I am a 56 year-old woman who has never been married. I have recently decided that I would like to find a man and get married even in this later time of life. This surprises me because it was never really one of my goals to get married, but I have realized that I do not want to be alone for the rest of my life.
My question is this: I have signed up for a couple of dating websites. I also go on dates with people that I am introduced to from other people but I find this same issue that I am emailing you about.
What I have noticed with a lot of men around my age is they say they are looking for and still have not found “the one.” I am surprised that I am running into this as these are men that should know by now that there is really no “one person” for another. I will acknowledge there are instances where someone finds their so-called “soulmate,” but I believe these instances are few and far between. But these men seem to think that they will find the one even this late in life and expect fireworks, etc. when they meet someone and life will be just all hunky-dory when they meet this special person.
In my opinion, they are acting like teenage girls. What are your thoughts on this whole finding “the one” to marry? And how do I reconcile this in my head? Do I just not even consider getting to know men who have this notion because truthfully I doubt if I would be “the one?”
P.S. I realize now that I should not have waited so long to find a mate.
Your sentence, “In my opinion, they are acting like teenage girls,” gave us a chuckle though we realize that this isn’t a laughing matter. You are, of course, correct in recognizing that waiting for “the one” is a good recipe for staying single.
However, we would take a man’s statement about “the one” to be an opening comment rather than considering it a closing argument. For instance, instead of dismissing the man who claims to be ‘waiting for the One’ perhaps instead keep the conversation going by saying, “I also used to think marriages are made by waiting for the one, but I have since learned that time is better spent trying to become the One.”
If this waiting for the One is not coming up in conversation, but instead it crops up on an online questionnaire or in the first few minutes of meeting someone, we think it just might be an easy quip that could precede a deeper conversation. (If it’s online, it could also be the easiest and best box to check even if it doesn’t actually describe someone’s thoughts.) We agree that spending a lot of time with a man who is waiting for fireworks and a symphony orchestra is a waste of time, but we would at least give time for a cup of coffee before deciding that this truly describes that particular individual’s worldview.
In your lovely letter, you disclosed why you are now contemplating marriage; you don’t want to be alone for the rest of your life. And presumably, you seek a man who also doesn’t want to be alone. While the desire to avoid loneliness is a necessary precondition for marriage—even God said, “Not good for man to be alone”—it is not sufficient.
Not being alone because you have a husband solves your need but in a very passive way. Similarly, you solve his need but just by being. Our question to you is what are you eager to do actively for someone else other than just being there. In other words, we think your goal of changing your marital status could be more quickly achieved by contemplating what else would you be committed to adding to a man’s life. Focusing on what you would give rather than on what you would take often propels the courting process into overdrive. Another way of looking at it is asking yourself why a great man would be incredibly fortunate to be married to you.
We would also like you to ask yourself whether you are a very results-oriented and driven individual which may be causing you to come across as using too much of a businesslike approach to dating. We are all in favor of dating seriously (we prefer the term courting) however meeting someone with whom to share a life should not be confused with a job interview.
We would encourage you to have a balance between wariness that keeps you emotionally safe and being too quick to close yourself to options. By the time anyone is in his or her late 50s there is a great deal of history that has led to formation of character. It takes time to begin to reveal oneself.
We hope you would consider becoming a resource for younger women in helping them understand the value of marriage earlier than you did. Perhaps offer some lectures or classes on the topic at your church or community center. Quite possibly one of those younger women you help might introduce you to your future husband. Our guidance here is based on the ancient Jewish principle that again and again we see that people who help others solve a certain problem find their own problems being resolved.
We are actually a bit surprised that only in your 50s are you thinking that marriage has something to recommend it and wonder what led to that way of thinking. We are sure we are not the only ones who would be fascinated to hear you speak on this topic while you reveal yourself and your thought processes in a personal and practical way.
We look forward to your sharing good news with us,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin