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A couple of days back, I asked the question, ‘If you’re healing, why are you dating?’ in response to the repeated problems that I see arising when we’re not prepared to spend some dedicated to focusing on ourselves and dealing with the issues that are impacting on our self-esteem and the possibility of happiness, whether that is on our own…or with someone else.

But as always, in spite of what was said, some readers insist that it is easier to feel this way when you’re younger, don’t feel like time is running out, or lonely.

So how do you deal with this?

I’m in my early thirties but I have a mother in her early fifties, and I know many ‘older’ women who are single or dating/in a relationship with varying success, plus of course, I get a hell of a lot of emails from readers, especially in the age groups that feel most stressed about this issue – 40s, 50s, and in some instances, 60s.

I should point out that the ones who are actually enjoying their lives and a relationship are the ones that made a positive decision to spend some time on their own, break old patterns, rebuild their lives, and redefine themselves in a positive, loving context. Age does not have to be an indicator of ‘baggage’.

I am not here to invalidate anyone’s feelings – you feel what you feel, keeping in mind that you are actually able to identify what you feel and attribute the right word to it.

I know that the overriding majority of women that get in touch with me and mention the word ‘loneliness’ are also lonely when they have a man in their life. In fact, I know people who feel just as alone in a room full of people, nevermind one on one with a man.

If you still end up feeling lonely and riddled with insecurity in spite of the fact that you have a man in your life, why do you still feel that having a man, having a relationship, having dalliances, having sex, having attention from these people, having an illusion, having more issues to deal with that result from being involved with these men, is the answer to your problems?

If this is what worked and was the cure for your loneliness, companionship, and everything else that is going on in your life, why are so many women who are dating or in a relationship, miserable?

Why are you expecting different results carrying the same baggage, the same beliefs about yourself, love, and relationships, the same relationship habits, the same usual attraction to the same ‘ole assclowns?

And so it is at this point when I say that 1) you can’t have it both ways and 2) you and only you make your choices about what you do next.

I could sit here and talk till I am blue in the face and give you umpteen reasons why issues will continue to arise and you will continue to be unhappy, but you and only you make your choices about where you want to go and what you want to do.

On the flipside, you could meet someone who will tell you till they’re blue in the face that you are wonderful, but if you don’t believe it, it won’t make a blind bit of difference – fact.

As I have repeatedly stated about a variety of things, actions speak louder than words, so whatever choices you choose to make, and trust me, they are all choices, you only learn through the proof of your actions and what results from them.

When you get negative results from what you continue to actively pursue, you don’t get to be right and blame men, the dating pool, or any of the whole host of reasons that we come up with for why things aren’t working out, because you are armed with a significant amount of knowledge and you have decided to, for instance, turn right instead of left.

It’s not that sh*t behaviour from another party is not sh* behaviour, but you are inviting it into your life and you have to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with that.

You can’t complain and bemoan the results of your own willing choices. It’s a bit like someone saying,

“I know that I can walk 10 miles and cross safely to the other side of the road, but I’m lonely, time is running out, everyone else is younger and fitter than me, and damnit, I hate feeling like this, so I’m going to cross here, even though I know that I am very likely to get run down by the very fast oncoming traffic. It’ll be OK, happiness awaits me on the other side.”

They then get run down by the oncoming traffic and emerge on the other side battered.

“Those cars were going way too fast. They should have stopped or slowed down when they saw me coming. I want to sue! It’s not my fault. I didn’t have the time to make that journey and surely you couldn’t expect me to be on my own for the next 10 miles…oh goodness, where is everyone? I thought that it was going to be really good here, so how come I feel so crappy. Stupid cars! Stupid road!”

It is in essence, just another way of sabotaging your efforts, which in itself again shows self-esteem issues, and a more deep rooted instinct to keep yourself away from relationships that offer a stronger possibility of commitment.

If you are not willing to put aside even a few months out of your life to focus on you and clearing out the emotional closet so you can get down to hand baggage and approach men, dating, and relationships from a healthier positive perspective, despite already dedicating a likely far longer period to self-negativity and poor relationships, there are certain things you need to do and remember:

1) You are choosing your experience and bearing in mind that you know what the very likely result will be, that puts you in the hotseat of responsibility.

2) You’d better leave your insecurities at the proverbial door, because while people accept that we come with a level of baggage, it is highly unattractive to be in relationships with people whose baggage permeates everything and who appear to need reassurance, validation, affirmation, and discussions above and beyond the comfort levels of even the healthiest of people.

3) It is not the responsibility of men to raise you from the ground up. Just like we are not responsible for fixing, healing, and helping men and raising them from the ground up, because it is likely to doom your relationship and is forcing the hand of change, it is no different when the shoes are on the male foot.

4) You can’t project. No matter what age you are, while you need to use gut, intuition, judgement, and boundaries with knowledge of red flags, you can’t project your problems or negative beliefs or emotions on the relationship. You can’t be in a new relationship, treating him like an ex, or making assumptions about him – you need to treat him as you find him.

5) The projection rolls to the over optimism side too. People who habitually have poor relationships are rarely in the present – they’re in the past wondering why he won’t become what he was in the first week, or living out the fantasy of the illusion of what they think things could be like in the future. You can’t do this – if you do, you can consider the relationship over before it has even started.

6) You’d better find other sources of contentment because you cannot place everything on some guy. Make sure you spend time with friends, make sure you enjoy family, make sure you have things outside of whatever dalliance you’re having, because if you don’t, the likelihood of serious problems, especially with your self-esteem, will increase.

7) No trying to change them. You’ve made the choice not to spend the time on you so don’t then try to exert control and force someone else to change. I’ll say it again – you’ve made the choice to go down this route and it has been said time and time again, that unfounded and too high expectations and the impact of forcing and hoping for change is a major derailment factor. Whoever you meet, you’d better accept him as he is and work with what you find. You’re the person that wants to settle for less so this may mean that you’ll have to get to grips with being with an assclown or an emotionally unavailable guy.

8) Leave sex out of the equation until you have established a relationship. Sex is not love. Sex is not companionship, especially when you get the sex, and it’s great but they disappear and leave you with problems, or it’s crap and they leave you with problems, or they stick around, and you still have problems. Sex complicates things and you could spare yourself some headache for a little while by ‘just’ dating. If you’re of course going to say, sod the advice, I want my sex, well…again, you’re choosing the likely results.

9) Don’t moan about him being ‘nice’ or complain about fireworks. You don’t get to have it all and fireworks are a likely indicator in your relationships of there being problems. If you’re not that keen on the quality of the relationship and the quality of your happiness and have decided to ‘settle’, trust me when I say that seeking ‘fireworks’ is likely to keep you single than it is to put you in the relationship you desperately require.

10) As you don’t trust in you and are unwillingly to use your past experiences to make real, positive, changes, you are going to have to work out your plan of action and decide how you want to play this. You don’t get to have a shopping list of requirements in these situations!

I would like to stress – I do not recommend that anyone, regardless of age, avoids helping themselves and I certainly don’t suggest that anyone willingly chooses to go down the unhappiness route. I help people who want to help themselves. If you’re only going to see the negative, it’s very likely that you don’t want to deal with the responsibility and power that comes with knowledge – this is not unusual, particularly if you have spent a significant part of your life being a certain way.

The uncomfortable often becomes the uncomfortable, and the better life, which requires change, can feel immensely uncomfortable. In fact, and this is often the hardest thing for many women to digest, some of us are happier being unhappy.

Change is not easy and realistically, you need to want better for you more than you want a man who doesn’t actually exist in your life yet. You need to have enough self-awareness and have a fairly solid foot in reality that reminds you of where you have already been and the pain you have experienced, so that you don’t continue to desire and seek it.

If you don’t love you, like you, why the hell should someone else see something that you don’t?

For those that go with the change route, they make their choice too, just like if you decide that you don’t want to change. Either route makes you accountable. The point is that nobody, including me, can ‘make’ you choose the better option.

What I do know of women who settle, regardless of age, is that if you had enough insight to recognise you were unhappy in the first place and you’re predisposed to verbalising the great majority of thoughts in your head, or letting fear permeate your life, the results are…negative. You’ll also find that while friends and family will have a certain amount of sympathy, they will get weary too because they knew your complaints when you didn’t have a man, and they know your complaints when you’re with him, and actually, not much has changed.

I’ve shown you both roads, not just in this post but in numerous posts and Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, but…it’s your choice.

Your thoughts?

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