Posted by: nedlnthred | March 15, 2015

“I think if you just…”

In another forum I read, a woman asked if anyone else thought there was a stigma attached to being a single middle-aged woman.  Yes, there is such a stigma. And every friend, family member, and random observer has a reason for what one is doing wrong that one is not coupled. A good friend of mine is about 10 years older than I.  We both work in Manhattan, are pretty good looking, of sexually-adventurous bents, make decent money, intelligent enough to make good conversation, and have had trouble finding a relationship. So we’ve talked about this a lot.  (I’m the one in the back on the left.)


I have a terrific job, have pursued multiple arts and educational opportunities (some of which I’ve talked about here if you are interested) that make me happy, have a wonderful supportive family and an even closer, cooler circle of friends. But, except for a quick, bad relationship with someone who turned out to be mentally unstable (suicide attempt timed against a major event I was committed to run without him), I haven’t dated anyone seriously for 6 or 7 years now. I have the luck to have poise, comfort talking to strangers, decent looks, and to be mostly extroverted. I am also lonely, often sad that I didn’t have a chance to remarry and have a family, and have serious problems with depression (those items are informational, not cause and effect). But. I stand on my own two feet. And I value myself and what I have to give others.



Until I hit the age of about 45, I had never gone more than 6 weeks after a breakup without someone approaching me, either online, or socially, to ask me out. I was married for 10 years in there, as well as having been monogamously coupled for stretches of time either side of my marriage.   But more recently, it’s been a long empty road. After a lot of soul searching and weighing my actions and attitudes, I am pretty sure that I am being open to opportunities.  I go on a lot of first dates, exchange a lot of email with prospectives, and go to parties and events where I have an interest and know I will meet new people.  The several times someone has seemed a good fit, I have been open to exploring it without being blind or giving up my sense of self.





There’s a funky demographic thing going on. And I think the stats support this. At least in the NJ/NY/CT area, there is a much greater number of women than men, which means that if a man wants to couple, he has a bigger fishing pool. Add this to the fact that, as the OKC article points out, men tend to date down age-wise and women often prefer to date older men, whose singleton numbers dwindle further.

“a man, as he gets older, searches for relatively younger and younger women.”

-Christian Rudder

Add in that women, by middle age, have much less interest in bending themselves into pretzels to be what their man wants then add the complicated problem of matching chemistry: mental, physical, emotional, financial; and that we have so many more lifestyle commitments than we did when we were 25, so are less interested and able to shift ourselves to fit another’s lifestyle than we were younger… yes, I think there are just fewer opportunities to couple (larger sense) than there were when we were younger.

Note these three points:

Between 1970 and 2012, the share of households that were married couples with children under 18 halved from 40 percent to 20 percent.

The proportion of one-person households increased by 10 percentage points between 1970 and 2012, from 17 percent to 27 percent.

Nearly three-quarters(72per- cent) of men aged 65 and over lived with their spouse compared with less than half (45 percent) of women.

The US is now predominantly made up of single households run by women.  And you know what, that’s not my fault. It’s not something I’m doing or not doing or pickiness I’m being, its simple demographics. It’s not that I spend too much time on internet sites and not enough time doing the things I love. It’s not my depression, my job (well, maybe my job contributes, because I work with a lot women and very few men, all gay.  But: the humanities), my hobbies, my unfitness. It’s just that in this particular place and demographic, the numbers don’t work out well. And I’m tired of taking the rap for that in my married friends or family’s attempts to tell me how I’m living wrong, or worse, saying nothing and looking hopeful at me if I say a male name.

I think I saw something on Tim Cotton in a newsfeed today that complained about all those Eville single women who should shut up and settle and find themselves a husband. He’s lying to himself and others. Truth is, there aren’t enough men to go around. Let along sane, confident, sex-positive ones. Add in the slightest unconventional preference and the pool shrinks still further.  I would far rather have the life I have now than tie my wagon to someone who will hurt me emotionally or physically, or simply just not let me be my own human being.

It’s not us, I remind my friend. It’s the world. It’s changed. And people’s attitudes haven’t caught up yet. To some extent, I believe that culturally-embedded misogyny is part of people’s distrust of smart single women.  Other reasons include our national passion for the Perfectly Domestic 50s and the internets’ open invitation to comment freely on everything we see, read, or hear.  I am the new normal.  And it’s mostly pretty cool.

Why yes, I am a bit tired of my family’s gentle concern about my life 🙂


  1. “To some extent, I believe that culturally-embedded misogyny is part of people’s distrust of smart single women. ”
    I think that is a much bigger factor than we realize.

  2. Yeah, undoubtedly. That is for a different post, though 🙂

  3. Just told my partner (Greg) about how you’ve been feeling about turning 50, and he said, “Well, I was pretty bitter and depressed when I turned 50 — my mother died, my sister died, and my wife divorced me. But now I have you!” (He urged me to tell you he’d said this.) He’s 64 now, and we’ve been together for 3.5 years. None of this is how I thought things would “turn out” and yet I’m doing better, depression-wise, than I have in many, many years. I miss you and the rest of the fabulous chicks, and wish I could lift a glass to your first 50 in person. xoxo

    • Thank you both for the vote of confidence. Please don’t think I have given up in the least. Or even am completely pessimistic. I just want my life to be a) different and b) better.

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