Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

In the News: Writer Anne Lamott’s Advice for Those Waiting for Love

The writer/ inspirational guru, Anne Lamott (author of cult favorites like Bird by Bird, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, and Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year [which should maybe be required reading for expectant parents], as well as lengthy Facebook posts in which she shares the secret of life) got married for the first time this month at age 65. In an article about the wedding in the Vows section of the Times on Friday, Lamott (or, Annie, if you’re a friend, which many of her readers feel as though they are) passed along some implicit and explicit advice for others who may also be waiting a long time to find/commit to the loves of their lives (like this LW, for example):

– Try online dating; this isn’t explicit advice from her, but it’s how she met her now-husband, Neal, so I suspect she’d suggest those who are looking for love to cast a wide enough net to consider meeting potential mates on websites tailored for others also looking for love, especially on niche sites (she met her husband on OurTime, a matchmaking site for people over 50).

– Give a second look to someone you may have once passed over. When she spotted Neal on OurTime, she sent him a message, to which he responded, “You rejected me already!” “He reminded her that they had exchanged messages on the site a few months earlier, but she had stopped communicating with him after learning he was allergic to cats.” After being newly re-impressed by his profile, she said, “Take me back! Take me back” and the two met for coffee and quickly fell in love.

– Create a life for yourself that you love: “If you’re paying attention and making your own life as beautiful and rich and fun as it can be, you might just attract someone who’s doing the same thing,” she said. “You can give up on tracking someone down with your butterfly net.”

– And, finally: Never give up on love (or any of your dreams, for that matter). “No matter how things look or how long they take. Don’t quit before the miracle.”

And not for nothing, but Lamott moved in with Neal after only seven months of dating, which goes against my usual advice to wait a year, but sometimes the exception to a rule can work out (especially if you’re 65 and know yourself and what you’re looking for pretty well).

20 comments… add one
  • avatar

    ktfran April 29, 2019, 1:21 pm

    Bullet point #2!!!! Honestly, if I stuck with my initial impression, I wouldn’t be married to a pretty great partner. Like, first impression was a “-43, are you kidding me, who is this guy? ” on a point scale to a “+197 i’m so lucky I found him, what was I thinking, i’m an idiot?”

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    csp April 29, 2019, 3:15 pm

    I think that bullet point 3 is so true. I feel like people need to expand their lives and try new things to meet new people. I have so many friends that go to the same bar every weekend and see the same people there. I feel like you need to mix things up constantly and also do things that are gender neutral. For example, I have a friend who says there are no good men and she spends her time doing things that are very female centered like wine tasting. There aren’t many men who get together with their bros to go wine tasting.

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    dinoceros April 29, 2019, 3:37 pm

    TBH, this sort of disappoints me. It’s the same advice that I get from my friends who got married at 24. Things are somewhat bleak if you hate dating apps and have hobbies/activities that don’t provide a constant flow of new people of your preferred gender.

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      ktfran April 29, 2019, 5:49 pm

      Unpopular advice, but I’ve always had easy, drama free experiences dating people at work.

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        dinoceros April 29, 2019, 7:49 pm

        Same! I always felt like it was a nice way to get to know someone just as an acquaintance or a friend without any expectations.

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    lovelygirl April 29, 2019, 4:08 pm

    A mutual friend introduced me to my now husband. He was a smoker at the time, which was my #1 dealbreaker. I went on the first date anyways, and he was actually starting the process to quit smoking before I even met him. He quit smoking in a matter of weeks after we started dating and hasn’t looked back. I’m so glad I decided to go on that first date with this man, even though he did not meet my initial must-haves. Sometimes it’s good to say yes to the guys that you don’t initially think are right for you.

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    Teri Anne April 29, 2019, 5:25 pm

    I think making a life you love (Bullet #3) is excellent advice. Online dating, being open to meeting people, and being active with hobbies is all good advice. These ideas may or may not work, because in reality single people have no control over if or when they will meet a compatible person. And while living a life you love and pursuing your hobbies, never give up hope (bullet #5). Forget the idea of scarcity, that there are no good men out there because there are good men who are single.

    My husband died in 2002, when I was only 44. I tried the standard advice of hobbies, online dating, church, volunteering etc. but nothing every happened. Online dating was simply awful, and I saw very few age appropriate single men at church or other events I attended. I kept busy getting a PhD in the physical sciences, but sometimes it was hard to keep my morale up. Amazingly, I did meet a very nice man recently at a volunteer event.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark April 30, 2019, 1:14 am

    Eh, honestly? This is just more cruel false hope in my opinion. If love is going to find anybody it’s when you are young, hot, and still optimistic. This malicious fantasy that somebody is going to suddenly find you (at 60!) irresistible at long last if you just hang in there and never stop believing is just that. Fantasy… One that sells books, I guess. And fills lecture halls.

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    • avatar

      allathian April 30, 2019, 5:13 am

      Er, plenty of people find love even when they aren’t young and hot. Besides, hotness is a relative term and beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, at least to some extent.

      That said, there are no guarantees, at any age.

      But someone who’s comfortable in their own skin is likely to have a more enjoyable life even when single as well as being more likely to find love than someone who comes across as needy because they’re so focused on finding a partner.

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      The OtherOther Me April 30, 2019, 8:42 am

      It’s not “fantasy” to think you’ll never meet somebody if you’re over the age of 40. In fact most people I know have had MORE success over age 40, not less. It’s probably because they let go of all those preconceived notions of what makes a perfect partner, ie “hotness”, income, worldliness, no baggage, etc., and just look for somebody who is kind, treats them well, and is willing to compromise. It might be different if you’re gay, but I am straight and all my straight friends, men and women, are over 40 and have found a partner since they turned 40.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 30, 2019, 8:48 am

        Yeah, I’m noticing the same. Frankly, even my gay friends have more success the older they get. I think a big key really is creating a life for yourself that you love. That serves multiple purposes, including removing some of the desperation of finding someone so that you can really start living a great life. If you’re already living a great life, a potential partner is supplemental – icing on the cake – and not something that is desperately needed or desired. When you come from a place of comfort in your skin and life, you attract that in kind. I’ve seen a lot of people find love after 40.

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        Kate April 30, 2019, 8:59 am

        Honestly, I think it’s way easier for people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and up to find love than people in their 20s and 30s. If OurTime is anything like Match was when I used it in 2011-2012, it’s gotta be so much better than this Tinder and Bumble experience. Older people are used to dating in more straightforward and older-fashioned ways, and they’re looking to commit to someone. Plus your friends know divorced and widowed people. My mom’s college friend was widowed in her late 50s or early 60s, and ended up finding love with and marrying a guy she knew through various connections. He was actually my mom’s boss.

        I hear what people are saying about these tips of Anne Lamott’s not being anything new, but the thing is, they are what works. She might not be able to give tips for navigating the apps, but overall, what she’s saying is how you find love.

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        ktfran April 30, 2019, 9:20 am

        I was thinking along the same lines as @kate. Maybe the tips are “stale,” but they’re repeated because they really do work.

        I didn’t really do dating sites, however at 35/marrying at 37 (I know it’s not 40+), bullet points 2 and 3 truly worked for me.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous April 30, 2019, 11:34 am

        If you’re gay and rich. Oh sure. You’ll find somebody easy. Gay and washed up? Eh, not so much.
        .
        I suspect it’s the same with straight and washed up.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 30, 2019, 11:54 am

        My best friend is a 46-year-old gay man who is getting married in a few weeks (to someone 11 years younger, for what it’s worth). He’s not rich (he’s a public school teacher), but he has loads to offer (he’s great company, adventurous, smart, curious about the world, and – ha! – he has awesome friends). He’s also handsome (but, then, so are you BGM) – even with/ because of a head full of white hair. He and his husband-to-be are incredibly happy… but they were pretty happy in their lives before they met, too, and I think that’s key.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark April 30, 2019, 12:18 pm

        Being a public school teacher is not rich — true. But trust me a billion miles away from being completely washed up.
        .
        Speaking of which — I literally have to turn down a “promotion” later today. Why? It is literally TWICE the work, (much of it unpaid overtime) three times the stress, and all for whopping hundred dollars more a week.
        .
        There are also logistical issues such as me having to drive around the giant art truck which I have absolutely NO WHERE to park. (Hell, I can barely find parking for my mini-cooper.). Now that is the very definition of washed up. And reason #2,486 I am a lousy mood.
        .
        But yes, I have definitely failed to create I even vaguely like on a good day much less love. And once you past the point of no return on that,. Eh… You really… truly are just forever stuck. You reach a point where anything and everything that could have ever happened simply didn’t. North of 45, it isn’t going to either.
        .
        Oh, well. Time to go make that grim phone call and then worry all month that the New Guy or Girl at the top won’t insist on bringing in their ‘own” team”…

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 30, 2019, 2:19 pm

        It’s fantastic that we’ve reached the point where a man can marry a man and still be a teacher. We have come so far since I was a teen. I would never have guessed things would change this fast.

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    Sara May 6, 2019, 3:39 pm

    Hey Wendy! I am the LW you linked above 🙂 Thanks for sharing this… very lovely article and helped me SO much!

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