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Dr. Aesha-

I am an older single woman (45 heading to 46) never married – and I realize that dating/marrying now will necessarily be a lot different for me than it would have been in my 20s

How do I let go of my ideal vision of marriage so I stop feeling like I’m dating some other woman’s leftovers? 

Here is what I mean.

Watching your videos confirmed that, particularly your explanation about how most men are looking for younger women.  This means that realistically my dating pool consists of men in their 50s, possibly above, who have been married before and/or have kids.  From time to time I’ll meet a younger man (e.g. 30s) and if nothing else the young guys seem to like talking to me – but realistically they’re not going to marry me. I’m working on wrapping my head around that and coming to grips with the fact that younger guys are not a real option for me.  🙁

Here is the heart of my question — or the feelings behind it…

In some ways I feel like I’m still mourning/grieving the loss of the marriage/family life I’ll never have (e.g. being a first wife, having my own biological children, no baby mama drama etc.)  I know that this mourning/grieving stage affects my energy and still shapes the way I view men/relationships.  I have resigned myself to the fact that I won’t have the kind of family I grew up in — and I struggle with feeling that my marriage/family life will be AT BEST 2nd rate — LESS THAN it could have been if I had figured out how to get married 15 years ago. So my attitude is one of resignation (since I have decided fairly recently that I don’t want to live the rest of my life single).

I kind of feel like the black woman hashtag for Hillary Clinton #GirlIguessImwithHer.  I’m not happy about it – but I guess since I’m old I’ll just have to have be a 2nd/3rd wife and have a 2nd class marriage (or stay single – which for a while was more attractive to me than having to be a 2nd wife/stepmom).  I KNOW this is a TERRIBLE attitude.  I KNOW that viewing my options as “2nd rate” at best is HORRIBLE.  This CAN’T come off well in terms of the energy I am putting out.  I don’t know how to change it though. It really is how I feel.  I wasn’t smart/quick/good/strategic/sharp enough to get married when the getting was good, so now I’m just stuck with bad options.

 

Please help.

*****

Alright sis.

There’s a lot you don’t have control over when it comes to love. You can’t control who will be attracted to you. You can’t always control who you are attracted to (ever tried to force yourself to like someone? How did it work out?) You can’t control when you’ll meet someone special, and you can’t control whether or not the relationship will work out. You just can’t control the future.

This lack of control, especially when you’re a smart, successful sista who can map out goals and achieve them in other areas of your life, can feel downright scary.

But there are two things you can control: 1) You can control your feelings. 2) You can control the choices you make.

Let me explain.

Your feelings are influenced by a number of things, but one of the greatest factors is what you choose to focus on the most. Right now you’re focusing on the dream you can’t have. Your mindset is focused on the negative and as a result, you’re painting a picture of marrying men who have a lot of baggage, who aren’t attractive, and who are old enough to be your grandfather.

You’re making a lot of assumptions about these men, sis (kind of like the men who refuse to date women your age are making about you).

It also seems you’ve gotten stuck in your grieving process. You need to keep processing your feelings until you can get to the acceptance stage. Part of grieving is letting go of your old dreams. But that doesn’t mean you can’t replace them with new ones! In fact, if you lean into the pain, this can be a time of re-invention for you. You get to define your life and what is important to you. This is where you learn how to take control over your choices!

So ask yourself this: What will I have to let go of so that my disappointment can be replaced by joy?

You might want to start with how you’re relating to yourself as “too old” and “not enough.” You’ll want to embrace a new vision of yourself and accept the belief that there is a partner out there whose life is incomplete because you’re not in it.
You’ll also want to take some wisdom from noted author bell hooks, who wrote this in her book All About Love: New Visions: “We fear that evaluating our needs and then carefully choosing partners will reveal that there is no one for us to love. Most of us prefer to have a partner who is lacking than no partner at all. What becomes apparent is that we may be more interested in finding a partner than in knowing love.”

What if instead of looking at your choices in partners as “second best” because they don’t meet the fantasy your 20something self had in mind, you focused on knowing love. Don’t focus on finding a partner who meets some ideal that culture, movies, your church, your mama, magazines and others factors told you you should have, but instead on knowing what it feels like to be accepted, cherished, preferred, honored, adored, respected and loved.

This is what my clients who are 40+ have discovered. They let go of their rules of what their relationship is supposed to look like, and they’re now happy, in love (and some are engaged or married).

I have a feeling that if you focus on knowing love, a new vision for your life would emerge, one that makes you excited and hopeful, instead of disappointed and defeated.

Love,

Dr. Aesha