Coping with Singlehood as a Woman in Your Thirties (pt.2)

Personally, I agree with the 30+ scenario of GMA's segment. Though in my 20's while I was panicking, it would have been of little solace.  What I've discovered is that if I really wanted to be happy, regardless of marriage, I first had to learn from my dating experiences in my twenties by acknowledging the good and the bad.  Then I needed to redefine Mr. Right based upon reality rather than emotion.  Finally I had to accept my situation and for me that means relying on faith.  I learned this from twenty-two other women, friends of mine whom over the past ten years went through the same thing.  The following illustrates this process.

The Dating Lessons of My Twenties
Based upon the feedback this article has received I should clarify that dating does not equal having sex.  Dating to me means you spend time with someone, get to know them and share experiences.  In a committed relationship that can change. Personally I don't consider the relationship to be committed until after three months with mutual agreement and exclusivity.  In most cases, dating relationships never get this far.  The whole purpose of dating is to get to know someone and see if a future is a possibility.  Sex too soon tends to remove objectivity and replace it with emotion.

I look at the men I’ve dated from 19-30 going back to the first. He was a six-week relationship, a busboy and I was nineteen. Last I heard he is doing 10-15 for narcotics trafficking. The last during this period was a cruel 40 year-old talent agent stuck in a mid-life crisis who took out his frustration on me verbally.

Each experience was a notch up as I realized what I did like and didn’t.  Along the way I've had several types of relationships.  The rebound, the arm candy, the complete dysfunctional type, my first love, even the “what the heck are you doing with him?”  What was I doing with him! 

Each of these rungs on the ladder taught me something.  Busboy taught me that gorgeous, angry and stupid is a road to nowhere.  Dysfunctional? He introduced me to Country Music.   First love? That was a three year relationship so I learned a lot:  what it feels like to be in a relationship, how to love and to never date a man without a checking account.  And agent?  He introduced me to the lifestyle of success and power and how to move in the circles I never dreamed I enter. He also taught me that ultimately I know the survival game better than he.  Agent could not make it in LA and went home after just 1-1/2 years.  I've been here six years. 

When I look back on my dating education from my twenties, gratitude engulfs me.  Thank you God, thank you God! Thank you God for not allowing me to marry then.  Thrice I was asked and thrice I declined!  If I had married then, First Love would have taken me through bankruptcy. “What the heck” would have made me a permanent fixture at Alanon meetings, and the other?  He’s not worth the detail.

How is dating different in my thirties? First, I'm still friends with most of the men I've seriously dated since thirty-one.  Two are now married to wonderful women whom I've met.  Two have started their own practices: one a dental office in Chicago and the other a law office in Los Angeles.  One just bought his first home in San Diego and added a partner to his law office.  The last is finishing his JD after completing two Masters.  His ambition is politics and I am definitely not political wife material.  That is something I have also learned about myself. 

Defining My Mr. Right 
and How Maturity Changes Him
I've only ever seen myself married to two men, both of whom I've met since turning thirty.  One is mentioned above and I was in yet another "off-again" period with him when I met my boyfriend. He is eighteen months younger with a rebellious streak, forgetful nature, has no idea what a telephone is for and cultivates a passion for wanderlust. 

The second is my boyfriend of eighteen months. He is eleven years older than me, cares for me deeply and watches over me. He is always there when I need him and he never forgets to call. In my mind I refer to them as the Rebel and the Saint. I love both of them for different reasons and for some of the same reasons.    Rebel is excitement. Saint is security. 

Part of me really wants the excitement, the clandestine encounters and wild passion Rebel delivers.  This behavior is not dignified to Saint. My other half knows excitement doesn't last and consistency, more subdued passion and the sincere emotion Saint delivers is what makes relationships last.  Both stimulate me intellectually but Saint amazes me intellectually. 

In my twenties I would have chosen Rebel.  In my thirties, my mind overrides my hormones most of the time.  Today I choose Saint and this is why.  I consider my life at 75.  Something tells me untamed passion by that time will not be as important as deep, meaningful discussions, companionship and lively debates.  Also, Rebel's wanderlust concerns me.  He enjoys being the playboy and is magnetic with women.  Suddenly security feels comfortable and excitement spells lonely nights and suspicion.

This distinction, logic over emotion, is the biggest difference between women dating during their twenties and women dating in their thirties.  The ability to look past the passion and limerence in order to consider and weigh the reality and lifetime needs.  During her twenties, a woman tends to make decisions based upon emotion.  In her thirties, emotion still plays a part. Logic tends to override it.  We see this distinction clearly in the letters we get from women.  Fortunately with time, both sexes mature and grow up. 

Still Single in Your Thirties? 
Here's Hope:

The good news is by their late thirties, men tire of the game and  discover what love is about. With maturity they tend to appreciate a woman for who she is rather than solely for how she looks. Most women still single in their mid thirties aren't desperate.  Most have decided their lives are full without a man. Marriage isn't the goal these women chase.  If marriage were the goal, most would have married when asked in their twenties. For these women the goal  is a lifetime of love, companionship, shared experiences with an occasional challenge to keep things interesting. A ring doesn't deliver this.  Only love does. 

Over the past 10 years I've watched 23 never-married female friends between 32 and 39 fight the panic and ultimately come to terms with being single forever and never having children. A miraculous thing happens once each accepts this. Each meets her husband within the next two years, in most cases, within months. He looks nothing like her previous boyfriends or crushes.  In many ways he is a composite of all the qualities, character and traits she's come to respect only the packaging is different. Most will admit she never dated men like that because they "Weren't her type" visually.  He turns out to be the perfect match and totally her type.  

I'm the last of the women I refer to above and I'm also the youngest by 4 years. Twenty-two are married now and several are pregnant. The meeting scenario is true for me too. 

My December 2000 Christmas letter went out saying I had finally accepted the fact I may never marry or have children and that though disappointed, I was okay with that. I was 34 years old. Two weeks after the letter went out on December 27th, 2000 I met my boyfriend Saint while doing research for a client.  We've been together, planning our future ever since.  He looks nothing like any of the men I dated previously, yet he has all of the key qualities I admire and respect. 

How I Changed My Situation and Attitude
Why am I glad I didn't marry in my twenties?  Had I, I would have never met Saint.  As I was then, he wouldn't have dated me either.  Frankly, I wouldn't have given him a second look.  My type I thought (being 5'10") was 6'3", 227-230 pounds, straight hair, very masculine, never married  and a ladies man with a good-ol-boy attitude.  It turns out my type is shorter than me, with classic Mediterranean features, curly hair, past the lady's man stage, divorced with a sole custody of a teenager, continental and very refined.

But you couldn't have convinced me of that in my twenties.  I had to grow up  first and learn what was important before my Mr. Right could enter my life.  I needed time to develop into the type of woman he is attracted to.

The key for me was three-fold and I followed the advice of my friends.  The solution for each of them, and later for me was the same: Prayer, Acceptance and Maintaining an open mind. 

For nearly a year each night I asked God give me the strength and peace of acceptance if it was His will I remain single.  I also asked that if my husband was out there, could He please bring him into my life soon?  Then I made a practice of appreciating what life has given me.  Part of this included analyzing my past relationships both the good and bad parts.  Finally, I remained open to any man who expresses an interest.  If he had the courage to ask me out, unless he was out of line I always gave him at least two dates.

This willingness to date outside of your type is crucial.  That insurance agent, lawyer, fireman, businessman you sit next to on the plane or person you call for research just might be your Mr. Right. That is if you are open to giving him a chance and mature enough to keep an open mind.


How many of you out there are thirty-something and wrestling with wanting to get married but not there yet syndrome?  Can you relate to my story?  Do have a better one?

Anonymous commented on 28-Oct-2011 05:24 AM5 out of 5 stars
I have read many articles like the above but yours was the only one that I could truly relate to. I am 34 and a single mother. I split with my last boyfriend 9 months ago and have been single since as feel its about time I take a step back and realise
what I really want and need in a man. I have so many failed relationships and have always gone for the younger, attractive types. This obviously hasn't gotten me what I want! Your article inspired me and will help me sit back and think about my past and my
mistakes and what I really need for my future. Thank you so much. Even if I never meet my Mr. Right I will accept that I will be happier in myself if single. ANSWER: We're so glad it helped! The book that really helped our founder turn around her dating in
her early thirties was Dr. Pat Allen's "Getting to I Do ". It really puts men into perspective and helps you figure out what you really want and how to get it. She's also got a new book on men: The Truth About Men Will Set You Free: ...but First It'll P*ss
You Off! We haven't finished reading it yet but so far it's quite illuminating.
Anonymous commented on 29-Oct-2011 04:11 PM5 out of 5 stars
omg, thank you so much, i've have not come to peace with being single yet, however rading this artilce is a start for me. i am going to follow this advice and hopefully my dreams will come true!

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