This is a question asked by many who have reached their 30s or 40s without marrying. It is also asked by many who are divorced or widowed. For the divorced, they once believed the search was over, and they were glad to be done with the dating game. Some believed they had gotten really lucky finding their partner without many prior dating experiences. For the widowed, it may feel forlorn trying to replace a love they had no choice in losing, or even wanting a relationship better than they might have had before. For those who have reached middle age without marrying, they have no evidence that it is possible to find a relationship that makes it all the way to the altar.
If you think about it, creating a relationship with another human being--where that other human being desires and openly agrees to stay by your side forever--can feel like a daunting task. You have friends and other loved ones. But having someone who chooses you exclusively as a partner can seem like an elusive goal. Many have longed for this blessing for years and feel there is little reason to hope on.
If you are discouraged, I would like you to try on a few new thoughts:
1. Middle-aged people get married every day. What you are trying to do may seem impossible, but people do it all the time. It is deep in our natures to be partnered. It is instinctive. That is why you are in pain over it. Even if a permanent relationship has not worked out thus far, you have every reason to believe you will meet someone you can share your life with.
2. You are more experienced now. Whether you are divorced, widowed, or not yet married, you have life experience and experience with other kinds of relationships that you did not have in your twenties. This experience is useful in creating new relationships with divine promise. Marry your experience with clear intention and you have every reason to hope that every blessing of marriage will be yours.
3. You know yourself better now. You have every reason to be comfortable in your own skin now. You may not feel confident in dating yet, but you have overcome a lot of pain and sadness. You have developed careers, raised children, developed friendships, and climbed many other mountains. If you are comfortable in your own skin, you don't need to fear rejection. You know you will survive it. You also know that one person's rejection is not rejection by the entire world, even when it feels like it is.
4. It only needs to work once. You don't need everyone in the world to fall in love with you. You are looking for that one special person who you can build a lasting relationship with. There is no point in getting aggravated with dating partners for not choosing you. There are many that YOU are not choosing too. That's the nature of forming relationships. Choice is a necessary prerequisite to creating a relationship. It only happens if two people choose it.
5. I am not for everyone. But I am for someone. There was a girl I dated a couple of different times during my mid-single years who I liked, but it always felt like something was missing. Both times we dated, we ended the relationship after a couple of dates. She said she was not "feeling it" with me. Week or two after our last attempt at dating each other, she announced a relationship on Facebook. Her guy was short, stocky, and bald with a big bushy beard. He dressed like a lumberjack. I remember thinking, "if that is the kind of guy that appeals to her, I never really had a chance." Does that mean there is something wrong with me? Not unless you think there is something inherently more attractive about a portly bald guy with a bushy beard and lumberjack plaid. I could waste my energy thinking she was foolish in her preference or resenting her choice--or I could use that energy finding someone who wants what I have to offer. The old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is actually true. People are attracted to all kinds of different things that do not fit the standard definition of beauty or sex appeal. Not everyone is going to choose you. In fact, only a tiny percentage of the people out there will be willing to choose you--and that is okay. You only need one person that you choose to choose you in return. So, when someone doesn't choose you, remind yourself, "I am not for everyone. But I am for someone."