I’m 72, female, never married, no children. At 19, I backed out of my wedding 3 days before, in my 20′s, 30′s, many relationships and proposals – at 34 met the love of my life, ditto for him, yet after 3 years we didn’t marry, 40′s I wouldn’t date, 50′s lived with a man 8 years, then dated another for 8 years. I feel I am finally able to BE in a relationship – and not compare everyone to my former love. I am not moving forward to get on the net – last guy I dated a couple of years ago was boring.
My question: everyday I regret not making different choices, including just having a baby even if not in a relationship. I know comparing myself to ‘what makes a successful life’ criteria is ridiculous, yet how do I come to terms with always having to figure out what to do on holidays, that I’m not the most important person to someone, I’ll never experience that love one feels for their children, etc. Yes, I know about getting myself off my mind, I have done all sorts of rewarding work, volunteer, have had pets, am beginning to become more involved in nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers, friends, lives.
Still….how do I move forward and at this late date, put myself out there. I know many women my age and older who meet and marry…I just feel almost exhausted at the thought of dating. I know if I met someone that would change. I simply must get over the belief my life never panned out because I didn’t marry and have children.
Another girlfriend, same age, same circumstance, gets it because she feels the same. One last comment, I am more outgoing and happier than I’ve ever been, more mature, more conscious than ever. I just need a swift kick to get out there and some words of wisdom about dealing with regrets over wrong choices (yes I know to shift my thinking etc). Can you help please). Thank you so much !!!
Of course, it is never too late. I saw a woman exactly your age after her second husband died. She became depressed. The nature of her depression, oddly enough, did not have to do with her husband dying. For the first time in her life she developed a so-called endogenous depression, which required medication. Nevertheless, she made a good response to the drugs, and a few months later she went to Florida where she met “the love of my life.” They settled down together, although they did not marry. There seemed to be little reason to formalize their relationship. They stayed together until he died about five years later.
It sounds as if you have had some relationships approximating a marriage; so you are capable of finding another such intimate relationship. I tell everyone that in most cases how old you feel in your 70s is a matter of attitude. (By the time you get into your mid-80s, it’s another story.) I think you should be looking forward to your future, rather than thinking about all the mistakes you made in the past. For all you know, you might have made an unhappy marriage. You are in a situation not much different from other women your age who have married and had children. Often the husband is gone through divorce or death, and the children have grown up and moved away. The task in front of them is not much different from what you face: a reason to get up in the morning. From what you say, you may be in a better position now to make sensible plans for a meaningful future. If you can, consider working. Make new friends. Do something creative. ( Grandma Moses started to paint at the age of 70.) Do something useful for other people. Learn something new.
The business of making new friends reminded me of a conversation I had with a patient who was in her mid 80s. Most of her friends had died, and she was feeling lonely. I told her to make new friends who were younger than, and she did. (I am always surprised when anyone takes my advice.) She started going places with women who were in their early 70s, and they seemed to enjoy being with each other. When my patient died at the age of 92, over a hundred people attended her funeral.
(c) Fredric Neuman