Is it OK to give up on finding love in your life? Let's say you're in your late 30's or older, and despite years of dating and maybe some close calls or near-misses, you are still single.
If the thought of more blind dates or online dating catastrophes make you wince, is it OK to throw in the towel and adjust to life on your own? Is it so bad to be a single woman today, with all the opportunities and liberated sexual attitudes? Should you pack it up and call it a life?
As a therapist, I am confronted with this conflict when I sit with attractive, successful, interesting and educated women who are fed up with the dating scene and considering calling it quits. They've had enough of the disappointments or rejections or frustrations. They feel time is not on their side. They've read the statistics and feel hopeless. They are looking to me for help.
What should my response be?
On one hand, I can empathize with their frustration. We expect love to happen like a fairy tale, and for Mr. Right (or Ms. Right )-- better known as our "soul mate" -- to march in and carry us off to live happily ever after. When that doesn't happen we do the next best thing, go online.
But, creating an online "profile" is not particularly romantic and the "swipe left, swipe right" mechanics of many dating apps feels like fast-food consumerism.
Anyway, the issue is love, not technology. And where love is concerned, therapists should have a point of view. Here's mine:
1. Never, ever give up on finding love. It is your inherent right to find love and do not let anyone or anything in this world convince you otherwise.
2. You are lovable. The major problem with dating is that rejection causes people to doubt whether they are lovable. This is not acceptable. Just because someone does not choose to love you, does NOT mean you are not lovable. Love comes from within, it is not granted by another.
3. Everything in life takes work. In your 20's, dating was easy because of the natural opportunities to meet people -- at work, at school, in bars. When you get older, you have to work at meeting people, but that shouldn't stop you. Most good things in life requires work. That means telling people you're interested in meeting someone, staying socially active and managing online expectations and involvement.
4. Re-evaluate Mr. Right. Now that you 're older, are you still chasing after the "boy toys" of your younger days? Some women are stuck in outdated versions of themselves and the men they desire. Consider whether there is a pattern of disappointments in your past that you may be repeating. If you embrace the older, more mature you and free yourself of familial or societal expectations, you might find you have overlooked many potential romantic opportunities. Think outside the box and take chances.
5. Stay sexy. Many women begin to doubt or question their sex appeal as they age, or if romance is hard to find. Sexiness is libido -- that effervescent quality that keeps us vital and engaged in life. It knows no age, weight or hair color. It does not reside below the waist, but in your smile, the light in your eyes, the joy in your step and the love in your heart.
Never give up on love. You own it. It is you. Try to find someone to welcome your love into their lives. There must be someone out there good enough to deserve you.