I spent New Year’s weekend at 1440 Multiversity, a wonderful new state of the art retreat center in the Santa Cruz, CA area. I spent hours in the Infinity hot tub that over looked the redwoods and had so many healthy, delicious, meals that it was hard for me to enjoy cooking my own food when I returned home.
Maybe because it was New Year’s weekend, there was a proliferation of single women in their fifties at the retreat. Women who were long time divorced, widowed as well as those newly single who came to a spiritual retreat center for rest and renewal. I called all my single male friends and told them it would be worth their while to register for a weekend retreat because the women were amazing!
But the strangest thing kept happening to me. A woman would sit down next to me for a meal, we’d start some small talk, and the next thing I knew she was hysterically crying and railing against men. I was pretty anonymous there but I felt like I had a sign that said “The Intimacy Coach is In”!
This happened numerous times over my four day visit. Women told me about their past dysfunctional relationships, the horrors of the dating scene, and how there were no good available men who wanted to date women anywhere near their own age. I felt their deep loneliness, their longing for connection, and their despair.
These conversations drained me and saddened me. What I heard all of these intelligent, successful, amazing women in their own right say, was that their life could not be complete without a man in it. They viewed their happiness to be dependent upon having the perfect relationship and partner.
This is nothing more than the Cinderella myth that women have been fed for our entire lives, believing that some handsome prince will come along, sweep us off our feet, and we will live happily ever after.
I think it’s time for all of us to grow up and grow a pair of balls!
For starters, very few people have a “perfect” relationship. Relationships take constant nurturing and work and it’s completely unrealistic for anyone to think that two people in their 50’s are going to come into a relationship without lots of baggage. Ex-wives, children from previous marriages, financial obligations, broken hearts, and enough childhood and adult wounds to keep you in therapy for years is what we typically bring into new relationships at this stage of our life.
Also, the belief that you need another person to make you whole, to complete you, creates an unhealthy co-dependent relationship dynamic. No one person can meet all of your needs and expecting that they can sets the relationship up for disappointment and failure.
But what I really want single women in their fifties and up to know is that you can absolutely be happy and feel complete without a partner in your life. You can have interesting, exciting lives; your dance calendar can always be full; and you can continue to grow, and create new, beautiful relationships with others. You can also experience a level of freedom, in your sexuality and your daily life, that you never thought possible.
But here’s the rub… all of this needs to come from within you. Your happiness, your self-worth and self-esteem, comes from you being in love with yourself. Appreciating your beauty, both inner and outer; bringing pleasure, joy and playfulness into your life; creating and deepening relationships with other fabulous single women, not for a man-bitch fest, but to be able to enjoy and support each other.
There’s another huge advantage to being happy and single in your 50’s. When you are truly complete just being with you, you will become so much more attractive to men, who can sniff the “needy woman profile” a mile away. It is very possible, even likely, that when you stop “looking for a partner”, that partner will show up, without you ever having to lift a finger, or swipe right. And if that doesn’t happen, you can be perfectly happy being single and in your fifties.