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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