Anonymous said: i'm in my late thirties and alone and tired of being alone. i'm tired of hearing about how being secure in yourself and having a good friends and a good job etc etc can lead to happiness even when you are alone. i am all of those things and still alone, guess what, and it is still hard. i watch the people around me moving on with their lives and having families and doing things as a partnership and i find myself resentful even though it’s not right and I don’t want to be that person. it gets tiring going to the baby showers and wedding showers and acting celebratory and then going home alone. i have been alone a long time and I am finally starting to realize that it’s not because I’m doing something wrong. I work at my life. I have fun. I do interesting things. I “put myself out there”. sometimes people just get lucky. Sometimes people just stay alone. tomorrow it could change but this is where I am today. So onto my question.
How do I reconcile myself to this? How do I sit with this and not let it consume me or shut me down emotionally or become an embittered old lady who is angry at all the people with love in their life? How do I continue to pretend that it’s okay, that it’s tolerable, that it is liveable?
This feels fundamentally like a philosophical question, but I’m happy to go there –so let’s dig right in.
So, you assumed that by this point in your life you would have a romantic partner and maybe a family, and that didn’t turn out to be the case. I’m sure you have been taught that this is the about the greatest tragedy that could befall a woman since childhood, from various sources. First, I think it’s important to think about how much of your concern about your single status is based on these external pressures, and how much is responding to what you know internally will make you happy. While these are not so easy to parse out, I bring it up because I think you can get more creative with your personal vision than the cookie cutter image of Marriage and Family you get from outside social forces. It sounds like the fundamental need you have is more love in your life, and this can come in different shapes and sizes. When you get June Cleaver and Claire Huxtable and out of your head, suddenly there’s room for alternative situations that will help you meet those needs (whatever that looks like for you).
You used the word “alone” so many times in your question, and I wonder how the people who are close to you might feel if they heard you describe your life this way. Because if you are getting invited to celebratory occasions, it means you matter deeply to the people around you, and are one of a small pool of people they want to share these important moments with. That tells me you are loved, and that you have love in your life. I bring this not to talk you out of your loneliness, but to perhaps encourage some increased gratitude for the special place you hold in the hearts of many people. Living without a romantic partner is NOT the greatest tragedy, I know I don’t need to tell you.
Here’s the part I hate to even mention, but it’s the first thing I thought of when I read your question. The people that we love, romantically or otherwise, are finite on this planet. You’re very right that your situation could change tomorrow and you could enter the kind of relationship you are dreaming of right now. And that could end, in a variety of different ways, and you might be alone again. All these weddings and babies around you? Divorces happen, people even die. I think bitter old ladies happen because people lose sense of gratitude for what they have in the moment. Yes, your life is livable. Yes, you are looking for a loving partner to share it with, and I can tell by the emotion that you write with that this is a strong, and deep need. Yes, there is every reason in the world to believe that you will find someone who is looking for the same thing. And, NO, finding something so unreliable and ephemeral cannot be the key to your happiness. I’m sure you know plenty of ladies who thought it was and had a rude awakening a few years down the line. Everyone feels deeply and profoundly alone at times, no matter of how much love they are surrounded by.
I hope this helps- obviously answering questions on the meaning of life is not quite my purview, but I thank you for sharing this with me and my kind readers.