Help me unsmoosh my heart (and my ego).
July 1, 2009 9:14 AM   Subscribe

My heart just got smooshed, and then I woke up to this on my iGoogle page. Can you help me keep the hobgoblins of my mind at bay today?

I know it's okay to still be a single woman in my mid-30's, and 98% of the time I'm happy and grateful for the many things that are good in my life. Today is another story. Do you have any stats or links to help me shut my mind up, to counteract feeling like a bit of a loser for being that 12% that hasn't found the love of her life yet?

FWIW in terms of statistics, I'm living in a major metropolitan city, I have a post-graduate degree, I'm white, and I'm not unattractive. (Though sometimes that last point feels does not feel relevant or helpful at all in this department because I tend to attract/be most attracted to players...but that's a different matter.)

Bottom line is, I'm just feeling a little blue today. I know that it's not the end of the world, my whole purpose in life is not to get married, and I do enjoy my single life very much. But it is also true that I really enjoy that feeling of clicking with someone, of being in love, of feeling understood. And yes, I'm starting to crave someone I can share those feelings with for the rest of my life. Thanks in advance helpful interweb people!
posted by ohyouknow to Human Relations (31 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: http://xkcd.com/314/
posted by fritley at 9:18 AM on July 1, 2009 [3 favorites]




How about looking at some divorce statistics? Plenty of those women who were married under 35 are no longer so. I know 'tis better to have loved and lost, but at least you haven't had to go through THAT ordeal. Enjoy a little schadenfreude.



(I have no statistical backup, but I think I've read that later marriages end in divorce less. Don't quote me on that.)
posted by oinopaponton at 9:25 AM on July 1, 2009


oinopaponton, I'd bet that's true. People change and get to know who they are and what they value over time, even realizing that they married the wrong person or got married for the wrong reasons. I know a few couples who married young and now their marriages have fallen apart, including one lady who married her first boyfriend because she didn't want to break up (or so the story goes). Getting married as a "grown-up" may reduce some of that excitement (marriage is a serious, grown-up thing to do, so getting married shows you're growing up, right?), but then the chances are higher that you're entering into a more serious and stable relationship.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:32 AM on July 1, 2009


Do you have any stats or links to help me shut my mind up, to counteract feeling like a bit of a loser for being that 12% that hasn't found the love of her life yet?

OMG, just because someone is married doesn't mean they have found the love of their life! And just because someone is married doesn't mean they aren't completely miserable! Some of the most unhappy and bitter people I've met are married.
posted by milarepa at 9:33 AM on July 1, 2009


http://xkcd.com/601/

Since we're posting XKCD links. If it's any consolation, you're not the only one with a case of the blues today.
posted by dortmunder at 9:34 AM on July 1, 2009


For college-educated women, the median first-marriage age is 30. And I'd be willing to bet it's even higher for women with post-graduate degrees.

Also, you can take comfort in the knowledge that none of the state in that article refer to divorce. I think it would suck to have been divorced in my 20s.
posted by lunasol at 9:34 AM on July 1, 2009


It's always a hard day when you stop to think and realize that you are apparently one of the last standing in the game of musical chairs. When I feel this way about something, I take a step back and ask the following questions:

1) is this because I genuinely want x, y, z but haven't got it or can't get it? Or,
2) is this because I think that I should want or have x, y, z at this point and I'm afraid of being judged by other people as being weird, pitiable, etc., because I don't have x, y z.

If the answer is 1, then I think about ways to either obtain the goal or live happily without it.

If the answer is 2, then I tell myself to "chill the fuck out" as Happy Dave so eloquently put it, and realize that what matters is only what I think and not what anyone else thinks.

Hope this helps.
posted by Leezie at 9:36 AM on July 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


How many of those "married by 25" girls are married to someone who isn't the love of their life? Probably a lot.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:47 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"my whole purpose in life is not to get married"
getting married is not my only purpose in life.

Miss one bus, another on the way. sometimes takes time. Sometimes not. I found Ms right and married for 21 years. Turned out to be Mrs Wrong. Now remarried for 26 years and truly great.

I met and married a younger woman, told her that I believed a woman ought not count on a man for all things and encouraged her to develop her skills etc. She has big job now and has a keen sense of her value to herself and to others.

Stay loose. Keep alert. Don't jump cause your friends on FaceBook did some years ago. All will be well.
posted by Postroad at 9:51 AM on July 1, 2009


Best answer: Hey, I didn't find the love-of-my-life until I was 36. Here's the deal: like you, I tended to attract players and other unsavory types and, like a doofus, I just went ahead and got involved with them. Like, just because they WANTED ME, that was sufficient for me to go with them.

Duh.

Then it occurred to me: It doesn't matter whom I attract. What matters is WHO IS ATTRACTIVE TO ME. So, I started really thinking about what I wanted in a guy and that's who I went looking for. And, yay!, it actually didn't take me long at all to find him: smart, funny, kind, stable. I asked myself, how important are looks REALLY and I realized they weren't all that important. I mean, I didn't want someone who was a gargoyle, but.. he didn't have to be all buff and hot.

There are tons of guys out there who are smart, funny, kind, and stable. Lots of them are divorced from women who didn't appreciate those qualities. Those women's loss -- our gain. A lot of these guys are sort of nerdy and maybe don't have the best conversational skills -- but they CAN be trained. Besides, for a lot of them, all it takes is for some woman to FINALLY not treat them like boring losers, to show just some small interest in what they do, for these guys to absolutely bloom.

It's a wonderful thing.

Honestly, it only took me about 3 months to find an acceptable specimen -- and we've been married for 16 years now.

Maybe you just need to reevaluate your priorities?
posted by rhartong at 9:55 AM on July 1, 2009 [31 favorites]


I've known quite a few couples who only got married because of an unintended pregnancy, and probably would have broken up long ago if not for that. I can name at least two people off the top of my head who are under thirty and on their second marriage. And I don't even know that many married people.

A marriage is not a guarantee of quality for either the relationship or the people involved in it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:59 AM on July 1, 2009


There are tons of guys out there who are smart, funny, kind, and stable. Lots of them are divorced from women who didn't appreciate those qualities. Those women's loss -- our gain. A lot of these guys are sort of nerdy and maybe don't have the best conversational skills -- but they CAN be trained. Besides, for a lot of them, all it takes is for some woman to FINALLY not treat them like boring losers, to show just some small interest in what they do, for these guys to absolutely bloom.

Ah, rhartong - you really made this single, 36 year old geek smile. Thanks :)
posted by ryanshepard at 10:01 AM on July 1, 2009


Best answer: I think chill the fuck out is a little strong, it's perfectly natural to have some anxiety about these issues at this age, especially right after you had a bad experience. I am like the least marraige driven person on earth and this stuff still nags at me from time to time when I'm around my college friends who are all totally paired off and having second kids, and especially if I just added another casualty to the relationship fail pile. This isn't something that you have to pretend to be above or immune to just because you're well educated. You just have to be cautious that your fears of being forever alone don't gain so much power over you that they drive you to make bad partner decisions in the future.
posted by The Straightener at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just want to say that I'm 30 and my wife is 39 and she says she knew she would find the right person in time. Me too--although I didn't think it would be this fast. If you asked me 3 years ago if I thought I'd be married now I would have scoffed at the idea. We've only been married for a year, and while any relationship will have it's ups and downs, we're seriously happy.

When I first met Yuko I didn't know how old she was. Yea, I thought she was older than me, but I had no clue how old. By the time I asked her how old she was I was already in love. The age thing didn't seem to matter then. Now that we're married it does a bit. I worry perhaps more than her about her health and ability to have children, but we'll manage.

We're also in an international marriage if that means anything. She's Japanese and I'm American.

So don't worry too much, be happy, and be healthy.
posted by sleepytako at 10:11 AM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I don't know if I can say anything to make you feel any better today, but you've made me feel a little better by providing obvious evidence that there's still hope for guys in that same bracket that doesn't involve either dating creepy-young or being the backup plan.

So... thanks, I guess.
posted by Pufferish at 10:14 AM on July 1, 2009


First of all, those statistics include lesbians (most of whom, even if they've found the love of their lives, can't get married to her because stupid laws). They also include women in long-term partnerships, gay or straight, who don't believe in marriage and never want to get married. And they include women who never want to get married or be in a long-term partnership at all.

So those statistics are somewhat orthogonal to your situation anyway. Nobody knows what the likelihood is of a woman who wants to get married to a man finding a husband at any age, because the data doesn't reach to that level of granularity.


Okay, anecdata now. I got married for the first time at 35, and it's really been a non-stop party ever since. I met my lovely husband a couple of months after I'd Sworn Off Dating Forever due to a horrible broken-heart nightmare breakup.

One of my best friends was married for the first time at 41 to the most amazing guy--they're beautifully matched, enjoy each other's company no end, have a loving and respectful and just dynamite relationship. Also, he is sweet and kind and extraordinarily handsome and has an interesting and well-paid job. They're out there!

Another dear friend, whom we were just visiting, got married for the first time at 41 and proceeded to have two gorgeous, sweet-tempered, precocious children. Her husband is smart, funny, generous, good-hearted, and thinks she's the center of the world.

We think another of our women friends is soon to get married for the first time at 46, to a handsome, accomplished entrepreneur who spends half his time traveling the world setting up non-profits in high-risk areas.

And there are several other women in my larger circle of friends who married for the first time in their late 30s and early 40s, and a couple who married for the first time in their late 40s.

In my circle of friends, I was a relatively early bride. Of my female friends who married in their 20s, all but one are now divorced or getting divorced.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:16 AM on July 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Best answer: I got married for the first time at age 44, and very shortly thereafter, had a healthy baby. But before that, I was living my life, doing what I wanted to do and not waiting for THE GUY to show up and sweep me away. The statistics you crave don't really predict what's going to happen for you. You just have to resolve that you're going to believe that the best is yet to come, whatever that may be.

And for what it's worth, while I am very happily married, there are times I miss my single, childless days. It's great being married to the right person but it's not 24/7 nonstop happiness.

Go buy a new lipstick or a cute pair of sandals, treat yourself to an ice cream cone, and call someone you haven't spoken to in awhile. Today is hard but better days are ahead.
posted by Kangaroo at 10:21 AM on July 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


"I tend to attract/be most attracted to players...but that's a different matter."


Erm...not a different matter...exactly the same matter. If you want to be with someone for a long, long time, that you like, you may have to give up on the players.
posted by sully75 at 10:26 AM on July 1, 2009


Plenty of those women who were married under 35 are no longer so.

Exactly. The article says quite a few times that they are looking at first marriages. Meaning, a lot of those people who were married by 35 are going to end up with a divorce somewhere in there.

Which means, fate is sparing you that bigger heartbreak.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on July 1, 2009


I would say that, speaking from personal experience, it's much easier to get married at a later age than when both people are in their 20s.

I love my wife to death, but I realize how simpler, and in some respects happier, our relationship would be if we had met when we were in our late 20s or early 30s instead of getting married at 23.

A lot of agonizing over life and career decisions can be saved when both of the people in a relationship are established in their careers. Thus the lower rate of divorce among people who marry later in life.

Don't try to live your life according to the expectations (or statistics) of others. This can only lead to unhappiness. Embrace the fact that you aren't married yet, and if you find someone to settle down with, you can do it then.
posted by elder18 at 10:45 AM on July 1, 2009


If you want to be with someone for a long, long time, that you like, you may have to give up on the players.

I think the "may" can be eliminated.

Sure, improbable is not impossible, but looking for something of substance and length with a player is pretty much financial planning via buying lottery tickets.

My gorgeous, smart, 25-year-old deputy district attorney niece seems attracted to the bad-boy player types.

When I was visiting her and other family members, I rented a silly, fun car that would have been a poor choice to purchase.

In talking to her, hearing her thoughts on dating and men, a sense of perhaps a connection 'tween the rental and her views.

A thought I related to her: What's fun to drive for a summer weekend isn't necessarily the car you want to own.
posted by ambient2 at 10:53 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


You should also consider that America is a BIG country, made up of no fewer than 50 different states, and there "average" American is probably not even close to the "average" person in your situation.

Your profile doesn't list state, but "major metropolitan city" narrows it down considerably. The average age for a state like Massachusetts, California, or New York is going to be higher than the national average, and much higher than a state like Alabama or Utah. Furthermore, the difference between city and rural is significant.

That, and marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be. Unless you're planning on having kids, or you're the type to wait until marriage to have sex, the day after the wedding feels no different than the day before. It's a nominal change in status, and perhaps a change in name, and little else.
posted by explosion at 11:22 AM on July 1, 2009


Best answer: Well, I don't have statistics but perhaps some perspective: At least you're not black, attractive, with an advanced degree. We never get married.

I generally console myself with the story of Gloria Steinem, another fiercely smart, independent and complete woman who didn't find the love of her life until her 60s. Of course, he died shortly after they married but hey, she got married! You will too. Go ahead and grieve the end of your last relationship. Don't worry about the numbers. What do a bunch of statisticians know anyway?
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 12:03 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, when I broke up with a boyfriend at 28, I started getting this you're getting old crap and feeling sorry for myself. Then three months later I met my husband. There's what 3 billion men on the planet? Surely, if you want to get married, you will. Over 90% of people do get married.

There are two things you should do:

1. Don't mope. Enjoy your life. You're young, you're healthy. Do things that interest you. Explore hobbies. Travel. Go out and get drunk with your friends. Go listen to music late into the night. These are all things that will be harder to do when/if you get married and have kids.

2. Commit to meeting as many men as you can. Try internet dating services, try speed dating, try singles groups. Just put yourself out there. Meet as many men as you can.
posted by bananafish at 12:18 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


oh and start reading the featured wedding in the NY Times style section. You will see a lot of marriages that don't fit the stereotype. It might make you feel better.
posted by bananafish at 12:26 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let me tell you a little secret.

There is no moment at a wedding at which you are handed the key to personal happiness. No one has ever opened a wedding gift and found their passport to contentment and satisfaction inside. There's no all-expenses paid honeymoon to compatibility.

There are countless married couples who are miserable. There are countless singles who are happy. Make of that what you will.
posted by scody at 12:34 PM on July 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


(Kinda funny that someone with "happy" in their name feels compelled to relate "Chill the fuck out." Nice.)

Anyway, had to run out after dashing off a quick thought, but another one. Beyond the basic question of numbers, countless good points people have made, a sense of media hype relating to all this, articles about how people at a certain age are doomed to meet nobody but sociopaths, those fresh out of prison, those who should be in prison, etc.

In conversations with all sorts of women in their mid-30s and beyond, they've related that there's plenty of interest from good-quality guys. As people here and these women have said, you're likely to interact with and potentially meet a bunch of them if you dip your toe in the online-dating waters. (And hear from some cougar-seekers, morons, 55-year-old guys in Montana who are sure you'd love to live there, on their ranch.)

If that strikes you as discomforting, seemingly gobs of other could-meet-guys options in the big urban relative to group activities, events like author appearances, etc. Gotta be some prospect(s) that feel comfortable, worth exploring (?). If not, that may well be food for thought.
posted by ambient2 at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


+1 for bananafish. I do this first thing almost, every Sunday morning.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 1:06 PM on July 1, 2009


Wait a minute - why are you looking at the statistics for women and not the ones for men? That article says that 25% of men haven't ever married by age 35! As of 2005, there were about 20 million men in the US aged 30-39 (source). Roughly 25% of them haven't been married, so we're talking 5 million never-married men out there waiting for you - and don't forget the ones that are a bit older or younger, or the ones that did get married, but have since divorced.

5 million men! You're so screwed! How are you ever going to narrow things down to just one man to marry?
posted by medusa at 5:54 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Thanks a lot everyone! For the most part, all of this was what I really needed to hear. You guys rock.

Also, I did some Googling and found this, which seemed pretty useful if anyone else is as curious about this as I am.
posted by ohyouknow at 9:25 AM on July 2, 2009


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