“Women like you are a dime a dozen.” I feigned a blank look as I hesitated. The words were spoken matter-of-factly, with a hint of compassion. My friend went on to explain. “I mean, look at the statistics. Single women your age outnumber single men 3 to 1. Not to mention men are only interested in women five or ten years younger.”
I wanted to argue but I couldn’t. My lawyer mind knew the numbers evidence. She wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know, yet the harshness of the truth weighed on my heart for weeks.
When considering a life after divorce, being alone rises near the top of our fears. What if I never find someone to love me again? How will I survive the loneliness? What if I grow old alone?
For as much as we fear the future, we sometimes fail to tell the truth about the present. Loneliness is not limited to the uncoupled person. Many married people feel an excruciating sense of loneliness despite having a spouse in the house. When communication is absent and intimacy is nowhere to be found, having a roommate does little to alleviate the loneliness and can, in fact, exacerbate it.
The truth is that love sometimes takes flight from a marriage. People remain in unhappy marriages despite the absence of connection. The reasons are many—financial insecurity, young children, a lack of skills or support for moving forward.
And on growing old alone? Well, there are no guarantees here for anyone. Since becoming a widow five years ago, I have become an avid reader of the obituary column. I routinely read about young wives and young husbands dying long before the thought of old age entered their minds. The truth is, the longer one stays in a marriage that is lonely and loveless, the more likely one is to feeling alone.
Such fears are not limited to women of “like me.” Ask the tens of millions of Americans looking for love online. The experience of loneliness or the fear of its arrival is universal.
I pondered my friend’s frank recitation of the odds of my ever finding enduring love. I told myself I shouldn’t be so greedy since I’d fallen in love more than once in my lifetime (and married twice), a good fortune some have never had. I questioned how I should feel about the prospects for my future. I struggled to surrender to accept what I knew was true.
I decided to shift my focus away from being a dime a dozen. I decided instead to focus on who I am. Courageous enough to carry on. Willing to be curious about what’s possible. Interested in relieving the loneliness of others while protecting myself from the same. Grateful for the people and pleasures of life right now that are far more interesting that my fears.
I decided that I may be a dime a dozen. Then I remembered that more than one thing can be true. I’m also one in a million. And that’s a number I can live with.