When one hears of a woman over forty who has never been married finally finding a partner, society tends to consider her lucky. In a way, this is not surprising. It is indeed very hard for a single woman in her forties to find a partner.
S, a 41-year-old lawyer client of mine, was so engrossed in her work that she barely had any time to think about life outside of it. When S hit forty, her very liberal parents asked her about her love life. The realisation of her non-existent love life hit her hard then.
A friend suggested that S get on dating apps. She did that immediately. In fact, she quite enjoyed what she calls the gamification of these apps. S went on a few dates. None of them went anywhere. S dated people older, younger, and those her age, too. Two months into being on various dating apps, S concluded the following: men her age or older, if she found them interesting, were mostly divorced (at that time she was clear she did not want to consider people who had been married before); men who were younger than her perhaps just wanted to get into bed. Boredom had set in for her and she looked for other avenues to meet people.
Matrimony apps were her next choice along with spreading the word amongst friends to set up introductions. S says she did not find even one man on the matrimony apps interesting, and so met zero people via that channel. She did meet M through a friend. M had recently moved to Delhi from Mumbai. At 39 years old, M was closer to S’s age. They got along well from the day they met. They even dated for 4 months. S was having a great time. M seemed to “get her” as a person and even understood the demands of her job. It’s when she wanted to take their relationship to the next level of commitment that things didn’t work out. M said he wasn’t ready to get into anything serious and was not even interested in getting married at all.
S says that hearing that felt like having the wind sucked out of her sails. Because she was new to this, she did not understand what ‘casual’ meant. For S the fact that two people are able to connect so well mentally and are attracted to each other physically meant that they will be in a relationship. Even though she tried to go with the flow and stay casual with M, she could not handle the uncertainty of what this relationship was and called it quits. This was S’s first heart break.
As she was still healing from that experience, she heard that M was getting married to a much younger girl. This is indeed an unfair situation. I’ve spoken to a few men about this anecdotally and they all said that the main reason is quite basic: the biological clock – if they want to have children, they have little choice than to pick a younger woman.
So, what does a woman over 40 do to find a partner? What about her basic need of finding companionship? There are so many arguments made against women over 40, the common ones being - they get set in their ways and are not willing to adjust, they are very picky about the kind of partner they want and of course, their prime reproductive years are over.
In my opinion these are all stereotypes. I think we never stop adjusting ever in our lifetime– it’s human nature to adapt and adjust as we are constantly evolving. We adjust at work; we adjust with our parents, siblings, and friends as they all go through different phases of life.
As for being picky, how is it bad to have clarity and at least have some knowledge of the kind of person we want to spend our life with? This will only help with the effort one needs to make in keeping the relationship healthy.
And as for the biological clock, I’d say science has made an immense leap in that area — women in their 40’s having children is not unheard of. There is also the option of adoption which is finding increasing acceptance in our society.
For now though, it remains rough for single women in their forties. I sincerely hope that we can open our minds and let go of our inhibitions and stereotypes. Women need to be open minded too: recall for example how S did not want to consider divorced men. Should you do due diligence? Absolutely. But ruling out all men who are divorced is a barrier that we need to break as a society. I say this to women of all ages: I believe you can find love at any age; all you need is an open mind and an open heart.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org