Be Careful What You Wish For
I’m a woman, 36, and I think I’m having an early midlife romantic crisis. It started last August when I broke up with my boyfriend. It suddenly became clear he had no intention of getting married.
So I cut my losses.
Growing up an only child with not much family, marriage and family have always been important to me. After the breakup, I started feeling life was passing me by. I had this burning desire to accomplish all the things on my bucket list.
So, I went to Ireland to explore my family heritage. I learned to tango. I took courses and became an expert in wine. I found a personal trainer and got into great shape. I even got a boob job—no regrets there, I did it for the right reasons. I invested time and effort into improving relationships with my family and close friends.
But these things left me feeling empty, like life was devoid of meaning. The truth is, all I’ve ever wanted is to find love, have a family and a place to belong. I thought if I did those things, maybe love would find me. I thought everything would work out.
It hasn’t. Now I’m honestly afraid of spending the rest of my life alone.
Everyone my age with a decent head on their shoulders has already found a partner and built a life. Meanwhile I’ve spent the last 10 years in therapy, working on self-improvement, rehashing childhood trauma and overcoming intimacy issues.
My therapist thinks I’m healthy emotionally and my only problem is “meeting the right one.” I’ve dated a ton and made every mistake in the book. I’ve had an interesting life and built a lot of character on the way.
I’m smart, funny, thoughtful, attractive, affectionate, loyal, grounded, compassionate, well-educated, successful, adventurous, supportive, a good listener and an altogether awesome girlfriend.
There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to find a life partner. So what gives?
People say love will find you when you aren’t looking. But how do I stop looking when that’s all I ever wanted? The only solution I can come up with is spiritual. Seriously, I could use a month in India working on meditation, living in the now and releasing myself from this sadness.
Obviously I’m at the apex of frustration, ranting to a random advice columnist at 2 a.m., but I could use some good advice.
Vanessa, what is it? You are doing all these things to find something that comes when it comes if it comes.
Many years ago we wrote that the love of two people who belong together is “a force from another dimension, like the migration of animals, the connection between friends, the bond of mother and child, or the willingness of a man to risk his life to save the life of someone he doesn’t even know.”
You have to let go. What might 10 years of therapy prove? You can’t talk, calculate or reason this into existence. Not everyone gets what they wish for, though lots of people get what they settle for.
You have to live in today. Are you okay today? Family isn’t a guarantee. The love of your life isn’t a given, as life and health aren’t givens. People lose them every day. You have to find a way to accept what you have.
It’s true that love will find you when you are not looking, but you are still looking out of the corner of your eye. Some people don’t have what you have, and all you can think of is what you don’t have. The list of adjectives you use to describe yourself—how many people will never have that?
Get out, as you have been, and keep living. Because it looks like you are having a pretty wonderful life. What you wish for seems to be stopping you from being happy.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of February 16, 2015
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