I’ve never wanted to be that girl who says “All the good ones are taken,” but I don’t know how else to see it. I guess what I’m asking is, how do I remain positive and genuinely believe that I will find someone right for me at my age? I know a lot of it comes down to having the right mindset, but after the kinds of experiences I’m having, I just can’t seem to remain positive about this aspect of my life. Any thoughts? Thanks. — Late-Bloomer Too Late?
While I was married and had a baby by the time I was 37, I can appreciate where you’re coming from and how frustrating it is to be ready for a relationship and to not find a good match no matter how hard you look. Whether you’re 37, 27, or 57, that feeling of hopelessness is pretty universal when the search for “the one” has been ongoing for several years and has yielded only disappointment. I get it, and I bet a lot of people reading this get it. And those of us who have gotten lucky and finally found the right match will all probably have similar advice: hang in there, be patient, it will happen, etc., etc., rinse, lather, repeat. But I know, when you’re in it, and when it truly seems like all the good ones are taken, those platitudes ring a bit hollow.
And in that same vein, maybe it won’t help when I tell you that my own husband was one of those good men over 35 in NYC who was still single and available when I met him, so I know the unicorns do exist. In fact, I had to come all the way from a different city to find mine. But that doesn’t mean they’re in huge supply; it means I got lucky. But I did a few things that may help you and others in a similar boat:
1. I widened my net. As I said, I had to come all the way from Chicago to find my match in NYC. If I’d kept my search only local, I wouldn’t have found Drew and, who knows, maybe I’d still be looking for the right guy.
2. I told everyone I knew that I was looking and was open to set-ups. There are only so many people you can meet on your own, but, when you enlist the help of friends, co-workers, family, and neighbors, you increase your potential options ten-fold. It was a mutual friend who introduced me to Drew and encouraged a blind date. That blind date was ten years ago next month, and we’ve been together ever since.
3. I read corny self-help books about attracting the one. I wrote about this book here. The idea is that you can attract your match in seven weeks by working through the different lessons in the book. I thought it was kind of silly — and still do — but I figured I had nothing to lose and approached the lessons with as much earnestness as I could muster, and, lo and behold, exactly seven weeks after starting the workbook, I met Drew. Here are some other self-help books that have proven helpful to many.
4. I dated against type. As I wrote in this post about dating against type, I have a theory that people seek out partners who help sell an image they’re trying to project to the world or help tell the narrative they’ve created for themselves. I wonder if being a late bloomer in dating has informed the narrative you want to create for yourself and whether, at least on a subconscious level, you are sabotaging your dating life by seeking out only men (i.e. “eligible men” you say don’t exist) who fit that narrative. You say that “eligible” for you means “a man who shares common values, has good character, and is available.” And I find it hard to believe that if those are your only — or even main — criteria, you aren’t finding this in a city of 8.5 million, let alone outside the city. What other criteria are you using to weed out potential matches and which of those criteria can you sacrifice? What if, instead of 40, your match is 51? What if he lives in Miami? What if he has kids? It’s ok to have a few deal-breakers, but beyond those you really need to open your heart to whatever package your person might come in.
5. I kept a positive attitude. Now, to be fair, my search, when I finally got serious about it, didn’t drag on for years and didn’t last well into my 30s, so I speak from a place of relative privilege and comfort in that regard and I know it. But I also know that, had my search dragged on. and had I let myself get bitter and had I projected that bitterness, it would have greatly hindered my chance of making a genuine connection with someone. You don’t sound bitter or particularly jaded, but you do sound understandably frustrated and you said you’re having an increasingly difficult time staying positive. You need to try as hard as you can to keep that in check and to not project that when meeting new people. One way to do that is to imagine that everyone you meet may lead you to your destiny. It’s kind of a corny way of thinking, but it helps. Even if a person you go on a date with isn’t a match, maybe he will introduce you to the person who is. Stay positive and that positivity, which is really just energy, will help in attracting positivity — including your ideal match — into your life.
And if you’re finding it nearly impossible to stay positive, that’s your cue to take a break from dating. Close or pause your online dating profiles, do whatever else you need to tell yourself you’re not actively dating, and focus instead on fostering your friendships and hobbies and on working on your career. This, in a sense, is cultivating positivity in your life, and, eventually, like will attract like. Which brings me back to my first bit of advice: Hang in there, be patient, it will happen. It will.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.