Relationships at Midlife: The Dating Dead Zone

by Allison Allen, of WomenBloom

My life is pretty good in many ways these days. I’m healthy, holding up pretty well physically in most ways despite creeping middle age and Birthday 51 coming up at the end of the year, I have an active social life, and my professional life with WomenBloom is opening up in some intriguing and satisfying ways.

So, why am I having such a hard time shaking off some deep sadness these days about my love life? Or, lack thereof, I should say. I’m going to sound a little whiny here, just giving you fair warning, but I’m counting on some words of wisdom to help me make sense of this and find a way to deal with it.

It feels like the rules of the game have changed….no, it’s more fair to say it feels like someone changed the game and I didn’t get the memo. Truth is, I have never had a problem getting male attention, which is partly what makes my current situation so puzzling AND distressing. But, now I find that many men on Match.com who are my age are looking for women much younger. That is very frustrating. What is in it for a 37 year old attractive woman to pair up with a 52 year old guy who’s balding and a little paunchy? I don’t get it. A number of men in their 60s seem to be looking for me but I’m not looking for them (weird hang ups stemming from my already having been widowed once).

I’m in the Dead Zone. Is this is the ‘invisible at 50’ thing kicking in? If it is, it sucks.

Since being left on my own at 36, I have been single although I’ve had 3 long term relationships since then. The last one ended 3 years ago and was a hard landing. I really would have liked for that to work, but it was not to be. It took me a year and a half or so to feel healed enough to be ready to try again. So here I am out there once more, but I am having no luck, nada, zero, zip.

You know those people, the ones about whom you always say, “I can’t believe you’re still single.” I’m one of those people. And, I can’t believe it either. Of course, you don’t know that I like to eat chocolate chip cookie dough, that I tend to be a very aggressive driver, that I’m deathly afraid of losing my independence, I have a hard time being ‘comfortable’ and standing still metaphorically and existentially speaking, or that I’m kind of afraid of babies (they are so small, and cry unpredictably).

So, I have my issues, my idiosyncrasies…I don’t pretend I’m everyone’s cup of tea. But on the other hand, I cry at anything poignant and sad at the drop of a hat, I like to be silly every once in while, I’m very kind when people are in a tough spot, I am always willing to look at my shortcomings and do my best to work them out, and I am easy going and considerate to live with day in, day out.

My point being that I have issues, ohhhh yes, I have my issues, but they are balanced out by some good qualities. And, come on! I know people in relationships who have an awful lot of baggage in the form of one or more exes, children from one or more marriages, and financial issues. Those kinds of things do tend to add complications to the picture. Could that be the problem? My relative lack of extraneous complications?

So what gives? Occasionally, I get an interested party, maybe we even meet and we seem to have a great time. They go on about how good a time they had and say they would like to get together again, etc etc. They send a great email follow up going on and on about how good it was, and they’ll be calling, and then…nothing. I’m starting to get a complex. After all, I AM the common thread there. If they just aren’t that into me, why do they go to so much trouble, after the fact even, to make me think they are? That smacks of ‘flaky’ to me, am I wrong here? I’d much rather just have direct or, at the very least, non-committal, then my expectations would be in the right place.

I have a couple of good guy friends (unavailable, sigh) who thankfully tell me I’m ‘hot’ often enough that it keeps me from considering entering a nunnery. They are always trying unsuccessfully to think of who they could set me up with. They sadly say all the guys they know are flakes. Well, my data would certainly seem to support them in that view and that in itself is depressing. If I’m out there (whatever else I may be, I’m not flaky), isn’t it possible there must be a man like me, who falls within acceptable ranges of tolerance for weirdness, baggage, and the rest?

I don’t know the answer to it all, I just know I’m feeling down about it at the moment. The more so because several friends who have been single as long as I’ve known them, have now settled into relationships, a couple of them pretty good ones, yea! for them. It feels as if the music has stopped in the dating game of musical chairs and I’m the one left standing, looking around thinking ‘Wha’ happened?’ My head knows that now isn’t for always, but my heart feels like it’s been at this long enough, thank you.

Mr. Right, if you are out there, would you please identify yourself so we can award you your prize?

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