“So, when are you getting married?” “Do you even have a boyfriend?” I cringe every time someone asks me either (or both!) of these questions. Sometimes these questions come from family members and other times they come from complete strangers. No matter who asks them, it feels like someone is twisting the knife and making the pang of single loneliness much worse.
The older I get, the more it can feel like I’m going nowhere. I know it’s not just me, either.
According to a 2017 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of first-time marriages is 29.5 years old for men and 27.4 years for us ladies. While we’re getting married older as whole, it still doesn’t discount how awful it feels for someone who has a strong desire to marry but hasn’t had the best luck in the romance department. Sure, there are now a multitude of dating websites and apps that are supposed to help, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find Mr. Right any quicker.
What’s a single girl over the age of thirty to do when stuck in this situation? We know it’s helpful to stop focusing on the lack of a romantic interest. Being single later than you wish doesn’t mean you have to put life on hold. It also doesn’t mean you must focus on the negative. Instead of bemoaning your relationship status, why don’t you focus on the positives of singlehood? Here are three tips on staying relatively sane during the single season of life.
01. Cultivate Your Passions
Those of us over the age of thirty have an advantage that other (younger) single ladies don’t: We have more time and resources on our side. In your twenties, you’re still learning a lot about yourself. Many women choose to earn a degree or two in their twenties, which takes up a lot of time. Then there’s the adjustment period after being in an academic bubble for so long. If you’re living on your own for the first time, you’re also trying to figure out how do everything on your own. Once you get to your thirties, you’ve been at this for a while and most likely have your own routine. Further, you now have more time than ever to do what you like.
Is there something that you’ve really wanted to learn but never seemed to have the time and/or money to do it when you were younger? There’s no time like the present to try it out. Is there a hobby that you put on the back-burner while you finished school and got used to the working world? Pick it up again and do it in your spare time! Do you have a passion for helping others? Find a charity or organization that focuses on whatever cause you feel strongest about, and see what you can do to help them.
Do you enjoy traveling? This is the perfect time to do it, especially if you have the resources to do so. Whatever it is that you love doing, and whatever gladdens your heart, go for it!
02. Move some tasks off your post-marriage list
Singlehood can be good preparation for marriage. Is there something that you keep putting off because you think it’s something you’ll only need to do after you’re married? Reconsider whether it’s necessary to wait around for that time to come.
Do you want to renovate your living space from dorm-like to home-like? Your schedule is clearer now than it will be post-wedding planning. Do you anticipate learning how to balance a household budget with more than one income? Learn how to do it now, even if you have to add an imaginary income. Are your cooking skills fine for a single gal but perhaps not for two or more people? Grab some good, quick recipes, invite some friends over, and learn how to cook a variety of dishes in bigger portions.
Do you desire a family but don’t know how to change a diaper or soothe a crying baby, thinking you’ll just learn as you go along? Sure, you could do that, but you can also volunteer to help a friend take care of her baby. You’ll get the practice, and your friend may just get that nap or shower that she desperately needs.
03. Keep up the emotional boundaries with guys (especially guy friends)
This is one that I know most single gals struggle with because it’s so easy to get an emotional “quick hit” of attention when you’re feeling lonely. Yes, getting a little attention can feel great in the moment—especially since flirting releases dopamine hormones, making you feel fantastic—but in addition to toying with guys’ emotions, it can backfire. That moment won’t last and most likely you’ll end up feeling worse, and more stagnant, than you did before.
If the guy you go to for emotional fulfillment has a significant other (which is very likely at this age) and/or is a good friend, it can complicate things and invite unwanted drama into your life. Why would you want to ruin a good friendship to satisfy the loneliness that you know they can’t (or shouldn’t) fill? Of course, I'm not saying it's never possible that a good friendship could turn into a romantic relationship. But I am suggesting that you carefully interrogate your motives when you find yourself subtly substituting a friend into the role of significant other. Guys aren’t wired to get as emotionally attached as women do, but they do love being able to “come to the rescue” and help you when you’re at your lowest. So when you feel yourself feeling particularly lonely, beware! Call a girlfriend, or journal it out, while munching on dopamine-releasing chocolate. It’s a win for everyone!
Listen, ladies, I get it. Being single can have some downer moments. If getting married is your only goal for these years, the more time goes by, the harder it gets… especially when you’re one of the last ones (if not the last) of your friends to get married or to get a serious boyfriend. But these tips reveal that being single doesn’t have to keep us from living a wonderful and fulfilling life. Now, go out there and show the world (and yourself!) what an amazing woman you are on your own!