Sharing the misery

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being single. I watch a lot of dating shows and occasionally chat to a 20-something friend at work about dating disasters, short lived relationships and Tinder.

It’s always on my mind. I realised the other day that I’ve only been truly single three times since I was 22 – all three times for around 8 months (must be some kind of magic number..)

There is something so reassuring about having a love interest in my life and I have plenty of moments of obsessing over the lack of a potential mate. In fact I’d go as far as to say that I have moments of feeling blind panic at the thought of being alone.
On the whole though it is this fear that time is running out.

I find myself reassessing men that I’ve already discounted as potential mates for the simple reason that they are at least present in my life.

I look at my ex (not The Husband) and pine and consider every day how to reach back to him before coming to my senses.

I look at my friend, the one I briefly dated, the one I see often, chat to easily and share loads of stuff in common with but I still can’t quite see us as a couple.

I even briefly looked at the next door’s ex (remember the dodgy one?). I was letting him become really friendly (ok not *that* friendly!) for a couple of weeks until his behaviour started weirding me out a little and I gave myself a good talking to and cut him loose.

Now I feel just about as single as I’ve felt this side of March 2005.

The thing is I know I want someone who is good, kind, warm, generous, romantic and considerate (amongst gabillion other traits) but there is no way I would ever want to inflict the shit storm that is my life right now on someone that lovely (if, in fact, that person actually exists). And there’s the rub… I neither believe there is someone that good just lurking round the corner nor do I believe that sharing my misery would be either a problem halved in this case nor a fair trade off.

I look back at the posts I was writing this time last year and – oh my goodness – it’s like nothing has changed at all with the Husband. He’s still messing me around the same as ever although this year he has upped the ante with his over-blown allegations of my supposed abuse, control and coercion. Yes, that’s right – those are things he pins on me (whilst looking in the mirror?).

I know now that I need to make changes in myself – in the way I deal with him. I need to put my foot down about him giving me pre-agreed dates and sticking to them. No more flexibility, no more Mr (Mrs) nice guy, no more bending over backwards. I have a clear view of just where that gets me and it looks an awful lot like the inside of a police interview room right now.

One thing is certain: the status of my love life ain’t going to change in 2017. We have a court date in January 2018 and that is currently the light at the end of my never-ending divorce tunnel but I can tell you right now that by this time next year I will be done with the Husband. He will no longer be the ‘Husband’ – he will be the ex-nightmare – and I might actually be taking my first tentative steps on a path to becoming some kind of eligible bachelorette (albeit on the wrong side of 40).

In the meantime I shall try my very hardest to push aside the misery, enjoy the lovelier things about single life – making choices for myself, having platonic male friends to hang out with, spending time with lovely people doing fun stuff and getting to nurture my kids alone with undivided love and affection.

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Is it possible to find a life partner in your 40s?

I often find myself wondering what my life might have been like if I’d got lucky and met someone perfect for me when I was young (like, the formative years – early 20s). I look at people I know who are in their 40s in a long term partnership with someone they met when they were young and see them enjoying family life, knowing each other inside out, sharing half a lifetime of memories. I wonder if, as partners, they are the best they could ever be for each other because when they met they were not set in their ways yet, they hadn’t had a chance to develop selfish attitudes about how their life should be. And chances are they were not ground down by excessive dating and, certainly back then, unaware of the myriad of other potential partners because online dating, social media and apps hadn’t been invented yet.

Certainly when I’m looking at potential partners now I am a lot more critical than I might have been 20-25 years ago. Someone’s “red flags” from the get go do matter and are noticeable – if you go into a relationship thinking you might be able to change the other person you are kidding yourself. By middle age people are pretty much set.
I wish I knew of some happy couples in their 70s who met in their 40s because I could perhaps let this negative feeling go but I don’t.

I went on a date with a guy about six months ago who told me straight out that he didn’t believe we were meant to be with just one person our whole lives, that we should embrace the idea that we can be happy going from one partner to the next over the course of time but I didn’t like that idea despite my life looking very much like it’s followed that model to this point. The way he spun it, it seemed as though he was suggesting that each of these short term partnerships would end mutually and amicably to the satisfaction of each party simply because they were both ready for a change. REALITY CHECK! Human connections and emotions don’t work like that.

Maybe I’m just a romantic but a long term partner should be exactly the same as a lifelong best friend underneath the attraction and the physical relationship, lust and initial passion. You should really genuinely like each other and enjoy each other’s company on a level a lot deeper than the sexual.

With my ex (not the husband) I really felt that we had a lot of similarities, shared values and I thought he was a great person to know and hang out with. I thought we complimented each other quite well but now I wonder what he was really thinking – that we had nothing in common except a high sex drive? I know I am a much more highly educated person than him, having completed two degrees where he left school and ended up in a blue collar profession, and that I am wordy and love to read, visit the theatre and value cultural experiences where he would rather pass his time camping, fishing and sailing. He was an intelligent man though and a deep thinker. Maybe he saw those cultural differences as a huge barrier and never really believed we were compatible deep down.

And this is it – you can have a tick list of essential requirements in a partner and be seen as inflexible and narrow minded, but opt to overlook the odd difference or two and suddenly you’re making yourself vulnerable to misunderstanding and may never truly be able to appreciate one another because however accepting you aim to be, you can’t ever second guess someone else’s motivations and intentions.