What is it about being alone that instills such fear in people?
Two beautiful, accomplished, vivacious women in their mid-50s I know are struggling to embrace a new life without the security blanket of a mate. And I mean struggling.
One woman knows she’s not “in love” with her mate of several years, and is having a tough time making the break.
“What if I make a mistake?” she asked me. “What if he’s really the one?”
“What if you make a lifetime commitment, change your life and he’s NOT the one?” I responded.
The fear? Of being alone.
Another woman I know is barely out of her long-term relationship and absolutely requires another to feel ok and empowered.
It’s not just fear of being alone for life. It’s fear of being alone for five minutes.
A therapist once taught me a technique by which to analyze any action that scared me. Ask yourself What’s the worst that can happen? And then How likely is that to happen?
These are women who have a tremendous amount going for them and the irony is that they are probably not going to be alone for long. They’re gorgeous, smart and fun. Hell, I’d marry them if I were a guy. (Or a lesbian–yay for equal rights!)
I asked my husband how likely he thought it was that one woman we knew would end up without a relationship.
“Slim to none,” he said, “and Slim’s left town.”
But: what if she did? What if she lived the rest of her life without a man?
Is it worth being with someone so wrong for her?
Are you really empowering yourself if a man is a required part of that equation?
These answers seem so clear to me, on the outside. Then again, the one thing I miss about my very happy life today is that I no longer have any of the “alone time” I got so used to in the 27 years Michael and I were apart. Being alone doesn’t frighten me at all. I love it.
Unless I hear noises in the night.
Unlike many women, I loved the dating process. But these women fear the process, the kissing of frogs, the inevitable rejection. Me? I never felt it was rejection as much as it was personal preference. Chocolate or vanilla, that’s all. Chocolate or vanilla.
I get that first steps are hard. This one’s a killer.
So, I’m asking readers: what would you say to encourage these women?
If you are afraid of bring alone then you are afraid of yourself.
That’s an intriguing observation.
I don’t like giving out that kind of advice, Carol, because I don’t walk in anyone’s shoes, plus we are all so different from each other. But it is healthy to be alone, if even for a little while.
I guess that’s why I’m glad that after I graduated college and got my first job, I lived in my own apartment for a few years. It was wonderful and I learned I could take care of myself.
I hated dating. But of course you have to date to get to marriage (if that’s what you want, and I did! Hooray that I’ve been happily married for 25 years.
Advice? I’ll stay away from that. Sorry! I just hope that they can find the strength and courage to figure it out for themselves, find their way, and discover they will be ok on their own for awhile.
Keep us posted!
Learning we can take care of ourselves is such an important lesson! I didn’t learn it until much later, since I married so young. Lucky you to have that experience in your formative years–I’m sure it’s been the bedrock for handling some big life challenges.
I think there’s a difference between unsolicited advice and encouragement….a big difference! I’ve definitely been guilty of giving the first, but am sometimes asked, too, but as for encouragement, well, as some wise musicians once said, we get by with a little help from our friends.
The first thing I would say is, “I understand; I know it’s hard.”
And then I’d wait for cues from them about whatever help they might be able to use.
The very last thing I’d do is to assume or imply there was something wrong, inferior, or incomplete about them for feeling this way.
My question is really more along the lines of “what would YOU say to women in that position to encourage them?”
I have a friend at work who is in the middle of her divorce and she has plenty of guys hanging around. I suggested she give it a year before she dates anyone. That gives her time to heal, to figure out what’s important and then to pick the right guy. I’m on the opposite end of the discussion. I’ve been single for a very long time and it’s hard for me to imagine sharing my life with someone else. One of my male friends just got divorced and was interested in dating. I told him to take a year to figure things out and then if he was still interested, I’d love to give dating a try. Everyone’s journey is different, but if I ever get remarried, alone time will be part of the agreement.
I think that’s very good advice, but so hard for many to accept.
Carol – you’re right. Guys ARE looking for chicks of all ages who are “gorgeous, smart and fun”. Me? I’d definitely be looking for someone who has shared my same life experiences. I could never keep up a conversation about the Kardashians, nor would ever even want to. I would want to argue with a woman who for some reason had liked the Dave Clark 5 or Monkees more than The Beatles. Something I can relate to.
John, you absolutely have always had so much to offer a mate!
I’m stumped. Want to react to this post, because I find it very interesting, but I don’t know what to tell someone going through this. I was never big on dating, usually just got right into the thick of a relationship, so don’t think I’d relish dating in my 50’s. My rationale has always been “What’s for you won’t go by you” and if you want to be in a relationship, one will come your way. But I also really love to be alone so I’m not sure if I’d ever remarry if my current marriage dissolved or ended. I have so many interesting women friends that I could see a life spent on my own, with them as my traveling companions for all those trips on my bucket list.
I love that “What’s for you won’t go by you”. Of course, someone like me generally reached out and grabbed what I thought was for me but maybe wasn’t. Then again there’s ” a reason and a season” ….I’m so interested in your experience and related to your feeling about remarriage.
I think , for me, growing up as a very independent child running all over an 400 acres farm with neighborhood boys and a brother, I never felt there was anything I couldn’t do that a man could. Dating for me, was always more about finding a best friend to hang with. My sense of self came from within, from what I did with my life, who I was. The loves and soul mates in my life come by the handful-my parents, my siblings, my women friends, my daughter and my husband. I have always believed that life is a gift, one day at a time, and that if my husband died tomorrow–say, jumping his show horse over 4 foot fences that he so seems to love doing– I would mourn and miss him tremendously, but I’de still have myself, my writing, my friends and family. I would not be alone, or diminished , just sad and nostalgic. I have unbinding faith in a higher power– a friend always there to guide me–and that belief helps me to feel fulfilled and whole.My husband is gone for four months every year-Jan-April, with his horses to Florida. I welcome the alone time, I love to be with my Westie and my house on my farm with my fingers free to fly over my laptop. I take essay classes, have tea with pals, use the local library, me note a group of teens, plan my spring garden, fiddle with the rooms in our house,exercise, walk. Its like an entire winter at a spa for my head. So I guess I’de say to your friends, find what makes YOU happiest, then you’ll the Who will sure to follow. It’s nice to be with someone, but no ONE persona can be everything for you- find company and love in self satisfaction.There are no guarantees in this life-so be gracious and curious and spread yourself out.Does that make sense?
And PS-get to know all the ins and outs of your living situation-taxes, wills, where the fuse box is, when you need to get propane and salt for the water softener, all that STUFF. It makes you feel much less dependent and frightened. Several of my friends lost their husband s unexpectedly-certainly in 9/11, and last year , one to cancer, another in a plane crash. None of these worn knew anything about their houses, or personal papers. They were terrified. Get going!
There are many of us men out there too that are looking for a good woman to share our life with instead of being alone and having no one at all.