How to Avoid the 45 Year-Old ‘WTF-I’m-Still-Single’ Moment

December 13, 2011  |  
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Before we go any further, I understand that it is not everyone woman’s aspiration to marry and have a family. However, the desire does apply to most and I recommend reading the following with that in mind.

In the age of the brazen careerist and countless hopefuls graduating from college each year, love is frequently placed on the backburner—for some, until it’s too late.

You know who she is, your super-successful 45 year-old boss. She owns a beautiful home, drives a sleek sports car and pampers her twin Chihuahuas all while slaving 80 hours a week at the office. Diane didn’t have time to date when she was 30 and, now, there’s still no time but she’s pre-menopausal so it doesn’t really matter. Hershey and Reese are listed as her beneficiaries.

Are you bright and beautiful but don’t want to end up like Diane? Here’s how to avoid that middle-aged WTF moment:

Stop taking relationship advice from single women.
This includes bloggers and magazine columnists in their late twenties and early thirties nowhere near the aisle. They are just as single as you. Seek the wisdom of women in the types of relationships you want and, if that is marriage, find yourself a few married friends—newlyweds, veterans, even divorcees. They are or have been there. It’s not that single women have nothing to offer in the area of relationships, but they should not be your primary source of advice on how to get married. It’s like asking a dog to teach you to purr.

Limit your consumption of negative media.
Between all of the “studies” and bad advice from the 47 percent (of unmarried women over 30), the media has helped created a web of confusion. Much of it is imbalanced and hyperconsumption has caused the extremes to reflect in too much of our behavior. The longer you read and listen to someone tell you it’s alright to have children out-of-wedlock the more prone you are to do so. The more you admire Nene Leakes’ red bottoms the closer you are to becoming a boisterous bully. We are what we consume. And, unfortunately, the negative usually rubs off more than the good.

Start listening to men.
I find it interesting how often women disregard honest commentary from men on the very issues they struggle to conquer, especially when it comes to black women and relationships. Half of the time you would save yourself the heartache of catching feelings for and Facebook-stalking guys who just want sex and a good time. The other half you would spend getting acquainted with your future husband. Men give you all of the answers if you sit back long enough to listen. Furthermore, a good number of eligible bachelorettes are still single because they hear and choose not to listen. The thing is you can’t always have it your way and, unless you plan on switching teams, you will have to make some adjustments. You know, the same way men do for women.

Stop giving boyfriends husband treatment.
A boyfriend is just that—a boyfriend. Until a man takes the steps to assume legal commitment, he should not be afforded the benefits, including but not limited to: limitless sex, cohabitation complete with (homemade) gourmet meals, offspring and relocation. Otherwise, what reason does any man have to marry you? The legal side of marriage is only a small fraction of the big picture but nonetheless important. So, get rid of that whole “it’s just a piece of paper” mentality before you find yourself with a boyfriend of 20 years, no spousal privileges…and two kids. Fail.

Get over yourself and your career.
You graduated from Harvard Law School and you’re on the partner track at a prestigious firm—the world gets it. However, if you feel that it somehow makes you a great catch you are sorely mistaken. Academic achievements and professional successes don’t make you every man’s dream. While you should take pride in your accomplishments, it is important not to lean on them for validation. Men are more interested in getting to know you, not what you do. On the same token, it is also essential to keep in mind that you may love your career but, when you’re on your deathbed, it won’t be by your side loving you back.

Bring your physical expectations back down to Earth.
You don’t have a two pack, but you want a man with eight? Not impossible but certainly unrealistic. Among other attributes on the “the list,” several of you on the WTF-happened-to-my-life path adhere to a set of aesthetic criteria—bright teeth, soft feet, clear skin, low-frequency waves (a sign of “good hair”), three to six inches taller than you in heels, etc. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to marry Tyson Beckford, it becomes a problem when you don’t look like a supermodel. It is unreasonable to settle for nothing less than pearly white teeth when yours are Starbucks-stained and crooked. Seriously, does he really have to meet the minimum six foot two requirement when you’re only five foot three yourself?

Talk to a psychologist.
If you’ve reached a particular age, it’s likely you have a bad experience or ten with men. And, it is quite possible those negative experiences have influenced your approach to relationships and dating over the years and may just be what’s keeping you single. Angry, bitter women were not born that way—it’s learned behavior. The sooner you deal with the demons of past knuckleheads the sooner you will be in the frame of mind to meet a wonderful man. If not, you will find yourself middle-aged, dried up and mad that all you have to look forward to is the Essence Festival every year with your other chronically single friends.

Date for love, not blackness.
Love and marriage are about so much more than skin color, ethnicity or culture. Many of us view love through a black gaze and it prevents us from seeing all the world has to offer. There is no shortage of men. You’re just being shortsighted—which will have you watching reruns of Single Ladies, coveting your neighbor’s husband.

Make yourself uncomfortable.
New experiences mean new people and new people means the opportunity to meet men who are different than those you’ve dated in the past. Attend an art gallery opening, join a running club—do something out of the ordinary. Most women keep dating the same losers because they keep meeting men in similar environments. Switch it up and the caliber of results will be different.

LaShaun Williams is a Madame Noire contributor and columnist whose work has appeared in the New York Times and across several popular sites, such as HuffPost Black Voices and the Grio.  You can visit her blog or follow her on Twitter @itsmelashaun and Facebook.

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  • Consuela

    If the article does not apply to your current life situation, expectations, wants or ambitions then skip it and keep it moving. If you are happily dating, in a committed relationship. married or have no desire to be so or to be married then the article was not meant for you. I think the advice is intelligent, thoughtful and useful for those who may WANT to be married and have thus far found the dating world and their experiences less than satisfactory and would like some intelligent food for thought . Pick your grievances people good grief.

  • hellifiknow

    I’m 46 and single and sometimes it is miserable but I can guarantee you, I’ not nearly as miserable as the miserably married and the women who have been cheated on repeatedly for years…..

  • Guest

    Judging by the comments its sad that so many grown women have no idea how to get or keep a man.  Obviously its because their own moms couldn’t keep a man and therefore can’t teach their daughters what to do.  Its not that hard, and this column has generally good advice.  Of course you have to use logic and be willing to make changes.  Logic dictates that if what you’re doing still isn’t working, then maybe its time to try something else.

  • deedee21000

    I’m 38 and I’m currently considering adoption or fostering to become a mom. I’ve just about given up on the possiblilty of being with the man of my dreams in the near future but I don’t want to miss out on motherhood. any thoughts?
    As for WTF – I was born alone and I’ll die alone. its what you leave behind that counts! I’m going to sow good into the people from this day forward and entertain more at home. I just don’t want to seem desperate… Lord make me content!!

    • Love_Sexy

      I think its a great idea that you are thinking about adoption or fostering….If that is one of your personal goals in life then”go for it”…..Afterall God give us only one life to experience…..But please do not stop believing that the right man will come into your life……..Anything good always take some time to happen (sometimes it come quick for others) however if you place your faith in God he will grant you your wish……He has a plan for all of us and it will come to you when you least expect it……………..Best Wishes with your adventure into motherhood!

      • deedee21000

        Thank you LS, I’ve been considering it for a few years now, and if I don’t do it now, while I’m still barely in my 30s , I never will…

  • It’s up to you

    My daddy always said, “Those who want to get married usually do.”

  • caribgirl

    I think this is a good article. I’m only 24 but it’s good advice.

  • Ngoziemereonye

    well if it is meant to be it will happen no matter how much you try

  • Cay J

    Great post LaShaunda!  I actually agree with all of this! For those who strongly disagree with article and are unhappily single, I wonder why you’re so quick to shake your head rather than trying the suggestions anyway. I mean, even if you don’t think it’s going to work, it doesn’t hurt to look into it. If it doesn’t work out then hey, at least you know and you can make a different change or go back to what you’ve been doing. But to knock most of this and not even look into it makes it possible that this is why you’re not getting what you want. Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT married and I’m not yet 45 but this makes sense to me logically and as long as I am not going to lose who I am entirely,  I have no problem with a compromise and no problem with trying.

    • Cay J

      Ooops gurl, my bad. Why did I type my friend’s name instead of yours? Sorry LaShaun!

  • kim

    Great article!!

  • NikkitaMichelle

    Interesting article.  It’s probably the southern girl in me, but you should start doing these things way way way before age 45.  At that age it’s pretty much over.  You’re now competing with women 10 and 15 years younger to date men your own age.  Cougarism is an option, but can anyone name one May December relationship where the woman is Ms. December and the couple have been married for like 25 years?  Uhhh no. Unless you’re a celebrity who can afford nannies, who wants to have their first child this late in life?  If you live in the south you should start this at around 32.  If you live up north, let’s say 36.

    • Lisa

      Exactly…  45 is waaaaay too long to take figuring this out.

      I’d even go earlier than the ages you mentioned. If you live in the south, start thinking about it at 28 and 32 up north. (And hey, why not 28 in the north as well? Can’t hurt.)

      36 is still rather late to be figuring all of this out if you want to have multiple biological kids with your husband and you haven’t met that guy yet.

  • iamwhoiam

    hehehe I won’t even say anything about this subject

  • Great topic! I”m glad you put that this is for women that want to be married before 45, because i now some people are going to read this and hate on the topic. But i want to get married. Not soon, but it’s on the list. Before 45 (i think). But I’m not going to jump into it now! Some people tell me ‘your degrees won’t keep you warm’. They pay the heating bill though! I’ rather have them an wait to get married then not have them and be on the side of the road if we get a divorce. Seen it happen, not happening to me.

  • Maggie White26

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  • 123

    “A boyfriend is just that—a boyfriend. Until a man takes the steps to assume legal commitment, he should not be afforded the benefits, including but not limited to: limitless sex, cohabitation complete with (homemade) gourmet meals, offspring and relocation. Otherwise, what reason does any man have to marry you?”

    LOL. Ummm…hopefully, the reason my man wants to marry me is because he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. 

    What exactly does “limitless sex” mean? Should there be a sex quota, depending on ranking? Boyfriend gets sex twice a month MAXIMUM, fiance can get it NO MORE than twice a week and a husband gets the prize of unlimited sex? 


  • MsIndependent

    Good advice i had to finally learn not to take advice from single women, in fact i decided to ask men or married folks for their feedback. I’m not 45. but i’m young and successful late 20’s and soooo ready to meet Mr Right and marry and start a family. I’m a nurturer, i love children and family because of how i was raised.  What gets me upset is when i straight up tell a man i’m dating – i’m looking for man who likes commitment, wants a relationship, believe in settling down with 1 woman, love children, and will like to start a family in a 1 or 2…some of these knucklehead  men agree with me but that’s not what they want wtf! If i’m that bold and tell u all this, because this is how i eliminate men who just don’t believe in monogamy and  the word “commitment” freaks them out, why would some of these men want to date a woman with values that contradicts theirs! someone please help me out smh!. Isn’t honesty the best policy! I don’t like lying because i’m not good at it and i despise dishonest people period. I always thought men who are scared of commitment , if i mention all these things i want it they won’t want anything to do with me and that’s perfect. I keep it moving and my time has not be wasted. 

    • Solid advice is solid advice whether single or married or the confused in between. Keep keeping it moving until that guy comes along that wants exactly what you want and understands where you’re coming from. Learn from your own personal mistakes, embrace the next opportunity at a lasting friendship and companionship, and love will come to you two.

      I know it’s corny but hey it’s what I live by.
      Vermel Kinmon

    • Blatino

      The reason is because men are hunters and there are so, so many women in the world who ‘say one thing’ and do something else.  Not sure what you mean by the men agreeing with you?  You said you are dating them, so I’m assuming this means you are not serious, recently met them and if this is the case you’re telling them all this because you are interested in them?  I can be a man interested in being married but if you ran down a list like that in the first few dates – that would freak anyone out if I haven’t figured out if I’m into ‘you’ like that.  So define dating.  As a man, it’s totally amazing the response these kind of articles get from some women.  As a man, I see it as sound advice for those who are interested in being married before 45.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I think the age 45 is tossed out because people are living longer, medical advances now allow people to safely give birth over the age of 40 but 45 may be the cut off point for many Ob/Gyn – unless you’re Nancy Grace.  

  • Getit!

    I keep hearing try that new new but all my fantasies are chocolate. He may be exotic, cultured, even “nice” but if he t’ain’t a brotha he ain’t getting the business. Next.

    • Independent and Proud of It

      I hear you. I am definitely open to dating outside of my race, and I have done it, but I do feel sorry for black women who know that they really just want a black man. The reason is because there are so few in stock. Too many in jail or just out of jail or just not up to par. This is why I said earlier that some of these long articles need to be speaking to men and their ratchetness.

  • Girliusmaximus

    Okay I’m not a 45 successful-as-hell single woman, so I have no advice to offer and wouldn’t dare try to give it out. But I’m curious to know, with all the 50 million variations and re-hashes of this same topic, is it really that hard to meet a guy? What is going on?

    That bit about ignoring the advice telling people it’s okay to have kids out of wedlock… The problem that needs to be addressed in my opinion is sexual responsibility. I just read an article about the percentage of Americans who use a condom… 46%… That number is too damn low. People have sex as if it’s primary purpose is NOT reproduction… Instead of just advocating that people not have children out of wedlock why don’t we ALSO advocate more people keep their pants zipped and use some type of birth control when they do unzip them? Telling people not to have kids out of wedlock in my opinion creates a situation for people to get married for the wrong reasons. I don’t think that people should just set out in life to have kids and raise them outside of marriage or at least a committed 2 parent home but too many people get divorced so people should be better about marriage.

    • kelz

      I totally agree! Not just for the sake of illegitimate kids, but uhm AIDS and other unwanted, sometimes incurable STDs and viruses. We all need to be a bit more selective when it comes to sex partners, and wrap it up eeeevery time (unless we’re both trying to create a baby). It’s so simple, so I don’t understand why more people don’t. It’s a big issue within our people. But if each of us can do our part in discontinuing that cycle, the renewed norm will be: Love. Marriage. Then the baby carriage, if that is our individual goal.

  • Ceceschaffner1

    Very well written article. Nice job.

  • lightofbeauty21

    I’m with NK, this topic has been done to death. I’m tired of single life being treated as if it’s a death sentence or a cry for help. And I’m tired of the number 45 being the deadline for when people “should” be married or else, it’s too late! C’mon now, can we stop with the drama? Being single isn’t the worse thing in the world, esp. when you find that there are more people miserable in marriage than people who are miserable in being single. I wish there can be more articles about how being single can be a good/positive thing to a person and how one can be empowered in their singlehood; articles like this just make it seem as if single ladies need to be desperate and rushed to find their mate and marry before the age of 45.

    • Novice

      That’s why the author stated in the very begining that this article is for those who want to marry.  Not those who dont or who are content with being single.  There are plenty of of single women who want to marry and this may be of benefit to them.  Dont get offended.

  • OSHH

    There are worst things than being single and financially comfy @ 45.
    You could be married to the WRONG person, have kids by worst type of person, be in an unhappy marriage with the wrong person, be broke have nothing to your name, and dependant on some man you cannot stand etc etc etc LOL 

    • Getit!

      Preach, Preacha!

      • Stillshawp

        lmao haaaa it’s true though

    • Brie

      Wow! That’s MY life….you know me? lol

    • Independent and Proud of It

      THANK YOU! This is my point exactly. I REFUSE to marry the wrong person and end up miserable every day because I’m waking up to this complete stranger next to me and screaming kids all around the house. At least the single professional woman is making an impact on the world. At least she is getting the most out of life. What is the single woman who is trying to change herself to get a man accomplishing? NOTHING. Because the truth of the matter is that what is not addressed in this article is the fact that many men these days are just not trying to wife good women. They really aren’t, and if you are a black woman, good luck. I am nearing 30, and I’m busy with grad school and a few other goals. I don’t necessarily want to be married right now, but it’d be nice to have some dating prospects at least. This generation is just so self-centered and self-crazed. It is also still resoundingly sexist. Unless I meet an actual gentleman–no matter his race–with some kind of goals for his life and a true caring Christian heart for others, I will remain single. I refuse to settle, and I think many of these lists only end up confusing good, single, black women more. I understand the intention, but it’s just aggravating. White successful women have similar struggles, but at the end of the day, there is usually a white man somewhere who wants an educated, strong woman. There are just more of them available…I do encourage black women to stop sitting around waiting on a black prince charming. Chances are, he is not coming. There are plenty of other men of other races out there who will be happy to celebrate your accomplishments and will indeed put a ring on it–and no you do not have to hit the gym all the time to find that guy.

  • PrettyGirl

    Wow.  What a great list!  The author emphasized that this is directed to women who want to marry and have a family. 

    When I turned 30, I said, “screw this” Im not going to end up single without kids like so many of my family members and friends – the same women the author described in the article. Educated, house, car, etc.  Many with horrible baby daddies.  In my 20s, my friends and I often spoke about not being like our mothers and others we know who are miserable single mothers.  Im the only one who stuck to my guns.  I was not going to be single in my 30s.  I always wanted marriage and children born in marriage.

    So I decided to date outside of my race, men who also deemed marriage as a goal and now I am happily married.  I think more BW who want to marry will marry when they accept that they are the ones holding themselves back.  Not only dealing with, but falling in love with men who are not on the same page as them, taking care of men, and blaming them for all of the reasons why many of our children are fatherless.
    Also, the weight issue is holding BW back.  BW dont want to accept that men will chase you for sex, but they are not wifing big women with multiple kids.  Believe it or not many men dont like a lot of their girlfriend’s kids.  Like the article said- Start Listening To Men.  Not the thug or the one with a multiple kids who doesn’t take care of his responsiblities.  Listen to men with aspirations and proven goals.  

    And definitely, dont look to Tyler Perry for the answers.  He prescribes the thug-turned-provider motto which is EXTREMELY rare.

    • chaka1

      Good article. I got married at 40. Before it happened I had to
      reevaluate and change my perspectives on life and relationships.
      Everyone has a different path. Good luck to the single ladies out there
      who want more out of life than a great career and money.

      I have a beautiful child, a wonderful husband, and a successful
      business. Everything that mattered before just seems meaningless
      compared to what I have now.

      • Love_Sexy

        I agree 100%…….and I am happy for you finding happiness in your life….I only wish the same for other ladies out there too..

    • Love_Sexy

      I agree with you 100% because like you I had a goal when it came to marriage/children and the type of man I wanted……I stood firm with what I wanted and was not going to settle for less…..I am married now to a good man from another race however…..I was not looking for anyone and it just happened out of the blue….I do believe that women (not just BW but all women) need to listen to what men are saying because its a very important factor in finding the right person. 

    • Cay J

      Wow, that is GREAT! I’m so happy for you and I’m glad you stuck to your guns! I notice that you said that you decided to date outside of your race and now you’re happily married. I’e had to adjust my way of thinking in terms of the whole IR thing too and even though I haven’t dated out just yet, I’ve noticed that despite all of the negativity about black women, I have more than my share of opportunities – I just didn’t know it because sometimes men of other races approach us differently than black men do.

      So with all of that I wonder – was there anything you found to be different with dating out? Also, was there anything that you had to adjust to in order to feel comfortable? I know it’s off topic but you seem to have the same mentality that I’ve come to have and who better to ask than someone who already knows? 🙂

      • PrettyGirl

        For me, I found non-black men to be more willing to court a woman than black men…romantic dates and vacations.  More open to posibility of a future and marriage.  Of course, get to know any man you date.  
        And once I started dating WM, I never dated, nor wanted to, a BM again.  I am more attracted to WM.   
        It was easy sexually, I got along better with WM. 

        • Guest

          Black men could say the same thing about “white women.” They could claim that white women are more loving and have less attitude and aren’t fat with kids.  It’s all based on perception. People who think that one race of men or women is better are just stupid and prejudiced.  I’ve noticed that all the people who act like IR romance is so special and a big deal (CAY J) didn’t grow up with white people and other cultures.  Otherwise they would understand that all people are pretty much the same.  Many people like Prettygirl are clearly very prejudiced.  Prejudiced meaning that she assumes people to be more or less likely to do certain things or behave a certain way solely based on skin color.

  • NK

    can we put this dead arse topic to rest, geez Louise

    • Girliusmaximus


      • Achel White158

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        whit-e sin-gles, to interact with each other…no games or extremes in front of
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    • Please burn this topic!!! Like NK said this topic is so over done and I want nothing to do but be at a lover, wife and mother at some point in life but &*$#!

      It always sounds like the ambitious woman is bashed for her ambition to strive for more while the girl and I do mean “girl” that is 23, a married housewife, and mother of two who hasn’t experience any life of her own is praised.

      Who said being married is heaven and being single is hell? If I’m 52, childless and never married and I’m happy, great. If I’m happily married with 2 1/2 kids and a white fence, great! One is not better than the other.

      We as women have got to stop obsessing over this “single” or “married” thing.

      Vermel Kinmon 

      • Novice

        Question? Why are NK and D&P CARTEL offended by the article?

        The author made it clear that the piece is for those who are single, middle-aged and wanting to marry.  She didn’t criticize those who made the choice to be single and/or childless.  This is specifically for those who desire a husband and are in search of advice.  So why knock marriage, unlock the author who did not knock being single?

        • No ones offended Novice and I desire a husband just as much as the next single woman and I so desire a family but I’m not going to have a WTF moment if I’m 45 and those goals in life aren’t met. I like all the authors on this site but this article like so many other keep perpetuating the same social stigmas around relationships.

          I’m literally going to scream if I read more thing stating that the “other” man is the possible answer to finding “the” man and any other 1,2,3,4 steps as to how to approach relationships. They’re interesting reading material at times but long lasting committed relationships take work and for each couple it’s different because we’re all different. I just really don’t believe there is a cookie cutter reason as to how to avoid being single at or by any age.

          Vermel Kinmon

          • Novice

            This is evidence how vast perceptions are. 
            I didnt see this as a condescending article.  I thought it provided excellent advice, but of course it doesn’t cater to all women because we have different circumstances.
            Also, I dont believe the author asked women to sacrifice ambition to get a man.  I think she simply offered guidance to many ambitious women who are not married but desire to be. 

            • Cay J

              I agree. I think she was basically saying that it may be wise for women to get their life in balance. If someone is leaning too far on the side of their career, they may need to sway to the middle and work more on balance and time management. There’s no reason to go chasing a man all around creation, neglect your job and be broke with no security but it’s just as dumb to focus only on a career when at the end of our lives it won’t be the job that matters. Hell, your job will replace you quick fast in a hurry but if you’re a decent person, it’ll be hard to be replaced in your husband (friend’s, relatives, etc)’s hearts once you’re gone.

          • Cay J

            Vermel, I don’t think she was saying that there’s a cookie cutter solution to how to avoid being sigle. She’s just listing some things to consider. Also in the beginning of the article she clearly states that not EVERY woman necessarily desires being married or will feel this way. So I think she was talking to those that this pertains to.
            Also, even though it may not be your preference to be with men outside your race, I think she’s saying that it should be considered as an option for those who have no problem with it. Like many, anytime someone suggests this, people think that they are trying to say that this will “end all of our woes” when in reality it is just broadening our options. Basically a supply and demand thing. If the supply goes up, the demand for these brothas go down and they’ll either have to shape up or totally miss out.
            Aside from being tired of hearing about this, wasn’t there anything on the list that you agreed with?

            • They’re were a few things that actually were good advice but the “get over yourself and your career” really over powered all the other solid advice for me personally.

              I see all these women out here settling for any snake and smile that comes there way just to avoid the “WTF I’m still single moment.”

              I have an immense problem with that. Couples break up all the time over finances. And I, as a woman that is out here busting my butt to make sure my hopeful future family won’t have to struggle, am not “getting over myself and my career.”

              I don’t for the life of me understand why when it comes to the succesful women, there is always this stereotype that her brain is “only” on her career. Really? I’m trying to digress though.

              Vermel Kinmon

        • And maybe it’s just me but I swear outside of the boyfriend/husband treatment one, which i felt was good advice, this piece just made me feel like a lot of settling is going on. If I can hit the gym 5 days out the week so can he and my career is apart of me so I’m not downplaying nothing. How can he get to know me if he is not aware of what I spend 40+ hours out of the week doing?

          One article tells you to set standards then another one says bring em’ back down to earth. So confusing.