Claudia, 38, a project manager in Munich, felt hopeless and depressed after a birthday dinner party with her friends. She came to me saying that she felt like she was being laughed at, judged and pitied by her friends, who have their own families, spouses, children, houses and life planned ahead for decades. She feels it’s almost too late to start now. “My train is almost leaving the station and I’m still on the platform,” she cited.
When I asked her a few clarifying questions about what happened at the dinner, she quoted what her well-meaning and caring friends said: “It’s only going to get harder as you get older,” “Everyone is just looking for hookups on those dating apps,” “There are a lot of creeps on online dating sites,” and more.
I get that her friends are trying to warn and protect her about the dangers of dating. The reality is that it’s much easier to meet guys on a college campus when you’re a 20-something woman than in later decades. It’s true that a lot of people are just looking for hookups, and dating apps make them very easy to find. It’s also true that there are weird people out there, not just online, but also in real life.
But the reality is not all black and white; it’s nuanced. And so are the men you meet. The reality is that about half all of those men who married their college sweethearts are getting divorced 10-20 years later. So if you’re a 30-something woman, you know you have options: from 30-something never-married guys to 40-something divorced men with grown kids.
It’s also a fact that about 30% of all marriages now start online. That’s evidence that you can meet a commitment-oriented man online, either via a dating app or a website, who wants to get married and have a family. What I wonder when I hear these stories is, what’s the intention of friends and family members when they criticize the dating process? Yes, it has its challenges, but if you think dating is hard, think about being in a relationship! That’s even harder!
My point is, DON’T talk about your dating experiences with your family and friends. At all!
Because if your girlfriends are single, they aren’t really in a position to give you advice on how to get into a relationship. What typically happens is, they project their own issues on you and your situation, and if you listen to them, you may end up sabotaging a potentially good relationship.
For example, you share something about a guy you aren’t sure about. “Oh, how could he have said that? He’s a jerk”, snaps your girlfriend, you agree and never give him (and yourself) another chance to explore what could be possible.
Also, if your mom projects her own fears onto you that you will miss out on a chance to become a mom (and so she will not become a grandma), you’re likely to pick up those fears and project them when you go on dates (that end up going nowhere).
So, who you can talk to?
Your coach or mentor, or any professionally trained specialist who can give you objective advice and unbiased feedback. You want to listen to someone who has already created the result you want and has helped others do the same.
You can also ask for advice from friends whose relationship inspires you and who genuinely want to help you. For example, if a couple invites you to join them at the outing at their country club or offers to introduce you to their single friend who’s “a great guy and wants to be in a relationship,” then you know they have your best interests at heart. Say “yes” to those invitations!
Please comment here and let me know what you think about talking with your friends and family about your love life. Tell me who you talk to and why.
I look forward to talking with you!