Can You Find The Love In Being Single?

 

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Before I got married, I had an on-again/off-again affair with being single. When we were on and things were good, I loved it; but when we were off, I hated it.

There’s a lot to love about being single: you’ve got freedom and independence, you can come and go as you please, and you can do what you want when you want. You can go out, get laid, and not have to answer to anybody.

It’s the life!

If you’re not actively dating, you don’t have to shave your legs or get bikini waxes on a regular basis. And if you’re a guy, you can scratch your balls and fart all you want.

Now that’s what I call freedom!

Being single can be the greatest time of your life, or a hell you can’t escape. If you’ve ever been a singleton at a couples dinner party, or at a wedding without a +1, or dateless at a family function, you know the hell I’m talking about.

For years, a girlfriend of mine has been throwing dinner parties attended mostly by her married friends or fellow school parents. Even though I was single, she would invite me, and I accepted because I adore her. The evenings were glorious events, filled with incredible food and wine, beautiful settings, and fabulous people.

And it was brutally tough to get through.

My singleness made me feel like an outsider, like an alien from another planet. I was neither a member of the married club nor the mommy club, and it was made painfully clear to me especially if one of the wives gave me the stink-eye.

Want to know what hell is? Being the only single woman in a room full of married people.

When you’re single, people judge, stare, ask questions, whisper and gossip– especially if you’ve been single an eternity like I was. They make assumptions and jump to conclusions. They ask why you’re not married or have kids, and wonder what’s wrong with you.

There’s a stigma attached to being single, and a word for it too: “Singlism,” the technical term for holding negative beliefs about single people or treating them unfairly because of their single status.

The good news is if you stay single long enough, eventually the questions will cease. When my mother stopped asking when I was getting married and started asking if I had received my AARP card yet, I knew she had given up.

But some people aren’t so lucky– the questions keep coming.

Just ask Jennifer Aniston, the subject of relentless rumors about her marriage and maternal status– stuff of no one’s business. She finally told everybody to fuck off and stop speculating about her happiness in a recent Huffington Post piece, For The Record, and I will tell you the same:

You don’t need to be married and have kids to be happy, so STFU already!

 

proxy-jpgSingle gal blogger Michelle L. Torigian echoes Anniston’s sentiments in her post For the Record, I’m Fed Up Too, as does Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell in her book, Single Is The New Black.

Dr. Abrell, a fellow dating expert and late blooming bride like me, got married when she was 42 after suffering the same single girl experiences that I did— both good and bad.

In her book, she emphatically contends that nothing is wrong with you if you’re still single. You just haven’t yet met “The One,” and that’s OK. Being single is not a curse or a crime or something that needs to be fixed or ashamed of. It’s just where you are in life, and the sooner you stop defining yourself by it, or beating yourself over it, the better.

This got me thinking: while you’re looking for love, can you find the love in being single?

It’s possible and here’s how:

BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

Don’t conform or change for anyone. Stop apologizing and making excuses for who you are. If someone doesn’t appreciate you (or your choices, personality, sense of humor, smarts, values, circumstances, etc.) then they’re not for you. Period. Don’t waste one minute of your precious time trying to be something you’re not. Love who you are, whatever you are.

LOSE THE EXPECTATIONS

If you want to be a happy single person, do yourself a favor and stop pressuring yourself about dating, getting married, etc. Stop checking the time, and tapping your watch– love happens when it happens and not one minute before. As I’ve said before, you can have aspirations, just not expectations—they’ll set you up for disappointment and defeat.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR SINGLE STATUS ASAP

You’re single, deal with it. Own it, accept it, and stop bitching about it before you become bitter. The strongest statement you can make as a single person is to live life on your own terms, and show the world you don’t give a shit.

FIND YOUR HAPPINESS ELSEWHERE

You know when love finds you? When you’re busy with other pursuits and pleasures. Get involved, volunteer, hang with your friends, find a hobby, do the things that bring you joy. It’ll take the edge off being alone and it’ll keep your life full.

DO THE WORK

Along with finding your happiness elsewhere, it’s important to find your healing too. If you’re single, that means you’ve got time to work on yourself. So go inside, tie up loose ends, resolve old issues, and bring closure to things that might be impeding your progress. Being single is a job, so take care of business.

BE OK WITH BEING SINGLE FOREVER

Single friends, this is a tough one to swallow, but I’m here to tell you that your “Happily Ever After” could be right now. You might be single for longer than you want, or even forever, so you better make peace with it.

When I turned 50 and still wasn’t married, I did something bold: I blew off marriage altogether.

On my 50th birthday, I made a life-changing decision. If I was going to be single, then I was going to be happiest single I could be. I would live my life unashamed and proud; I would refuse to feel self-conscious or stigmatized; and I would never allow myself to feel incomplete just because I didn’t have a husband or kids.

I decided to find the love in being single, and it freed me.

Then something weird happened. After my come to Jesus moment about being single forever, I found “The One” and suddenly gained membership to the married club.

Those days of being single, not shaving my legs, and letting my pubes grow out are now over. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!

NOTE TO THE GUYS READING THIS: As I’ve learned, you can still scratch your balls and fart all you want—it’s called marriage.

Midlife Dating: Men, What Say You?

shutterstock_268928468I gave the guys a little dating tough love in my last blog post, so it’s only fair to give the guys some equal time to speak on the state of the midlife singles scene as they see it.

I wanted to know how men feel about dating fellow boomers, so I gathered up a few of my middle-aged guy friends, bought them a few beers, and picked their brains about their dating life: the good, bad, and ugly. They were buzzed just enough to let it rip.

Their feedback was insightful, honest, and very real. It was also cringe-worthy, because as a long-time single girl once myself (up until very recently) I made a lot of dating mistakes, and at times I felt they were describing me.

Now I know what you girls are thinking: By the time you’re post 50, everyone is bitter, jaded, or hardened – especially about dating – so why should I listen? These guys are probably all a bunch of sorry-ass losers who’ve struck out at love and know nothing.

Yeah, some have struck out, but who hasn’t? If you’re single and 50+ years old, you’ve probably seen it all, done it all, dated it all, and chances are, have a bad attitude about it all. Join the club! Everyone in the 50-something dating pool has had their fare share of hook ups, breakups, and fuck ups, and that’s a good thing. It makes you human.

The truth is, dating in your 50s can blow sometimes, but it doesn’t have to suck.

In fact, midlife can be a great time to be single, and my man friends here agree. These are nice guys, not shallow, not players, they’re looking for LOVE, not games, not one-nighters, younger chicks, or the bigger, better deal. They’re looking for smart, substantial, age-appropriate women who know who the Beatles are.

In other words, they want women like YOU. So ladies, if you’re listening, take note.

Note to the men: This stuff works both ways, so listen up.

THE GOOD

“I actually prefer dating women my own age because we have a common base of things to relate to, talk about, laugh at, or commiserate over. Women my age ‘get it.’ Very little gets lost in translation. Put it this way, if a woman isn’t familiar with Woody Allen’s early work, then it couldn’t possibly work.”

“Women in their 50s generally have more time and freedom. They’re more relaxed, especially if they’re empty nesters. We’ve been both been through the hell of raising young kids and now we can hang out.”

“Women over 50 are the sexiest humans in the world. They’re in command of their bodies, and in charge of what they want and need. They don’t care about stretch marks or a few extra pounds – and neither do I. Besides, I’ve got a big gut, so who am I to talk?”

THE BAD

“Women in their 50s can be a little too anxious to get involved. Right after the first date, they want you to meet their kids, their parents, their pets, whatever, without any regard to your comfort level. It feels rushed.”

“I’ve dated some divorced women in their 50s who are so bitter and angry toward their exes they can’t see straight. It’s hard to get close when she’s still fuming.”

“You can feel the desperation with some women in their 50s, especially if they’ve been single a long time or if they’re newly divorced.”

THE UGLY

“If a woman tells me what to do with my kids, or gives me unsolicited advice, or criticizes my parenting skills, I run for the hills.”

“Women who obviously judge you based on how much money you make, or in my case, don’t make, is a deal killer.”

“I’ve met some women in their 50s who believe having sex as quickly as possible is a way to get a man and it’s not.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Men who seek out and date women in their 50s do so because they WANT TO. Because they dig chicks who have a little more maturity and experience; because they enjoy the mutual compatibility and sympatico you get with someone your own age; because there’s more freedom and fun; because women in their 50s are hot as hell, and I’m not talking about menopause.

Ladies, I’m not telling you what to do here, but this is what I’ve gleaned: If you stay open to the possibilities, TRY to have a good attitude, make peace with yourself, let go of anger and grief, and don’t jump into the sack too soon, you’ll see that midlife dating doesn’t have to blow or suck at all.

Unless you want it to of course.

 

Guys and gals, what say you? What’s the state of your singles scene?

Suddenly Single? Talk To The Suddenly Married

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Suddenly single to suddenly married.

When I was asked to speak on a women’s conference panel called “Suddenly Single,” I had to laugh because I’m suddenly married. But then I thought: this makes sense. Who better than me to speak on the subject since I was single for 150 years before I got married? If anyone knows how to be single, how to prepare for it, and how to deal with it, it’s me.

When you’ve been suddenly single as many times as I have, you know your shit.

Girlfriends, I’ve been there. I’ve walked in your shoes, and I’m here to tell you that being single isn’t the worst thing in the world. Ill-fitting shoes are.

“Suddenly Single” was billed as a how-to on “creating a social network, mastering the new dating game safely, and controlling your financial portfolio.” It was part of the conference “Deal With It: Taking Charge & Facing Life’s Curveballs” sponsored by the MPTF (Motion Picture Television Fund).

http://www.mptf.com/dealwithit.

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Imparting wit and wisdom on the panel.

My fellow panelists included a divorce attorney, a former law enforcement guy who now runs his own security firm, and a recently divorced single mom. Together, we shared our insights and experiences on everything from background checks to personal branding, from prenups to pepper spray, from Facebook to finding Mr. Right.

Our goal was to help the newly single navigate the world of dating, mating, hooking-up, and breaking-up, all without fear and loathing. And as the once-perpetually single person on the panel, I felt it was my personal duty to not only enlighten and empower my single sisters in the audience, but to also show them that single life needn’t suck.

Here are some Q&A highlights from the session:

What’s the secret to being a successful single person?

Striking a balance. It’s the ability to be alone with yourself without freaking out, while at the same time being able to stay busy, active, and be social. Having balance is doing what you love with frequency and passion, then knowing when to shut up and stay still.

How do you survive break-up hell?

First, process the grief any way you have to: therapy, exercise, spa treatments, journaling, meditating, drinking in mass quantities or vaping with your buddies. However, if you’re feeling fragile and your heart is still mending, don’t jump into the sack too soon. “Getting over someone by getting under someone” is total bullshit and bad advice unless you’re an unevolved guy who thinks getting laid solves everything.

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Hey Ma look at me! I’m a speaker!

What are some red flags to look out for when dating?

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: a guy who texts all the time and doesn’t pick up the phone to talk isn’t for real. He’s either not available, not a serious contender, a complete pussy, or worse, married. Men who hide behind texts are a huge red flag. So are men who can’t spell.

What are some of your hot tips for meeting guys?

Learn to play golf, teach yourself to make eye contact and smile, take an extension class at a local university, join a gym, hang out inside a Vegas sports book, hang out at coffee houses, go to Happy Hour, hit balls at a driving range, and always show up for jury duty. You never know whom you will meet in the jury pool!

How do you win at the dating game?

Do NOT take it too seriously. Think of it as a game; keep your sense of humor and your sense of SELF so you can laugh the whole thing off. Good self-esteem and self-worth is like dating catnip: it makes you extremely attractive to people. If you think of yourself as the prize, then the best man will win. And so will you.

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My groupies: Robby and Ma.

Hopefully by the end of “Suddenly Single,” attendees (including my mother) came away feeling more confident and less anxious about the prospect of being single. Either that, or they came away needing to take a Xanax and take to their bed.

Been there, done that too.

Welcome To Registry Hell

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Robby and Treva enjoying a day of registry shopping.

I never thought shopping could be such torture until I got engaged. Suddenly, something I previously found fun, and maybe even therapeutic, has become pure torment. Registry shopping is like retail waterboarding – cruel and unusual.

The selection is overwhelming. There are so many choices, so many decisions, so many brands, models, gadgets, and so many different tastes and opinions, you could almost hit someone over the head with a frying pan – and Robby almost did.

Being single people for most of our lives, Robby and I aren’t exactly fluent in the language of housewares. Not that we don’t like nice kitchen stuff, it just hasn’t been a priority for either of us. I know as a single girl, I’d rather spend my money on a cute pair of Kate Spade sandals than on a set of expensive Kate Spade dishes.

So you can understand why this registering for gifts thing is a little confusing, and at times, combative – in a loving way, of course.

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It’s Blender-Rama with Robby Scharf!

Welcome to “Registry Hell,” where couples go head-to-head in a battle of the blenders, a clash of the coffee makers, and a war of the wine openers. You can catch all the action not inside a boxing ring at Staples Center, or inside a mixed martial arts cage at Caesar’s Palace, but at Bloomingdale’s, the place for true hardcore fight fans.

Bloomingdale’s was our first stop on the registry hell ride, and where Robby and I nearly had a knock-down-drag-out, right in the middle of the home furnishings department. Over what you ask? A cheese board: a really fancy, very expensive, slightly ornate, heavy black granite designer cheese board with silver chalice handles and a matching cheese knife that I was convinced we HAD to have.

There was some light sparring a few minutes earlier over a hi-tech toaster oven, a multi-piece knife set, and an overly-complicated espresso machine, but nothing compared to the main event: a fight over the cheese board.

Here’s a little snippet of the heated discussion:

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The cheese board in question.

Treva: Honey, look at this cheese board we should get. We definitely need this.

Robby: A cheese board for what?

Treva: For when we entertain with cheese!

Robby: We don’t need a dedicated black granite cheese board with silver chalice handles!

Treva: Yes we do!

Robby: What else can you do with it?

Treva: (Thinking…thinking…thinking)

Robby: Unless someone’s gonna cut some coke on it, which isn’t going to happen, we don’t need it.

* * * * * * * * *

I love my fiancé. He’s so practical and sensible, and yes, he’s right. We don’t need a $199 cheese board.

We didn’t get much accomplished in our first outing, but I did learn some important things about registry shopping:

• Don’t ever go on a busy Saturday at the mall.

• Don’t ever go at the end of the day, around 5pm.

• Don’t ever go when you’re hungry and cranky.

Next time, we’ll either get liquored up before we go, or we’ll go first thing in the morning when we’re both rested and fully caffeinated.

A few days later, with the help of some strong Urth Café coffee, we hit Crate And Barrel, and hit it good.

Armed with a game plan and a merchandise scanner, we zipped around the store and zapped barcodes on items we really needed: glassware, a good set of pots and pans, silverware, and a nice set of dishes. We managed to get Crate And Barrel done in one fell swoop, without any punches thrown. It was fast and furious, but without either one of us getting furious.

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We survived Registry Hell!

In the end, we managed to turn Registry Hell into Registry Heaven, and now we can’t wait to go again.

Bed, Bath & Beyond, here we come!

Still Single? Throw Yourself A Wedding!

Group Karaoke

Single? Married? Divorced? Who cares? Let’s party!

When I took the stage at Boardwalk 11 Karaoke Bar at my 50th birthday party last February, I was triumphant. Victorious. I felt proud of who I was, and what I had accomplished – getting to 50 as an independent, self-reliant woman.

That wasn’t exactly the picture a few months before though. In the run-up to my birthday, I was the perfect storm of despair: I was going through a break-up, my career was stagnating, my window of fertility had officially closed, I was still not married, and I was turning 50 – a number that probably would’ve been a lot less daunting and depressing if I had a husband and kids.

From November to January, I was totally numb. Nothing felt good, nothing tasted good, music didn’t sound good, not even the cutest guy looked good. It appeared that after multiple times at bat, and many attempts at love, I had officially struck out. On top of it, I was about to leave my 40s and enter midlife, a milestone that was ceremoniously marked when I received my first AARP card in the mail.

The holidays and New Year’s were a blur. I remember going to bed just before midnight on New Year’s eve thinking to myself: “Please let me wake up and have it be six months from now so the pain will be gone and my heart will be healed.” The next day I woke up, and the next, and the next day after that. Slowly, life resumed. I hit reset, I recalibrated, and I got reacquainted with my self-worth, which I seemed to have lost along the way.

By mid-January, I made a decision that would be life-changing: I decided to let go and surrender to my singleness. I detached from the outcome, stopped fighting the power, and submitted to being single. As I mentioned in my very first blog post, it was the most liberating and empowering move I could’ve ever made.

I made another decision in mid-January: To celebrate. So what if I wasn’t married? Who cared if I was still single? Did it really matter that my life didn’t exactly go as planned? There were so many other things to be happy about, so much to be grateful for, so many other blessings to count. I thought why have a pity party when I can have a real party? So I threw myself a huge 50th birthday bash and called it the wedding I was never going to have.

When I stepped on to the stage to sing last February, with my friends and family cheering me on, I knew I had made the right choice:  to revel in the thrill of victory instead of dwelling in the agony of defeat.

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Look what I found and I wasn’t even looking.

The minute I stepped off the stage, I spotted Robby Scharf at the bar. I initially met Robby months earlier on Facebook when he contacted me out of concern for a mutual friend. It wasn’t a Facebook hook-up; he really was a good guy with good intentions. I thought he had a nice face, and had heard he was in a band (maybe he could sing karaoke?) So on a whim, I invited him to my party and he showed up! Except for our mutual Facebook friends, Robby and I were practically strangers. But there he was at my birthday, Mr. Right, standing right before my eyes, with a big smile and a warmth I felt the minute I hugged him hello.

I wasn’t looking, I wasn’t expecting it, and I had all but given up, but something magical happened that night at Boardwalk 11 Karaoke Bar. And now here I am, exactly one year later, engaged to be married and singing a much different tune.

Some Accidental Advice From An Accidental Bride

2fc24b029a9d5e9df07aa15d8085f134On my long journey to the altar, I seem to have picked up some accidental wisdom along the way. Call it unintended self-illumination or inadvertent self-enlightenment, this path to marriage has taught me a lot about life. Now, I realize that marriage isn’t the end-all, be-all pinnacle of success, but for me it’s a bit of an accidental achievement, especially after so many years of being on my own.

While on this quest, I’ve learned a thing or two – about life, love, relationships, and surviving it all. Most of all, I’ve learned about myself.

Over the years I’ve made incredible progress, but I’ve also made mistakes and a few bad choices. I’ve gained clarity, but I’ve also wasted time. I’ve trusted, but I’ve also gotten burned. I often didn’t know my worth, and I didn’t always honor my highest good.

But I’ve learned. I’m still a work in progress, but now I’ve got some insight to further me along. With 50 years of single life under my belt, I feel uniquely qualified to share those insights with you. Some might sound familiar, some might feel old, but no matter how you spin it, they work.

1. Have Aspirations, Not Expectations

Nothing will set you up for disappointment and failure faster than having expectations, not meeting them, or having others not meet them. You can aspire to achieving things, you can hope for the best in people, but make sure you keep your expectations in check.

2. Set Clear Boundaries

Setting boundaries with people is the ultimate act of self-respect and self-preservation. By designating personal limits and healthy parameters with others, you’ll not only save yourself a lot of time and energy, you’ll save your sanity and protect your soul.

3. Heal Your Wounds

Whether emotional, mental, or spiritual, fix what’s damaged and heal what’s broken. Go deep. Do the work. Don’t be afraid to face the hard truths about yourself. Find your inspiration anywhere you can get it – books, therapy, meditation, etc. Whatever works, practice it everyday.

4. Don’t Pick The Scab

Once your wound has formed a scab, don’t pick at it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken heart, a bruised ego, or a wounded psyche – let the thing heal. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Don’t self-sabotage. Picking the scab only undermines your progress, prolongs the pain, and impedes your ability to move forward.

5. Stay On The Path Of Right Action

Staying on the path of right action means making good choices, using your good judgment and honoring your highest good. In other words, it means not being stupid. Don’t do things you know are ill-advised and potentially damaging to your confidence and self-esteem. Everyone makes mistakes, just make sure you get right back on track.

6. Have An Attitude Of Gratitude

You’ve heard this a million times, but it’s true: being grateful and counting your blessings will take the edge off any resentment, regret, and bitterness you may be harboring. Be thankful for every little thing you have, and any little kindness you get in the world.

7. Breathe Deep And Let Go Of Things

Like I said in my very first blog post, when you let go, when you release and surrender, magical things can happen. Stop worrying, waiting, and wondering and you might actually get what you want. Take a breath and let life happen.

I’m not sure if I chose this path, or this path chose me, but here I am, after a lot of hard work, about to proudly take the next step in life. I not only have a magnificent fiancé and beautiful diamond ring to show for it, I also have some wisdom – which is just as precious.