Are Life Partnerships Really our Goal as We Age?

I wasn’t the type of girl that planned her wedding at the age of 5 and continued to expand on the details to the dream every year until adulthood.  I was actually the girl that said she’d never get married or have kids.  My plan was to have a boyfriend with a two year max and he could not live with me.  That was my plan for a very long time.  The concept of marriage just didn’t seem like it fit me.  I honestly can’t explain my thoughts.  When I actually did get married, I wasn’t like most women who are excited to plan a wedding.  My fiancé wanted a wedding.  I didn’t, but I told him that he could plan it and I’ll show up.  We ended up at the court house.

I’ve noticed a shift in ideas about marriage as I’ve grown from a teenager to a middle aged woman.  As a teen, we young ladies tend to think that we’ll be with our boyfriends forever.  Then we break up and think we’ll be with the next one forever.  Then that ends.  Ok, we think, maybe I’ll find him in college.  We go to college and think this has got to be him.  I know many people who met and married in college or during those late teens or early twenties. Life is good from here on out, we think.

There is an unspoken rule that we women should be married by 30 or something must be wrong with us, so we tend to start settling for any old thing to beat that deadline.  I know of someone who had three boyfriends, a fiancé, and a husband in one year.  They were on a mission to be a wife.  The wedding was set, the groom was interchangeable until she found one that was down for the quick hitch.  Hey, whatever works.

Some of those relationships formed in the late teens and twenties make it, but some don’t and it’s often blamed on the couple being too young.  I’ve had a conversation once or twice with my… ummm partner… and we’ve said that wish we had met each other earlier.  Amazingly, we’ve had plenty of chances where we could’ve met.  Ironically, we met twenty years after we first could have.  This time, we’ve both divorced and have children.  While someone looking in may say we met each other with baggage, I say we’ve met at the perfect time.  We’re seasoned.  We know what worked, what didn’t, our mistakes, what we want, and what is needed to make it work. I’ve told him on an occasion or two that if we had met when we first could have, we’d probably be divorced to each other now.  Sometimes we need a bit of wisdom to get it right.

As I’ve grown from a child with no plans to be anyone’s forever to a wife to a divorcee, I see life has kinda circled back to those beginning thoughts for me in a way.  I don’t think I want to get married, but I do want to be someone’s forever.  A “forever fiancé” of sorts.  A live-in lover.  A life partner.

Dating as we age seems to be a waste of time to some.  Well, not just dating, but serial dating to those who don’t want a commitment (if that’s what they are looking for).  A friend pointed out that they’ve known people who were married for decades and then remarried fairly quickly when their spouse dies or they separate because they have gotten used to living as one unit.  The need for permanency seems to be more of a desire than in younger years when going out with various people may be exciting and spontaneous.

Another friend stated that lifetime partnerships or marriage is not necessarily the main goal for some as they age, but instead they want transparency in a partner.  This partner doesn’t have to move in or claim they are the only one, but they need to be honest in what they are bringing to the situation.  If they plan to see other people, then let that be known upfront.  I’ve seen too many people get into relationships that they thought were exclusive, yet the other person apparently didn’t get the memo.  They weren’t honest in what they wanted, what they needed, and what they were willing to give.  Yes, they wanted that person, but they wanted others as well and went after them too.  That’s not fair.

Dating as we settle into mid-life (30s, 40s, 50s) can be scary.  We may want it to be fun and spontaneous, but we also want stability.  At this age, most of us have settled into careers.  Most people don’t decide to have an employment change to leave a salaried position to go into an hourly wage earning job that we may have had when we were teens.  We grow.  We move up the ladder, not down.  With that in mind, we do the same with our relationships – we move up and forward.  We typically don’t go backwards from a stable relationship just to have temporary flings (not intentionally).  We want love.  Let me clarify – we want mutual love.  We want mutual respect.  We want someone to match what we are giving.  We no longer are willing to settle for partial attempts at commitment.

So basically, if you are a middle aged single don’t approach anyone in “that way” if you aren’t ready to leave childish games in the past.  No one wants to raise a grown man or woman.  No one wants to sit around and wait until you get ready.  What is that anyway? – “I’m not ready?”  What do you need to get ready? Nevermind. Don’t answer.  We don’t want to hear it.  We want someone who is ready, knows what they want, and are willing to put in the work to make it work.  Point blank period.

 

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