I fear I’ll never meet another man
DEAR BEL, I AM a 47-year-old single mum of two children aged six and eight — separated from their father after eight years in a very unhappy and, at times, abusive relationship.
Before that, I had only ever had brief flings that never really led to anything. I’ve been single now for five years and always told myself I don’t want a relationship, as it’s too stressful and difficult.
However, as the years pass, I’m starting to feel very lonely and increasingly sad that I must spend the rest of my life alone.
I know what everyone says — join a club or do online dating to meet someone — but these are things I can’t do due to crippling low self-esteem and poor body image.
I am overweight, not really attractive and though I know I’m a decent, caring person, the thought of trying to find a partner terrifies me.
I’ve only had relationships with men I knew through work and gradually felt confident enough to talk to. I can’t begin to imagine how I’d cope with having to ‘date’ someone.
I wonder if I’ll ever experience real love for someone and for them to love and respect me.
It’s terribly depressing to think I’m never going to have a loving partner but will grow old alone.
Some days all I want is a warm embrace and someone to talk to, but I can’t ever see this happening for me.
I know it sounds selfpitying, but I have to know how to gain the confidence I need to try to improve my situation.
YOU had your children quite late in life, and the second one when you already knew the relationship was unhappy and sometimes abusive. Looking back, I’m sure you’d do everything differently. Nevertheless, it surely took great courage to get out of the situation, but the damage to your self-worth was deep. I imagine you also felt guilt because of the children — and so I feel nothing but sympathy for you.
You say that all the usual advice people like me tend to fall back on is no good to you when you feel depressed, lonely, fat and plain. I express that bluntly, because there’s no use me trying to sugar the pill that already tastes so bitter. It’s patronis-ing to murmur ‘Oh, it can’t be as bad as all that’ — when to you it jolly well is.
radical thought is needed, so can we shift the emphasis away from meeting men? Many women will understand your timidity, which is why I ask whether you have female friends?
here is where I’d like you to start — with enriching life by picking up old friend-ships and making new ones. If you saw the ‘join a club’ advice as a means to meet friends rather than men, it may shift your perception about the next stage in life.
And that brings me to shopping, hair, make-up and some of the other things that most (though not all) women chat about. I certainly do with my best friend — and great fun it is, too. You see, if you hate the way you look so much, you need to be encouraged to change it. You don’t
have to be overweight or to carry on hating your appearance in other ways.
No need to cling to the same hairstyle, nor to say you don’t care about make-up. No need not to start small changes in your life tomorrow, starting with all important diet and nutrition.
People will tell me this is hard, but I’ll reply plenty of people still take their lives by the scruff of the neck and shake ’em about. You don’t have the power to magic up an ideal boyfriend; you do have the power to make changes in your own life.
Start a daily journal in which you write at least two things each day: something that’s made you happy and something you’ve achieved. The happy bit could be to do with your kids or a good chat with a new friend. The second part might be deciding not to snack with the children, but eat a salad when they’re in bed.
Write even if you don’t feel like it. As the days pass, this will all build into some-thing positive — just you wait and see.
It may seem strange that I don’t mention your longing to be loved. I certainly under-stand its power, but letting it consume you is a waste of life. Small steps could gradually lead you in that direction. Always be ready to be surprised by joy.