I’m about to turn 50 & I’m still single. Did I miss out on something really special?

I’m about to turn 50 & I’m still single. Did I miss out on something really special?

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Hey Jake,

I turn 50 next month and so I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. For the most part, I’m happy with my life and proud of the choices I’ve made. Except for one thing. I’ve never been in a serious relationship. My longest one lasted about two years, and that was over a decade ago. I date and occasionally hook up (when I’m lucky), but I’ve never landed on “the one” and I don’t know why. It’s certainly not for lack of trying. All my friends assume I’m happy being single since I never talk about my love life with them (mainly because I DON’T HAVE ONE!), but the truth is I never thought I’d be a 50-year-old bachelor and I feel like I’ve missed out on something special. Everyone always says “50 is the new 40” and I know there’s still time, but part of me regrets that I haven’t found anyone yet and that if/when I do, we will have missed out on so many great years together. Thoughts?

Fifty and Forsaken

Dear Fifty and Forsaken,

Milestones are often a time to reflect, so it makes sense that you’re taking stock of your life. A lot of people say turning the big “Five-O” is one of the harder birthdays to grapple with. Even though I believe there’s truth to the cliche that “age is just a number”, I understand that 50 may feel a little different. Some might feel their carefree days of youth are over, and they’re looking at what’s next, what’s truly important, and how they want to spend last few decades of their life (and who they want to spend them with).

Overall, you’re satisfied with your life, and that’s the most important thing. Being in a relationship doesn’t always guarantee a more fulfilling life. There are plenty of people who are happy and single for decades on end, and there are others that are miserable in relationships. Society can put pressure on us that there is something “wrong” with us if we’re single, which psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey describes as “toxic single shaming” in the clip below.

Perhaps, however, what’s happening is you’re realizing in a new way that time is limited, and your priorities are beginning to shift. When you hit a milestone like 50, it’s easier to see your life as a whole arc, and it can bring things to light. Seeing the finite nature of time can make you want to experience everything that life has to offer, because suddenly it doesn’t feel like time is limitless.

It’s perfectly normal to have a yearning or longing for certain life experiences. I actually think acknowledging these desires is a good thing. Feelings are there to tell us something, and what I’m hearing is that maybe now, more than before, you’re wondering if you are ready and receptive to the things that come along with having a committed partnership. That’s a great thing to learn about yourself, because by acknowledging that, you will automatically make yourself more open to it.

Even though you said you’ve certainly tried long enough to find a committed relationship, sometimes we unconsciously put up walls or barriers that prevent us from receiving the very thing we want, usually because we’re afraid. Letting someone in can open yourself up to being hurt or rejected, which is a scary place to be. Maybe now, if that was your story, you’re actually ready to start being mindful of those barriers, and be more open.

We all have a different time-table when it comes to relationships, and that’s perfectly okay. Perhaps you weren’t ready for “the one” when you were younger, and now you are. I don’t think it’s ever too late to start a new chapter, and you should try and let go any regret about things not happening sooner. I know plenty of people who didn’t find that special someone until they were well into in their 50s, and what’s important is that they decided they were now ready for that. It doesn’t ever help to think about “what could have been” earlier in life, because that just wasn’t your path, perhaps for reasons even beyond your awareness.

Your journey is your journey no matter how it looks, and you didn’t “miss something special” just because that path was different than someone else’s. By saying that, you’re discounting the road you did take, which led you to where you are today, and the person you have become. By seeing that you might want a relationship now, no matter how old you are, you’re setting the intention for that, and may even unconsciously manifest it. Your eyes and heart will be open, and the rest isn’t up to you.

There is so much life ahead of you. Instead of viewing yourself as “forsaken”, I’d try on “Fifty and Fabulous”, because you are!

Ask Jake is our advice column by Queerty columnist and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Jake Myers. If you have a question for Jake, please email [email protected] for consideration.


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