On loneliness

I’ve been feeling more lonely, more often, over the last few months. There, I admitted it.

I do enjoy my own company and usually *need* time on my own to stay sane.

But lately, it’s felt a lot more like ‘lonely’ than ‘alone’.

I have friends, but I no longer seem to have a best friend. She’s got her hands very full with two small children, a husband and a hectic life. She’s been drifting away from me for a few years now, if I’m honest. And it’s not for the lack of trying on my part – but after being turned down repeatedly when I suggest we meet up for coffee, or a drink, or even dinner if she can get away, I’ve kind of stopped asking. (She never calls me to suggest a get-together.) I miss her so much. She could always make me laugh until I wheezed. And she was always the person I could tell anything to.

So there’s a big gap in my life without her. I have other friends, but none who I feel I can call at 10pm when I’m having an anxiety attack. Which sucks, because I’ve been having a few of those recently, relating to a health issue.

How I wish that when I wake up in the middle of the night, and scary out-of-proportion thoughts flood my head, and my breath gets shallow and fast, and my heart thuds in my chest, that I had someone I could snuggle up to. Who would put a comforting arm around me and tell me that it will all be OK and that he’s there for me, and that I’m not crazy. And tell me to go back to sleep and it will all seem less awful in the morning.

Because it’s starting to feel like I’m never going to have that. That I’m weird and there’s something strange about me that just puts people off. Is it how I look? Should I lose weight? Do I walk funny? Do I smell bad?!! Or is it this unapproachable aura I apparently project, that makes me seem prickly or aloof and just not the kind of person you’d want to get to know. How is it that everyone else knows what to do to find The One?

I’m dreading getting older and having to deal with health issues on my own. Having to cope with the ageing and eventual loss of my wonderful parents without support. And not having a companion to hang out with and weather life’s ups and downs with.

Yes, I love being single. But no, I do not want to be single for the rest of my life.

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So what exactly have I DONE with the last nearly 40 years?

My Big Birthday is looming. Yes, soon I’ll have to change the title of this blog to ‘Single Fortysomething’. And let me tell you, I am not thrilled about it.

How did I get so OLD? I have nearly FORTY years behind me. How did that happen? Where did they go?

I confess, I have been: Completely. Freaking. Out. You know that pressure you get when you’re in your thirties and single? About settling down, stop being so picky, find a good-enough guy, marry him, have children (you’d be SUCH a great mom!)… all that stuff? Well, I’m feeling it x100000 at the moment – and I’m inflicting it on myself.

My BFF who has two under-fives and a husband is so utterly exhausted she doesn’t have time to have a midlife crisis. Would I be feeling happier about turning 40 if I was married with kids? Maybe, but then again maybe I’d just not have a moment to myself to think about it.

The thing is, I look back over my last 40 – OK, say 20 – years and I don’t look at any of the guys I dated and wish I’d married them. (Maybe just one… but we didn’t actually date.) If I had met The Man Of My Dreams in my twenties, my life may well look very different right now. But I didn’t, and I quite like how it looks.

I suppose I’m just feeling that my life is rushing by, and all those things I plan to do ‘one day’ might never happen – unless i do something about it. It’s quite a wake-up call.

But ultimately what I’ve realised is that for the last 40 years – or rather the last 25 (we don’t really have much say until we’re over 15) – everything I’ve done has been based on what I felt was the right decision at the time. Nobody would ever call me impulsive and I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and listened to my gut.

Isn’t it enough to do the best we can?

Yes… that gives me a lot of peace and acceptance about my life so far. But now I’ve taken stock of it all, I’ve realised that I need to take action, and do so sooner rather than later, to make my dreams come true.

Considering this, I’m now quite excited to be entering my forties. Because I’m determined to make them wonderful.

 

Would this get a response on a dating site?

Wanted: A man who will be my companion and my friend. Who will love me and stand by me. Who will fight my corner. A man who will be there for me as I get older, who will help me deal with losses and help me feel that I’m not alone. And I will do the same for him. We’ll have our own interests and often go and do our own things, but we’ll enjoy meeting for dinner and telling stories about our days – at home, and in far-flung exotic places.

I don’t expect fireworks and violins. We don’t even need to have a swing-from-the-chandeliers sex life… I’d be happy with cuddles and kisses on the couch. I need my independence, but I also need kindness, intelligent conversation and warm, tight, full-body hugs – often. Where are you, Mr?

How long should you date for?

Is dating a means to an end (i.e. marriage) or an end in itself? Should your relationship always be ‘going somewhere’ or should you simple carpe the diem and live in the present?

Having never been in a very long term relationship, I’m not exactly speaking from a point of experience, but I do wonder about couples who’ve been coasting along for 5, 8, 10 or more years. Sure, not everyone wants to get married and for them, that’s fine. But what about those relationships where one of the people really does want to marry?

Two good friends come to mind. A lovely guy I’ve known for ever has been with his girlfriend for five years. She really wants to get married; he’s not 100% sure that things are quite right. In another relationship, the woman can’t understand why, after eight years together and trying for a baby, her partner is still so anti-marriage. It’s really important to her, but he won’t talk about it.

Tricky situations and high emotions all round. Not to mention the emotional manipulation and uncertainty.

I’d like to think that if I was dating someone, that within 18-24 months tops I’d probably know if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. And that if I didn’t, or he didn’t, we’d be brave enough to call it quits. Because I’d rather be single than with someone who is wasting my time. But that’s just me.

How long does it take you to know whether a relationship’s got legs? And does it matter to you?

Non-negotiables

Just before I finished a phone chat with my friend B earlier, she said ‘Oh oh oh! I’ve been meaning to tell you…’ and then launched into how there’s a guy she works with who is lovely and she thinks I’d really get on well with.

‘Only thing is,’ she said, ‘He might be a little bit short for you.’

At 5’8″, I’m not exactly Amazonian but I do like my height – and I have a penchant for high heels (although look a little Bambi-like in the gorgeous new pair I bought last week in celebration of my five-year milestone). So, I wondered, do I write off a potentially lovely guy just because he’s a little vertically challenged? No. For me that’s not a non-negotiable. OK, I do like my boyfriends to be taller than me, but if height is the only area in which an otherwise wonderful person falls short (ha ha) in, then I can live with it.

It got me thinking about non-negotiables though. Both the (shallow) physical ones and the non-visible character traits. Some of the things I just won’t compromise on are:

  • Smoking. Eeeuw.
  • Facial hair. I like a bit of end-of-the-day stubble, but more than that and I’m instantly turned off. The good news is that a quick shave is all it takes to turn me on again 🙂
  • Poor personal hygiene. Whether it’s BO, dirty fingernails, unbrushed hair, smelly breath… Ugh.
  • Rudeness. Usually detected by how waiters or other service industry staff are treated. This includes racism.
  • Hunting for sport (who kills creatures for fun?). Or any kind of gun ownership. Very scary.
  • Miserly. I just can’t cope with someone who isn’t generous. Working out who owes what down to the last cent on our first date will not get a guy a second date with me.

There are lots more but those are the ‘first impression’ dealbreakers (OK maybe you don’t find out about his rifle collections on first meeting).

On the other hand, my non-negotiable, absolute ‘must haves’ are:

  • Kindness
  • Funny (ideally with clever, quick wit) and quick to smile and laugh
  • Intelligent and in touch with what’s happening in the world
  • A long list of places he’s travelled to – and an even longer list of places he’d still like to go to (travel stories are great ice-breakers)
  • Comfortable in his own skin (implies emotional and mental stability)
  • An appreciation of what he has – and the ability to notice and appreciate small, simple things
  • A sense of purpose – that he’s driven to pursue something in his life. Not so much ambitious goal-orientation, but a dreamer who works to make his dreams come true.
  • If he’s really good at what he does, that is a big turn-on for me. 🙂
  • Throw in old fashioned manners with a dash of chivalry, and I’m smitten!

I have a much longer list of desirable traits, but those pretty much sum up the non-negotiables. What are yours?

I am a bad person

A friend met a guy a few months ago and is utterly smitten. It’s wonderful. I am (honestly) really happy for her as she is am amazing person and totally deserves to find her equally-amazing soulmate.

But she is annoying the hell out of me. She is soooo loved up that everything that comes out of her mouth is her philosophical takes on the beauty of love. *vomit* She spends every minute possible with him (yes, I’ve seen her a lot less) which is very sweet but wow, that sort of relationship would have me running for the hills.

I feel like such a bad person. I am happy for her (really!) but I do wish she’d tone it down a bit. I know I’m probably annoyed because I’m still single (the only one in our group now) and would love to find my ‘other half’ and experience the euphoria my friend is feeling at the moment (with the appropriate relationship space that I need!). And I know that raining on her parade is (a) mean-spirited and (b) not who I am. So I will continue to fix a smile on my face when I see her and think happy thoughts that one day, I’ll be the one nauseating everyone else with my new-found love. 🙂

Words on love

“You need to find someone who will love you in the same way that you love others.”

These words came in an email from a friend of mine last week, who is over the moon at finding her ‘Mr Right’ recently.

It got me thinking: How loving am I? How do I show love for others? Am I lovable?

If it’s true that you get what you give, I think I need to be working on all three of these.