My wife and I went out with a recently widowed friend of hers for a post-holiday drink and some poo-poos. She was ready, to a degree, to begin dating and expressed hope to find a monogamous relationship. Ironically, we went out with her on our wedding anniversary, which proved to be an unplanned blessing because it gave us an outlet to express our love, by talking about our relationship. By ourselves, it would have sounded a bit silly.
The following morning, as my wife and I drank our coffee, we reflected on the previous evening and my wife said “Anyone can have a relationship if they really want to have one,” or words to that effect. I got into a semantic debate with her by un-layering what she meant, which was that if you really want a relationship you will do the things you need to do to have/find one. Those “things” may include a serious look inward as well as creating your own “want” list of traits or “needs” you seek in a partner.
Upon pressing my wife further, she explained that she didn’t focus on finding a partner and take it seriously until nine months before we met, when she made a concerted effort via Match.com. Prior to that, she’d allowed fate to provide a serial monogamous life-style in which she went from one man to another (a handful) over a decade. After that period, she wanted to settle down and take fate largely off the table. 12,000 emails and 7 dates later, she met me.
Our discussion heated up on the issue of what a person must do IF they really “want” a relationship. We agreed that the older a person is, especially if there have been marriages, divorce, and kids in the picture, the more “issues” and/or baggage that person will carry. People tend to repeat patterns, behave in sometimes self-destructive ways carried from their upbringing, and often refuse to see their own culpability in how their life is unfolding.
My wife’s assertion is that the desire for a relationship is only serious when a person is willing to look inward and do a harsh self-assessment. Questions to ask:
~~ What self-destructive behaviors do I possess?
~~ Is my “list” of what I want and don’t want in a partner realistic?
~~ What is really non-negotiable on that list?
~~ Am I willing to change things in my behavior to accommodate another person?
~~ Do I really want a relationship or am I just doing what I think I should or what others (parents, society) think I should do?
~~ Am I willing to give up my autonomy and ability to do whatever I want whenever I want (to)?
I just read the above questions to my wife and she said, “If you want to have a relationship, you need to know who you are – your strengths and your weaknesses.”
Happily, I found a woman with NO weaknesses as she found me, a perfect man. Ha HA! This is EXACTLY the point. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses – our own – and decided to fall in love anyway!
Our single friends continue, in our opinion, to have unrealistic hopes and expectations from a partner. The female friends think the “talent pool,” as I like to call available dating partners, remains as robust as when they were younger. When my wife occasionally suggests, “women have a shelf life,” they will bristle almost with rage. Yes, it’s a harsh thing to say, but the statistics do back that claim. She is simply saying – perhaps a bit inelegantly – that they must re-adjust their “needs” to include a larger potential sample of partners and, perhaps, adjust their “wants” a bit.
With our male single friends, it seems their issues are more stereotypical in having commitment problems, dating much younger women where true commonalities are fewer, and also having unrealistic hopes and expectations. Most of our single men friends, however, never seem to “want” for a date. That is where my wife’s “shelf life” statement bears fruit, however unpleasant it may be to hear.
Life isn’t fair, as I love to say to my boys. So, men may have an easier time, the older they get (and the more money they have) than women (of a certain age). But, among our single male and female friends, NONE have “hooked up” (for a sustained period of time) and, by “hooked up” I mean that in the old-fashioned meaning of simply “getting together.”
So, whether you have an expiration date (as my wife says of women after a certain age) or you’ve a cornucopia of choices, it still is dependent on YOU and YOUR behavior if you’re going to find a life-partner. Good luck!