I am a single woman in her 50’s. Over the last 30 or so years, I’ve been wife, mother, single parent, soccer mom, band mom and a host of other roles through which I identified myself.
But my daughters are grown and out on their own now, and, after a few years of searching, I’ve found my way back to just being me.
In the process, I’ve also seen my circles of friends/acquaintances change. When I was a single mom, I found that I was most comfortable with other single moms (and, apparently, less of a threat to the married ones!). Even my social life revolved around other single moms, or just single women and rarely included someone who was married or even in a committed relationship.
But as time went by and I ceased to identify myself by my marital status, and turned, instead, to the things I enjoy, what I’m good at and subjects that interest me, I found that my circle of friends/acquaintances not only expanded but gained depth.
Nowadays, my friends seem to fall into the following categories, for no other reason than that it is representative of adults in general:
1. Married people.
2. People in committed relationships
3. Single people who are actively seeking committed relationships.
4. Single people who are passively seeking committed or casual relationships.
5. Single people who are simply focused on their own journeys, wherever and with whomever that might take them.
As you might have guessed, I am solidly in the last category. In fact, I am sometimes baffled by the amount of time, effort and angst some of my friends put into the third category. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not baffled by the fact that they do it, but more, by why a relationship would be so important to some and not to others. In all fairness, I’m sure it baffles them that I don’t spend many waking hours trying to figure out how to find that elusive partner.
I’ve read very convincing articles arguing both sides of this equation. Some speak in favor of the solo life while others insist that a woman is happier and more fulfilled when she’s in a committed relationship.
I’ve come to my own conclusions on the matter. The easy way out would be to say that it depends on the person, but that theory would have to be predicated on the idea that, from birth to death, we are always the same person.
Whoa! Hold on! Time out! Whaaaaaaaaaaaat????
Could you even imagine having to stay exactly the same for all of the years you’re on this earth? Think about what that would entail:
Your taste in food would always be the same. If you hated spinach as a child, you’d have to hate it forever more!
Your taste in books (assuming you like to read) would always be the same. Could you imagine reading the same ten books over and over for the rest of your life? Talk about a buzz kill!
The kind of people you like to be around would be the same as when you were 16. Now I ask you! How many of us really still find those bad boys indescribably attractive??
The career you chose at 18 would be the same one you followed for the rest of your life. What? You didn’t really want to be an underwater basket weaver? Well, too bad! No changing allowed!
You can see how ridiculous it would be to even try to stay the same! That being said, how can we even consider generalizing that what worked for us in our 20’s will still make sense in our 50’s?
So rather than it depending on a particular person, I think a person’s beliefs concerning partnerships depend only on who they are at this moment in time.
I know, myself, I went through an evolution and am still going through one. At the time of my divorce, the mere mention of a man sharing my life again was fighting worlds! As time went on, I mellowed a little and learned that just because I chose poorly..over and over and over again…it did not mean that I was doomed to failure or meant to be alone, or any of the other platitudes people will mutter while thinking “why, bless her heart! She’s doing so well for having to go through life alone!”
In the first place, being alone has little or nothing to do with whether are not you are in a relationship and in the second, while I am alone, I may just be happier than a large number of attached women out there!
Again, that is not to say that I remain unattached because I have decreed it is so any more than women find the perfect man by standing on a mountain top and shouting to the winds “bring my perfect mate to me!”
Whatever we do and wherever we go, it takes commitment, and typically, the person we need to commit to is none other than ourselves!
We develop a picture in our minds of what our life will be for the next week, month, year, 10 years or whatever. Once we have that picture firmly established, we make choices and do things which will help us manifest that picture.
If your picture requires a change of some kind, there will most likely be some kind of decluttering involved at some point, whether it is physical, emotional or mental. The simple fact is that if you want to bring something new into your life, you need to clear out some (or all) of the old to make room!
So back to my theory. For me, I’m fairly ambivalent about adding someone to my life, though, admittedly, less ambivalent than I was even a year ago. At this point, it’s more of an
“if, in the course of my travels, I were to meet someone with whom I just felt connected and comfortable, I’d most likely make room in my life for him. But I have so many things I want to do for me that I’m not going out of my way to empty drawers or clear out closets on the chance that someone might come along to fill the space.”
The pessimists out there probably look at my last statement and think “it’s just as well she is keeping out of the way of those who really do want a relationship! Less competition for scarce resources is good for us all!”
The truth is, I’m just a lot pickier than most. I’ve “settled” enough over the years while I was not the person I needed to be, nor could I attract someone who would contribute to the cause. I have learned that I have my own special qualities to bring to the table and those qualities may not be for everyone but, instead, are only for one, very special person. If we don’t manage to connect in this lifetime, it will just make our connection next time that much sweeter. In the meantime, I will have more time to live my passion and make those contributions to the world I’m always putting on my “to do” list!
This is not to say that those who put significant effort into being part of a couple are wrong. They are exactly right for themselves. In their case, being attached is just one part of the picture they create.
But above all, we don’t need to understand or appreciate what motivates other people. We just need to try to understand our own, or, make changes if that motivation changes.
Above all, I appreciate the diversity in my friends and acquaintances these days. They constantly demonstrate to me that happiness comes in an infinite number of sizes, shapes, colors and designs, so there is no reason to box myself into preconceived notions which might blind me to a most amazing opportunity I might miss if I was only looking for something specific!
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my unique, diverse, inspirational friends.
2. I am grateful that human beings can evolve into even more amazingness over the course of our lifetimes.
3. I am grateful for the challenges life brings to me so that I will continue to grow and learn.
4. I am grateful for the incredible outpouring of love and joy I’m experiencing from all directions lately.
5. I am grateful for another opportunity to introduce new people to my rambling mind.
Love and light.