My aunt, bless her heart, is a 73 year old widow. She looks fantastic for her age, dresses very stylishly and (age appropriately) hip. She’s more energetic than most people I know. Her husband died after years of health struggles and she is dating with a vengeance. Every night, she is at a single’s activity or dance. She has a date with a different guy several nights of the week. If her grandkids are visiting and there’s a date, that takes top priority. She is chaste, so I don’t want anyone to out there to think that my aunt is a floozy, though.
She very much wants to get married. Like yesterday already. I think that’s a bit frightening because one day, she’ll meet a guy and there will be a connection and it wouldn’t surprise anyone a bit if a few weeks later, she’s married. And since she has a healthy bank account and assets, and she’s not afraid to let everyone know it, she may end up with a guy who has very different reasons for a marriage than she does. Scary. But I digress.
While many don’t understand this fervor, I think I do. After chatting with her countless times, I believe her mindset is this: She doesn’t want to die alone. She has calculated that she probably has X number of “good years” left. And, perhaps, she has even fewer years while her physical attractiveness holds up. Whether any of those calculations are accurate, it doesn’t matter– that’s her perception and her reality. And that’s why she feels she needs to find someone and get married while she can so that she will have someone to live out her days with.
When we think of people’s greatest fears, we often think of Death. Snakes. Heights. Speaking in public. Flying in a plane. For me, it still remains snakes– rattlesnakes. But I think something else should be at the top of list: being alone. Dying alone.
As one who is dating again, it is easy not to go from one relationship to the next– all in an avoidance of being alone. And that is a really super sucky way to date, if you ask me.
I can honestly say that I’d rather be alone than married to the wrong person again. Or even dating the wrong person again. Maybe I’ve become too picky. But I like “picky.” I have started getting to know the new me and I kind of like this girl in progress. I’m still growing and figuring it all out but I like it. Because I’ve learned the hard way that it’s far worse being in a relationship with the wrong person.
So what’s the answer? Jumping in or being alone?
Well, for one, if you have family and friends, we are never alone. This concept is something I was reminded of loud and clear when I was diagnosed with cancer, fled my alcoholic husband, moved my children and me two states away and into my parents’ basement so I could begin chemo treatments and two stem cell transplants. For a short bit, I decided I needed to find a new husband lickity-split before I got too sick again and couldn’t find someone. Maybe my “window of opportunity” for finding my last forever mate and a father for my children was very small. And then I remembered that I didn’t need a (bad) husband (or a quickie husband) to fill any of those roles because I was surrounded by love, a support system, friends and joy right in front of me. The pressure vanished and I can honestly say, dating become far better because I was no longer desperate, and no longer had a fear-based need. If I had no dates, no boyfriend, no potentials on the horizon, it was perfectly ok. In fact, many times preferable.
Second, being true to ones self is critical in finding emotional peace and stability. Using another person as a crutch or as an avoidance for the person we are in side accomplishes nothing. If you like yourself and your friends and family, our potential for dating the “right” person increases exponentially. And if we aren’t in that “happy” place right now, it’s time to start getting there. Therapy, self help books, meditation, new hobbies… whatever it takes. Start inching forward.