Advice: 38 and still single

Last updated 11:07 04/04/2013

I'm 38 and still single, and it's harder than ever being without a partner as all of my friends are now shacked up. 

I don't relate to them any more, they never want to go out (which I understand) and I'm finding it hard to find anyone in my age group to do single-girl stuff with. 

I know I need to get out there to meet someone, but don't want to do it on my own... and don't want to do internet dating as it's just not me. What do I do?  

A.J. 

(Send your questions to lifeandstyle@stuff.co.nz, and remember to include a nickname if you don't want to be identified.) 

It sounds like you are feeling lonely and down, and are seeking a close friend, and most importantly a partner, someone you can be intimate with. We all yearn for close contact, and to be significant to someone else, and your feelings for more connection are natural and provide you with a good compass, give them the weight they deserve and follow them. It must be hard when you are longing for closeness to be with others with partners.

It is easy to become increasingly isolated as we move through our mid -thirties and into our forties. Many people are having families, or working in demanding careers and their availability for social connections can decrease. Once close friends drift off into the distance, a week becomes a month...

The laissez faire approach that worked so well up to our twenties often doesn't work so well in our thirties as we increasingly need to fit our relationships around other commitments. You can find that for the first time that relationships don't just happen, they need to be scheduled, actively valued and perhaps for the first time involve some real work to keep going.

It's possible that you may also feel a little abandoned by your friends - that they have moved into couple relationships and reduced contact with you in some ways. Be forgiving. New relationships are compelling and it can take time for people to adjust and come back to their friendship circles. It may be that you need to address some of the feelings that you have about these relationships so that you find a capacity to continue your friendships as your friends move through different life roles.

Review your current family and friendship circles. What are the relationships that are or were important to you? What is happening to them now? What are you doing to maintain these relationships? You might need to consider what you are willing to offer to friends with other commitments, can you adapt to their changing lifestyles and grow into new phases of relationship with them?

In terms of developing new relationships - follow your interests. What are you passionate about? Movies? Food? Wine?  Tramping? Books? Exercise? Work? Whatever it is, get involved and get connected with other people who are involved. You don't need to use the internet for dating, but you can use it in a variety of ways to connect with people with similar interests.  Either that, or go out to clubs, lessons, interest groups, social activities, travel. It is actually the hardest thing in the world not to meet people, though perhaps it can feel hard to meet the right person for partnership. However, if you are truly available energetically for relationship, and are open to new relationships and experiences, opportunities will emerge.

If you find that blocks keep coming up, it may be that there is something more going on that you may need professional help to talk through, if that is the case find a good counsellor, they will be able to help you address the blocks, and provide some structure for you to find your way back into an active social life.

Wishing you all the best.

Chris 

For more advice and information on counselling, visit Relationships Aotearoa online or join them on Facebook.

We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.

- Stuff

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