Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Long-Term Single

I’m a chronic insomniac (and I’ve tried all kinds of things, many prescribed by doctors, to deal with this). One of the things I do to cope is to lie in bed and listen to podcasts. Sometimes, I’ll drift off to sleep. Other times, I’ll just lie in bed for hours and listen. But at least my body is at rest and my eyes are closed, which is better than me sitting up and staring at a computer.

So, the other night I was listening to a on the economy (not unusual for me, as many of my faves are on politics or economics). Specifically, they were talking about the long-term unemployed. There are big issues for people who’ve been unemployed for a long-time. In some ways, it seems, the longer someone has been unemployed the harder it is for them to get a job. Not going to get too deeply into this…

Anyway, this got me to thinking about the ‘long-term .’ Like me. I used to think of myself as someone who was in between relationships. But not anymore. It’s been too long. Now I’m just single. Long-term single. And I know that there’s a stigma attached to that.

How do I know?

I know, because I know people (both women and men) who say they’d prefer to date people who are divorced (over never-marrieds) because they fear the never-married are incapable of commitment.  And I know because I’ve had people grill me over my never-married status, as if being never-married at 40 is akin to being defective.

And, I’ll admit, now that it’s been soooo long since I’ve been in a I have a hard time imagining myself with someone.

Does that mean I can’t meet someone, connect on some deep level and enter into a good, strong  and functional relationship? No. Not at all. I’m capable of those things. But I will admit that the longer I stay single, the harder it might be.

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52 to “Long-Term Single”

  1. C_Girl says:

    Interesting…even as long as ten years ago, I joked that what I really needed was a fake amicable divorce in my background to help me seem more desirable on the relationship market. I know that I tend to see men who are divorced as having been vetted somewhat–they can’t be congenitally afraid of marriage if they did it once (although the question of why they are divorced opens up a whole other line of inquiry.)

    For women who have never been married, however, I feel like people don’t question your ability to commit so much as they question your inherent worthiness. I might POSSIBLY be projecting somewhat on that, but that’s my gut.
    C_Girl recently posted..One Down- The BlogiversaryMy Profile

    • Simone Grant says:

      Yes, you’re right. Not projecting. That’s what I was alluding to when I wrote, “as if being never-married at 40 is akin to being defective.” There is an assumption that if no one has bothered to married me by now, I must not be worth having.
      But I refuse to internalize that.

      • LadyD says:

        A few years back, I actually had some jerko tell me, in response to me replying that no, I’ve never been married and no one has asked, “Wow – so why are you so unlovable?” O_O Yeah.

  2. black iris says:

    Do you ever think that the longer you’re single, the less you want to stop being single? I mean you might be used to the advantages.

    • I do! I’m starting to buy in to my friend’s beliefs that I only like people who aren’t available long term… and that I push away people who are. I think it’s part not wanting to give up the freedom of being single, and part flat out fear of long term relationships.
      Dater at Large recently posted..April Showers Bring May… Blind DatesMy Profile

      • Simone Grant says:

        I used to think I had that issue. And maybe I did. I used to joke (and probably wrote it here, more than once) that I was only interested in men who were either emotionally or physically unavailable. But now when I meet or am approached by guys like that I see them for what they are and am NOT INTERESTED.

        I guess I’m in an all or nothing phase.

    • Simone Grant says:

      I do think that the longer I’m single, the more comfortable I am with it. Which has positives and negatives.

      Yes, I am used to the advantages. But also very aware of the negatives.

  3. You answered your query in the last paragraph, eh? From my perspective, never being married at 40 means you showed good judgment. You avoided the first divorce, you avoided fighting over kids, dogs, and the house in the burbs (because you needed more room for the room-mate, kids, and dogs).

    There is no proper age to “be married,” just as there is no proper age to “be in a relationship.” There are plenty of proper ages to NOT be in relationships or marriage (I tested this one, so trust me, I have the scientific data to prove it).

    My cure for insomnia, besides the podcasts, is my son. He wakes up still – so I no longer have time for insomnia. If you wish to borrow him for a night…

    • Simone Grant says:

      Yes. And whenever I feel down or lonely, or like the last single woman on the planet, I remind myself how badly some of my past relationships ended. Or I think about what my life would be like now if I let myself pretend that any of them were ‘good enough.’

      I like my life, for the most part. It’s just odd to think that now that I’ve been single for a few years it might actually be harder to not be.

  4. Lennie Ross says:

    I hear you, Simone. I think we become so used to our own schedule, not having to compromise or consider someone else and it’s rather liberating to feel that way – especially after a few smothering relationships. I’m currently on the edge of becoming serious with someone and it would require huge life changes… The upside is awesome, but change and compromise are always scary. And we single women know we can rely on ourselves. Our system works and even in our solo lives we have security… We risk upsetting that by entering s relationship. I think it’s narrow minded of anyone to judge a woman for never being married. We grew up in a different generation where career was the number one expectation of a woman and all of a sudden, we looked up from our jobs and said… Wait a minute! It’s not our fault if we are in the 40-50 year old range for sure… I’m not sure how younger generations are faring with this new set of expectations on us. (I rant about it often… The Wonder Woman expectation put on us). I’m not making excuses, our generation of women were an experiment in equality and we all know how that turned out. The fsct that we’re not married does not necessarily have a negative connotation. Give us a break! (she says to the judgmental men). I say better to be single and have not made the mistake of diving into marriage with the wrong person out of a need of security or some sense of obligation. I bet when we get married, it will last, because we know definitively who we are and what we want.
    Great subject. Thank you. Lennie

    • Simone Grant says:

      Thanks. I do believe that if I ever marry, or settle into a serious long-term relationship that includes living together, it will last. I’ve learned a lot about myself, etc and know that I can do it better if the right guy came along.

  5. Great post, Simone. I love your honesty and vulnerability. I like to think that the longer you’re single the CLOSER you are to attracting a great person to be with. With more time being single, the more time you’ve spent collecting data, sifting through your preferences and giving the Universe more info about your order. And when you finally line up energetically with the vibe of what you’re looking for (love, ease, acceptance, joy, sensuality, optimism), then BOOM, it’s ON.

    – Jeffrey
    Jeffrey Platts recently posted..17 Songs To Boost Your MojoMy Profile

    • Simone Grant says:

      Thank you, darling. I like your interpretation. I’ve always believed that timing is a big part of every success. Maybe my right time is next month, or next year? Whenever it is, it is.

  6. I tend to agree with Jeffrey on this one – the longer you are single, the less apt you are to put up with any bullshit and know exactly what you want/can work with.

    • Simone Grant says:

      That part is for sure – I know exactly how much bullshit I can and will put up with. Honestly, I used to be a bit of a doormat in a lot of ways (though I would never admit it). I think I’ve finally learned my lesson on that.

  7. Lo says:

    I understand what you’re saying. Until recently, I’d been a “long-term single” over the age of… let’s just say I’m older, shall we?… who’d started to accept that I would be alone/single. And I was OK with it. Not having to answer to anyone or deal with any of the ‘isms that come up in a relationship – especially at my ripe, not-quite-old age – was actually somewhat comforting to me. This, despite fielding questions basically asking what was inherently wrong with me that I had never married.

    (Side note: Why people can’t accept that marrying the WRONG person can be much more damaging – and less honouring of Self – than staying single boggles… my… mind.)

    Even now, having been with someone for almost a year, I still find times when I… not yearn… maybe “choose to” forget… that I have someone to answer to on some level. Not in any way that dishonours him or our relationship; simply in terms of my freedom to go/do/be as I used to. I don’t have commitment issues, far from it; but when one adjusts to a certain way of Being, it can be very difficult to see oneself in another light. At least in my opinion.

    But… the adjustment to being with him is worth the growing pains. At least for me.

    In this moment.

    ‘Tis a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience! You made me smile.

      I know that if I meet someone, our relationship will take work. All relationships take work. And ours will take a little extra work because I’ve grown so accustomed to having everything my way, all of the time. And so whoever I meet will have to be worth that extra work.

    • Manisha B says:

      I agree with Lo that its better to be single than be in a bad marriage.But having said that, I think marriage is made out to be too much than what it really is.
      In my perspective, if you can live with a quirky room mate, sure enough you can handle living with a companion (I’m not saying they’re the same). The romance dies a few years later and all you got is a friend you’re living with.
      Divorce isnt the best solution for an incompatible marriage, but it is an option. So put yourself out there and take your chances. You may come out bruised and scarred but definitely much more stronger. And content with ‘been there, done that’.

    • Jack says:

      Yes but answering to someone else is precisely what a relationship is about. And more importantly it’s about family. An family and children and
      MAkin sacrifices and comprises for others was and always wil be what the community respects and admires. And why shouldn’t t be that way? You think people with families don’t have 1000 and 1 other thingshey’d like I be doing? Some people are capable of making the sacrifices and others haven’t developed past the narcissistic stage of heir adolescence. If you don’t “take any bullshit” and that is yor attitude them just accept our not suited or a relationship. Because you do del with bullshitnjn a relationship.

  8. IntrigueMe says:

    You raise a very good point, Simone… I see myself in the same boat someday. I think I’d rather be long term single than in a miserable relationship or in and out of them constantly. I think happiness for me simply requires consistency.
    IntrigueMe recently posted..Let’s Not Get Too ExcitedMy Profile

    • Simone Grant says:

      So interesting that you said that – consistency is very important to me, too. I like surprises. But surprises within a nice, stable framework.

  9. Akirah says:

    This is interesting. I was actually thinking about this tonight. I’m about to start an internship which means I will be a fulltime worker, parttime student, and parttime intern. I will likely have no time to meet anyone and will slowly settle in my singleness even deeper. I find it very unlikely I will meet someone worth working into my schedule. I don’t want to wake up 30 and still single…but I dunno…maybe that’s going to happen. Can’t worry too much about the future, because I’m growing more and more content each day, but it was interesting to think about.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Well, I have no advice for you. BUT, I will say this. If you don’t want to wake up 30 and “still single” then maybe you should try to reorganize your schedule and focus a little bit of time on coupling. I never made NOT being single a priority because it never was. And I’m good with that. But I know a lot of miserable single people (who really HATE being single). Food for thought.

  10. Often you talk about things that I can really relate to. I am 37 and have never been married. But I am frequently in relationships. I get my hopes up and then dashed on a regular basis every 6 months – year or so! I keep hoping that I have been building my relationship skills over the years and have learned what I want and need in a partner. So, that knowledge is great, but… where’s the guy???

    hugs to you. And I know you said you’ve talked to drs about insomnia and I’ve struggled from time to time with mild bouts of it (difficulty falling asleep, sleeping little, waking up too often in the night), but what helps me is:

    turning my clock so I can’t see it and obsess about how little time I have left before my alarm goes off.

    Taking calcium magnesium.

    Neo Citran helps :)

    anti-anxiety drug: clonazepam 😉 😉

    • Simone Grant says:

      Thanks darling, for the insomnia advice. Some of my issues are caused/made worse by meds. So I’m just a freak. Anyway, I understand your frustration with the relationship cycle. It is exhausting.

  11. SFSingleGuy says:

    “Long term single” is infinitely better than “stuck with long term crazy” in my book :)

  12. SoloAt30 says:

    I haven’t even been single that long, and I still get people asking me “why are you single” with the tone of “what’s the matter with you?” I sound great on paper (or pixels), so if I’m single, I must obviously be hiding the crazy in baggage behind door #1. My response has been I’m selective, that I don’t settle, that I’m waiting for someone very special who recognizes my special to commit to.

    Don’t know if anyone buys that completely, but who cares? You’re not defective being a long-term single. Much better that than, as SFSingleGuy said, “stuck with long term crazy”, or in “long term unhappiness.” If you sincerely want a relationship, one day you’ll find that lucky partner. :)
    SoloAt30 recently posted..Is Dating A BattlefieldMy Profile

    • Simone Grant says:

      Oh yes, I’m familiar with that question tone. I try to remind myself that there’s no point in getting mad. That people are not intentionally being mean or rude. But it’s soooo hard.

  13. Vanessa says:

    I been in relationshinps on and off since I was 17 now I’m 27 and after stupid relationships, one divorce and one crazy/control freak fiance all I can say is thanks god for finally being single. I’m enjoying my single life for already couple years. I know sometimes can get lonely but by the end of the day I don’t regret to be single and picky. I don’t have an idea when I will be back in the game but right now having a relationship with myself feel awesome.

  14. Single Girl says:

    I think about that ALL the time. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even capable of shaking myself out of my single groove and allowing coupledom in to my life. Great post! -SG

  15. eleanore says:

    Yikes. I’m one of those Long-term Singles. And I prefer to date divorced men. I run from long-term single men…not because they’re bad but, for Pete’s sake, I’m come to thing that somebody in the relationship needs to know how to make a commitment…even if he can’t keep it.

    eleanore – The Spinsterlicious Life

    • Simone Grant says:

      Interesting point. It’s true, when I meet a guy who was married (esp for a long time) I think that he must have certain skills that I lack. And that that’s a good thing.

  16. I think the toughest part for me of being single for a long time is that I start to lose confidence and question myself. That then spirals to paranoia that others think something is wrong with my because I can’t find someone. It’s be nice if society didn’t put so much pressure on people to not be single!

  17. Solitude Soul says:

    Hey everyone – I’m a big fan of solitude.. I’ve had the last 15 years to ponder on it. I’m 48 and have a 14 year old daughter. I was married for a couple of years but then my husband died when I was 5 months pregnant. I haven’t had a relationship since. What’s that all about? Wish I knew. There certainly has been no shortage of friends offering reasons, advice, …. judgments. But you know what? Raising my daughter alone has been the most fantastic, truly enriching experience. (She’s not had a father figure of course but many kids grow up this way.) I read with interest the One Night Stand posts: have had quite a few of those and had an fbuddy somewhere along the line… all ultimately soul-depleting but necessary at the time. But anyway … I think when you’re long-term-on-yer-own, it’s an opportunity to get centred … not in any self-help/inner-calm/sould-searching kind of way (please no!) – I mean looking at the whole context of your life, how you fit in and what you can offer people around you… the net result of my ongoing, uninterrupted inner narrative is a kind of outward gesture. Does any of this strike a chord? Does anyone else feel like some kind of wise repository for couple-friends’ couple-woes and couple-strife?

    • Simone Grant says:

      I quite like my solitude. But I know there are times when I have too much of it. I live alone and work from home, alone. There are times when I feel like I’m too much in my head. Like, perhaps, I need to get OUT of my head. Not sure if that makes sense.

  18. Trevor says:

    People underestimate the luck factor in love, I think. It’s why it’s infuriating when friends and family offer bland assurances about “you will meet someone”. When you’re long-term single you think, well, I haven’t met anyone in x years, that might just continue, right? As rational adults, we understand this. It’s why people doing internet dating can get very ground down — all that choice but still they can’t find anyone? What’s wrong with them? Nothing. Luck, as in most areas of life, plays a big role.

  19. Liz says:

    Just recently, at 41, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that it is extremely likely I will be a long-term single. I’ve spent the last decade dating hundreds of men, none of which panned out (or at least not for very long). This year has not been promising– there was one man who pulled the disappearing act, another who dumped me over something incredibly superficial, and a third who is struggling with clinical depression and is barely able to support himself. The other recent candidates include a man who I feel is too old for me (late fifties) and a hoarder. It’s really hit home in the last month or so that I truly am better off alone and that it’s unlikely I’ll meet someone suitable. It’s a weird feeling since some of the last of my long-term single friends recently got married and/or had babies.

  20. I am queen of long term single.

    I’ve never had a serious long term relationship, the best one I attempted was a 4 month disaster with the first guy I let enter my lady garden…

    All my friends are getting engaged, married or moving in with their other halfs and then there is me.

    I used to be the cool free spirit and single friend, I loved it, look at all these morons unable to go completely mad and really enjoy themselves, oh all the experiences they are missing out on! I bet they never woke up in a bush with a stranger…yes I was the cool one…umm no…

    Now I’ve got to the point where I want to find a special someone, I really want a man, I mean I have no idea how it will work or even if I will cope but I WANT ONE! Of course as the long term singleton with a shady past I’m not exactly in high demand…I’ve resorted to using the internet…I would be lying if I said it was going well!

  21. The other side says:

    As a man who has had two relationships with long term singel women, the thing which is most trying is that they are so set in their ways; the relationship must be on their terms.

    One, who was a very attractive woman, would reply to any request or compromise on how to relate or being cahllenged on her very definite views about most things with “That’s how I am, you need to decide if you can live with it”.

    Needless to say that got old very quickly. Here was a lovely woman who wanted a relationship, but seemed unable to get past herself. Despite her constant telling of how empathetic she was, could not or would not be open to even a small change in the any of her behaviours which would have helped our relationship. A small example was that she not say “You should know that it is wrong, any sensible person would” in one case me sitting my son on the kitchen bench so he could make a sandwich. When I asked her to stop making judgement calls but instead say something like “I’m concerned that is a bit dangerous”.

    I deeply loved her, the other aspects of our relationship were fabulous, but she was so closed to looking at the world in any way other than her own strongly held views. Breaking up was hard to do, but that relationship was just too hard being expected to conform to her world view on everything.

    My advice as a man is to relax and be open to the wonder of finding someone. Met someone, rather than expect them to come to you. Meeting someone is about adding something to your life, not expecting someone to fit in to what you already have with not changes on your part.

  22. Diane says:

    I was on active duty many years ago. I did get married and I woke up on my honeymoon one morning and realized that I didn’t like my situation of being married whatsoever.

    My marital issues started when I woke up in a complete panic and my new adorable spouse heard me say, “Oh gawd I am still married to you…..”

    My ex-spouse was and still is a handsome, brilliant, wonderful and highly successful man.

    I really adored and loved my husband. However I did not like being married to him. I didn’t like the idea of being married at all. What I did like is the connection and building a relationship part but not actually being married. It took me months to add his last name to mine.

    I was very indifferent and that indifference ended my marriage. I did go into therapy to try and figure it all out and realized that as a soldier I had learned to be indifferent to anything emotional. It was automatic for me to shut down my emotions on a moment’s notice. That’s how I did my job and it’s how I survived.

  23. JM says:

    Ironically, I’m having this same conversation with a friend.

    I have been engaged a large handful of times and married once. So, I suppose one could say I’m desirable. However, when I did get married, I walked down the aisle wondering what the hell I was doing, never changed my name, opened a bank account with him or even put our things under both names. And, I left a year later feeling trapped like a wild animal in a small box. So, if someone thinks that being married makes me better at commitment, they are soooo wrong.

    I guess you really need to hear someone’s story first.
    JM recently posted..Has it really been three days?My Profile

  24. A warning to all long term singles: I was one, that is until I let the stigma and the fear of being alone propel me, at 36, into a brief disastrous marriage. What resulted was so nutty and bizarre that I wrote a book about it called Wedlocked: A Novel, a fictionalized and funny account of the biggest mistake of my life. Read it and take heed! Being single is a lot better than being married to the wrong person!

  25. Jennie says:

    I’m over 50 and there’s a lot of us who are successful, smart, and looking for community, a place to belong. A lot of us are long-term divorced and are empty nesters. Now we are wondering: “What else is there in life?” We aren’t willing to turn our lives upside down for a mate, but we want to have someone to have dinner with. The solitude, though great, gets old after a while. With more than 50% of the population over age 15 being single, this is a problem that we need to solve.

  26. Jen Arthur says:

    Six years I think, and it’s no longer a waiting until the – non state- between relationships (read between living)
    It Is my life for better for worse, right here and right now. I’m tired of me sometimes that needy me that pops up and holds her breath when I meet a man who is nice and interesting ( until he introduces his wife or boyfriend). I’m tired of that falling feeling when that happens.
    I know being single is not a bad thing, and I do enjoy the bonuses it brings.
    But sometimes, on those public holidays, Sunday mornings, Friday nights I really do wish I had someone to share them with
    ( yes I have excellent friends but you can’t in this society entwin your lives in the same way you can with a significant other)
    So although I’m a brave mostly happy singleton there are times when the empty feeling comes I want to howl.

  27. Dave says:

    On the subject of being long term single and having a stigma attached as a result…yes, for one it is usually safe to assume that is someone has no history or at least no recent history of forming healthy emotional long term relationships, then they are probably incapable of of it. For us that are in long term (serious) relationships, we know it’s hard and you can’t just live off that “newness” high for long. Many women will see red when I say this, but the first thing that will pop in a giy’s head is “this women must have had a loooong list of guys that have been there before me”. Its just hard to feel proud and feel like a man when you are “that guy that actually married the easy girl”

    I met my wife in college. I’m 33 now, but when we were 30 we had a brief split. I just couldn’t get over how easy single men seemed to have it. And when I did dabble in the dating scene for several months I found women to be very accommodating without the need for any commitment. The young irgirls are naive and looking for “adventures” then you have the narcissists hipster girls that think a camera cre is recording all their sexcapades andtheir stories will be part of an job mini series, you got the broke “actresses” and “artists” who have all these hopes and dreams and little chance of ever coming true, so they take what they can get and hope some guy they screw will help them out in one way or another, the “independent” women who are just “focusing on their career” and convince themselves they can have emotionally detached sex but just get more rough and distant from years of it, you have the women who forgot that their sexual power will take a nose dive at the same age that men just start hitting the peak of their sexual market value…and bottom line it was just waaaay too easy being a single guy in his 30’s with a good job and a nice apartment. And ya, women really were into the fact i could commit for 10 years as I did. As a kid in his early 20’s being broke and “cute” I never imagined how much easier it gets for men once they have the wisdom, experience and many look once you hit your 30’s. I tell you ladies, your former self (if you were promiscuous) will become your nemesis once you truly do want a relatiOnship because all the men are busy being distracted by all the promiscuous women. It’s all very ironic. Feminism has Souchnirony irony.

  28. I’ve been single for many years, have had some relationships that have come close to developing into something permanent. I will say I don’t think I would become serious with anyone who hadn’t fought the battles. The expectations are too high, the stars too embedded in their eyes. Although it may sound foolish to some, unless you understand the work involved, you haven’t a clue as to how to make things work.

  29. Colin says:

    I am 45 and have not had a relationship since I was 23.Could care less if I ever have another one.It does nothing for me except drive me up the wall.Women I meet at my age seem to be looking desperately and this is not a quality that I look for.In fact,I find that when I give a woman my phone number they will do all the calling…constantly!They always want to know about my “future plans”.When I tell them I want to remain single they still keep calling.I end up telling them that I have met someone else.This is always a fib as I do not want a g/f.No need.Just keep a f-buddy on the side and they are everywhere and things are great!

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