Guest Blog: Suddenly Single at Midlife

It has taken me a long time to appreciate being single. Ever since my divorce almost 14 years ago, I have been trying to find that elusive Mr. Right. Not really to replace my Ex (though I longed to make him jealous…as if). But I compared every man I dated to him…as if he were the prototype of Prince Charming.

Many times, especially when something went wrong in the house – blocked up sink, finding a mouse running along my kitchen counter – I was the damsel in distress hoping to be saved.

I wanted a man in my life to share the housekeeping, maintenance and expenses.

Of course there was the intimacy. But that was far from being my top reason. I needed a man to make me feel more alive! I wanted to fall in love again (and still do). I wanted to belong to someone. To fit in a world made up of couples.

I began online dating in my forties, at a time when it was considered creepy and for losers. Nobody dared admit they had a dating profile on line.

Yes, I joined all the other desperate people out there. I must have created and posted a hundred different profiles throughout my “newly single” years.

As the years went by, online dating sites flourished. These internet-based services grew into a billion-dollar industry. Dating on line became socially acceptable and went from “creepy” to trendy. I no longer felt like a pariah.

By then, I was well into midlife. Different story. Different playing field.

Today, Online Dating Magazine estimates there are more than 2,500 online dating services in the U.S. alone, with an additional 1,000 cropping up every year. Some estimates say there are 8,000 competitors worldwide. Add to that figure the numerous books and services promising to reveal the secrets of finding a quality man, or telling you how to dress to find the man of your dreams, as well as dating coaches, and how-to-date gurus.

I am a woman in my sixties. It’s no secret that men my age (and older) want women half their age. It’s become the norm. And get them they do. Or hope they do. Look at Modern Family’s Jay, played by the talented and funny Ed O’Neill – not exactly someone who would inspire women to immediately click on his profile. Yet, the producers cast the sexy Sofia Vergara as his wife. Of course, Jay has something a lot of men his age don’t have. Success and money.

ed o neill sofia vergara

Because I was afraid of ending up alone, and especially because I was insecure, I reduced my criteria. Told myself looks weren’t important. Chemistry wasn’t important. What was important was that I had men (even if unsuitable) wanting to date me. Now my family, friends, colleagues, and strangers wouldn’t consider me a total loser. See? She has a boyfriend.

Naturally, these “boyfriends” didn’t last. All I possessed was a box filled with photocopies of the profiles of men I had dated, with little notes attached.

I had enough material for two books.

I used some of that material in Getting to Mr. Right, a novel on midlife dating and the Prince Charming myth. In the novel, one of the characters, Missi, is unexpectedly dumped by her husband and has to face the daunting prospect of dating again in midlife. Her disappointing dating experiences became a parallel book entitled Missi’s Dating Adventures. Although the book is not biographical, I drew on my own dating experiences, as well as those of my girlfriends.

Missi is your everyday middle-aged woman, who is suddenly thrust into an online dating world after years of married bliss … whose journey through the disillusionment of disastrous dates helps her to find out who she really is and what she really wants. She may not find the perfect match on line but she regains her self-identity and self-respect.

missi dating adventure

Writing the second edition was a lot like renovating a house. Walls (chapters) were torn down, and new extensions built. Most importantly, in this edition, Missi learns a valuable lesson with every unsuitable date.

In this version more emphasis is placed on Missi’s growth and evolution as her own woman and how discerning she is becoming through her dating adventures.

Included in this revised version are the lessons which Missi learned from each dating experience. Surviving disappointments in her love life made her stronger, and the bad dates, the many encounters with Mr. Wrong, gave her more confidence and a better appreciation of who she is.

This edition deals more with the perks of being single. I’ve also emphasized Missi’s embracement of being single. How she faced her fears of being alone:

I sat in the silence after the song ended. Life as I knew it was gone. Maybe I’d never find that special someone to replace Max.

As a nameless fear took shape, my spine stiffened. What if I stayed single and grew old alone?

Would my corpse be discovered like that woman on the news, whose body was found in her apartment three years after she’d died?

You can read one of Missi’s adventures here.

In the end, Missi gains a new appreciation of herself and feels more positive about being single, much like Carrie in Sex and the City:

Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you.

Now it means you’re pretty sexy, and you’re taking your time

deciding how you want your life to be

and who you want to spend it with.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post from Carol Balawyder. She was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec and now lives in Montreal. She taught ESL and criminology for many years. Now, retired, she concentrates her time on writing crime novels, memoirs and women’s fiction. She is the author of Open for Business, Windows on Sci-Tech and her stories have appeared in Room Magazine, The Anthology of Canadian Writers and Mindful.org. You can visit her at www.carolbalawyder.com

Being Afraid Is Human, But Staying Afraid Is A Choice.

20 Comments
  • namelessneed
    April 6, 2015

    Thanx for yr forthright, candid Share/you’re Pretty Thorough Fleshing It All Out/Yr Site Is Usually Good For A Worthwhile Read/keep On

    • shirleymaya
      April 19, 2015

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words. Means a lot. Hope all is well with you. 🙂

  • Carol Balawyder
    April 6, 2015

    Thank you immensely for posting this, Shirley. You did an amazing job! 🙂

    • shirleymaya
      April 19, 2015

      Thank you so much for saying yes, Carol. I love your post. Again, THANK YOU. Hope all is well with you. Big hugs x

  • Carol Balawyder
    April 10, 2015

    I have to say that the photo of Ed O’Neill is a much better photo than the one I had in mind when I wrote that he didn’t inspire me to click. Actually, in this photo he does! 🙂

  • Margot Kinberg
    April 10, 2015

    Thanks to both of you. Carol, Thanks for sharing your story. It’s so interesting how much of society is built, as it were, for couples. Little wonder there’s so much pressure on singles to pair up. You make some interesting points too about how age affects the dating process. I suppose because I’ve been ‘out of circulation’ for a while that I hadn’t thought about that. Lots of great insights here!

    • Carol Balawyder
      April 11, 2015

      Thanks for your comments, Margot. i hope that you got a chance to browse Shirley’s blog. Her candid opinions are both entertaining and insightful. 🙂

  • shehannemoore
    April 10, 2015

    Carol, what an amazing post. Both brave and candid. I just refuse to believe you are in your sixties!

    • Carol Balawyder
      April 11, 2015

      Thanks, Shehanne. Keep refusing! As I do! 🙂

      • shirleymaya
        April 19, 2015

        I find it extremely hard to believe it too! 🙂

  • Glynis Jolly
    April 12, 2015

    Carol, bring this subject more out in the open like you have through your book is going to get a lot of single women thinking, whether they be young, mid-life, or even “old”. Bravo!

    • Carol Balawyder
      April 13, 2015

      Thanks, Glynis…I appreciate your comment especially since your own blog brings delicate issues out in the open.

  • peakperspective
    April 12, 2015

    Carol, this was a lovely post, and a message that I think so many women (and men) need to hear. The idea of regaining one’s self-identity and self-respect is a beautiful and poignantly painful journey that may end up being nearly as important–if not more rewarding–than finding that perfect partner.
    And many thanks, Shirley, for the terrific choice in guest blogger. Carol is a favorite of mine.
    Cheers!

    • shirleymaya
      April 19, 2015

      Thank you for sharing. Carol is awesome beyond words. It is an honour and joy to have her guest post for me. Fearless and fabulous – how not to love! 🙂

  • newyorkvagal
    April 14, 2015

    Great post. Sounds so much like my life , except I didn’t start online dating until I was 60!

    • shirleymaya
      April 19, 2015

      You and all the ladies like Carol give single women a lot of hope and courage to get back out there in the dating arena. I must admit I have only tried online dating as part of a research and then quit when the project was over. I still find it all very daunting. Nonetheless, in this year – I shall try and start dating again. Try is a good operative word. haha

      • newyorkvagal
        April 20, 2015

        Thank you. It does take courage but one needs to go with both eyes open and a sense of humor! It certainly is daunting. I have gotten discouraged many times, but it can be fun and very amusing!

        • shirleymaya
          April 22, 2015

          Thank you for your kind reply. Will keep your advice in mind! 🙂

      • newyorkvagal
        April 21, 2015

        Thank you. Took me a long time to try it. It is daunting but cant hurt to “try”. Keep your sense of humor . Certainly helps me