Monday, March 26, 2012

On being 35 and single

OK technically, I'm not quite single. But the relationship I'm in is very complicated and I'm not sure we're going to make it through the obstacle course we've been presented with. I am, however, 35, unmarried, and at that delicate point where my fertility is apparently starting to nosedive. Can I just say, and I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm stating the obvious: it's really difficult being in this position. It's properly, existentially, painful.

Despite this, I enjoy my freedom. I like my life, even though I feel the lack of a significant other keenly. But the hardest thing about being 35 and single? Feeling like (and being treated like) you're abnormal.

Most of my friends are happily married with several mini-me's occupying their spare bedrooms. This is fine - great, even, if you like kids (and I do) - but there are times when it's impossible to avoid feeling like a complete freak of nature (behold, The Last Single Girl On Earth!) - an object of pity and/or a problem to be solved (usually by pairing me off with various other stragglers in the game of bonk/marry/procreate).

Here are some of my coping strategies for the other single thirty-something-never-married-no-kids peeps out there. If anyone else has advice, please feel free to share!

- Make the most of your friends kids. I may or may not have kids of my own - I know that it's out of my hands - but I get to have relationships with my friends kids, and that makes me feel slightly better about it. Plus, I can't wait for my future nieces and nephews to make an appearance.

- Observe your friends relationships and take notes. One couple I know are great at treating their kids like people (not cute playthings); another have conversations where they look at and listen to each other - surprisingly rare in a lot of long-term relationships. Spending this much time on your own, you've got more time to figure out what you want and don't want from a long-term partner.

- Cultivate friends outside your age bracket. It will give you a different perspective having friends who are older and wiser, as well as younger and more wide-eyed. Easier said than done, but I'm lucky to have come across a few good ones that I treasure.

- Male friends help. Thank goodness for the single blokes out there - ex-boyfriends and old school mates who are still footloose & fancy-free. I find blokes in my age bracket are more likely to be single/unmarried and a whole lot less likely to angst about it.

- Don't feel obliged to attend every engagement party/baby shower/first birthday/christening you are invited to. There are a shed-load of these things, and it can get tiring being the only single person surrounded by families. Your friends won't mind if you skip a few, or just show your face briefly, especially if you're feeling vulnerable.

- Enjoy this time. I can't help feeling like I will look back on this time and envy the boundless freedom I currently enjoy.

- Don't lose heart. Yuh, it's hard. If you find yourself in that terrible dark place where all seems bleak and hopeless and just too damn hard - wait it out. One day the spark will reappear and you'll be on the roller-coaster again.


Anonymous said...

Well said Kels!
You know being in a relationship and not having a kid at this age is just as 'freakish' for society so don't sweat it and know there are millions out there in the same boat ;-)

Anna said...

Yes to all of that, too!

Me - 33, no kids, going to be divorced, no prospective new partner in the offing. My friends span ages 25-65, and most, in fact nearly all, are coupled up or have kids (or grandkids!), or both. So I know what you're talking about with this post!

Great tips on coping, all very true.

Anonymous said...

I have 3 kids , divorced , and 35. Maybe as a male I have a different perspective but it seems that society pushes things on people. First , it was when are you getting married ? Then , when are you having kids ? Then after having one , they ask when are you going to have another ? If you have one you have to have two so they can play. It doesn't seem to stop with these people. To be considered normal in our society requires you to make the same stressful decisions everyone else is making. It's adult peer pressure. It's almost like society wants you to be stressed just because they are. You become stressed by kids if you have them and stressed by society if you don't have them.

Anonymous said...

It's not that you don't have something you want that creates the suffering, but the fact that we desire it to begin with. Just drop the desire and the upset will disappear. As for peoples reactions...... Well they are only thoughts. Those aren't real anyway. Anybody ever seen a thought ? I haven't , lol. So why pay that any attention ?

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