Hint... It's Not What You Think
Everyone has a theory about why they are still single over 50. Challenging past relationships, poor role models and even too few fish in the proverbial dating pond top the answers that most of my clients give. Trying to flesh out the real culprit sends lots of people to the self-help aisle and many more to therapy.
But for a question like this, you don’t have to pay your shrink thousands of dollars if you can embrace one simple concept. The real reason why you’re single won’t be found in another person, it will be found inside of you.
As a therapist for over 27 years, I can tell you that a painful past does have an impact on how you see the world. But, everyone has the choice to create a future that is different than the one they came from. You are not “doomed” to a life of singlehood if your marriage didn’t work out or even if you’ve never been in love before.
And, if there is a barrier currently standing in the way of being truly happy, we will be able to sort that out.. But everyone, and I mean everyone, can find love if they put their mind and heart to it.
So if you’re struggling with the “why am I still single over 50 question” here are a few things I want you to consider:
Your past doesn’t define your future: Everyone makes mistakes and everyone can get a do-over in life. Can you erase your past? No. But you’re not stuck in some awful “fate-loop” where you can’t change your future either. If you want love, you have to adjust your mindset to bring love to you. Doing things the way you have done them in the past didn’t work.
So you have to make some changes.
Adjustments like this can be as simple as looking in new places for other singles or getting out of your routine and attending a new church, shopping at a new grocery story or taking a different route on your daily walk. If you are in the habit of always looking for dates in the same places or with the same pick-up-line, it’s time to shake up your world a bit and do something different.
You are the common denominator in your love story- for better or worse. All of your relationships (romantic or otherwise) have similar challenges. These can be in the realm of communication, getting your needs met, feeling validated, heard or appreciated. If you can find the thread that ties your relationship challenges together (and by this we’re talking about patterns) you can begin to identify the areas you need to focus on.
Here’s what happens if you don’t do this: for every new person you attract to your life, they encounter the “same old you”. So it’s predictable that you will also encounter the same challenges and the same frustrations if you don’t adjust how you behave and how you react.
What has made you regularly or routinely unhappy with your romantic partners? How have you regularly or routinely upset your partners? Look for the patterns in your communication, your arguments and your “wishful thinking” and in there are some gems that can help you shed light on what you can do to become a more loving person.
The more you work on you, the happier you will be. The answers never lie in fixing the other person. All you can do is look at you and what you can do to create more harmony in your life.
Adjust your list of requirements so that you stop searching for the same kind of people who made you unhappy in the past. Are you still attracted to the same traits you were 15-20 years ago? Did those qualities every truly make you happy? If your answer is yes then chances are that you are stuck with some beliefs about the “type” of person who will make you happy. I’m here to tell you that if it hasn’t worked so far, it’s not likely to work in the future.
Instead of searching for the same “type”, look for something new; something different and don’t be afraid to adjust your “must haves” in the beginning. While there are some traits that consistently make for a challenging partner (active addictions, chronic cheating etc.) there are many others that you may have written off your list because of the perception that they wouldn’t make you happy in the long run.
As someone who is ready to shake up their past and let go of old habits, you need to try on new people and see what the more mature you likes. You may be surprised to find that behaviors that annoyed you in your 20s are really more endearing in your 50s. Holding on to an old list of “must haves” is a sure fire way to get stuck in the rut of singlehood for no reason other than you were too afraid to try something new.
The bottom line is that being stuck in singlehood doesn’t have to be a death sentence to your love life IF you have the courage to question why you’re here. Try on some new behaviors and new people and you’ll likely find that you’re not single for long.
Because remember, there is nothing more attractive than someone who is earnestly looking for love instead of looking for the right “package”. Try out a new routine, taking a new walk to work or even learn a new technique on how to flirt and you’re sure to change your habit of being single once and for all.
Dr. Sue Mandel is a psychologist and dating coach who specializes in relationships and the psychobiology of love. She brings 27 years of unique experience helping individuals and couples find and keep love in their lives. To schedule your FREE 20-minute consultation contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.