Being a Mature Aged Single Sucks – Rob’s Story
It’s 5am and my active mind prevents any further sleep. The consolation is that we are in Cancun, Mexico, and the turquoise shores of the Caribbean lie a seductive kilometre away. No waterfront resorts for us! Though having stayed the last three nights in an eco-lodge that lacked Wi-Fi, fresh water, and even electricity for daylight hours makes this night in a standard resort, only a stopover really, an utter delight.
Why am I here?
In a nutshell I have been a writer with ambition for a few years and, almost a year ago, became redundant from my well-paid real job. So, with my partner Debra-Jane, whom I had only known for a few months, decided that together we would escape and travel the world.
Yes, it was fanciful, foolish, ambitious, and was a decision upon which dreams are made. But the stars and the circumstances had aligned to be just right and we took the plunge. Aptly, Deb often wears a T-shirt screen-printed with the mantra:
• Quit your job
• Buy a ticket
• Travel the world
• Fall in love
And essentially, but for the order by which we did things, and excluding the repeat, that is what we have done. It has been over nine months and, after living in each other’s pockets every day, are still happily together and in love.
So, why bother with this blog?
Because, to me at least, being a mature-aged single sucks! Why? Because some of the best things in life are best appreciated when they are shared. I guess I am a social animal after all.
There is actually a way out of it! By sharing my experiences, maybe I can help someone, to see they aren’t alone. But sometimes the journey is not so much about no longer being single, but about making the journey not suck!
My mature-aged-single story begins like many others.
I had been single for about 15 years. My ex-wife and I had managed an amicable divorce and the kids, who were only 6 and 12, were cared for equally. Since the separation they have lived in two homes and have been guided by two differing parental philosophies, but they have survived to adulthood and seem happy.
So, yes, we were spared a lot of pain, mainly because my ex-spouse and I were determined not to descend into the quagmire of hateful recrimination where so many other poor souls delve as divorce looms. When we realised the end was nigh, that our paths had diverged, I think we managed to salvage enough sense to realise this would kill us financially and the cut had to be made as cleanly as possible. Yes – it was smarter for the kids, but also it saved a lot of needless pain and suffering.
There was enough as it was.
I recall when reluctantly and carefully telling my children what was about to happen, my six-year-old daughter said, “Good! At least there will be no more fighting!” We thought had hidden everything so well!
I never really enjoyed post-divorce single life as I took it as a type of failure on my part. I was fortunate as I did have relationships, but I think I wasn’t really ready to be constructive in any relationship as I had to sort me out. Being single and mature-aged (take that as over 40) sucked for me. Hadn’t society implied that marriage is a lifetime thing? By 40+ we should be living with the anticipation of years of comfort, of having the benefits of a lifetime of hard work; of nice holidays and enjoying gradually more independence as the kids finished school and built their own lives.
I have met enough mature-aged singles to learn that we all have our own shit to deal with and, one of the main things, is that a lot of being mature-aged and single is about accepting yourself. Easy to say, but that can be a life-long process without the mess singularity can bring. While some newly-minted singles boost self-esteem through indulging in the purchase of flash cars or a new face or boobs, we are all especially good at hiding behind a façade. Generally, most people spend a lot of time and effort looking richer, happier and better adjusted than they really are. It’s a bit of a Tom and Nicole thing – appearances are meant to be deceiving! As mature-aged singles with tattered egos and bank balances, we can be easily fooled, for I used to beat myself up because I didn’t measure up to how others appeared, or because I wasn’t where I expected me to be.
But life does actually go on! Goals can still be achieved! By doing things I always wanted, I realised on my long, weary journey, that I am actually okay, that I can be happy.
I have taken some limited consolation in that about half of marriages in the Western world actually end in divorce. Take note that this is an approximation, because the stats vary by country. In Northern Europe the rates are slightly higher than half, while in the USA, Australia and the like the rates are slightly lower. The lowest divorce rates are in India at just over 1%, but as the culture in India changes and becomes more Western, that is expected to also change.
Now it’s not my intent to indulge in discussion as to why marriages end, because some who are single certainly needed to escape from a toxic relationship, while others simply changed goals in life and parted organically. Others can’t divorce because their culture won’t allow it. And some are happy enough not to tread that ‘divorce’ path. Good on you! Double thumbs up! But essentially, if you are over 40 years old and are single, you are so not alone. I realised when grocery shopping one day and I spied an attractive woman, that there was a fifty percent chance that she was indeed single. The issue was that I didn’t know which fifty percent.
I have taken some consolation from a life-radio discussion, where a relationship expert suggested that we will have three main ages of loving relationship in life:
• The first love is when young, where a lot of the crazy, sexy stuff is discovered and tried
• The second is when a family is built and children brought into the world
• The third involves our golden years, when a soulmate is found
I have remembered this reference for years, but do you think I can find it in the vast ocean of raw knowledge which is the Internet?
So, as a single and mature-aged guy or girl, I believe life can still be beautiful, or at least progress along paths never before taken. I don’t want to sound all Kumbayah on you and say that all dreams can come true, and I’m certainly not one to speak from any high ground. I think I have more shit to sort out than most. But good things can happen. I tried to do things I always wanted. At 40 I decided to try a martial art and, because I stuck to it, I became a Black Belt in Taekwondo. I gave playing the djembe (an African drum) a go and attended lessons and, to me at least, I now don’t quite sound like a barrel of bowling balls. In fact, one of the greatest obstacles I ever had was to realise I could really do whatever I liked, as long as I kept the interests of my kids at heart.
The options were there if I looked.
Relationships did come and some were bloody odd, trying, and some broke my heart. But that is also part of the strange, unexpected, and sometimes sucky journey.
And is another story.