At 31, Marika divorced and ended a ten year partnership. Marika and I met through a mutual friend, and while we’ve never officially met in person, we’ve continued to get to know each other through DMs. Recently, we got to talking about being single at 44 and how though she has a “full life,” the loneliness of being single and older gets to her at times. Here is her story, in her words. – Alex D’amour
THE DESIRE FOR A RELATIONSHIP
My life is full. Let’s start there. I have the best of friends and a wonderful job, and am very grateful for all the abundance in my life. But, I also want to spend my days and nights with another human more intimately. I want to be in a relationship, and it’s an intense desire I’ve often tried to ignore. I frequently compare trying to find a partner to couples who can’t get pregnant: You want something so badly. You don’t feel whole without it. But it won’t come to you. So you try different modalities. Nothing works. It must be you. People will say things like, “Just don’t think about it and it will come,” but you feel a sense of shame and embarrassment because you’re unable to manifest it. It’s a constant undercurrent of judgement from others and yourself. But thank god I’m like a camel, and can go a long time without. But then I hit a point, a breaking point; I need some fucking water! We are born from tribes after all, and we seek deep connection. I long for an intimate relationship. Even just having another being in the room breathing the same air as you is nourishing.
I love spending time alone, and I’ve done plenty of therapy and spent loads of my time in the self-help aisle—but loneliness is an epidemic, on so many levels. I am privileged that I can afford massages, and have a nurturing mother who will indulge me with extra long hugs, but I want more. I get teary thinking about other older people going years without touch. I myself am at a year and half with no intimacy, no sex or makeouts to be exact, and it hurts. I even get jealous when I see a couple or friend who has a companion. And then there’s the self-imposed critic in my mind, saying things like, “wherever you go, there you are” to which I respond, “then being alone, where I am, must be my fault.” Maybe I am too picky. Maybe I am not enough.
WHAT IT’S LIKE USING DATING APPS
The year after I divorced, the first smartphone came out. I walked back into a dating scene so unfamiliar than the one I knew before. Online dating apps soon followed, and at first, I was excited! “This looks like fun! All of these boys!” But soon, I became confused and annoyed. I realized that dating apps are the place where self-awareness goes to die. The shirtless selfies, the scribbled out face of an ex, the “which one are you in these photos?!”—and my personal favorite prerequisite—the “I don’t want a girl with drama.” Using an app felt like meeting someone was reduced to ordering a particular pizza; we get very picky and specific as we swipe, like we can just wish a perfect human to be delivered to our doorstep. It seems men embellish or lie about their height, and women about their weight, and both are at fault for disillusionment. And then, once on the date, there was often minimal attraction on my end. And in the few cases where I was, I found myself on the receiving end of mild ghosting. Luckily, because of my good sense of intuition, nobody has been that awful, and I’ve only received two or three “wanna fuck” type of DMs. But still, dating apps aren’t the most of optimistic places, and I find myself caught in a cycle of being drained, being pessimistic, and yet again, being hopeful.
BEAUTY & YOUTH
It is hard to ignore the lure of beauty and youth. I know many men my age who won’t date women their age, often looking at older single women as “not being hot enough” or “definitely having baggage.” I know this isn’t all men, but these comments make me very aware of my looks and attractiveness, particularly as a woman in my 40s—and it’s a sentiment shared by many of my single, older friends, too. I’ve heard women in their 60s talk about how invisible they are to men, and often feel a loss of sexual identity. Ouch. I find solace in knowing that all of my life experiences and growth have made me the person I am today, and while I may mourn physical parts of my 20 year old self, I wouldn’t trade it in for the place I am now. Partner or no partner.
OUTLOOK ON THE FUTURE
I am doing my best to not get sucked into the negative dating conversations. They are a plenty. I don’t want to show up on dates thinking “gimme gimme” or “all these guys are playing games” or “why can’t I have….” I just want to trust that my life is unfolding in the way it’s happening—and that my person is out there. I want to be the person on a date that makes their date feel great about themselves too, regardless if I want to have sex with them or not. My current mantra is to put out the love, kindness, and authenticity that I want my future partner to reflect back to me. And like attracts like, right?