I’ll be 50 next month and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Overall, I’m happy with my life and proud of the choices I’ve made. Except one thing. I’ve never been in a serious relationship. My longest has lasted about two years, and that was over a decade ago. I date and do date occasionally (when I’m lucky) but I’ve never ended up on “the one” and I don’t know why. It’s certainly not because you haven’t tried. All my friends assume I’m happy to be single since I never talk to them about my love life (mainly because I DON’T HAVE ONE!) but the truth is I never thought I’d be one 50 year old bachelor and I feel like I missed something special. Everyone always says “50 is the new 40” and I know there’s still time, but part of me regrets that I haven’t found anyone yet and that if/if I do we’ll miss out on so many great years together . Thoughts?
Fifty and leaving
Dear fifty and abandoned,
Milestones are often food for thought, so it makes sense that you take stock of your life. Many people say that dealing with the big “Five-O” is one of the harder birthdays. While I believe the “age is just a number” cliche is true, I understand that 50 might feel a little different. Some may feel like their carefree teenage days are over, and they’re looking at what’s next, what’s really important, and how they want to spend the last few decades of their lives (and who they want to spend them with).
Overall you are happy with your life and that is the most important thing. A relationship does not always guarantee a more fulfilling life. There are many people who have been happy and single for decades, and there are others who are having trouble in relationships. Society can pressure us that something is “wrong” with us when we are single, what psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey is described as “toxic single shaming” in the following clip.
Or maybe it’s a new way of realizing that time is limited and that your priorities are beginning to shift. Reaching a milestone like 50 makes it easier for you to look at your life as a whole and it can bring things to light. Realizing the finiteness of time can create a desire to experience all that life has to offer, because suddenly you feel like time is no longer limitless.
It is perfectly normal to have a longing or longing for certain life experiences. I actually think it’s a good thing to acknowledge those wishes. Feelings are there to tell us something, and I hear you may be wondering now more than before if you are ready and receptive to the things that a committed relationship entails. It’s great to learn about yourself because when you acknowledge that, you automatically become more open to it.
Even though you’ve said that you’ve certainly been trying for long enough to find a committed relationship, sometimes we unconsciously put up walls or barriers that prevent us from getting exactly what we want, usually out of fear. If you let someone in there is a risk of being hurt or rejected, which is scary. Perhaps now, if this were your story, you are actually ready to become aware of those barriers and be more open.
We all have different schedules when it comes to relationships, and that’s totally fine. Maybe you weren’t ready for “the one” when you were young, and now you are. I don’t think it’s ever too late to start a new chapter and you should try to let go of any regret that something didn’t happen sooner. I know a lot of people who didn’t find that special someone until they were well into their 50s, and what’s important is that they’ve decided they’re ready for it now. It never helps to ponder “what could have been” earlier in life because that just wasn’t your path, perhaps for reasons beyond your conscious awareness.
Your journey is your journey, no matter what it looks like, and you didn’t “miss out on something special” just because this path was different from others. By saying that, you are neglecting the path you are taking did take what led you to where you are today and the person you have become. By realizing that no matter your age, you may want a relationship now, you set the intention for it and may even manifest it subconsciously. Your eyes and heart will be open and the rest is up to you.
You have so much life ahead of you. Instead of considering yourself “abandoned,” I would try “Fifty and Fabulous” because you are!
Ask Jake is our advice column by queerty columnist and licensed marriage and family therapist Jake Myers. If you have a question for Jake, please email [email protected] for consideration.