Tell Me About It: I am a happily single woman of 37 – do I need to find a man?
Irish Times 25th March 2014 – Kate Holmquist
Will I look back in a few years and realise my laissez-faire attitude to romance was a mistake?
Q I am a 37-year-old woman, living in rural Ireland. I enjoy my life, am close to my family, have good friend s and lots of interests. I have never felt better about myself, nor looked better. Right now, I am in a happy relationship with myself.
I have been single for two years. The break -up of my last relationship was painful and protracted, but I understand why it did not work. He was a great guy and most of the fault lay at my door. I learned valuable lessons from it.
I have dated guys since, tried online dating and seem to attract men without difficulty. But none have been the right fit, and no, I am not looking for perfection. The right fit for me is a man who I would still love to have conversations with when I am old .
After 20 years of dating and relationships , I am tired of the pursuit of the supposed norm. I have adopted a “what will be, will be” attitude . I do not have a pressing desire to have children and do not feel any biological clock ticking. My friends are concerned at my lack of interest in pursuing romance . But I too am concerned for myself : am I being short-sighted and will I look back in a few years and realise that my laissez-faire attitude to my romantic life was a mistake? Do I need to reboot my attitude to dating and men, and how can I do that?
A You sound confident, you don’t feel the biological clock ticking and you like yourself. You’re happy in your own skin and you have a full life with family and friends.
“You have all the qualities that people are looking for – the very definition of being attractive,” says psychotherapist Trish Murphy. “By continuing doing what you are doing and enjoying your life, if someone were to come along, you are doing all the things to be attractive to them.”
So the question isn’t how do you reboot your attitude, but why do you think you need to reboot? My guess is that well-meaning friends and family may be saying that you must be in a relationship with “the one” to have a happy life. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have had imposed on you a fear that in the future you will regret being single.
“A lot of people have that fear,” says Murphy. “By living in fear you are bringing fear into your life and into your future. By living happily in today you are creating happiness in the future.”
Single women live longer, healthier lives than married women, statistically. Murphy suspects that this is because many women work very hard to keep their marriages functioning. All of what seems like nagging could actually be women’s attempts to keep their marriages alive, and it takes effort. “If I can’t do all in my power to keep this relationship going, I will regret it,” they think.
Regret can be harmful from the opposite perspective too. Many women – and men – fear that they will regret it in future if they commit themselves by moving in with someone or marrying them. I have a friend who was in a relationship for a couple of years, but the very day that she and her boyfriend moved in together, she ended the relationship. Her fear of waking up in five years’ time and regretting settling down was that intense.
“Fear of regret can cause a lot of problems in relationships,” says Murphy. Some people decide to give it a go, then leave, then return, disappear, over and over again, “driving the other person away because they can’t take being picked up and dumped over and over again any more,” she says.
Instead of buying into the fairy tale that we are completed by “the one soulmate”, you have created a rich and fulfilling existence. “There is an abundance of everything in life,” says Murphy. You are doing everything right. You have already found what everyone is looking for, if only they knew it.
“It’s not somebody else’s job to complete you or make you happy. That’s your job and always will be,” says Murphy. So don’t change anything and, if it’s meant to be, the man you want to be old with may just come along.