6 Things I Learned Dealing with Singlehood in your 30s
Very rarely, we would find someone who becomes someone we like to love, date, and marry on the first try. Most first-time relationships fail. It could be because we are too young. Or we fall in love with the wrong person who mistreated us, leaving us to deal with the physical and emotional scars alone, thus rendering us incapable of loving wholeheartedly until after a very long time.
Or perhaps, we just never meet the right one? Whatever it is, if you are in your 30s and a single lady, you may start thinking, are all the good men dead, gay, attached or married? You may start wondering if there’s something wrong with you? That you are incapable or not fortunate enough to be loved by a special someone.
Take heart, my sisters. You are definitely not alone. And you have nothing to be ashamed about. We are all made differently. Your station in life now does not define you.
It took me 33+5 (seemingly long) years to find the love of my life. But, even then, it’s not perfect. When I was in the throes of despair (none of my girlfriends could understand what was going on with me). I was not only frustrated (why me?), I also thought I might just be destined for spinsterhood.
Guess what? I tied the knot at the mature age of 38 after dating him for 5 years. God finally match me with someone I didn’t see coming. I didn’t expect the impact he would have on my life. Coming to know Jesus was my first blessing. (more on that another time)
So my dear sisters, open your eyes. Be open and stop clinging onto the past. If you are a cup full of bad memories and failed relationships, nothing good that comes along will be able to go in.
Empty that full cup of past wrongs, bad memories and the like. Empty it so that you can be filled with good things again.
So how does one deal with singlehood? Or the social stigma of being a woman in her 30s without the likelihood of getting married anytime soon?
Here are 6 things that I have learned.
I remembered a year where I attended 9 weddings. Besides burning a hole in my pocket, it also did nothing to help my self-esteem. So when your girlfriends are getting married left, right, centre, how do you stop thinking when it will be my turn? Instead of going to parties or drinks at your favourite bar with your best mates, now kids’ parties (a.k.a. other PG-rated events) fills your social calendar.
Take a step back and just breathe.
Understand that you and your girlfriends are now in different stages of life. It just means that you are a bit behind schedule, acknowledge this and stop feeling betrayed or sorry for yourself. STOP COMPARING.
Be happy for your friends and share their special moments with them.
Stop wishing you could be like your friends. Stop lamenting why there isn’t a special someone in your life. I know, all these feel too real.
Your well-meaning friends and relatives really do mean well when they ask when are you planning to settle down. Some may even be unkind and point out that our biological clock is ticking. Yes, all these may feel a bit too much to bear.
If it gets too much, decline to attend. Making space for yourself is important too, don’t neglect yourself. Not being like the rest of your peers doesn’t make you a lesser human being. It’s okay to skip out on some kids’ parties (I did), and it’s also perfectly normal to tell your girlfriends that.
And you know what the truth is? I only realised this in hindsight. Peer pressure is real because we imagined it to be. Frequently, the person setting those pressures, timelines/deadlines, is ourselves. We are our own biggest enemy. I will repeat this, stop comparing.
Don’t rush, and don’t settle!
I am definitely guilty of rushing matters. A few years back, when I thought I would never find that special someone, I decided to resign to my fate and settle for companionship. Don’t do it. It will be a disaster, I assure you. Not only is it unfair to your partner, but you are also depriving yourself. The person you don’t love wholeheartedly may be hurt when he finds out that he’s merely a substitute in your plans cause you couldn’t bear to be alone and from your imagined peer pressure.
Fighting life’s battles from a place of self-resigned defeat makes it more complicated. When you feel like you are settling for less, you may unfairly blame your partner for the problems or hold resentment towards him.
Hold your head high
There is nothing majorly wrong with most of us, and not finding a special someone doesn’t mean we have issues. However, being single doesn’t give you an excuse to be an asshole or entitles you to feel that the world owes you.
Instead, ask yourself, are your expectations unrealistic? Why did your last relationship fail? Are we too hard as a person, too hard on ourselves or too hard on others?
Or did you just come out of an abusive relationship? Did you break up because your partner cheated on you?
We need time to heal from previous traumas, so sometimes being single could be the best thing for us. In our singlehood, we can all strive to be better versions of ourselves; life is one long learning journey.
Whatever it is, do better for yourself. Don’t do it for others. Don’t do something because you think it could land you a catch, don’t pretend to be somebody else. Let’s face it, not every one of us is sizzling hot like Charlize Theron or have a heart like Mother Teresa. But it doesn’t mean we can’t hold our heads high, or we should just give up.
At the end of the day, we all have a choice to make. Do you want to be a bolder, kinder and better person?
As long as you are going forward, you have every right and reason to hold your head high.
Don’t discount dating apps
No, it is NOT cheating. It’s a rational way to connect with other people who are out of your social circle. How are you going to get attached if you have not been able to find your match hanging around the same groups of people? From personal experiences, well-meaning friends who play matchmakers often do more harm than good. Simply because your friends (from their own perspectives or bias) think who you should date, sometimes they forget to consider who or what kind of person you want to date.
I honestly was against dating apps initially because I didn’t want to come across as cheap and desperate. If anyone of you reading this and is thinking the same, don’t be silly. It’s like meeting somebody new at work or at a party. It’s just the medium that’s different.
However, a word of caution, there are really some sleazebags out there hoping to score a quick lay through dating apps. Always chat with the person online; make sure you are comfortable before meeting up. It will save you some heartache. Stay clear of people who don’t bother chatting but quick to ask you out or (worse) inviting you to their place.
Surround yourself with positive people
That means telling your married girlfriends that you need Girls’ Time.
That you don’t want their hubby and/or kids tagging along. True friends understand your needs too. Besides girlfriends, it could be family members you are close to and who support you. Or people from work.
Don’t get into the trap of hanging out with people who makes you feel wrong about your singlehood. They don’t get to be assholes while being happily married. Likewise, we don’t be one and feels the world owes us. Again, reread point number 3 above.
It’s okay to tell people if they are insensitive and that you have your own struggles too.
But I want to have kids!
Okay, so you like kids, and you feel like your biological clock ticking. Is it really worth settling for someone you are not sure about just to have kids? Remember that kids (like pets) are a lifetime commitment. If your marriage is in tatters, how will you bring up your kids properly, with the correct values? Remember the saying, “it takes a whole village to bring up a kid”. Well, I’m no expert in this area. However, I have witnessed a kid’s upbringing from my friends’ marriages, and it’s really no mean feat. To be honest, I don’t really fancy kids, and I don’t plan to have them. It’s just a personal choice. If you are like me, then take as long as it takes to find the right person to settle down with.
If you want your own kids, remember that technology is more advanced now than ever. For example, you can freeze your eggs.
More importantly, I ask that you question your own motives. Why is having your own child so important? Is it due to the fear of missing out?
What if the love of your life has fertility problems? Are you going to divorce him?
What is your love or marriage based upon? THAT. To me is the most important question.