Being 40 and single is often looked down upon in society. Whether it’s because of a failed marriage or a personal choice, this is something that people tend to ask a lot of questions about. Especially for women, it is almost considered blasphemy.
We are moving toward a more inclusive and more lenient world, there is no doubt about that. But a large part of the population, across cultures, still thinks somehow traditionally about relationships. That’s why being single at 40 can invite a lot of unsolicited advice and uncomfortable questions. Even if people may not comment openly about it, their reactions can make you feel unsettled.
The shift in societal attitude toward being 40 and single has been so painfully slow that most of us may not see the needle moving in the right direction at all. One of our readers, who has been single at 40 and lonely for a while, approached our expert with a query. Counseling psychologist and certified life-skills trainer Deepak Kashyap (Masters in Psychology of Education), who specializes in a range of mental health issues, including LGBTQ and closeted counseling, answers that query and shares insights on how to handle singlehood without letting it take a toll.
Being Single In Your 40s
Q. My name is Rachel. I am 40 and single. I have been divorced twice. The first time, my husband was impotent and in my second marriage, my husband turned out to be gay. I am really disturbed and depressed by how things have gone for me romantically. I am worried a lot about my future and where I will go from here. I always ask myself, why me? I have lost confidence in myself as at this age, I’m not sure how to find love again. I need a partner but don’t know how to proceed. I feel no one will believe me if I say that I faced such issues in the past. I always wanted a normal married life with great sex and lots of love, but unfortunately, I did not get it. Recently, I’ve been attracted to my cousin who is 5 years younger than me. I think I have feelings for him. We text back and forth but of late even that has reduced. I feel very lonely now. I don’t know where and how to direct my sexual outpouring. Sometimes I wonder if it is okay for a woman my age to be so vocal about her sexual feelings. Do single women in their 40s still go out and mingle? Please help me. I have lost my way.
From the expert:
Ans: As I have read your query, two things come to my mind. First, you need to believe – and I mean really believe – in the fiber of your emotional existence and that what happened in your last two marriages was NOT your fault. And second that it is absolutely fine for a woman your age to express her desires, regardless of what society would think about it. Just choose wisely who you trust to be vulnerable in front of. Not everyone would honor and nourish your vulnerabilities.
So I can’t repeat enough how important it is that you don’t take what happened in your previous two marriages personally. Sexual problems and being gay is no one’s fault, but what was wrong was that they married you without telling you the truth. Thus, I can understand how that must be distressing for you.
I would strongly suggest that you socialize more and try online dating a bit, where you get to take things forward at your own pace. Being single in your 40s doesn’t mean that you cannot give virtual dating a go. But do be careful. Meeting people online is a bit tricky, so keep your head on your shoulders. However, if used wisely one can make really good friends and meet some great people online.
Last but not the least, you have to remember it is not just your single status that bothers you, it is what you think about it that makes it worse. Don’t think you’re a woman who is single at 40 and lonely. Own it!
Related Reading: Is Online Dating Easier For Women?
Things To Do When You Are 40 And Single
There are so many things to do when you are 40 and single. As mentioned by the expert, your single status doesn’t bother you. It’s your thought process that does. It’s time to turn that thought process around and learn how to be happily single.
Single women in their 40s do attract a little judgment, which tends to make them put even more pressure on themselves. But the only way you can bring about any change is by first allowing that change to sprout within you. Being single is not a punishment but we can understand how it can feel like one right now. Bonobology gives you a few fun things to do when you are 40 and single:
1. Get in shape
So you told yourself in your 20s that you’d start working out but that never actually happened. Now you’re 40 and still scrolling through workout reels on your Instagram without using it as motivation to invest in self-care. Well, it’s time to let go of the funny workout excuses and finally step it up.
Getting in shape is a great thing to look forward to in your day and can tremendously improve your self-esteem. Single women in their 40s often stop feeling good about themselves because they start feeling undesirable at that age. We are sure you’re all desirable even if you don’t work out five days of the week. But to convince yourself of the same, consider investing in a gym membership.
Related Reading: Things You Need To Know Before Dating A Gym Rat
2. You’re still growing, so allow yourself to meet more people
Just because you’re 40 and single, it does not mean that your love life is a closed chapter. You’ve probably been through a few relationships by this point and could be feeling worn down, we get it. But losing faith in love is never the answer. Even if you don’t find love, if you put yourself out there, you can definitely find so much more.
From a new friend group to a shopping buddy to learning about all the new kinds of relationships out there, there’s quite a large spectrum of people who can still change your life. A yoga instructor, a barista or your Spanish teacher, are all people who can add value to your life in ways you never expected. You don’t need to find a life partner to fulfill all your desires.
3. Experiment with your dating life
However, if you do want to find a life partner, go ahead and put yourself out there by all means. Sign up on all the appropriate dating apps, ask a friend to set you up or text the divorced dad you met at that work conference. If you’re not looking for anything too serious, there are other ways of having and enjoying a dating life.
If you’re truly ready to experiment, consider polyamorous relationships, try dating someone younger and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old for a one-night stand. Do all those things you were too shy to explore before.
4. Eat, Pray, Love your way through it
If Julia Roberts can do it, so can you. Take a week, a month or 6 months off work and go do everything you were never able to when you were in a relationship. Travel to Nepal, to Bali or even to the resort an hour outside your town. But indulge and revel in the fun of being single and by yourself. Enjoying one’s own company is quite a skill. Remember how you used to put effort into your relationship? It’s time to learn how to put that same effort into yourself.
Related Reading: The Idea Of Solo Travel For Women To Assert Freedom
5. Be more philanthropic
It’s time to use this single period to explore new facets of yourself. One of those could be volunteering or giving back to society. A church mission or just a 5k run for a good cause, do what you can and what is feasible for you. Being single allows you to give more time and effort to the other people and relationships around you.
Find causes that resonate with you and devote time to them. When your mind and energy are productively channelized, you really won’t feel unhappy about being by yourself.
These things to do when you are 40 and single, look easy in writing but are actually harder to do when you feel that lonely. But with one step at a time, you can get on a journey to rediscover yourself and emerge brand new. There’s no way out of this but to just go through this phase. And once you start loving yourself again, who knows that you might even like it?
Of course, it is! Whether it is by choice or you’ve been dealing with heartbreak, being single at this age is more than okay. We always put immense pressure on ourselves to find a partner but all our happiness does not necessarily have to come from one person.
It can be. The dating pool is smaller which is why being single at 40 and looking to mingle can be challenging. However, there are many specific dating apps now which cater to this age group.
Because it allows you to give yourself a shot at reshaping yourself all over again. Becoming single after a long time may feel difficult but can be quite a golden period if you let yourself enjoy it.
Why Is Being Single Looked Down Upon? Decoding The Psychology Behind Judgment