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Dear Coach Linda,
I met someone the other day who referred to me as a dating red flag — that I wasn’t someone women should date because I’m in my mid-forties and have never married. She said that I would be a “better risk” if I was “at least” divorced. I couldn’t believe it.
I’ve spent a lot of time working, traveling, and building my company. I’m currently single and have had girlfriends here and there. I just haven’t met anyone yet who seems to fit who I’m looking for. Do you think a man who has never married and is in his forties is a “red flag”? Any advice on handling comments like this? This is the second time I’ve been told something along these lines. What do you think?
I can certainly understand why you might feel a little incensed over that kind of comment. It seems to be based on a very outmoded stereotype that the older bachelor is self-centered or afraid of commitment or damaged goods.
The thing is, I’ve come across many well-adjusted, commitment-minded, relationship-ready singles, both male and female, who are over 40 and never married. In fact, I Am One of Them!!
There are many reasons this occurs. Most are circumstantial and have nothing to do with avoidance or fear.
It’s not due to lack of commitment, fear of marriage, or having a wish list so long that even Santa Claus could not fulfill their expectations (although I was like that when I was younger).
In many cases, those of us who are over 40 and unmarried have chosen to focus on our careers and other areas of life. There is nothing wrong with making the choice to focus on these other areas first. I know over the past few years, I have been completely wrapped up in my career, moving to a new state, dealing with a serious health issue etc. It was important for me to pull myself together first.
My professional opinion is that anyone who solidifies his or her financial position and becomes more self-actualized before he or she concentrates on finding a soul mate is going to reduce a good deal of relational stress that would otherwise plague the partnership. What’s more, recent studies show that mature bachelors are independent personalities, able to meet their own functional needs. Maybe – just maybe – this is a good thing, given how high the divorce rate has risen over the past decade or so.
And, most often, those of us who are single over the age of 40 are so because we are confident in ourselves, know what we want, and are not willing to settle for something less just for the sake of being in a relationship.
Anyone who considers you a “risk” due to the fact that you’ve never been married fails to see the big picture. So I have to ask, Is it really better to divorce to get out of a bad marriage, or is it better to make a choice to remain single rather than marry someone who is not right for you?
Don’t allow others to pressure you into making relationship choices or defending yourself for remaining single. Take your time!
Take a moment to think about who you are attracting
That being said, you mentioned that this is the second time you’ve heard this … which makes me think that you might not be attracting the right kind of women into your life.
Perhaps now is a good time to write down “exactly” what you are looking for in a relationship, why those things are important to you, and what difference it would make in your life to be with a person who wants the same things in a relationship. Analyze your list against the women you have been attracting.
I am willing to bet there is a gap in alignment between what you want and what you get. Just like your success in building your company, planning out your relationship success will be fruitful for you.
And of course, now might be a really good time to get some coaching on this topic, to not only get clarity on what you want for yourself in your life, but to also make sure that you are truly ready for a long-term relationship.