In 1986, Newsweek published a cover story called The Marriage Crunch and famously stated that college-educated single women had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than ever walking down the aisle past the age of 40.
The good news is it’s no longer 1986. And Al Quaeda isn’t hot on your tail.
However, if you’re a woman over forty who finds yourself single, The Marriage Crunch may not be the only story in need of a major rewrite. What are the other sabotaging stories and blinding beliefs that keep you feeling stuck and out of luck when it comes to love? Until you rewrite your particular unhappy ending, you may not be able to create that incredible relationship future you’d like to create.
Relationship Story #1: “Work Defines Me”
Yes, one of the benefits of being single is that it allows you the space, time, and energy to focus on your career. And that’s awesome. Whether you’ve chosen to climb the corporate ladder, launch and build your own business, or found yourself dancing between the two in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, being single and successful makes you quite the catch. But here’s what it DOESN’T make you – a slave to your job. Too often, single women bury themselves in work because they’re good at what they do, and because they can control that outcome. Whereas being single often feels like something you can’t control – a destiny you can’t seem to determine – focusing on work has tangible payoffs like more money, more visibility, more promotions, etc. However, if you want to let love in your life, you can’t let work define who you are. Now’s the time to get realistic about HOW you spend your time. Do you have hobbies? Do you have a healthy, happy social circle? When was the last time you put yourself in a target rich environment where you might actually meet someone? Starting today, get clear about any possible over-commitment to your career and give yourself permission to adjust your hours, activities, and interests to live a more well rounded and balanced life. Rewrite your relationship story to read I love my life and I’m open to the romantic possibilities that are out there.
Relationship Story #2: “It’s Too Late”
Think time has run out on your chance to find love, get married, have a family? Think again. While it may have been true that once upon a time (also known as when your mother was single) the search for love, marriage, and babies had a predictable timeline, our modern lives are far less predictable. And that’s a good thing. Now more than ever, women are delaying marriage until their 40s and 50s – not because they can’t find love but more likely because they’ve been busy living their amazing lives. (The same can be said for YOU.) Instead of buying into the pre-conceived notion that time is running out, remind yourself of this NEW story daily: I am NEVER behind schedule. I am right on time for my life, my way. (And yes, I understand the biology isn’t always on our side. But if you truly want to have a family, not being able to bear your own children shouldn’t be the deal breaker. You can adopt, hire a surrogate, be a foster parent, or even a step parent to your future partner’s children.)
Relationship Story #3: “There Are No Good Men Left”
When a woman believes that there are no good men available, all she sees is proof that she’s right. If you’re hung up on the belief that every decent man on the planet is already spoken for, guess who you’ll run into? Men who suck. Men who don’t open doors for you. Men who cut you off in traffic. Men who refuse to let you go in front of them in line at the grocery store when you’ve got a bottle of wine and he’s got a cart full of kids’ cereals. Your need to be right in your relationship story that All the good ones are taken will trump your desire for happiness. The truth is, there are good men everywhere. Not all of them are available. Not all of them are interested. And you’re not interested in all of them. By acknowledging and celebrating these good men, even if they simply open a door for you, let you ahead of them in line at the grocery store, or compliment you on your perfume, this is an opportunity to recognize a good man. When you start celebrating the good men you interact with every day, and lighten up on your need to be right about your belief that there are no good single men left, you will change who you attract. In the process, you can attract somebody pretty fabulous.
Relationship Story #4: “My Past Defines My Future”
You got your heart broken. Maybe it got smashed to smithereens. Maybe you’ve been cheated on, lied to, ditched at the altar, left in tremendous debt, and/or every other horrible thing men have done to you. Guess what? Your past does NOT define your future. In order to let love in again in your 40s, it’s time to let go of the stories, shame, blame, and pain past relationships caused you in your 20s and 30s. The truth is, you survived. You’re stronger. Wiser. You won’t let that same crap happen again because the first sign of a red flag? You’re calling him on it and either working things out or moving on. Repeat after me: “I’ve let go so I can let love in again.”
What are the other stories keeping you single? How can you rewrite them to incorporate a healthier, happier outlook about life and love?