Hello Dr. Aesha,
I am 56 years old. I married a man who I met in elementary school. We actually had a marriage ceremony on the playground when we were in the second grade. We had our first daughter out of wedlock at 18 years of age. We married at 21 years of age. We both gave our lives to Christ at age 22. Long story short, the marriage lasted 26 years. After my divorce, I spent time healing for 7 1/2 years prior to desiring marriage again. I have been single now for over 10 years. I had always set strong boundaries and never allowed any man to trespass emotionally, spiritually or physically during my marriage, although I was starved for love.
Being single is very awkward for me. I don’t know how to carry myself single and available. I have worked around men all my life in the workforce (military/law enforcement) and had a good rapport with them. Men have often told me that I am the whole package and they don’t understand why I haven’t been swept off my feet. I don’t know either, other than possibly there are not very many mature followers of Christ to begin with.
Can you help me?
I want you to be careful about making generalizations about men when you’re trying to search for the answer to the question, “Why am I still single?” You generalize when you take a few, isolated experiences with men and apply them to everyone, assuming they’re all going to think or behave the same way. To assume that you’re still single because there aren’t very many men who are mature followers of Christ is a huge—and incorrect–generalization to make.
Here’s why I’m paying so much attention to this point: Generalizing is a form of self-protection. It’s also an attempt to simplify complex life choices. It’s easier to assume, for example, that men are just emotionally unavailable than it is to figure out how you ended up in a loveless marriage, why you are awkward around men you feel romantically attracted to, and what you need to do to learn how to choose a compatible partner. Writing men off is a way to stay safe when you’re having to dive into the world of modern dating after being married for 26 years and divorced for 10. That’s risky!
Now I’m not saying that dating after 50 isn’t challenging. You have a mixed bag of men in your dating pool. Some of them are divorcees who are going through their own healing process (and this includes playing the field for some of them). Others are looking for younger women. And some are wanting to settle down but still haven’t gotten their *ish together at 50!
You need to adopt a new mindset, one that helps you embrace the opportunities in dating as a way of redefining yourself at 56. Since you got married so young and began your marriage with a child to raise, you missed out on some of the fun aspects of dating. Now is your chance to experience them! You also need a new heartset so that you flow in a new energy. I define energy as the set of familiar emotions you’ve memorized from the past that define how you respond to events in the present and the future. You know you have an unresolved emotional history when it comes to relating with men when you can interact with them in a workplace setting (which is male dominated), but feel awkward when you’re in the presence of an attractive man. There’s some work you need to do around this to become intentional about being a more open, playful woman who doesn’t need to try to protect herself before a relationship even gets started.
Finally, you need a new skillset which will help you date in such a way that men find you irresistible while still respecting your boundaries.
And yes, it’s possible! One of my clients, Maria, was over 50 and had a similar self-protection stance due to being single for over 28 years. She had to unlearn everything she thought she knew about men and relationships and pick up new beliefs, emotions and skills to help her attract the kind of man she could trust. She’s now happily engaged. Here’s what she said:
“A wonderful thing happened on the first day of Kwanzaa this Holiday Season. My relationship status changed from single to engaged. While it has been a long time coming (living the single life for almost 28 years), my Mister has been well worth the wait. I was able to be vulnerable and open with him due to the tools you gave me. Thank you for everything.” ~M.M.
It’s time to relate to yourself in a new way. You’ll find men will react to you differently when you do!