my girlfriends and I always say 'fake it till ya make it' which rings especially true in the confidence factor...no one needs to know that deep inside your shaking like a leaf and terrified...you have a smile on your face, you're looking people in the eye...everyone around you will take notice :)

Lilac - you are way too optimistic to be hanging around on a support group website! Unless you just like to give support, which I suppose is entirely possible. Maybe I'll try to find an occasion to strut my stuff at one of these days. That always makes me feel better, even if there's nobody to impress.

Hi Heathecliffe22--I have oftentimes found myself in the predicament you are articulating, both in terms of not finding men I fell physically attracted to and in terms of feeling desperately lonely outside of a relationship. Here's one piece of advice and one question I voice to myself often about these predicaments: Advice: stop the loneliness! I have oftentimes found myself in relationships in which I felt terribly misunderstood and lonely and yet I long for them after they are over and I find myself alone. Surely this is about me and not about the other person or the relationship, and surely this is work I need to do on myself. I reckon that as long as people like us crave/need relationships to avoid loneliness, we will invariably always settle for bad relationships rather than choose the ones we want to be in. So fight fight fight loneliness--which is to say accept it, sit with it, examine it, write about it, continue to engage with its haunting qualities--because even though you say you have done all this work around it, you are clearly continue to fear it and thus, from what I hear, you fear being an "old maid" (on a very practical level, I just turned 40 a few weeks ago and whenever the fantasy of being a old maid pops into my head I think of Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, Teri Hatcher, Sandra Bullock, Queen Latifah, Juliette Binoche, Mary-Louise Parker, etc etc and think "heck, I'd never call ANY of these women 'old maids' so why would I ever reserve this name for myself?" Basically, being single doesn't make you an old maid sweetie; being desperate and mean and depressed because you are single makes you an old maid! So stop being these things and work toward enjoying your life at its fullest. Find things that excite you to go after, continue to grow and develop and expand your horizons and interests, go back to school, learn a new language, a new musical instrument, etc. You never know what's coming around the corner, and in the meantime quit going through life desperate for a relationship. That's not appealing! (Please note this is what I tell myself, so don't take this advice personally or think I am assuming things about you!) And finally here's the question: is there a chance that the loneliness and the men you are attracted have something to do with a bigger and older "bad pattern" in your life that you continue to act out? Basically, what if a guy you look down on IS the right guy for you? Should you reconsider priorities and standards just in case they introduce you to something truly amazing that you don't know yet because you are so committed to making right a trauma that wounded you before--so that the handsome man with no job DOES get a job and you live happily ever after, or the sexy man who is a terrible parent to his son and who seems untrustworthy or too impulsive with his decisions DOES come around to become an adult in your relationship with him and you live happily ever after...etc. People do NOT change unless they want to change, and essentially this almost NEVER happens in a relationship (the relationship will need to break for the change to happen, and then most likely it won't cause it takes so much darn work). So maybe you ought to re-examine your attraction sensors and what they hint at about your own neuroses? (Again, this is what I tell myself, so please don't read this as a criticism toward you). OK--I'm coming down from my soap-box. Hugs, Ariella!

Hi Heath,

I have been dealing with similar issues as yours...bbeen divorced for 4 years and would have though I would have found a longterm relationship by now. I had a wonderful couselor after my divorce...read all the books...etc. The one thing my counselor always told me was to set my expectations high..of how a man should treat me. DONT SETTLE. I am not sure that all those couples we see out there are all as happy as what we may think. I think more often than not..women settle..because they don't want to be alone. I will say I am over 40...exceptionally attractive and dont look close to my age. I HAVE MET TONS of men online...mostly one time dates because somthing just wasn't right about them. SO MY OPINION OF ONLINE DATING SUCKS!! They are a whole different breed. I would much prefer to meet sombody in a bookstore or somthing. I feel the whole online thing is highly over rated and wonder how long the relationships really last. I have actually had to sit back and examine myself a bit and see why I have turned down so many offers. I know nobody is perfect but there are certain qualities I look for that must be apparent. I can deal with small imperfections..we all have them. I guess I don't really know the answer to your question. However I am dealing with similar difficulties in finding a quality man. I was married miserably for 20 years...so I am not all to ready to settle. I think you are making more of the AGE DEAL than what it is.

Kell

Usually when I write things like this post I am in a dark and desperate mood, so obviously I sound that way. This morning I woke up feeling good, so let's see how I respond to these comments ...

sickofonline - I agree that online dating sucks. I think it's where I developed this idea that I'm no longer desirable due to my age. I, personally, do not feel 'old', but the lack of traffic I experienced on the dating websites after turning 36 made me feel I was being 'weeded out' for no other reason than my age. However, I have a theory about men who are on these websites: they are either looking for a hookup or they are desperately lonely because they are no good with meeting women in the real world. Both of these groups of men are not at all attractive, so I'm not really missing out on anything there. I got off the online dating sites and my sanity began to return.

Ariella - You touched on something with my choice of men being indicative of a bigger problem. I am inclined to be very attracted to a certain 'type' of guy - in particular guys who are about my age and still espouse the same punk/goth look we all sported back in the day. I think I am looking for the boyfriend/sweetheart I never had back in high school. The problem is that guys like this generally are that way because they haven't 'grown up'. So, obviously, not the best relationship material. Just look at my last boyfriend - 40 years old, in a band and working at a record store. I think my career in architecture might have been slightly intimidating to him. He dumped me and broke my heart, but he actually spared me having a completely frustrating future. When I look at men who are more in line with my lifestyle and aspirations, however, I find them to be incredibly dull. When men lack the shiny black and pyramid-studded outer crust, I have a hard time seeing any possibility for attraction. This may border on sexual fetish, but how in the world do you overcome something like that? Anyhow, I don't want to go on and on about this because it usually makes me look like a complete ***!

I think I am actually making peace with being single. I do enjoy my life for the most part. I have a wonderful group of friends and hobbies and I live in a great city, so my life isn't exactly lacking. I miss physical intimacy and touch, but that's about it. It would be easier if there weren't reminders everywhere that I am not coupled (Valentine's Day is coming up - yikes!) When the reminders get to be too much and I get into a depressed state about this (which is happening less and less frequently, thank God!) I go down the hopeless path and all my fears and desperation come out, but I'm learning, slowly, how to get on with things.

Heathecliffe22--sweetie I hear you! I'm a literature professor and got damped by a guy 15 years my senior with slowing sexual drive and without a job or any savings who never grew a spine or an ability to care for anything more significant that the chase. Talk about a loser--who nonetheless broke my heart. HA! So I hear what you are saying on the attraction and the anguish. I look forward to supporting each other through this! Hang in there and tell you what?--let's be each other's "long distance" valentines this year--sending good care and much love, OK? Hugs, Ariella

HEY!!! Good to know you are in a nice city and good location. That does make a difference. I am in a small isolated town.."hickville" I guess you would say...so my choices are limited. I want nothing more than to move, however jobs are hard nowdays and I have a good one in Social Work..AHH you would think I would have all the answers to life's most difficult situations LOL. I have heard tell that once ya stop looking for Mr. Right...he comes along. I guess all we can do is keep our hearts open to new opportunities and love the life we live...which in turn may lure in a nice guy. The lack of intimacy is a tough one...I must admit I struggle with that also. The holidays can be rough, just try to stay busy and involved. ONLINE DATING MADE ME PSYCHOTIC TOO AND I AM STILL RECOVERING!!
Selena