Being single in your mid-to-late 30s – positive stories?
May 11, 2018 2:33 PM   Subscribe

This really is just that – a request for positive, hopeful anecdata re. being single and then finding love when you're over 35. I'm usually at peace with it but as 37 looms and I'm still the most single person I know, I'm struggling an unusual amount.

So I'm about to turn 37, I left my last relationship a good 2.5 years ago (because he wasn't ready to settle down and I was), and have been dating– mostly online – ever since, to no avail.

If anyone has them, would you be happy to share your stories of meeting people after 35 (or hey, even after 37!), how you met and how it went? Also, especially if you went on to have a baby. Or stories perhaps of it *not* working out, and how you felt, and what you went on to do that might have been fulfilling in another way. It would be fantastic to read them – thank you!
posted by considerthelilies to Human Relations (26 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
It was 5 years ago next month. I was 36 and had never been on a date in my entire life (at least one I recognized while the date was occurring, rather than slapping my forehead afterwards). She was someone I knew from a small local activist group; I'd always enjoyed talking to her, but we were both shy, introverted types. We started communicating outside the group after she reached out to me on social media when I posted about returning to my apartment after a massive natural disaster. We started meeting, and spent the summer meeting up in pubs, talking, going to lecture on brutalist architecture, rafting; neither of us was sure if this was friends or something more. (I brought up kids in a fairly early meeting and was relieved when we were on the same page.) After a few months, I finally screwed up the courage to ask "Is this a date? Because I'd like it to be."

Two hours ago, UPS delivered the ring I'm using in our wedding.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:44 PM on May 11 [55 favorites]


My husband was 37 when he met me; I was 33. We met long ago at college, then met again playing pub trivia. We were on rival teams, then his team dissolved and he joined our team. I finally got to ask him where I knew him from, and that's when we put together how we'd met before. We were dating within a few weeks, married 2.5 years later, in late 2013. Our son was born in summer 2014.

We met playing trivia because I started a Meetup group for playing trivia. This was soon after my divorce in 2009. This Meetup thing was not immediately successful, but I stuck with it. After months (and months and months) of Hard Work: sticking my neck out, persistently scheduling Meetups, friending relative strangers on Facebook, inviting people I barely knew to happy hours, trying not to feel ego-destroyed when they didn't reciprocate, just moving on to the next person who might, and oh by the way did I mention I'm an introvert? It was Hard Work. But a group of people coalesced around trivia- a small group of 30-something single people. Playing trivia gave us an opportunity to get to know each other without too much pressure, and that gelled our friendship. Soon we were meeting up for other things, then inviting everyone over for movie nights, and later we started playing D&D together. We all became friends.
Then one night, one of these people invited a coworker to play with us, who was awesome. Then, months later, the second person invited this other coworker to play with us because he needed a new team as his last team had dissolved. And that's how I met my husband (the second time). Because of people who knew people who knew people. And it was because of my hard work that we came together in the first place- because I worked really hard at not just meeting potential dates, but meeting new people in general. We are all still friends, though some of us have moved away and others have married and all that.
The Hard Work was good for me, of course. I came out stronger for it, because now I use the same tactics to meet new parent friends.
posted by aabbbiee at 3:01 PM on May 11 [13 favorites]


Met my husband online when I was 38 and he was 41. For some reason (after many years of being single in the sense of totally-not-seeing-anyone), that was the year there were two men interested in me, my now-husband and someone else I knew in real life; I spent a while tentatively seeing both of them (with full disclosure) to figure out what I wanted. One reason I eventually decided my husband was it was that he was older and acted like it, a genuine adult who could handle both emotional and practical issues calmly and maturely, and that was what I wanted as I got older myself.
posted by huimangm at 3:23 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


I was 49 and in the 7 years after my divorce, I kissed a bunch of frogs. I picked 50 as my give-up point. I met a man through online dating who, despite taking me to emergency as our first date and waiting for two hours while I was being seen to (I had no idea he was still there and sent him home via text) annoyed me on the next few dates. But on Mother's day last year, I was sad because my kids had not contacted me,and I went around to his place for comfort. Since then, we've spent nearly every day together, travelled through a desert in south Australia (for my 50th) and moved in together in December. I learned to talk about things that annoy me (difficult in previous relationships) and I am deeply in love, know that I am cherished and I have a partner who does his fair share (and more) as well as having amazing sexual chemistry. It was just dumb luck that we were on the same site at the same time.
posted by b33j at 3:32 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


Oh, and being relatively recently diagnosed on the spectrum, I came out to him before we met, explaining about lack of eye contact and other oddities that have put people off in the past, which he later said was very helpful, because he would have thought I wasn't interested.
posted by b33j at 3:34 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


As I was about to turn 40, I went with my mother on a really great trip, and realized then that I didn't really "care" if I stayed single the rest of my life. My mother hadn't remarried after she divorced my dad when I was 2 - and I loved her and the woman she was - I can do that too!
July 4th, it's raining (hard!) and I had just come home from two days of rock climbing so I went to the local pub - and met my husband-to-be. He proposed a couple months later (in the same seats where we met - he engineered that, and I had no idea what he was up to).
That was almost 26 years ago - and it's been a great ride so far. We comment on our luck at finding one another often.
Be who you are. Be happy you are you - and live your life as well as you can. You may find someone, you may not - but live!
posted by dbmcd at 3:44 PM on May 11 [14 favorites]


Wanting a baby makes it much harder, there can be no doubt of it. (And the desire for human companionship is of course completely normal and it's difficult if you don't get it the way you'd like to have it.) But...honestly...almost anything else a woman wants to do with her life, she can do more easily without all but the most extraordinary of male partners. Of my many married friends, even in those marriages where I genuinely like the men, only the smallest handful have even a rough reciprocity of effort put into maintaining the household and the marriage (at least from the outside, but then the divorces happen and your suspicions get confirmed...) So...whatever positive things there are that you want to put your life into achieving, do them. Save the world at your job that will never pay well enough for day care. Write your novel with the blocks of time you choose. Volunteer in your neighborhood with the free time you have. Work at maintaining real friendships with all those people you'd drift away from if you both had kids.

I have one of those jobs--doing good (I hope), but with a very middle-class salary that would be hard to afford rent for a larger apartment and child care on, even if the spouse earned the same. As an introvert, sometimes I wonder if I've built sufficiently robust social networks for the aging to come. But I had a medical situation this week that required that I have someone with me pretty much for several days straight, and so many people have come through in various ways, including out-of-town people. It's been truly heartening.

I hope you find someone you love and can have as many babies as you want with. But I also hope you have other purposes in your life, because this is your chance to further them.
posted by praemunire at 3:53 PM on May 11 [47 favorites]


I met my wife when I was in my late 30s and had been single for several years. We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary and have a six-year-old daughter.

Being single at that age was tough for me because I've always been serious about relationships and had had three serious 2-1/2 relationships where I wanted to get married, or thought I did. In each case my ex married someone else within about a year, so it felt like they wanted to get married, they just didn't want to marry me. And my three closest guy friends all got married long before I did.

So, I know it's hard, but the less you dwell on it and the more you embrace the things that are good about being single the happier you'll be, and the happier you are the more interesting you'll be to prospective partners.

And there are definitely good things about being single. You can go wherever you want and do whatever you want. I remember once getting ready to go to the park with two of my friends' families and their dogs. It took an hour at least. As I was waiting I realized I could walk out the door, take a cab to the airport, and fly anywhere in the world. You can't really do that with a family. I don't mind not having that freedom, but it was definitely in the plus column.

In my case I realized after lots of reflection that one of the issues in my previous relationships what that I wanted the idea of being married more than the reality of being married to the particular person I was with. Realizing that and relaxing about it helped me know when I found the right person.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:29 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


One of my best friends fell in love with a guy well after 35. She met him after moving to a small-ish town, after a year or so of being discouraged by her experience with the local dating scene.

Now they are married and have a nice house and a beautiful baby :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:33 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Oh, how we met. Friendster, but not really. My wife-to-be was friends with a friend of mine at work, and I noticed her picture in our mutual friend's Friendster page. The three of us went out for drinks and after I passed the test our mutual friend "had to go."
posted by kirkaracha at 4:33 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I got divorced at the age of 35. It was an amicable divorce, but still hard. There was no one in my circle of friends I was interested in. I tried Internet dating, which was still relatively novel at the time.

I went on a lot of first dates, a handful of second dates, and three third dates. I went on dates that were laughably bad, like the one where the woman took off her watch and set it in front of her when I sat down so she could see when exactly 60 minutes had elapsed.

The next date after that, I met my future wife.
posted by adamrice at 4:47 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Met my now husband at 36. Married at almost 39. Major health issue temporarily blocked our baby plans, but I did get pregnant and had our daughter at 40.

She turns 6 next week. I am right now about to go back upstairs for “second hug and kiss” and hopefully HOPEFULLY she will go to sleep.
posted by kestrel251 at 4:49 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


I met my husband when I was 43 and he was 45 ... we got married a year later and had a baby. First and only marriage for me. We met through work and became friends and then something more. We never actually dated.

We would have both laughed if you'd told us we'd be married one day. I feel like getting to know him slowly over time gave me a chance to appreciate his best qualities in a way I might not have if we'd been dating. If I'd been sizing him up as a potential partner it would have never happened. He's not who I would have predicted I'd end up with. But he gets me, loves me and makes my life better. I love him back and feel very blessed.

I think I recommend not exactly dating so much as living your life, doing the things that you love, and being open to what the universe may have to offer you.
posted by Kangaroo at 4:51 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


Ended a 6 year relationship (engaged) at age 37 or 38. Didn’t date for a few years after that. Met a dude on OK Cupid when I was 40, we’ve been together 3 years now.

My cousin met her now-husband at age 45.

Ive been a serial monogamist since I was 18, and after each breakup — ages 28, 31, 37-38, Ive been convinced I am too old to ever have a relationship again. It’s never true.

Re: children, Ive never wanted biological kids but I can tell you that half the mothers i know are having first or second kids in their early 40s
posted by mrmurbles at 5:18 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Back in the day, I had moved as a divorced woman to a new city for career reasons. Other than my parents an hour drive away, I knew no one. I was comfortable being an almost forty-year-old single and was managing finances based on the expectation that I would always be single. To meet people - anyone! - I placed an ad in a singles magazine (note: this was in 1996 so the internet wasn't really a thing yet) and met someone who turned out to be much more than just "anyone". In fact, we celebrated the nine-month anniversary of our first face-to-face date on our honeymoon. We are still happily married, best friends, and thrilled with how our lives turned out. Is that enough of a happy ending for you?

FWIW, we agree that what was important to finding the "right" relationship was, ironically, not really looking for a relationship. We were both able to feel fulfilled as single people, and therefore the only relationship that would appeal was one that expanded what we already had as individuals, as there were no personal holes we were looking to fill. This doesn't mean that either of us were perfect when we met, although I am now and he isn't (snort!), it just means that we were each comfortable in our own skins.
posted by DrGail at 5:18 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I met my now-wife when I was 31, she was 37. We met through a Meetup happy hour group I joined after moving to a new city to meet people (we joke that we pretty much met in a bar). Married two years later - it's been five years and still happily married.

On kids - we don't have any (by choice) but I know several women who had their first one after 40.

FWIW echoing the last comment that I seemed to finally have luck when I wasn't really looking to date. I had a very long multi-year streak of singledom before we met, interspersed with the occasional failed attempt at online dating. I had finally decided to take a break from it and focus on other aspects of my life shortly before I met my now wife.
posted by photo guy at 6:01 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Got kicked out by my ex at uh... 35. Married an internet friend the next year. Still together at 51.

Awesome people are out there. Usually you have to at least meet them half way: go do stuff. (I drove around the continent when my previous relationship ended, visiting friends. Opportunity!)
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:04 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I had just turned 39 and my now wife had just turned 30 before our first date, 14 years ago. 12 years ago we married, and we have a wonderful 9 year old.
posted by fings at 6:05 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


My husband and I met on OKCupid when he was 39 and I was 42. We traded profile views for a bit, then I sent him a message. We chatted for about a week via the OKCupid board, then moved to Facebook, then texting and finally talking on the phone. We met in person for the first time two weeks after we started chatting, and he came to my place for the weekend. Three months later he moved in with me. We got married as soon as gay marriage was legalized.

We have no children, but we have his dog, and we're probably going to get a puppy and, possibly, a kitten (don't tell him that because I've been insisting I do not want a cat; but he wants one and I love him and what the hell. It's not like I'm allergic, so I can't even use that as an excuse.). We're five years together, three years married, and sometimes, like right this very moment, I tear up when I look at him and marvel at how much I love him.
posted by malthusan at 6:36 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


I married at 26, and split up with my ex-husband at 29. My thirties were one bad date after another. I stopped counting after the 100th bad date I'd met online. I'm not thin, and I have Opinions™, and that's like having the bubonic plague, here in LA. My bad date stories are ones I'll dine out on for the rest of my life, but it took a few years of emotional distance before I could laugh about them.

Had another serious, live-in relationship that lasted a couple of years, but imploded when he decided to start dating someone without telling me — it is tough to cheat in an open relationship, but he managed. I was 38. Spent the next few months weeping, and the next few years actively avoiding online dating and working out like it was a second job. I still am not thin, but I win medals in powerlifting, so there's that. I hit a point once I turned 40, where I felt like I'd managed to contract some horrible disease, or maybe a secret invisible mark over my forehead that branded me as undesirable. I started to seriously consider how on earth my life was ever going to be fulfilling if I never found a partner, because that's definitely how it was looking. (Unless I wanted to settle for a guy with a fat fetish, and eww. No.) And then… I found I just didn't give a fuck anymore. So what if all of the straight men I knew thought I was unfuckable because I wore a size 16? That's why god, in her infinite wisdom, invented sex toys — so I didn't have to settle for people who didn't really want me, just to get laid.

I started having drinks with a coworker I'd known for years, and thought was smoking hot, but he was married, and I am polyamorous, so I figured he wouldn't be interested. I was happy just being friends with him. We enjoyed drinks and venting about work. It was about six months, before he felt comfortable enough to tell me that he and his wife had an open relationship. But since that line gets used a lot by shady dudes, and I have been burned by it before, I was like, 'Yeah, right; and would your wife say the same?' He told me that I could come over for dinner and ask her myself.

We've been partners for three years, now. I just turned 45 a couple of days ago.

It is so very hard to hold out for someone who loves YOU, just as you are. I feel you. I have been there. And it gets harder to meet new people as you get older, for sure. Yet… you also hit a point where you throw up your hands and something inside you says, 'Fuck this, if you don't like me, you can go fuck all the way off.' How and when you hit that point is different for everyone. It's a mystery in the oldest sense of the word — describing it does not convey the knowledge; it's something you have to go through yourself, and it can't be faked. But you'll hit that point, I am confident.

A side note: people who have been in relationships continually since they were in their early 20s can be maddeningly, teeth-gnashingly smug. There is this unspoken belief that if you just work on yourself hard enough, you'll find someone, and the corollary is that if someone has found a partner and is in a relationship, they must have all their emotional shit sorted out, and thus are superior to single people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of those people1 are in zombie relationships, or are just waiting until the kids turn 18 to leave, or are emotionally stunted, because they've never had to do the hard work you're doing right now. Try your best to avoid the Smug Marrieds™ you know, and start perfecting your snappy comebacks about why you're still single. I was a fan of, 'I don't know; why do you think you settled?' but I have a bitchy streak. YMMV.

Take heart, and godspeed.


1 But not all, to be sure. An awful damn lot, though.
posted by culfinglin at 7:14 PM on May 11 [22 favorites]


almost anything else a woman wants to do with her life, she can do more easily without all but the most extraordinary of male partners. Of my many married friends, even in those marriages where I genuinely like the men, only the smallest handful have even a rough reciprocity of effort put into maintaining the household and the marriage (at least from the outside, but then the divorces happen and your suspicions get confirmed...) So...whatever positive things there are that you want to put your life into achieving, do them. ... But I also hope you have other purposes in your life, because this is your chance to further them.

THIS.
My favorite late love examples are at age 51 and 67 these days, but I also really loved this post. Once you're married with babies (if it happens), your time is going to be dedicated to them and your next AskMe will probably be about how to wheedle the hubby into doing the dishes while you bathe your kid. If there's anything in your life beyond "I wanna husband and baby," focus on that, do that.
As for me, I'm definitely hopeless and permanently single, but I'm fine with it. I spend most nights out of the house doing cool things like teaching, or my volunteer job, or going to classes or shows or festivals. I got projects out the wazoo. I'm very occupied and outside of work have a very good time. I couldn't go have all of those types of fun if someone was at home whining for me to cook him dinner. And hey, if you actually meet someone doing what you like doing naturally (I haven't but hey, it could), all the better.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:21 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]


I have four family members who found love in their 50s. They give me hope.
posted by bendy at 9:38 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I met my husband online when I was 37 and he was 42. He asked me to marry him on my 40th birthday. We talked about having children but decided against it which was the right choice for us. We are very happy.
posted by hazyjane at 10:13 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


My best friend spent most of her thirties kissing some seriously amphibious men, and then met a wonderful guy on a dating site when she was 37 and he was 49. They're married now. No kids (no desire for kids) but they do have two dogs and a lot of laughter. It is such a relief to see them together - she is relaxed with him in a way she wasn't with beaux past.

I've also been to several other over-35 weddings in the last couple summers: two perpetually single friends, a cousin, a Brady-Bunch-style second marriage (that wedding was a blast). One couple met through work, one met through mutual friends (maybe at someone else's wedding??), not sure about the others.
posted by eirias at 5:11 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Here are two previous posts that ask similar questions and will give you some more stories: one, two
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 8:49 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Thank you, everyone, for these stories (and the links to others). They have been massively cheering, proving yet again that anecdata from kind strangers on the internet can give you life-affirming hope.

I love this, in particular, from Culfinglin:
"It is so very hard to hold out for someone who loves YOU, just as you are. I feel you. I have been there. And it gets harder to meet new people as you get older, for sure. Yet… you also hit a point where you throw up your hands and something inside you says, 'Fuck this, if you don't like me, you can go fuck all the way off.' How and when you hit that point is different for everyone. It's a mystery in the oldest sense of the word — describing it does not convey the knowledge; it's something you have to go through yourself, and it can't be faked. But you'll hit that point, I am confident."

And this, from praemunire:
"So...whatever positive things there are that you want to put your life into achieving, do them. Save the world at your job that will never pay well enough for day care. Write your novel with the blocks of time you choose. Volunteer in your neighborhood with the free time you have. Work at maintaining real friendships with all those people you'd drift away from if you both had kids."

A thousand times, yes. Thank you everyone...
posted by considerthelilies at 5:18 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


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