Am I too old for love?

too-old-for-love
Women and men of all ages seem to be burdened by this question. 20-something year olds who’ve barely started dating at all are worried they’ve already missed all the real chances to find a good life partner (especially if they are in their early twenties).

The ones approaching 30 are scared they’ll miss the opportunity to settle down and have children and family at the “right” age.

People in their 30s are even more concerned. What if there is nobody out there anymore? They think everyone worth pursuing is already married and they are growing increasingly tired of their unsuccessful attempts to find a partner. Going out is not that much fun anymore, neither is going on dates. It takes much more time and effort to find one too, which can be very tiring.

40s are an age of even bigger dating discontentment, especially for ones who’ve never been married and have no children. Many are certain they are now simply getting old and their chances for a happy love life are dwindling to zero. Women are particularly pessimistic as they see this as a double failure – not only they haven’t managed to find a partner, but they are also (most likely) not going to be mothers.

50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s… can we even hope to find love at this age at all?

I’ve been giving this concern quite a lot of thought myself – after all I’ve been single a good part of my early 20s, end of 20s and first half of 30s. I haven’t gotten to single 40s and beyond yet, but you never know.

But what I mostly worry about is this: why do we, collectively as a society, and as individuals, believe so strongly that finding love has an expiry date? What makes us think that love has given us a deadline and if we miss it we’re doomed to a lifetime of loneliness?

I believe we are socially determined to think that way – because we are also still believing in a one-partner-for-life concept, but both of those are no longer a reality in today’s world. Many people do find partners in their 20s, but very many don’t.

Divorces and breakups are common at any age. We get together and we fall apart, and it’s happening everywhere, to everyone, even in countries with strong religious and traditional barriers that make people reluctant to break up.

I will not pull out numbers here, but feel free to look them up for yourself (you can usually find them in census data and various demographic research studies) – but single people are becoming a norm, not an exception – at any age.

So why do we still think it’s harder to find a partner as we grow older? And why do we think our choices are narrowing?

Part of it is the ease – when we are young socialising is more frequent, everyone is out there looking for someone.

Part of it is our criteria – we add more conditions to our list of potential partner qualities as our experiences and maturity teach us what we want and don’t want from someone.

But part of it is this big lie we keep selling ourselves: everyone (worth pursuing) is taken.

And another big lie: I am not interesting/attractive/young enough (anymore) for someone to fall in love with me.

And some other smaller lies get attached there too. Which are all just silly beliefs that have nothing to do with reality and have everything to do with your perception of that reality.

And your perception is what keeps getting in your way – eating away your real chances to find love.

Which are about the same at any age – because when you are young you have plenty of choice but very little wisdom to know who will actually fit you. And there are a lot more single people who are not that keen to have a real relationship just yet. So you end up with more dates but also more heartbreak and mismatched couplings.

As you get older the choice gets narrower but that’s just quantity. And the numbers are not important here. You only need one person, just one – and there is always more than one willing, ready and close by.

The main reason you can’t find him or her at any age – is your belief that it’s hard or impossible to do it, and that you don’t deserve it now, here, just the way you are.

Once you start believing there is enough choice, there is enough potential partners, there is enough love in the world for each and every one of us at any age, finding your right partner will become a viable reality.

Until then – most of your wishing is just wishful thinking, because deep in your heart you just don’t believe your wish can ever come true.

LET ME HEAR FROM YOU

Do you feel too old to find love? Tell me why in the comments below.
Thank you for sharing!

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35 Responses

  1. Sometimes I think I am. I am going to be 44 on Sunday and it has been a real struggle to find a serious relationship. I do know a lot of people who have found the loves of their lives at this age or older, but after so many failures it is difficult to be hopeful! At this point I try to stay positive and nonetheless hopeful, however, I have also been hurt. My ex hurt me so badly five years ago that I am finding it difficult to trust someone again. I am afraid that the next man will also, because my ex hurt me as the man before that, the one before that and so on and so on. Ugh…I still try to believe that there is one out there for me and that I truly deserve love.

  2. CallYourGirlfriendIsAGoodSong says:

    Thanks for the article. It is so touching. I agree with the author so much. I’m 32. My 2-month memorable romance just ended in January. It’s so much shorter than I thought it would be, but I have no regrets. I’m happy that I was brave enough to embrace love again. I don’t think I will ever stop looking a mate. But I’m fine being single, too, at least for now, though I’m still learning how to treat myself nicely as if I were my ideal partner. My response to randomviolette is, to find love, you cannot be afraid to be hurt. You are vulnerable in love. But you heart will mend when you find someone new, maybe temporarily. But so what? Life is full of laughter and tears. The higher you get, the lower you’ll hit the ground when life runs its course. You just have to be a good sport to embrace the full experience. Happy birthday, and stay positive. Good luck!

  3. Ms Jones says:

    I am a 56 year old woman, never married, no kids. It is very personal for me to say, but the worst thing about growing older has been the fact that I have not had a child and I feel that I cannot provide a man with one. I feel that puts me “out of the running” for many men. In addition, there are also men who will never date an older woman. Mind you I never announce my age and I am very active and have a youthful appearance and outlook. That said, I have to agree with Petra and believe that there is at least ONE man out there who is interested in what I have to share, who I am also interested in. When I was younger I never heard hurtful remarks about my age. Now it seems like a free for all as far as “ageism” goes. These are obviously men that are NOT right for me. If they have to make hurtful remarks to make themselves feel better, there is obviously something wrong with them.

    I remember when I was much younger always thinking that I had to have certain things accomplished in order to start a relationship. After reading this blog, I remember what I told myself back then. If I wait until I am “perfect”, I will wait forever. I AM good enough just the way I am, even all these years later.

    I does become emotionally exhausting to continually start over as it would be so nice to have a loving helpful partner in life. I say don’t give up. I cried myself to sleep so many nights after the last breakup. I just could not believe it was happening AGAIN. But I guess the man was not quite up to the task and I feel better now. My late Grandmother always gave me the encouraging news that I was a late bloomer. It seemed I could just not make it through another day at times, yet I did. I still believe I am lovable and I will find someone.

    Thanks for your helpful blog Petra, and Happy Easter.

  4. Lanie says:

    I dont want to go into all the details, but speaking from my very own personal experience, if you are not finding that person to have a fulfilling relationship with, it’s probably ( as it was in my case) because you’re assumptions are incorrect. Your assumptions about who you believe you’re compatible with are incorrect, and therefore, you’re not giving the right people the time of day, or your assumptions about who would want you are incorrect, so you are limiting yourself to a certain group of people. My boyfriend and I are totally different and I never thought we’d be compatible at all. He did not match my idea of who I’d end up with. He is much much better in so many ways than the image of ‘my ideal mate’ that I had in my head. Both of us feel the same way. We are both pleasantly surprised at how things have turned out. Not everyone wants children; age isn’t a factor to everyone; and for every rule we have in our heads there are 20 exceptions we just don’t see. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try doing the opposite of what you’d normally do. If there is someone you tell yourself you wouldnt be compatible with because… try it anyway. If you’re afraid someone wont want you because you’re past the age of x… well there are plenty of people in the same situation as you. You’re not the only one in your 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. Chances are there is someone out there looking for someone like you. You have to try to be open minded to the possibilities. Life will not work out the way you plan or imagine, but that doesn’t mean it wont give you something wonderful… or even better than your imagination came up with. Sometimes we dont know what we need until it smacks us in the face in a completely different ‘outfit’ than we expected.

    • Petra says:

      That is so true Lanie, and thank you so much for this valuable insight. Take care!

    • Sheila B says:

      Yes I think there are people out there – its being in the right place at the right time thats the tricky bit!
      By the way you say age isnt a factor for everyone – my experience of internet dating is that (virtually all the men want women younger than themselves – which massively disadvantages older women – even those in their 30s !!). Its got to the point where i dont even consider online dating for that reason. Im 62 – most men of my age want partners several years younger. Whether they get them or not is another matter.

      • Petra says:

        Thanks for contributing Sheila. I know it’s tricky but you shouldn’t get discouraged. Online is a bit of a hit and miss any way, so if you feel there is not much choice for you there, try offline. Being persistent is key and open to possibilities, you never know 🙂 There are also specialised websites for 50+ or 60+ dating, I don’t know if you tried those. Take care!

  5. Tara Mac says:

    I am 37 and have 4 children. I have never enjoyed the pleasure of a healthy relationship. I have a good life alone, but have a dream of having someone to share it with. I don’t want to feel hopeless, but nothing is happening for me.

    • Petra says:

      Dear Tara, I know it’s not a good place to be. I would love to help, if you are willing to have a consultation to explore your situation and possible solutions please get in touch. The consultation is free and we’ll do it over Skype or phone. Just email me or send a note via my CONTACT page.

  6. artistgirl says:

    I just turned 37 and my boyfriend of 4 1/2 yrs just ended it because he felt I deserved more and he couldn’t give me the life I deserved. He suffers from depression and there have been lots of ups and downs. Within the last few months I thought things were so much better. We discussed how much healthier our relationship had become. He discussed purchasing a home together. I thought we were finally on the right track.

    A couple weeks ago I discussed wanting to try to have a child in a year. Not the first time I talked about wanting children. This though was probably the first time he actually really thought about what that meant. He said he wasn’t ready and wasn’t sure if at the end of dealing with his depression if he ever would want to. He asked to think about it. I gave him space he thought about it and decided he didn’t think we would work out. He said he would rather be alone then have me unhappy later.

    So that leaves me here afraid that something I wanted ended something I had. I know deep down I would feel like something was missing, but now I will still feel that way if the right guy never comes a long and I’m left alone. I feel like a fool that I never completely opened my eyes and saw the signs of how he felt.

    I feel like I’m too old to even have a chance at any of this anymore.

    • Petra says:

      I think it’s too early to make final judgements about your relationship or whether it was the right decision or not, you will both need some time and space to think about it. I understand your fears but give yourself time to heal and look at what happened from a distance. If it was meant to be, it would last. If it’s still meant to be – you might get back together. However, having or not having children is a huge decision for any couple, and one that you should agree on, otherwise one of you will be miserable and your relationship will suffer. I am quite surprised you haven’t seriously talked about this before, because you are in the age when it’s a very relevant topic. If he wasn’t interested in it at all – and you ignored it, thinking he will change his mind, then it’s a sign the gap between you was bigger than you thought. But – as said, give it some time and see what happens. And don’t worry – it’s honestly never too late to find love. Wish you all my best, take care.

      • artistgirl says:

        Thank you! That’s the thing, we have talked about having a child since the beginning. He already has a son. Sometimes especially when he felt he had his depression under control. He was excited about it. I think what happened is I gave an actual time frame that I wanted to try to have a child and start moving towards a future with him. He said he isn’t ready now and wasn’t sure if in a year he would be ready either and didn’t want me to resent him. That is the difficult part of depression he couldn’t grasp onto a future, so focused on today and how he feels in the current moment. I love him and miss him, but feel like I need to move on. I don’t want to force him to have a child with me. I’m afraid and sad because I’ve lost my best friend. Hopefully the right guy is out there.

        • Petra says:

          Sure, you can’t force him to have a child with you or be with you. Maybe you can help him deal with his depression, and support him through the recovery – but without expecting what the outcome will be, because that is again up to him – there is no way of knowing if he’ll want a child or even if he’ll want to be with you even if he gets better. If you are not willing to take that risk and stick around, it’s best to let him go. I know these are very hard decisions when you love someone, but you have to think what you want long term, and make peace with what you can get from that man/relationship, and if that doesn’t satisfy you – walk away.

  7. Lois says:

    It’s not as much as being too old, to me it’s that there is less time left to spent together.

    • Petra says:

      Dear Lois, you never really know how much time you have with someone in your life! And sometimes the shortest relationship makes the biggest impact. I think we always need to seek new experiences, that’s how you live fully. You might touch someone’s life or they yours in ways you never thought possible. Take care and wish you all my best.

  8. Ms Jones says:

    Hi Lois – I get this feeling too. Life is short. As I mentioned I am 56 years old, never married, no kids. I spend a lot of time alone. I do not like it. I have usually had a boyfriend of some kind. The long periods of being alone, especially as I get older, seem like too much time “apart” to me too.

  9. credy says:

    I am 47 married for 23 years and good kids. My wife has been drifting away for greater part of 10 years. Lately she was getting irritated for every simple thing. She will be good for couple of days and starts getting irritated easily. Recently I stopped trying to patch up ( had been doing for a while) and avoid speaking to her to avoid fights. She kind of drifted away and it feels hard to even ask her for any thing. We just live under one roof. I have no hope and no one else to go. I cant get out because of two kids.

    • Petra says:

      I know you feel like there is no solution or way out – but there must be one. If you don’t solve anything your marriage will fall apart any way, and your kids will suffer even more. They already suffer just by living with their parents who don’t love each other, resent each other, fight. Even if you don’t do it in front of them they feel it and the lack of love you have for each other is giving them a completely wrong message and a bad example of how relationships and love look like. They will grow up thinking that is normal, and they’ll only repeat your mistakes in their own relationships.

      Have you thought about couples’ therapy? Do you think your wife might be open to that? I am all for trying anything before saying goodbye to a marriage, especially one where kids are involved – so please think about have you done everything you could to save it. If you feel I could help you get to a good solution, do contact me for a consultation.

  10. Isolde's Heart says:

    Personally, I lay the blame for the ‘too old’ mindset entirely at the feet of fashion and the media, pushing ‘youth’ down society’s throat with their constant flashing images of plastic, painted and pimped 12 year old stick insects everywhere one looks, as though it’s some sort of god to be worshipped.

    That’s why we have nursing homes – Society’s Garbage Cans – to keep the physically imperfect appearance of the ‘aged’ tucked away from view so as not to offend the shallow, the stupid, and the vain.

    Sound harsh? Maybe – but it’s the truth nobody wants to admit.

    Fashion and media; perhaps if they were shut down, the world could begin to heal in – more ways than one.

    • Petra says:

      Agree! Society is putting a lot of pressure on us all, but – we are the ones letting that perception make us insecure. There are always people out there (men and women) who care more about personality and compatibility than about age or physical appearance, those are the ones you want to date any way. The key is to ignore the stereotypes, and work on ways to feel good in your skin, that’s what makes us truly attractive.

    • Christi Lisk says:

      Now you understand why, at age 24, I am boycotting men over age 30. All over the internet, there are ugly articles about how women are supposedly, “over the hill” at age 30.” Until we shake this sexist idea for good, I refuse to date anyone over thirty until I turn thirty.

  11. Kent says:

    ( I’ve been single a good part of my early 20s, end of 20s and first half of 30s) Just so I’m straight on this,you’re single giving relationship advice? I have to agree with Lois lifes short not much time left for me maybe 20-30 yrs according to the Dr’s all my friends girls and guys say that I’m a great kind awesome guy.Funny only women who want to use me wan’t anything to do with me.Most just run after abusive bad boys even at my age.I don’t think you can make a connection like with a new partner like you had with some one you have known 20-30 yrs just not enough time.

    • Petra says:

      Hi Kent, I am not single, I am married. I had single periods in my life (between long relationships). You do seem to have very little faith anything positive will come your way. And why do you think 20-30 years isn’t enough to find a partner? That’s a very long time and a lot of things can happen. Why it hasn’t happened to you – I don’t know, but I’d be happy to talk about it if you want, just get in touch over email.

  12. I’m definitely too old at 42! Plus I weigh over 300 pounds. If I lost 200 pounds I might be thin enough, but the skin folds would make me look even older. I still wouldn’t be the anorexic bikini model in her late teens men prefer.

    No offense to Kent up there, but men you meet on dating sites tend to be superficial jerks that aren’t above saying cruel, hurtful things about the imperfect women they consider beneath them. Meaning compatible women that are contemporaries in age, financial bracket, and the looks department. And they are really confused when it comes to career!

    No Walmart greeters or welfare recipients, but no lady lawyers or doctors. What do they want? What do men want?

    And Petra please don’t tell me I need to fork over a ton of dough (don’t have it, I’m disabled) and settle for some guy I can’t stand and have nothing in common with.

    I try not to be picky about looks–hey, I weigh over 300 pounds. I actually screen online profiles for poor men so I won’t be accused of looking for a sugar daddy. I am willing to date men as old as 57 or as young as 32. I will date a paralyzed man, a little man, a visually impaired man, maybe even a deaf man if we can find a way to communicate. All I ask is that we share the same religion and have common interests. It also would be nice if he weren’t abusive physically, emotionally, or verbally. Is that too much to ask?

    • Petra says:

      I think finding a guy should come second to losing weight for you. It’s a huge goal, and it’s not an easy one: but if you do it, that change will give you so many benefits and a truly new life – and will make it much easier to meet the right guy. It’s not just about looks, but being healthy and feeling you can do anything you want physically is a big thing. Having the will to change your life and then doing it works wonders for our feeling of self. And your weight, unlike your love life – is 100% under your control. You don’t have to think about the end goal – minus 200 pounds, just start losing some – gradually, it will take time and don’t be impatient with it – but if you go down that road, your confidence will go up immensely and you’ll have a very different energy. The one that will attract men who will see the real you. But first you have to see that real you, you have to love and appreciate her enough to give your body a healthy size. It’s not mandatory of course, you can find a guy just as you are – but it won’t happen if you feel insecure about your looks and if you doubt you’re worthy of love just as you are. That’s key. Age is just a number. Size is just a number too, but I think when we let ourselves become as big as you are today – that means we don’t care about ourselves enough. That needs to change for you first, loving yourself, caring for yourself, making one step at a time towards the new happier you. And along that way the right guy will happen too.

      • I still don’t think the right guy will happen because I’m too old. And I live out in the Styx. But at least wrinkles aren’t bad for your health like excess pounds.

        • Petra says:

          I am sorry you feel that way Rachel. Trust me you can find someone at your age or older, there are single people at any age. Just getting out of that mindset will help you heaps. You can be loved and you can find a way. Trust me no one is beyond help! Take care.

  13. Joan Reichman says:

    I’m 52 and I’ve been divorced for about five years after 23 years of marriage. I’ve been in one serious, long relationship since the divorce and a couple short relationships. In the past year I’ve gotten custody of my young grandson. I love him very much, and I’m committed to raising him and doing all I can to give him a happy, healthy life. Sometimes though I feel so lonely and wonder if my chances for ever getting into a serious relationship are slim to none now that I am raising a child again. I did date a guy last year shortly after I got custody of my grandson. He went on and on about how wonderful he thought I was but couldn’t stop agonizing over “being too old to raise a child.” Really the only support I have raising this baby is the man I started the serious relationship with after the divorce. This relationship has been on and off agin several times. He comes over every weekend to help with the baby. We haven’t had a sexual relationship for at least two years and he just refers to me as his best friend. Other friends say having him around prevents me from meeting and opening myself up to someone with whom I COULD have a romantic relationship. My relationship with him is so unfulfilling in so many ways, but it is all I have and I’m so afraid of being alone.

    • Petra says:

      You need to let go of this belief that you are somehow a less desirable partner because you are raising your grandson. It’s actually the opposite – the fact you took your grandson in shows you are a loving and compassionate person, that is very generous and you should feel good about yourself for helping your child in this way (don’t know the circumstances there, but I presume it’s for their benefit too?). Re-framing the way you see yourself and your situation is crucial here, and if you do that you’ll be able to attract a great partner who will not have a problem with your life circumstance. If you’d like some help, let me know – we can work on this together.

  14. I am 62 years old and am told that I do not look my age. My co-workers think I am in my late 40s or early 50s. I have always been active, but while I was married, I had gained weight and not happy with myself. I decided to make a change after a long hard divorce. I made the gym and speed walking a part of my life. I lost to a size 5/6 and was pleased with the person I had become. I did some online dating and even went to Australia and HawaiiI. I did all this while working full time and caregiver for my dad. He is in good health and can care for himself, yet very dependent on me. He alone with my siblings and daughter totally turned on me saying I was having a mid-life crisses and needed professional help. That was in 2010 and I kept the weight off and continued dating up untIL 2014. My job changed and coming home cooking for my dad every night forced me to put my life on the back burner. He made me feel gilty for taking time even for my walks. He doesn’t even want me visiting my children who live away, leaving me to always cut my trips short out of gilt. I get no help from my siblings, although the hard feelings have subsided now that I have no lfe. I have gained weight again and now have psoriasis on my hands feet and legs. My skin has always been one of my best features so this is very hard for me. I am embarrassed in front of my co-workers. They tell me it looks as thought someone has chopped my hands from all the deep splits in the skin. I am very lonely, and miss dating, but I would never want a man to see my hands and leg. I pretty much have accepted that I will live the rest of my life alone. This is so not by choice, as I would love to grow old with someone in my life. I still try to keep my self looking my best and I’m dieting now to lose more ponnds. I had gained to a size12 which is too heavy for my 5’4″ height. I am back into some 10’s but still have a ways to go.

    • Ms Jones says:

      It is nice to help our parents who brought us into this life, butt not our obligation or the correct design to neglect our own health and welfare to assist out aging parents.
      I suggest you do the best to help your dad as best you can without neglecting your own health.
      My mantra when it comes to the oldsters – they’ll be fine and you’ll be dead. This is not the proper design for living. I am sure you are as kind as you need to be. Losing weight and taking care of your own health should never take a back seat to helping your dad. If no one else in your family understands this – too bad. As a 62 year old woman you do not have to substantiate your actions to anyone.
      Do what you feel is best and very importantly take care of you, whether others feel this is selfish or whatever they say. Obviously they are not helping out – What gives them the moral high ground?
      Do your best and do not kill yourself over a demanding father. I am sure he really appreciates all you do for him. Maybe he is frustrated and disappointed that no one else steps up. Do not let your sense of your own well being get confused. People comment on this, that and the other thing. Your parents did bring you into this world, but you are not their slave or possession. You are a free agent and that is the way it is.
      Good luck and take care of you.

    • Petra says:

      I think you need to stop pleasing everyone else, and feeling guilty if you don’t. Take care of yourself, and do the things you like and enjoy first, and what other people think you should do second. Your dad is an old man, and it’s OK to help him – but not at the expense of your own health/weight, well-being or your life in general. Why would you be single for the rest of your life so that you can service everyone around you? They don’t really care how you feel. It’s nice to be nice, but don’t kill yourself in the process. If you set the boundaries right (right for you), they will actually appreciate your time and giving more. They will adjust and stop asking you to live for them. If they don’t – that’s OK too. It’s their issue to deal with, not yours. Good luck and take care.