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48, Single, and Back at Square One

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Relationships are tough under the best circumstances. Imagine finding yourself single for the first time since you were 17 years old. Now imagine that you’re 48 years old. That’s where I find myself after a 17-year marriage and a subsequent 14-year, long-standing relationship.

I was recently told by one of my regular readers that what I write carries a theme of ambivalence. She was absolutely correct. I think there’s no way to avoid being ambivalent when something that caused you heartbreak in the past is what you always hoped you’d have as you grew older. We all dream of having a soul mate in our golden years, but when the person you thought would be that soul mate taints your current outlook on love, you have a tendency to frown on ever falling in love again. Oh yes, ambivalence is exactly what I feel.

Ambivalence is a good learning tool. Cynicism vs. a positive outlook can be sort of a coat of armor – a protective shield that helps you pay attention to those relationship red flags that you didn’t pay attention to when you were a little younger. I suppose because you aren’t a little younger, you’ve realized you’re not immortal and time could run out.

When I first became single, I didn’t plan to get involved again for a long time, and I didn’t. This was the one time in my life when I decided to take some time to get to know me and nurture what had needed to grow for a long time. That was the wisest decision I ever made. It didn’t really help much in deciding whether or not I wanted to pursue a relationship, but it did help me in understanding myself and learning to be true to myself.

Being with the right person doesn’t always mean being with someone you love or being with someone who loves you. That’s a pretty important part of the big picture, I’ll admit, but it’s not all of it. I am learning now through dating experiences how to look at what kind of reaction our separate lives have to being together. Relationships should never hinder growth no matter what kind of relationship it is. I believe a good relationship should challenge us every day to make strides of personal growth as well as growth within the relationship.

As I move forward in this dating experience of mine, I’m finding every day that even though I long for that special someone, I’m not willing to compromise the big picture for a few pieces of a good time. I have found that not being sure of what I want, or even being ambivalent, is okay for now.

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About Tammy Stevens

  • http://elsaelsa.com Elsa

    Just want to wish your luck on your journey. :)
    And much love.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/q_bit Q Bit

    That “special someone”, I feel is a grossly exaggerated concept. Everyone, including myself has fallen once, at least, if nor more into the “special someone” trap only to discover later, speciality of that someone has a finite lifetime and as a result, in most cases, people find themselves crowding the singles bars more than they ever wished.

  • http://www.theolympian.com/hotflashes Tammy

    I can understand your feelings about that “special someone” but I think you’re not taking into account those that know the “speciality” of that person may not wear off. That “new” feeling may go, but that’s not to say that someone won’t be special to you for the rest of your life, even through the more trying times of a relationship. Thank you for your views though, I respect differing opinions.

  • Q Bit

    I can understand your feelings about that “special someone” but I think you’re not taking into account those that know the “speciality” of that person may not wear off. That “new” feeling may go, but that’s not to say that someone won’t be special to you for the rest of your life, even through the more trying times of a relationship. Thank you for your views though, I respect differing opinions.

    Sure someone could remain special for life, but that happens, in its true sense, in miniscule number of cases. I would say in about 90% of relationships the speciality wears off, and in about half of them it eventually leads to a break up.

    Even if the special someone does not remain special any more, we are usually hesitant to pull the trigger because it’s hard, very hard to disengage from someone on whom you have, for years, invested yourself.

    But that’s not to say that someone doesn’t exist. Perhaps does, perhaps doesn’t.

    In my view, a relationship usually stagnates after a certain time, give and take few years, which, frankly speaking looks almost inevitable, given all the shades of emotions, and baggage we exhibit and carry from time to time.

  • http://www.theolympian.com/hotflashes Tammy

    I can’t say I agree with your statistics. However, I think as we get older, the criteria for that “special someone” changes. What we sought in a soul-mate 25 years ago, we no longer find all of that a priority. For instance, when I was 18, my priority of course was looks and money. Now at 48, my priority is common interests and the ability to hold a conversation with someone. So, I guess whether or not your relationship has a shot at outlasting the first couple years depends on what your expectations of the relationship are.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    I have had similar experiences; 20 years with one guy; 9 and counting with another. A small bout of dating in between.

    I think Q bit is looking at the half-empty glass;. i.e. if there’s a 50 percent divorce rate, that’s still a 50 percent “success” rate. Some portion of that 50 percent “works” in actuality.

    Lifetime marriage was much more the norm in my parents’ generation. Expectations are more complex now–for better and worse.

  • STM

    Tammy, I split from my wife in 1999, and had two and a half years to myself. It was nice at first, because I always thought everything was her fault, but I subsequently came to a few realisations about myself.

    The main one was that I was self-centred when it came to relationships. It should have been glaringly obvious to me, as it was to others, but at the time I just couldn’t see it.

    Having plenty of time to think about it cast some clarity on the issue. I have subsequently reconciled with my wife (unexpectedly, for both of us), and we are a good fit for each other.

    Nothing’s perfect, though … but it’s better. The other thing I learned – and I can only speak of my own experience, as it won’t be right for everyone – is that walking away isn’t always the answer.

    Last night, I found my daughter in her room having a silent cry about starting a new school without all her old friends.

    I’m glad I was able to be there for her in that moment.

    But you are right: the whole issue of relationships is fraught.

  • http://www.theolympian.com/hotflashes Tammy

    I’m with you STM, sometimes it takes stepping back and being willing to look at ourselves honestly to see that we probably had just as big a part in the break-up as the other party. Sometimes not. I did the same thing you did, and also was able to admit to and see some of my own character defects, but sometimes as well, a relationship just isn’t meant to continue. Does this make me cynical? To a point, but not completely. I still believe that there is someone out there for me.

  • The village idiot

    What I find so cruel is a man an women being together for many years and just maybe in the begining it was not true love. Then over the years through trial and tribulations came the realization you love each other more with each passing day. Why do I find this cruel. How do you continue after losing your soul mate. Maybe it is better to have not loved then to have loved. Dont know. What I do know is this village idiot could not live with the loss of his bride of 26yrs. What a beautiful lady she is and I thank God for her.

  • http://www.theolympian.com/hotflashes Tammy

    I believe you continue because there is a purpose for your existence. What that is, who knows? But I do know from experience, that when you lose that person you thought was your soul-mate, it is possible to find someone else. There is no book of rules, who’s to say that there isn’t another soul-mate for you? We don’t know what the future will hold, but we have to find a way to get up each day and face the day and find out.

  • STM

    VI, so you do have a heart … I take back everything I have ever said. That is a very moving tribute to your wife, and although you probably didn’t mean it to come out that way, it’s a tribute to yourself as well.

    Good stuff mate. You too Tammy: there will be someone out there for you – my tip, they come along in the most unlikely of scenarios and situations, usually when you’re not looking. So keep your eyes open …. :)

  • Bliffle

    48 is easy. Try 58 or 68, as some of my cohorts are finding out.

    Don’t expect potential mates to cater to you: that’s all over, now. Hope for a decent cooperative deal. The mad American competitive struggle to dominate everyone and everything must be abandoned at this age.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    VI/sm:

    Now that’s what I’m talking about…

    My aunts lost the loves of their lives years ago–after about 40-50- odd years of marriage– and never remarried. I don’t think they would ever have considered it for a minute. For them it was their one and only. But they did survive.

  • http://www.theolympian.com/hotflashes Tammy

    I don’t think I’ve ever looked for someone that would cater to me. I expect to get in return what I give. However, there are certain points of a relationship I will no longer compromise on for my own well-being. Which works fine for me, because in looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with, I don’t want there to always be that one thing I settled on that is now making me miserable.

  • Zedd

    Q

    I have to say, I met that special someone.

    I had divorced and made friends with an extraordinarily handsome man. While his looks were quite apparent, I was healing from a divorce and wasn’t that impressed. He was however VERY FINE :o)

    We became best friends instantly. We talked about EVERYTHING; our silliest dreams. We respected our gender differences. It felt as if I was hanging out with myself. It was as if when I was a kid making faces in front of the mirror and letting my fantasies go, that he was the reflection that I as looking at. I felt just that at home with him.

    I quickly forgot how handsome and built he was and just saw me/him in him. He was so proud of me. I was of him. We were so open to the extent that if others were to hear us communicating, they would think we were odd because most people don’t get that intimate, with anyone…

    Needless to say, we were in love, better than movie love, romeo and Juliet, or any image of romance. It was tantric. We made it a point to say it! To say what we liked about each other, to notice the tiny things and SAY IT. Like an onion, peeling bay layer by layer our love grew, we were intent on getting to the core. We took the risk to be vulnerable and we won. We both felt blessed to have what we had.

    We married.

    How blessed I am.

  • Zedd

    VI

    You do live. You live with graditude, purpose and understanding. Like Elvira’s aunts.

    I do.