From the Mailbag: “Isn’t Life Boring and Lonely Without a Relationship?”

In answer to the letter titled “How do I know if I absolutely want kids?” posted on Oct 11th, you wrote:

“Without Woman A or Woman B, you can still have a rich and full life ahead of you. You don’t even have to have a long-term relationship to enjoy the second half of your life although there is certainly something to be said for the companionship and care and love such a relationship provides.”

I found this answer surprising!

If you don’t have a long-term relationship in the second half of your life (say after 45) isn’t it boring or lonely? Very lonely? What do you do if you don’t have a long-term relationship after 45? I’d love to hear your answer.

Things You Can Do if You Don’t Have a Long-Term Relationship (after 45 or whenever), a partial list:

1. Buy some cheap land in a remote area and turn it into a refuge for retired greyhounds.
2. Maybe adopt a kid or two and devote a big chunk of your time and energy to single parenting.
3. Or just get a dog or a cat or a pot-bellied pig.
4. Or maybe no animals. Just be free of responsibility if you want.
5. I mean, you don’t have to answer to anyone!!
6. Wanna go to Greece next year? Fuckin’ do it! You don’t have a partner telling you he’d rather spend your vacation time in Montecarlo.
7. And you know what you can do while you’re in Greece? Hook up with some hot Greeks.
8. Or maybe when you get to Greece, you’ll be like, “Eh! One can only eat so much baklava and enjoy beautiful beaches; I’m ready for a change of scenery.” And then you can hightail it over to Istanbul for a few days.
9. Because Turkish men. (Or women. Whatever floats your boat.)
10. Or if you don’t want to travel alone, organize a friends trip.
11. Remember friends?
12. You know, those other people you hopefully have in your life even if you don’t have a signifiant other?
13-17. Friends are awesome. You can spend birthdays together and Thanksgivings and you can go dancing and to museums and watch the fireworks from their rooftop decks on the Fourth of July.
18. You can learn some new skills. Take a pottery class.
19. Or a salsa dancing class.
20. Or learn to make beautiful embroideries.
21. Get really good at it and sell your stuff at art fairs and on Etsy.
22. Or give your work away to your friends.
23. You have friends, right?
24. Make some friends!
25. Here are some tips on how to make friends.
25. You can also give your stuff away to strangers. Like, if you knit, you can knit hats for chemo patients or blankets for homeless people.
26. Basically, what I’m saying is that you can use your skills and talents to send little ripples of love and compassion through the world.
27. If there’s something you want to watch on TV, go ahead and watch it. And if there’s something you don’t want to watch — like, I don’t know, the sixth 4-hour Yankee game of a playoff series, you don’t have to watch it. Which is pretty cool.
28. Is there a new movie out that sounds good? Go see it. Maybe it’s like a chick flick or, you know, something that, if you had a significant other, he or she wouldn’t want to watch. That’s ok, because you don’t, and you don’t have to compromise on what movie you watch, so go see the schmaltzy one if you want.
29. Do you have all your debt paid off? That’s wonderful – congrats!
30. That has nothing to do with whether or not you have a significant other (except, of course, if you don’t have a significant other, you don’t have someone else’s debt to deal with); it’s just such a wonderful thing to have your debt paid off and I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate you.
31. You could road trip across the whole United States and never have to worry about your partner needing to stop at a gross rest stop or out of the way McDonald’s to pee because you don’t have a partner. Congrats on that!
32. I don’t know who you’re going to spend the holidays with, but I know who you WON’T spend them with and that would be your Republican, Trump-loving in-laws because you don’t have any in-laws, and that’s kind of wonderful, no?
33. I’ll say it again just because it warrants a second mention: NO TRUMP-LOVING IN-LAWS.
34. I mean, that in itself is a pretty good reason to stay the fuck single.
35. Did I already mention hot Greeks you could hook up with if you wanted to?
36. Or hot Italians.
37. Or hot, I don’t know, Ohioans.
38. Like, why don’t people from Ohio get more love?
39. Maybe you could move to Ohio.
40. I don’t really know what’s there, but I’ve met some nice people who grew up in Ohio so it’s probably an ok place.
41. Take up floral design.
42. Swim the English Channel.
43. Or just take the Chunnel, which is awesome.
44. You can get from London to Paris in like two hours! It’s so great.
45. Once you get to Paris, you can eat the whole baguette and not share with anyone because there isn’t an anyone.
46. Hot Parisians.
47. I think you’re probably getting the point now, right?
48. Friends, hobbies, maybe a stray baby or dog or something, hot hook-ups, bad/good movies, no endless baseball games you don’t want to watch, no Trump-loving in-laws, two-hour Chunnel rides and your own baguette.
49. Sounds pretty good to me.
50. I mean, I love my husband, don’t get me wrong, but if something ever happens to him, you can come visit me in Greece.


Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​


  1. My mother is single for the second journey in her life and is quite happy. She moved to another state where she could semi retire at 56, bought a brand new house she got to design herself, has a new dog she rescued, lives near her best friend who she enjoys dinner with numerous times a week (friends husband is lovely and they all enjoy spending time together). She tells me that ya, sometimes she is a little lonely but she has such a full life that she just goes and does something for herself when she is. She enjoys having her space to herself, not concerning herself with someone else’s finances and more.

    She is open to finding someone if it happens but truly is enjoying her freedom and living her life the way she wants. She works part time now with full benefits (her old employer offered none and she worked 60 hours a week) and has a new house paid in full to retire in.

    1. Same for my mom. The woman has multiple social engagements on a daily basis. She has three different card games running. Golf. Movies. Lectures. Dinners, Day trips. Two different book clubs. American Song Book and Philharmonic tickets.

  2. Allornone says:

    This was hilarious (and true!), Wendy. Thank you.

  3. My mom’s college friend was suddenly widowed at around 60, and was lucky to have friends who kept including her in their couple activities, including a lot of travel. Then she married my mom’s boss and seems really happy. They’ve got her city condo and his country house.

  4. My mom is the same. She’s in her 60’s, semi-retired (still works 2 days a week). She runs an Airbnb out of her home (she has a beautiful log house in the woods) and she loves it. She never shuts up about it, she insists on telling me the life story of every guest that comes through her home.

    So she spends her time running the Airbnb, making her home beautiful, works in her garden, she walks her dog, naps when she feels like it. She has friends over once or twice a month, one couple she’s friends with bring their dog as well and the two dogs play. They have birthday parties for their dogs lol.

    She also tells me that she doesn’t want to be with anybody. She likes having her own house, doing things the way she wants, not dealing with anybody else’s debt or bullshit, she likes watching Netflix with her dog and two cats in the bed with her and she has no interest in sharing the bed with anyone but her pets.

    Now that I’m in the UK I’m trying to talk her into coming to visit. It’ll be her first time travelling since her 30s so I think she’s a little afraid, but I bet she’s going to have an awesome time. We also talk on the phone for an hour or two every week.

    My brother and his wife are also about to have a baby any day now (or I suppose any hour now?) and my mom is in full-on Nana mode.

    Basically she has a pretty full life and she doesn’t need a partner to keep her happy. So, it’s definitely possible.

    1. Also my grandma was a total boss until recently (she got really sick this past year and she’s in a care home now). My grandpa died about 12 years ago, but my grandma was never alone. She was too busy going to bingo and the racetrack with her Red Hats friends and being president of the condo board in her building.

    2. My grandfather died when my grandma was in her early 60’s. After she had a lot of “man friends” (cause boyfriend sounds so stupid when you’re 65) and she would tell me “I let them buy me dinner and then they want to feel my boobs and have me do their laundry and cook their dinner. Nope! I’m not taking care of anyone again!”

      I miss ya G.

  5. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

    Er, let’s make sure Drew skips this particular column . . . 😉

    1. I know you’re joking, but I find that quality partners aren’t threatened by their partners’ independence and personalities.

      1. Juliecatharine says:

        This is so true.

        Drew might find those hot Ohioans a little worrisome though….?

      2. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

        Of course. I just can’t help but feel like Wendy wasn’t JUST motivated by the question this time around 🙂

      3. :))

      4. Eh, there aren’t a lot of hot Ohioans left by midlife. Best move towards the cities to avoid Trump-supporter- in-laws should she spot one.

    2. Still lots of hot Ohioans in Cleveland! Plus, we’re bright blue in a red state.

  6. My god, this is so true. I used to work with a man who just froze in place after his divorce. Stayed in the same job, lived in the same house, did everything the same way he did when he was married, except there was a big hole where his wife used to be. So he fixated on that emptiness, and fixated on how his life had been blown up. Sat in his house and watched TV. No hobbies, no friends, no travel, no fun.

    It drove me crazy. I wanted to scream at him, “If your life has been blown up, here’s your chance to start over, on your own terms, and do all the things you wanted to when you were 20!” He had no kids, his parents had passed, and he was reasonably financially comfortable. No responsibilities. Could have traveled (or lived) anywhere in the world. What a wasted opportunity.

  7. This is morbid but normally women outlive men. I have an aunt who is widowed at 72 and My grandmother was widowed at 80. They both have full lives because of their friendships. They travel and have joined widow groups. Even if you have a partner, it is so important to cultivate other relationships. You never know when they will end.

  8. Here, here to Wendy’s list!!!!

    After dating (and being engaged) to all the wrong men (for me) in my 20s, I decided in my early 30s that I didn’t need someone to be happy and I created a full life for myself… a lot of what Wendy mentioned minus the pet or kids. I was perfectly fine with where that life was headed plus I didn’t have the added stress of finding “the one.” I was not actively dating. I wasn’t even really dating at all. It actually kind of just happened. You know why it happened? I had a full and happy life just being me, by myself, with friends and family.

    Basically, I was like @JDs mom, only in my 30s.

    I’m also truly convinced that if you concern yourself with finding a partner, making it your life mission, you’ll end up with someone that’s meh, but hey, at least you’re not alone? NO THANK YOU! Hard pass.

    1. I was also like this, starting about 30. I didn’t get to go the route my mom did but I was in a long relationship from 20-30 and I just wanted to be me finally. My ex was lovely enough, didn’t hold me back but the reality is when you are in a relationship for all of your 20’s you haven’t really found yourself. Once we split i had no desire to date. I was happy living my own life. People kept telling me to date and I just didn’t have the desire.
      Met my husband by chance and he pretty much had to wait for me to be ready to be with him. It took a good amount of time and convincing but because I did it at my own pace I was actually ready to share my life with someone.

      I do still miss my own apartment, not considering someone else’s needs, going on a shopping binge knowing it will only impact me, but the life I share far outweighs that now.

  9. Juliecatharine says:

    What a sad question. I live in fear of my husband dying because dear god I love that man but it would never occur to me that no LTR post-45=a boring and lonely life. LW you should cultivate some independence. You never know when you’re going to need it.

  10. I’m over 45 and I haven’t had a long term relationship for many years. It’s great for all the reasons Wendy mentioned. Except I have never been to Greece. I’d prefer Scotland, cuz men in kilts.

    1. Juliecatharine says:

      Please go forth and experience men in kilts and report back….for science.

      For those of you in NJ at least there’s a gutter/window cleaning service called ‘Men in Kilts’. It’s kinda like the Hooters of handymen.

    2. Come visit me anytime!

    3. Never married, don’t plan on it (but keeping an open mind). Over 45. Of course there are certain things that are more challenging without a partner the most significant one being that tango-ing alone looks ridiculous and I keep falling every time I try to dip myself.

      Am I lonely? No.

      I know enough people (including a few who’ve made appearances here) that are so afraid of being alone that they stay with awful people because being part of a couple is better than being alone. Even if being part of a couple is lonely, isolating, mentally and physically abusive, for some people it’s better to have anyone than no one.

      I go to museums, movies, concerts, travel to new places by myself. I’m excellent company. If someone wants to join me, cool. If not. No big.

      For me, being alone gives me ultimate control over almost everything in my life. Which is good because I am a control freak.

      1. I once said i only need a man to reach high things and carry heavy stuff.

      2. I have a stepladder and those furniture sliders. However I have asked the super to replace a light bulb that was still too high with the stepladder.

      3. The main reason I’m happy to live with the husband: spiders and bugs! I’m terrified of them and so when lived along, I’d spray the life out of them with Raid… probably also slowing killing myself. It’s good he’s around now.

    4. Granted, my life is not perfect. I can’t travel as much as I would like (to Scotland or anywhere else) but overall it’s pretty good. I used to stress out a lot about not being coupled up. I’m open to it if I find the right person. But I’ve always been able to have a good time on my own. I think this is the most important life skill I have acquired in my 51 years.

  11. dinoceros says:

    Huh. I mean, I’m sure that people who want relationships who are single might feel lonely from time to time, but I think everyone feels lonely sometimes. Even people who are in relationships. Romantic relationships are only one type of relationship, and you can feel lonely if you are married and don’t see your friends much or miss family or whatever. But similarly, those other types of relationships can help fulfill your life, too. The “bored” part is what I find particularly … sad? While loneliness can generally only solved by being around other people (and animals!), boredom can be solved by literally anything. Hobbies, work, friends and family, whatever. If you are bored because you’re not in a relationship, then I think it means you’re just a boring person and need to find some hobbies.

    But beyond that, I don’t think that fear of being bored or lonely is a good reason to stay in a relationship that isn’t working or to pursue a relationship that you wouldn’t otherwise want. I think that people who are in relationships that aren’t right for them often DO feel lonely, which typically feels a lot worse than feeling lonely because you are alone.

  12. Bittergaymark says:

    Please. Apparently, life is boring and dull WITH a relationship post 45. All those dreary coupled zombies do post 45 is sit and home dully watching the world flicker by on oversized television sets while eating lousy take out…

    1. Looking forward to doing just that tonight. Of course, it’s going to be pouring rain so it makes it better.

  13. I just want to point out that all the stories of happily single older folks are of women. I’ve noticed older men tend to remarry after divorce/death of a spouse (and I can’t find it, but this proves out statistically as well) while older women seem to be more content on their own. I think it boils down to a lot of things (super generalized and hetero, apologies!): men more than women to rely on their partner for for household labor and it would bitch to realize that the cook/maid/person who did the doctor’s appointments and took care of you is gone. Also emotional support…one of the saddest parts of modern day “masculinity’ is how men are not encouraged to have deep, emotionally intimate relationships with other men or show emotional vulnerability so they lack a good support system outside of a primary relationship (side note: I think this is a large reason why some men cheat – the only way they are used to intimacy is through sexuality and when they need support this is what they run to). Women by and large have easier access to NSA hookups, so we don’t have to worry “where the next meal is coming from” as much. Women tend to have closer emotional relationships with their kids (not always!)

    Anyone have good examples of older gents who stayed happily single?

    1. There is a saying (which I acknowledge is just anecdotal but does seem to have some truth to it): “Men remarry, women regroup.”

      1. Rangerchic says:

        I’d have to agree with Kmtthat. My parents divorced late in life after 40 (or nearly) years of marriage. They were both around 59 or so and this was around 5 years ago. My dad said he’d never remarry and that didn’t last long. He’s been married again for about a year. My mom on the other hand, is not married (or seeing anyone) but she isn’t happy either (that’s of her own doing).

    2. “men tend to remarry after divorce/death”

      My dad is on his 3rd marriage lol. He has never be alone in all the years I’ve been alone. Always a new relationship the moment one ends.

  14. I need to go on record that I do not have trump-loving in-laws (at least, none I’m aware of!).

    1. I wish I could say that. I’m not married and I still have them.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Dude seriously. I am married with a kid and all this freedom sounds… wonderful. Florida is about to have a surplus of retired racing greyhounds. Go adopt a couple. They are wonderful gentle giants who could really use a home.

  16. Is this partial list of things you can do if you Don’t Have a Long-Term Relationship (after 45 or whenever) for a female ? Or is it for males also?

    1. dinoceros says:

      Men or women are allowed to read the list and, presumably, can decide which items are things they’d be interested in doing.

  17. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    Being lonely as a single or widowed man depends on where you live. In the rural area where I grew up the men in every town have a place where they meet in the mornings. Often it will be a restaurant and they all get coffee and some will get breakfast and any guy can drop in when they like. Some men go daily and some go when they are in town. Farmers who aren’t retired will go in and join the group on rainy days after their chores are done. Men of all ages join in. Men from ages 20 to 80 will all be sitting in a big group talking. The bachelor farmers who live close enough to town will eat their noon meal at the restaurant every day. There is no stigma to being a single man and it is assumed that they are quite capable of taking care of themselves.

    The women don’t have nearly that much social life. The women will do things like going to quilting once a week or meeting with the other ladies for breakfast once a month.

  18. Wendy, it’s easy for you to write this list because you’re happily married with kids?

    Some singles that are 45 plus, have never been married and have no children. And they’re miserable and lonely.

    I’m not sure if this partial list is going to make them feel better?

    1. What do you think WOULD make them feel better? Telling them they’re right to be miserable and lonely? That the only way to a full and content life is to have a partner?

    2. Also, you’re the person who wrote to me with the question. If you didn’t think my answer/perspective “counted” because I am happily married with kids, why did you write in?

      1. Point taken.

    3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      @Jessica Do you have friends and still feel lonely or do you have no close connections?

      Would it help if you realized that many married people are lonely. They may be married and live in a home with a partner but they don’t get along and avoid each other and spend very little time together. They often feel trapped by responsibility to kids or finances or don’t believe in divorce so they remain married but very alone. Marriage itself isn’t the fix for loneliness. You would be surprised by how many married women will look at your life with envy.

      You need to find people that are compatible with yourself who want to spend time with friends. You need to find activities that suit your personality which naturally allows you to meet people similar to yourself. Do you have no social circle?

      At 45 it is too late to have children but it isn’t too late to meet someone who can be a life partner. The same social skills that help you make friends are the ones that lead to meeting a partner. I’m not talking about hookups with strangers in foreign places. That seems particularly lonely if what you want is a partner. You need to do things that you enjoy and see if you sooner or later come across someone that you love to be around. It does happen. My uncle got married, for the first time, at the age of 52. He met his wife while watching local baseball games in a small town. They ended up sitting near each other at a game and had fun talking. Then they started to watch for each other and sit together and talked. Then they went on a date. She was a widow and he became the grandfather to all of her grandchildren. His life was very full.

      What are you currently doing socially? Fill your time with meaningful activities which will also begin filling your time with meaningful people. It’s up to you to find meaning and fulfillment and companionship in your life. If what you are doing isn’t working then you need to try something different.

      Are you depressed? Do you need to begin by seeing your doctor and taking care of depression?

      1. Jessica is the person who asked the original question and she has written in before. Based on previous letters, I know she is much younger than 45 (like, by more than a decade). Based on previous letters and on this one and the subsequent comment, I believe Jessica would greatly benefit from therapy.

      2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        Thanks. It makes more sense now. I knew she was the person who asked the original question but not that she was changing things like her age.

      3. Skyblossom, I never changed my age. I never said i was in my 40s. I’m in my 30s.

        I just wanted Wendy to elaborate on how to be happy without a long term relationship after 45 which she has done.

      4. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        @Jessica Why would you think that a woman must be lonely if she is over 45 and isn’t in a romantic relationship? Life is full of widows who are leading full and happy lives. Life is full of divorced women who are leading full and happy lives. The older a woman is the more apt she is to be alone because she has no partner. Most of the women I know don’t want another husband. I don’t understand why you picked the age of 45. It should be obvious that there are lots of women who are happy with their lives without a partner.

      5. @Jessica – I think that loneliness comes from the life you build for yourself. So it is trued that I always know where I am spending the holidays. It is with my family. If you don’t have that family, you need to work harder. You need to develop your relationships. But I have met people traveling alone and who live large lives. I would prefer that then spending night after night in front of the TV. You can be married and boring or single and boring.

      6. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        Jessica Boredom comes from not finding something to do. I’m married and I’m not bored but it isn’t because my husband entertains me or finds things for me to do. I do that for myself. I have trouble working in everything I want to do. I work in a library and we have large numbers of older women coming through and the one thing they all seem to have in common is that they are very busy. They lead busy lives. They are involved in the community. They are incredibly active. Obviously, we don’t see the women who sit at home bored and feeling sorry for themselves.

    4. I fully reject the idea that you need a partner and/or children to make your like happy and fulfilling. The point of Wendy’s post was to cultivate a life that makes you happy and fulfilled through friends, family, passions, etc. If you aren’t able to do that and are stuck, then a therapist is likely in order.

      1. ktfran, when you say cultivate a life though friends, family, passions etc. Define family?

        If you don’t have a partner and/or children, who is your family?

      2. Really?? Siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and close friends who are “like family.”

      3. Matt, that would be your family of origin, your extended family, and/or your self-created family of people you’ve surrounded yourself with.

        Jesus. No one is guaranteed a lifetime love with a soul mate. Shit happens. Life happens. Sometimes it’s really hard. If you think you’re nothing without a partner, talk to a therapist.

  19. Apart from parents, siblings and grandparents, i don’t consider the rest “like family”

    But then again, i have trust issues.

  20. As an Italian living in Ohio, thanks Wendy. 😉

    Hot in Cleveland!

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