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Lonliness and the single, urban dweller

It’s Friday night. You arrive home late and exhausted from another week of demanding, stressful work and long hours that have left you no time for even thinking about the week-end, let alone planning for it. So, here you are, tired, alone and already anticipating the boredom, isolation and catch-up errands and housework that are to come. Sound familiar?

Unlike generations past, singles today are delaying marriage while pursuing advanced education and demanding careers, often in places far away from where they grew up. The 2002 census data tells us that the median age for first marriage has risen to 25.3 for women and 26.9 for men. This marriage delay has led to a long period of single years in which individuals who have often relocated for school and/or work must find new ways to meet their needs for familial intimacy and sharing.

This new lifestyle has been on the rise for over twenty years, as societal norms have shifted due to divorce, the new sexuality and a desire on the part of singles to marry after they have reached an age in which they know who they are and what they want out of life. Older singles, (late 30’s to early 50’s) were the pioneers in this new way of life. The role models available to them were primarily limited to early marriage after high school, some college or upon completion of a college degree. Marriage was the (expected) next step and the route that marriage-minded people felt they had to choose.

For those who didn’t marry early, the single life has not lived up to its promises. Yes, they have been successful in their careers and many singles own their own homes and have reached a certain level of financial stability and freedom, but the lifestyle issues can be huge. They believed the right person would happen along after they had met their educational and professional goals. Instead, many singles in this age group report that they struggle with a loneliness that has resulted from an imbalance in their lives. Time passed, friends married and moved away and their families of origin were no longer able to function as they once had due to aging or deceased parents. They often refer to themselves as workaholics who attempt to meet needs primarily through success in their careers, while neglecting their social and personal lives.

Younger singles- twenties to mid-thirties express similar issues, yet there are differences that are significant and worth taking a look at. These younger singles had somewhat different role models. Education and career were placed at the top of their lists from childhood. Many had working mothers, who raised their daughters (as well as their sons) to focus on becoming strong, independent adults who could “have it all” if they followed these rules for success. Putting off marriage was encouraged as a way to help them achieve their own personal goals first. Therefore, these singles embrace the belief that you shouldn’t marry until you know yourself first and have learned to meet your own needs.

How has this difference impacted the quality of the lives of these two groups of singles? Younger singles began their independent lives with the expectation of more single years ahead and an attitude that they must build a complete life for themselves and not DELAY (amongst other things), building strong peer support systems. This gave rise to the close-knit, family like groups that are now often referred to as Urban Tribes. A writer named Ethan Watters first used this term in 2001 in a magazine article he wrote about the “tribe” that he had belonged to for a number of years, and how it had nurtured and sustained its members with friendship, emotional support, financial help and family-like bonds.

These tribes were often started with a core group who went to school together, worked in their first jobs together and/or lived together in order to share expenses. As time went on, the bonds deepened and many “tribers” report that they have many of the advantages of family without the responsibility and commitment of marriage. Many have marriage as their goal but are living “full and satisfying” lives until that time.

How can the tribal experience benefit older singles who have found that many of their old friends have moved away or married? They can begin (wherever they are in their lives) to create communities that can meet their current needs and lifestyles. This of course, will be more challenging at this stage of life. So, where should they begin?

The following is a rough list of ideas:

  • friends from work
  • old friends who still share a similar lifestyle
  • new friends they meet through volunteer work, social groups, other friends, leisure time pursuits and church
  • internet searches for local singles

Every metropolitan area offers a wide range of groups for singles. These are hosted by for profit companies as well as singles groups/clubs that are affiliated with religious and other private organizations. You can find them on the Internet by typing in key words such as “singles activities” along with you specific region of residence. Then you can go through the listings, looking for activities and pursuits that you feel would attract singles with whom you would have things in common.

In order for a community like this to take hold, members must be willing to set limits on their work lives and make themselves available for “family style” dinners, nights out, shared leisure time and structured outings and/or vacations, and support as needed to individuals within the group. Just as everyone within a family has their defined role, so will these emerge in tribes. Some will be the organizers or leaders, others will handle the details, while the rest will contribute as needed and as their strengths and interests allow. Over time, friendships and bonds will grow. Individual members will be provided with the support, caring and security they need in order to live a happy single life, which is the foundation on which all healthy intimate relationships are built.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

Got attitude?

If you are single and looking for a partner, you probably have attitude, but what is it? Are you positive, optimistic, and sure of a good result? Or are you jaded or self-protective? Frightened? Is “scared to death” too strong?

What you want, a plan to get there, and an attitude to match is vital for partnering success. Think about it: if you are sure that what you are doing won’t work, chances are very good that you will be right.

It’s like planning a trip to where you really don’t want to go, but it is the only route you know. Who wants to spend their vacation in the city dump? That’s just what you are deciding to do if you are saying things to yourself like “There are no good men out there,” or “Women are just looking for a fat wallet,” or “It’s not going to work, so why try?” You can be sure with those kinds of attitudes, you won’t find any good men, or will just find gold-digging women, or you won’t get anywhere at all.

Do you know how, when you suddenly become interested in something, you start noticing it everywhere? A few months ago, I got a sudden inspiration that I wanted a white convertible, right out of the blue. And then I started noticing convertibles. Never knew that there were so many of them around, but then again, I hadn’t been looking before. It’s the same way with those PT Cruisers — I think they are as cute as a button, and I notice them. I do not notice Cadillac’s or Chevrolets or BMW’s.

That’s the way it works with attitude and dating. You get a “destination” in your mind, where you are heading, and then, both consciously and unconsciously, you notice things and make choices that get you there. So it is very important, if you want success, to have success as your destination.

I am convinced, that for everyone who wants one, there is a perfect mate Out There. And, if you are looking, it is crucial for you to believe that too.

The question is where this person is, finding him or her, and how long it will take. Those are the real questions.

So can you believe? Can you adopt an attitude of bemused curiosity? Of wondering who your sweetheart will be and when and where he or she will manifest themselves? Of readying your life to accommodate sharing with another? Of hopeful expectancy? Of an opening to possibility and an acceptance of what is to come?

Just try your own Attitude Adjustment and see what happens.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

Kathryn B. Lord c. 2003 All Rights Reserved

Hooking up vs lasting love – It’s your choice

“hooking up”

“friends with benefits”

“booty call”

These terms have become all too familiar in today’s dating world. Are they words that you can relate to? Have you lived them in some way? If so, how have you felt about the experience(s) both during and after? Chances are that you have mixed feelings at best. Depending on your age and sex, you may give a somewhat different response to this question. Whatever your answer, a close look at this “dating experience” that impacts so many singles in so many ways may be useful to you as you think about what your long-term relationship goals are and what you REALLY want from a relationship.

So what exactly do these terms mean?

“Hooking up” is getting together for sex. There is generally no formal “date” involved.

“Friends with benefits” usually refers to two people who are “friends” who also have sex together. Again, there’s a distinction between what they share and “dating.”

“Booty call” usually describes the act of a man (woman) calling up another person to come over for sex. The sex doesn’t follow dinner, a movie or other “quality” time together, getting to really know each other. It’s physical.

Do you define this activity (even loosely) as dating? Has this become a new intimacy for some or many of you? If so, it’s important to look at how/if it meets your needs and if it aligns with your basic values and relationship wants and goals.

Begin by asking yourself some core questions, such as:

  • Am I comfortable with intimacy?
  • Am I comfortable with a purely physical relationship?
  • Am I able to be physically involved with someone while remaining emotionally detached?
  • How do I feel about myself when I engage in this behavior?
  • Am I doing this to please someone or win his or her affection?
  • Is monogamy and marriage my goal?

If your answers reflect discordance between how you feel and what you do, it would be helpful to understand the reasons behind your behavior. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “It’s convenient”
  • “It’s easy”
  • “It’s safe”
  • “It requires no commitment on my part”

In addition to these explanations, some singles express a belief that “everyone does it” or “it’s expected.” Therefore, they often report engaging in it, but not feeling really ok or satisfied afterwards. Others use it as a substitute for real intimacy, referencing their difficulties in meeting and dating in general.

Then there are the people who have sex hoping it will lead to love. This too is a desire for intimacy that can lead to sadness and disappointment and the possibility of contacting a dangerous and life-altering infection. It reminds me of the line in a song, “if I can love you good enough on the outside to make you feel it on the inside, then maybe you will stay…”

Once you have determined what you really want from a relationship you can begin to make clear, thought out choices that will open the path that points in the direction you wish to go. Until you do so, you face the possibility of more disappointing and short-lived encounters that leave you feeling more alone and less hopeful about the possibility for lasting happy love.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

Wanting a relationship is not the same as being desperate

It was the same discussion that we’d had several times before. I sat down with my friend as her two kids jumped up and down, excited that I had come to visit. While I played with the kids I told her honestly that I hoped someday I could find what she had, a husband that loved her and a beautiful family. Instead of understanding, she told me that I’d find that someday and why didn’t I just be happy to be single. She wished she could be single again, she said. She got married when she was 25, and met her husband several years before that, and remembered her freewheeling single days fondly. Of course, she was a single girl in her 20s, I reminded her. She couldn’t know how I felt because it was a different thing to be dating in your 30s and beyond. When I told her this she rolled her eyes, and said, “You don’t need a man to be happy.”

I have always been an extremely busy and independent woman and was constantly involved in a multitude of activities? so why didn’t I meet the right guy then?

Well I did meet lots of guys over the years. And I did meet them in all the usual places: at work, at church, through friends, and yes, in bars. I dated often enough and had several serious relationships over the years. But for whatever reason none of the people I dated were “the one,” or to put it in a less romantic tone, none of them were simply right for me. Sure, the majority of them were nice, sweet, good people ? I think of many of them fondly and hope they found someone great that they could build a life with.

But as the years went on it was obvious that I wasn’t going to meet my dream man using the methods all my friends used to meet theirs. In fact, while my friends had sympathy that I hadn’t found the right guy yet, I doubted that many of them could actually relate to what it’s like to be a single in your 30s. Many of my friends met their significant others during college or in the years shortly after. They met tons of people during that time when all of us met lots of people ? when we’d just always be in a big group and meeting someone new was common, frequent, and no big deal.

But when you get a bit older, suddenly meeting someone is a bigger deal. For the most part you don’t just hang out in groups like you did before and if you do the majority of people in the group are usually already hooked up with someone else. Even if you’re not looking for marriage right away, dating isn’t as casual in your 30s as it as in your 20s.

When you are in your 20s and you date a guy for a few years to “see where things go” it’s no big deal when you break up because there’s usually another guy right around the corner. But when you’re in your 30s, you’re more discriminating. Besides that, there seems to be more misconceptions and baggage that we take with each new year of our life and into each new relationship. And when you start hitting your 30s, both men and women look at dating as a very different thing. There’s a societal joke that men are trying to hold off finding the right person for as long as they can and women are speeding up every day to find them. Of course, I don’t believe in that, I think both men and woman want to find someone to share their life with ? but you need to not only find the right person but find them at the right time in your life. I was never a girl that was in a rush to get married, and never thought I’d meet someone and marry them within a year. But when you find the right person, sometimes your preconceived notions go out the window.

If you, too, feel you’re in a position where some of your friends don’t seem to quite understand your situation, take heart. One or two of mine didn’t either. Oh sure, they were as supportive as they could be, but when someone meets their husband when they’re 22 how understanding can they really be when you’re 30-something and you’re telling them you’d like a relationship? I was ready to meet someone and settle down at the time most of my friends had been married for years. While I agreed with the particular friend that told me I didn’t need a man to be happy I found it ironic that she’d say that having never been without a relationship.

I didn’t get married until I was 37, and I spent my single years very happy. I’ve always made the most of my life and my circumstances. But if you also have a friend that poo poo’s your desire for a relationship; take it with a grain of salt. One friend of mine got married, had kids, and then suddenly decided it’d be great to be single again. Those types of people are not going to understand the situation you are in, they’ve never lived their life with the possibility of ending it completely alone. Their idea of being alone harks back to their single years when they were in their 20s and didn’t have a date for a few weeks. Even then they probably had a big group of pals to hang with and were never, really, truly alone. They aren’t going to get it. So cut your friends some slack.

And if you’re a hard working single adult you know something else. Your employer probably isn’t going to understand it, either. I’ve worked for a multitude of organizations over the years and the one commonality they had was an inability to understand the single life. There is a perception that all us singles are carefree and can therefore work more hours than our married counterparts. We don’t have kids, so then we don’t have real responsibilities. Right? If there is choice between you working late and your married coworker who has to pick the kids up from daycare, who is going to get the short end?

While the married folks of this world may think that’s only right, I disagree. Again, I think this misconception comes from our coworker’s single years. They remember the girl’s nights or hanging out with the guys for drinks after work, so they’ve convinced themselves that’s what we are doing after work too. If they could live your life for a single day, they’d know what it’s like to work longer than someone else because you are single and don’t have to be home at a certain time, and then to come home alone and have it be too late to even enjoy a nice dinner by yourself.

People seem to misjudge the singles in their 30s and beyond. Many of us have serious obligations; some of us care for parents or grandparents simply because our married siblings don’t have time because they’ve started a new life. This can make you feel very lonely and misunderstood.

While my friends on the whole were sympathetic to my situation, I doubt they completely understood it. Your friends and your employer may not understand your current situation and wants for your life, but I do. I was right where you are. I get it and that’s why I wrote this book.

It is during these times when singles can suddenly feel as if they have to reveal more about their single life than they’d wanted. When our employer asks us to work late or take that overnight trip because our married coworker has their kids to take care of (or to translate, has a life and you don’t) we are made to feel that much more as a misfit of society.

I began to realize that to take charge of my single life, whether I eventually met the right person or not, meant that I would need to defend my free time as stringently as the marrieds I worked with. As a single person I took care of a serious family situation at one point ? moving home with my mom and helping to take care of my grandparents. I raced home to make dinners and spent my off hours with family business. Yet when I told my employer I had to leave at my normal time because I had obligations, he looked at me like I was whining. Suzie had kids to pick up, he’d say, or Joe had his family to go home to. Even with having family obligations of my own my employer viewed me as someone that could sacrifice my life for the good of the company. It was an unwritten rule that when you are married you have something bigger than your job to get home to. Employers seem to understand this. What they don’t understand is when you’re single and you say you’ve got to go simply because you want to live your life.

I say the first step in successful Internet dating is to reclaim your personal life. If your friends give you less than a sympathetic ear because you haven’t met someone or your employer expects you to give your job a bit more than your married coworker just because, stand up for your personal life and be stringent about it. Tell your employer no when he asks you to work late and be set upon it.

When I started Internet dating I worked at least 60 hours a week for an employer who thought my free time was the same as company time. In addition to putting in long hours at work I went to school full-time, but each time there was a big project due and “someone” had to put in the extra time, it came down to me. Even if my boss did spend a few hours extra in the office, he’d view it as time away from the tension at home, not as time away from his life. Inevitably, I spent more time in the office than anyone else. This was both my employer’s fault and my own. Since I was single for so long I also bought into the myth that my time was less important.

This is a point that singles and married people will no doubt argue for decades. As someone that was single for years and is now married, I can tell you first hand that my life as a singleton was just as important as my life now. This is an inequity that singletons need to help their employers change.

The fact remains that if you’re single you don’t need to explain where you’re going when you say you can’t work late or can’t take that overnight trip. If you’re employer balks, find a new one. Eventually they will get it.

In my very early days of Internet dating I approached it as a side job. It was something I did if I “had time.” But the fact remained that with a job that took up 60 or so hours a week, and school that took up another 20, I didn’t have the time. The first couple dates I had were always put on notice, I set up a date with someone only with the understanding that I might have to cancel at the last minute. This made me sound self-absorbed and flighty ? except I didn’t realize it right away.

It wasn’t until one date that I finally got it, and changed my tactics from then on. I had gone on quite a few Internet dates, and yet didn’t quite have what I would call a “system” down yet. I did it sporadically and when I felt I had time. Looking back, I’m certain that my distractedness carried over onto some of the dates.

I had been corresponding with one guy for quite a few weeks, but we couldn’t seem to find a time to meet. That is, I couldn’t seem to find time to squeeze this guy into my busy schedule. We would set up times to meet, and then inevitably I would have to cancel at the last minute. I had great excuses each time ? I had a work project that had just come in and my boss now expected me to give up my weekend to finish it, then because of the project I needed the rest of my free time to work on a paper for school, etc. This guy would simply laugh each time, saying, “You are just one busy girl, aren’t ya?”

Finally, I agreed to meet him for a quick cup of coffee. I told him ahead of time that I was super busy that day and might even have to cancel at the last minute. He merely said, “So what else is new?”

At the coffee shop I hurried in, greeted him quickly, and then ran to order my drink. I sat down breathless and exhausted, and finally said, “Hi, nice to meet you.” This guy was amused at my behavior. He told me point blank that the only reason he’d stuck around for the last few weeks is because he just had to meet this girl that was so busy and important. When our conversation turned to him, I found out he ran his own company, took frequent business trips, and had a pair of teenage daughters to take care of. He was more than successful, and busy, in his own right. Despite having an equal number of obligations as me, he was determined to meet someone special and was willing to spend the time to do it.

I came away from our meeting with a new sense of purpose. I finally saw that my work life was wreaking havoc on my ability to just plain have a life. And more than that, I realized if I didn’t make the necessary changes now I would probably be in the same position ten or twenty years from now ? with a great career but not much else.

Now I’m not saying that you should abandon your career or other interests in pursuit of dating and meeting someone special. I’m saying that if you’ve spent a lot of years wondering why you haven’t met someone yet; take a look at your life. Picture someone great walking through the door today and determine if you’ve got the room to have him or her in your life. If you don’t, change the way you are handing things. Maybe you don’t need to spend so much time at work and be such a perfectionist with cleaning your house, for example.

First of all, don’t let anyone in your life make you feel bad for wanting to be happy. Sure, there are people in this world that jump into relationships too quickly. I know of equal numbers of men and women that can’t seem to be happy unless they are “with someone.” To these people I say, spend some time alone. Lots of it. Figure out what you want, what you like, and then (and only then) start to date someone.

What I’m talking about is the rest of us. The people who are not willing to jump into or hang on to a relationship that isn’t quite right for us. We don’t want to meet someone because we can’t be alone; we want a relationship because sharing our lives with someone would be a great complement to the rest of the world we have built for ourselves. We want someone special, not just someone for right now.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

A shortage of single women?

The demographics have flipped, and single women are now in demand.

“How lovely to hear!” say the women, who remember too well growing up in the shadow of the 1986 Newsweek article that warned that a 40 year old female college grad had a better chance of getting hit by a terrorist than she did of marrying…

“But…but…how could this be?” say the dumbfounded 40-something men – the guys who opted to postpone marriage, who spent early adulthood chumming with their guy pals, in a dating frenzy, or in a series of non-committal relationships. Many of these men are now ready for the real thing… and are getting a rude wake-up call.

“There’s a new biological clock out there – the one ticking inside bachelors”, claims the article.

Hmmmm. Let’s ponder the statistics… back in the 1980’s, sites the Wall Street Journal, “there were about 1.3 women for every eligible man from 35 to 44. The odds were even better for the narrower group of men in their late 30s dating women in their early 30s: Almost two women for every single man.” Cockiness-inspiring odds, wouldn’t you say? The guys must have been happy.

But…now the shift. From 1955 to 1973 the birthrate dropped 40%. That means fewer girls were born, and given that American men have tended to prefer dating younger women, we begin to see the statistical problem. The Census Bureau’s Current Population Surveys show that “the percentage of 35- 44-year old bachelors almost tripled from 1980 to 2000.” Census reports indicate further that “by 2010 men in their late 30s and early 40s will outnumber women five to 10 years younger by two to one… and within nine years, there will be one woman that’s 30 to 34 for every two men 35 to 44, according to one set of projections by the U.S. Census.”

“OUCH!” Say the men.

So what’s going on out there as a result? Well, men are increasingly turning to personal ads and dating services – not that their odds are good there either – dating service membership bases have traditionally been male dominant, and with the demographic shift we now see shrinking pools of female advertisers in the newspaper personals and in dating service memberships. And, reports the WSJ, “Other men are going where experts say they need to – older women. When Match.com polled its members earlier this year, the company discovered that its average male client is now willing to date a woman three years his senior, up from two a few years ago. At It’s Just Lunch, men 35 to 43 are now asking to date women 36 to 40 – up about four years from a decade ago.”

So, what does Cupid’s Coach have to say about all this? Gentlemen…start your engines! For those men who are rigid in their preference for a younger woman, it’s going to be competitive. If you mean to be successful in your love search, you’d better have a strategic marketing plan, you’ll be wise to get a realistic assessment of your ‘Romantic Market Value’ and you’ll be sharpening your edge by broadening your scope.

Help is here, though. Book a session with me. Best way I know to jump start your love life and better your odds. And more good news – Cupid’s Coach was built by women for women – they’re flocking to us (80% by invitation and referral) and our Client base is, well, 60% female. You’re in good hands!

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!