Being single at 38 years old

NOTE: This was originally written last spring but I recently decided to go ahead and share it. Life in and out of the dating world can be a roller coaster emotionally. Count the following as a moment of bare honesty on my roller coastery journey.


I’m not exactly sure where this post will go, but I wanted to write down thoughts I’ve been having as a single guy at my old age. Old! That’s how I feel some days. Usually that sensation comes over me the night of, or the morning after, playing basketball or volleyball. I move a little slower, I groan a little more, I tighten my bathrobe a little more snugly around me. I’m pretty happy with where my life is, with what I’m doing, and the friends I spend time with. Is this where I thought I’d be at 38? The truth is, I don’t ever remember thinking about where I’d be at 30 or 40. And even though I feel old sometimes, I feel really good other times.

I also think I’m past the question, “Why aren’t you married yet?” …because I haven’t been asked it in ages. The answer is always the same: haven’t found the right one yet. That’s partly true. I’ve dated on and off for the past few years and I’ve been in the company of greatness. But for whatever reason the relationships fizzled and died, or never even really started. There have been a handful of dates that would have never happened, if I knew how they’d go. I’m thinking of one at Buffalo Wild Wings, or another attending a Ben Rector concert.

Disasters!

But truthfully, those, and other less memorable one-hit wonders, as in “I wonder why we are here, now, together,” have helped me get to where I am. A little more mature. A little more focused. A little less hopeful. Yes, I said less hopeful. It’s hard to keep hope alive all day every day.

In fact, I’d say it’s impossible.

In fact, stay away from people who are positive all the time, they’re hiding something!

In fact, you don’t want to be there when they explode.

I’ve gone through periods of great hope, great excitement. I want to be there again but I’m in a season of doubt right now. Doubt about marriage, doubt about even wanting to date. Because dating might lead to marriage, and I’m not even sure I want that. We’re taught through many ways that finding a partner will make life worthwhile, that you can be on top of the world like Jack and Rose if you find the other half of you. I don’t really believe that’s true. Life is worthwhile even without marriage. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Do you want to know the thought on the forefront of my mind the past week or so? It’s this…

Who’s going to take care of me when I’m old?

My mind drifts to 50 years from now when one of my nieces is stuck with checking in on their cenile uncle. You know, the one who never got married and had all the goats? He keeps mumbling about wanting more tattoos but his whole body is covered.

OK, OK, sometimes I think I’ll get a few more tattoos, not all over my whole body, though! But that would be me: the crazy, single, never-married uncle who didn’t reach his potential as a husband or maybe even a dad.

People get married later in life. People get divorced later in life. People stay single their entire lives. So many different stories. I’m in the middle of mine, just wondering if a co-writer might come along who can help me, and let me help them, through the next few dozen chapters.

Brief encounters

I’ve discovered that there are quite a few people you’ll come in contact with that you might only see once…ever. In fact, scenarios like that are so common even Craigslist has a part of their website dedicated to these casual encounters, as they call it. While I’d recommend scanning those for entertainment purposes only, there’s obviously a need they’re filling, or trying to fill.

Time has distanced me from the college years where I might’ve seen hundreds of people a day and a lot of times see those same hundreds and a hundred more all the time. And now, depending on your job, your weekly activities, you might see just a sliver of that amount on any given day.

I’ve never really been brave or outgoing when it comes to dating, even to this day, so I’ve realized these brief encounters with a woman I find interesting are, or could be, something to act on. Because it might be the only time I ever see this person.

There was that girl when I worked as a photographer’s assistant at a wedding.

Then there was Brooke from a local tattoo shop.

Once I talked with a girl at Kroger.

One and done, that’s what those were. Because I wasn’t really thinking past the moment. A buddy of mine had an experience like this recently. He was at Pinewood Social here in Nashville and was sitting in a sort of common area; a long couch, a table, basically a section you can chat with a friend or group of friends, and still order food and drinks. A pair of girls were sitting near him and because of where their computers where plugged in, he and at least one of the girls had to communicate. Afterwards he told me that he found one of them to be very attractive. The full story is that both were, but one had a ring on. 😉

So chance encounters like that do happen. But the older we get, they’re just not as frequent. If I’m being totally honest, most days I couldn’t care less about talking to anyone. Give me a chair in the backyard with my dogs and a cool breeze, I’m pretty much set! But every once in a while there will be tattoo shop Brooke. Or Kroger girl. Unfortunately for me I come up with great conversations I could’ve had about an hour or a week after. Lame-o!

So today I’m asking myself, “What am I doing about it now?” When the next Brooke comes along, or the next Pinewood Socialite sits down next to me or my friend, what shall be done about it?

-Out of the Wilderness

20 reasons I was single in my 20s, plus a few more

During my senior year of high school, I started compiling a list of things I’d love to have in a mate. The list started with broad characteristics that were must-haves. Things like Christian, patient, good listener, thoughtful. Had the list stopped there, that would’ve been great. It’s smart to have some sort of criteria when seeking a friend for the end of the world. More specifically, a best friend to spend the rest of my life with. But the list didn’t end there. It went on. And on. And on. A total of 45 things I wrote down that defined who it was I was looking for. No prob. No prob? Yeah right… no wonder I’ve been single for so long!

I don’t think there’s ever been a woman on earth that could measure up to that list.

I might as well have created her from a computer, like these guys did. But Kelly LeBrock aside, this “perfect girl” isn’t out there. A girl I was dating years ago surmised that (and this is as we were breaking up) I’m looking for someone just like me. Mostly because of how and when it was presented, I became defensive. But she was right. Now comparing her comments to the list from high school, I’m about to blow your mind, so make sure you’re sitting down for this.

The list isn’t who I was looking for, the list is who I wanted to be.

Booya. Mic drop. You’ve been served. Insert any other overused phrase here. Even as I sit here typing I’m looking at this decades-old list and it’s blowing my mind. All these things I wrote down are either characteristics I already have, or ones I’m striving towards. If there were a girl out there that had all these qualities, I don’t think I’d fall in love with her. I think I’d be super jealous of her!

Then it makes sense that what I’m looking for in a mate now, now that I’m in my 30s and so much wiser and so much more mature, are much less specific. Less specific and not about me!

I look forward to finding this person. That is, if God’s ideas for me include a woman that can put up with a guy who made a list in high school of 45 things about her that’s really about him but at least he didn’t try to make her on a computer but maybe that was only because he didn’t know how because he was more into playing sports than computer programming.

-Out of the Wilderness

10 Signs She’s Not Into You… #9

This signal is a little more difficult to discern but if you take a few minutes to step back and look at the timeline of your “relationship” with this girl, it might be easier to see. It happened to me a couple of years ago. I met a girl named Trina one night. We became MySpace friends. Ok, it was like 7 years ago when MySpace was… cool? We were supposed to go jogging together but a family emergency sent me out of town to St. Augustine, Florida. Upon returning to Nashville, we made plans to jog but again, circumstances got in the way. It happened a third time so I knew something was up.

universe#9 The Universe Won’t Allow It.

Now I know this doesn’t mean she’s not into you. It’s a sign she can’t be into you. For whatever reason, the relationship you’re hoping for is simply not meant to be. Sometimes it’s worth pursuing, but as I’ve been told time and time again, “In the beginning, it should be easy.” If you’re starting out fighting the odds, you should just stop. But hey, this isn’t about dating advice so do whatever you want. And consequently if you’re reading this, Trina from Brentwood, I’m still single.

10 Signs She’s Not Into You… #10

I’ll start this list with the fairly obvious. If she takes longer than, oh, a nano-second to respond she’s not into you. Ok, give it some more time but just being truthful here; if you’ve gone to bed and awakened the next day and still haven’t heard from her, she’s not into you.

notinterested#10 Takes More Than A Day To Respond.

This could be email, text, whatever form of communication you have with this girl. It’s a harsh thing to accept. Trust me, I know. I’ve been on the receiving end of… well, when they don’t ever respond, it’s not really the receiving end of anything, is it? Girls are a lot better at the whole “communication” thing, it’s just in their DNA. So when they deliberately delay talking to you, you can be sure they know exactly what they’re doing. In not sending a message, they’re sending a message. And the message is: “Get lost, creep.”

Check back in tomorrow for another sign she thinks you’re the worst thing since non-microwavable plates.