I’m 40 Years Old And Never Married

virgo virgin stained glass vintageElsa,

I feel like I’m in the midst of yet another transition or maybe still transitioning, having not yet found my place in the world, not yet found my love/life partner in this world, not yet found my livelihood in this world and desperate for all (and secretly wishing they are all intertwined with each other). It’s not for lack of opportunity or interested companions -I’ve had & have numerous wonderful men profess their love & desire to be married or build a life together. Ok, so maybe I’m a commitment-phobe aka having to have everything right & perfect before I can completely trust and commit.

Where is this ridiculous fear coming from? I know… it’s coming from me. I suppose the real question is, how do I bust it?…will I bust it?…so I might fully engage in life like I know is possible!!

Many thanks Elsa for your insight!!

Looking For My Captain’s Hat

Dear Hat,

I have no idea what your signature means but I left it intact for others to puzzle over while I try to crack your problem, which I feel is far more common than the people  care to admit. The cause, and the specifics from person to person are endlessly varied but what you have in common is this: You have cracked 40 years old and you are alone.  I’ll tell you exactly why I think this is.

A good percentage of us really want to have a life. We want to see it all, do it all, be it all, taste it all, etc. etc. And we feel settling down will thwart us. The horizon constantly beckons.

The compulsion to see what’s around the next bend is a Sagittarius thing, but you can be Gemini (the sign opposite Sadge) and have the same preoccupation. “Why settle here when someone more interesting may be coming up the pike..?”

Virgos have their own flavor of this as well. Nothing is ever quite perfect. Aquarius does not want to be restricted in any way which is of course part and parcel of commitment.

I could go on through the signs, but you get my point. There is a certain percentage of people out there who, given one opportunity after the other for deeper relationship, choose to keep their options open. And personally, I don’t think this can or should be judged.

But then you hit 40. Or 45. Or whatever age it may occur to you that what you are doing has actually lost its shine. Been around the block how many times, now? And what was once new, the next conquest, has become old and tired. And it sounds like this is where you’re at.

Now this is going to sound harsh, but someone said this to me and I’m glad they did. The person pointed out that the idea we’re sleeping with the last man (or woman) we ever will sleep with is an absolute terror. Get it? It’s the end of the road. No more Christmas!  I think a lot of commitment-phobics think like this on some level. It’s a bit like postponing growing up, isn’t it? Postponing aging. There is no time running out. There’s an endless stream of people and you’ve infinite chances!

So if you want to “bust” this as you say, I think it may help to make things like this conscious so the fear is no longer over not being able to go around the block one more time, but of being forced to circle the block for the rest of your life and nothing but.

And if you do this, your values will shift. All of the sudden, it’s the depth you’re after as opposed to the endless variety. It’s the heart connection and the chance to be really intimate, vulnerable and committed to another human being that you want. So this is my advice:

Redefine Christmas.

Good luck.

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Comments

I’m 40 Years Old And Never Married — 45 Comments

  1. Elsa….I think her signature means something along the lines of being the “captain of her own ship” but not having found her “captain’s hat” she really isn’t the captain….yet. Someone else? is at the stern? That’s my guess.
    Good insight, by the way, and you are always on the mark, Elsa. My bet is that she has not found that special person that inspires these profound feelings. I know because I kept “circling the block” until I was 38…..even when I was not without an s.o. (sad to say). I give her a lot of respect because at least she does not seem to be the kind of person who would falsely commit to anything. My hat is off to Captain’s Hat.

  2. Elsa, this is one of your best entries ever. I actually got tears in my eyes when I read the words “Redefine Christimas”. That’s exactly what it is for a lot of us. Even if you’ve loved and had meaningful realtionships, for so many people it’s that deepest level that is so scary to excavate. You know it’s there, you want it, but it means agreeing to a kind of engagement that is impossible to get out from easily, a choice that practically guarantees facing every single one of your fears and vulnerabilities.
    There is so much to gain, though. And I think that new travelers on this road should pack a big dose of compassion for themselves, because there will be so many times they will feel small for being scared, incompetent for not knowing all the answers, and foolish for ever believing that everything they dreamed of really is possible. I would say to anyone who has chosen this road, go easy on yourself, and recognize the gift you are giving to yourself and to your beloved: the willingness to experience together the most profound and sacred parts of life.
    Good luck to Captain’s Hat and a hug to you, Elsa.

  3. Beautiful, Elsa…”redefine Christmas” says it all. Also, consider how significantly those born after, say, 1940 have been affected by Madison Avenue and media culture. There’s always something “new” and “improved” grabbing our attention over and over and over and over on tv, radio, print, etc. Remember once upon a time when there were only a handful of tv channels? More channels, more options, more choices, more information. The internet! The result is we walk around constantly in a post-hypnotic trance, expecting the fantasies of our over-stimulated imaginations to materialize into reality. I bet committment phobia existed on a much smaller scale in the 19th century, even the early part of the 20th century! Yes, we each bring our own relationship m.o. into adulthood partly based on how we as kids saw our caretakers love each other and us, but let’s not forget how inundated we are with the fruits of technology + advertising. And let’s not forget Hollywood! And life can have celluloid moments here and there, don’t get me wrong. But for the most part, relationships (of all kinds) are about compromise, tedium, learning from day to day how to make imperfection work. One thing: I don’t like to think of it as settling down or settling at all. It’s like, the universe brought this person or circumstance into my life for some reason, now it’s up to me to explore it. Life’s a Tango! I’m 53, sometimes happy, sometimes sad. Making it up as I go, redefining Christmas (and every other holiday) every year, which, for this Cancer woman has been terrifying…but ALIVE! Brava, Elsa!!

  4. Note to PixieDust:

    First I read your comment. It really hit home.

    So I printed it, re-read it, underlining as I went along. (I ended up underlining pretty much all of it.)

    Then I sat there, re-reading again (and again), and I cried (for many personal reasons).

    Just wanted to say… thank you.

  5. SF..
    That made my day. We’re all in this together, you know, and it’s nice to have companions.
    Now it’s my turn to thank you.. 😉

  6. Great post Elsa, and beautiful comments from everyone. I love the ‘redefine Christmas’ particularly as I teach a lot of young women who are trying to figure out if they should follow tradition and find a man, or go their own way. ‘Cancer Sun Leo Rising Leo Mercury’ made some excellent comments on what the younger generation faces. Most of (the Italian) women I teach have totally weird ideas about their ‘soul mates’ that include the adjectives: tall, handsome, rich, charming, funny—but very little about actual real life stuff. They don’t know THEMSELVES at all, so how can they make a choice about ’till death do us part’?

    On being alone– I have Aquarius in Venus and I really LIKE feeling free– but I’ve been with my husband for 10 years ’cause the Cancer moon gets all petulant after awhile. And sometimes I just have to sit down, get quiet and LIST all the reasons it is better right now to be in this relationship. But it’s essentially about compromise right? And YES Elsa, the idea of never having sex with another person other than one’s current mate is dullsville, for me and for him I’m sure! So I just try not to think about it.

    But if you do remain single, I totally emphasize– it’s also a great choice and no longer are women considered ‘spinsters’ or ‘old maids’ but rather seen as independent and knowing their own minds. Keep changing those stereotypes…

  7. Beautiful. Thank you all.

    I cried my self to sleep over the fact that I will “never sleep with another man again”…than my loving, sensual, BAFFLED partner! I did this last night! Then I woke up with a shortness of breath and then read this!

    Ha! Ha! What a gas. Imagine that, advice when you need it most. And the comments you all left were valuable as well as timely.

    One of the greatest gifts you can give you partner is to not only share your growth, but also your expansion. S/He will never remain the same, and neither will you. Nothing stays static, least of all us.

  8. Hi Elsa – Captain here…let me give you a deep heartfelt thank you!! You are amazing!!…and incredibly smart & on point! Thank you so very much for tackling my quandary. Obviously, you spoke to others with your insights and wise advice as well.

    I’m not the most interactive electronically-driven individual and when I emailed you in Sep. having just discovered you, I thought I’d be getting a response email and then promptly forgot all about it. It was my recent birthday that joggled my mind and got me to your site again…

    Wow-wee!! I’m blown away at your insights Elsa, hitting the nail on the (my) head and obviously others by the subsequent sharing! You couldn’t be more right – it is the deep heart connection and chance to be really intimate, vulnerable & committed to another human being that I want…so redefining Christmas it is!! Thank you!!!

    And thank you to those that commented!! What a beautiful community of people here!! Jamie, you got it – my signature means being Captain of my own ship though feeling like I’ve been on sabbatical or asleep at the stern. Thank you for your thoughts & comments (respect)! PixieDust, Cancer Sun Leo Rising Leo Mercury, SF, Sylvia and Christine – many thanks for sharing!! With every word I read, I felt a more profound feeling a gratitude…and connection…and love, really, this incredible blanket of love – that’s the only way I can explain it.

    Incidentally, Cancer Sun Leo Rising Leo Mercury, you shared so articulately the affects of Madison Av & the media – take a wild guess what industry I work in…yes, the media. In fact, I work for TANGO magazine – the dance of love! Yes, life is a Tango, especially when you know how to dance! ;-)… One would think I’d have a handle on this love-thing…but alas, I work in advertising (trying to get out as I type!). How very interesting the interconnected layers of all who shared!!! Hugs and kisses to everyone!!

  9. oh, i just love this. kinda’ something i hit with my saturn return (it trined my aries venus ) still trying to figure out what it is i’m looking for and how to build it, but, eh, lots of aries have bonded with someone over the millennia, right?

  10. Again your retro posts still have meaning. I went ‘to class’ and see that you’re out in the fields digging it up so redirected myself here. Perfect place for a pre-Winter Solstice inspiration.

    “Redefine Christmas”…ditto on the comments from everybody here I think we are all in for new black and white holly days and I look around at where I am physically today, who I’m with, and who I am that’s looking around. Pixie D. you’re right on to say pack plenty of compassion because we’re all so perfectly imperfect.

    Thanks Elsa for another great story.

  11. Am I missing something, is there a chart link here? I hear people commenting about her energies but I don’t see the link, can somebody help me, hep, hep, hep me, lol!. Thanks

  12. I freaked out when I turned 26. All the men I knew used to joke about thats when you upgrade and get another wife. I wanted to be married for fear that I would be too old. My father had always told me don’t get wrinkles the first thing you do when you get up in the morning get in that bathroom and make yourself up. Men like to look at something pretty in the morning..

    When you have the option of being a 2nd or 3rd wife the men marry for different reasons and most of them don’t want to get married because what I always here “well my pension its mine.”
    “I already paid my child support I don’t want another family.”

    I personally don’t want to sleep with other people.

    My boyfriend and I had an argument last night via the phone he wants to buy a 400,000 dollar house
    (We are currently living together even though I am not allowed to have anything but my clothes there) And I just took a little vacation to think.
    Everyone wants to get ahead buy buy buy stuff men want flat screen TV’s and speakers in there ceilings they don’t want to get married..

    I think he is crazy a 5 bedroom house with 4 bathrooms and who does he expect to clean it ?

    I get to work fulltime and then my days would be cleaning the house and cooking dinner washing all of the clothes and he would sleep on the couch and sssh me like he does now.

    He wants me to come back, I want to see him I told him I do not want to live like that. I told him I am not his private slave and he told me as he always does at this time in my life I don’t want to be married..Well I told him he wants all the benefits of slavery and why should I come back when he doesn’t appreciate anything I do.

    Then he said I am trying to jockey for position and its a power play. I told him I don’t think horses have anything to do with this..

    I don’t know maybe after what you just wrote I should go back ? It has been a longtime since I lived with a man 12 years I was always against it
    Marriage then live together but he is 125 miles away so it has made circumstances diffferent.
    I don’t need him to support me, I pay all of my own bills he is not giving me any money or paying for anything, part of the deal of my living there is I pay for the groceries. But things are getting really tight and he likes really expensive food. I just kind of feel like I am being used. I told him last night I could not live with him anymore and now after I read what you wrote I am really feeling guilty about it. The last thing I want to do is not pull my own weight. I am confused…

    • i think you’re not confused, you’re clear-eyed. Reread what you told us… you’ll know what you are really saying, and really want.

  13. I like what Christine said about growth. and maybe it’s not sleeping with only one person: you can never step in the same river twice. (sounds less gross in a metaphor)

    jamie said, “My bet is that she has not found that special person that inspires these profound feelings.” I don’t mean to pick on jamie but I think that’s something we say to placate ourselves. the feeling of profound intimacy starts within. you have to do the work on yourself first.

  14. Commitment doesnt mean not having sex with other people. Yes, that is one of the common stipulations of couples who are commited, so common we mix it up with the definition of commitment. Commitment is dedication to the relationship. The things that constitute that dedication are for the couple to negotiate on thier own personal terms. There are alot of couples out there that have different kinds of commitments. you don’t have to have a white picket fence if thats not what youre into.
    Saying you are afraid of “sleeping with the same guy (slow motion horror voice) F-O-R-E-V-E-R” betrays a misinterpretation of someone elses personally chosen commitment rules with some kind of universal law that doesnt really exist.
    commitment is what you and your partner say it is.
    Some will say that it isnt the commitment you are frightened of, but the vulnerability of intimacy. But this is why commitment and intimacy are linked. Commitment is the scaffolding people use to get at thier most intimate, vulnerable selves with one another without fear (or at least less fear.)

  15. Reality,

    I just made a long reply to your post that didn’t send. I have learned from past experience that taking a long time writing a post, it won’t upload when done. At first when this happened I used to think it was because it wasn’t supposed to see the light of day, but it is a glitch in the software 🙂

    I always highlight and copy before I send. But I don’t want it to post 2x just in case it pops up later, but I am running the risk of that now because I feel that strongly about what I wrote to you. Here goes with the paste.

    Reality,

    Maybe others will disagree with me, but I think in reading what you wrote, you breaking it off was a smart thing to do.

    I realize there are always two sides to every story, but some key things that popped out to me.. allowed to have only clothes there.. and especially getting ssshed just pissed me off!

    I think these valid resentments you feel now would only become more pronounced after signing your name on the dotted line for a mortgage you don’t want and a man that seems very self centred and controlling. Control issues in a relationship are always two sided to begin with, but him using the words power play and jockeying for position are pretty damned revealing to me.

    It is easy for me to say I know, not knowing you or him, but I think YOUR feelings that caused you to separate show a lot of issues with the dynamics of this relationship. I don’t know about you but I want to feel like part of a team when I am in a relationship, united in taking on responsibilities. If I felt like I was a slave and accused of power plays and jockeying for position before I was even married to a guy, I think it would only be a sentence in hell to commit fully with a mortgage let alone a marriage.
    Going ahead after going back would seem outright masochistic. What was it that drew you to this man in the first place?

    In fact you aren’t living with him now if you are only ALLOWED to have your clothes there, you are merely staying overnight.

    The things you listed in your letter are things that send couples to counselors and are always just issues that cover underlying “stuff”. Would he even consider doing that now or would you? Please please give this some thought before you even consider going back to him?!!

    Hugs!

  16. I liked Elsa’s comment. I think there was a lot of truth to it. The emotional driver for looking for all that endless variety is FEAR. I’m 47 and have never been married. Aries Sun, Uranus rising, Venus square Saturn. My closest girlfriend is the same….double Gemini with 3 planets in Aquarius. I thought I was bad, but holy smokers, she’s really really scared of being tied down.
    I’m tired of all the adventurous men I used to date. Lots of excitement yes, but I’m tired now and want a nice, stable man who can put a woman first. Eventually, the fear morphs into something else….a yearning for something calm, and lasting and real. Its age i think. Wisdom does come with it. I want to enjoy my life with someone, not waiting or wanting for someone.

  17. Well. I’m at a point where I’ve been deprived of so much (this is not said in the spirit of blame, but it’s true) that I don’t really understand why anyone does anything. You get married and start a family for whatever reasons you had back then: personally mine had something to do with wanting to make something lasting that had nothing to do with my mother. That did not work out.

    But at this age…well, why? Share a pension? Why does a person want a career, aside from the money? When I was in my 30s I wanted to prove myself and be useful and independent. I never quite did that — in fact I failed to distinguish myself as anything so now…I’m going to be dead soon. I don’t care.

    I don’t feel like I was or am a commitmentphobe. I think I’m commitment-sick.

  18. Elsa, Wow! You speak and write with GRACE! This is what keeps me coming back to your blog; beautifully and wonderfully said – you speaking truth to power!

    KUDOS!

  19. (((eva)))I can relate to that.

    I spent 12 years feeling like it was christmas *every day*, waking up next to my man, and yet all of my commitment, attempts to compromise, etc etc didn’t add up to squat. Well, they more often than not were a very good 12 years, so that isn’t really fair…still in the “where is she now” spotlight, I can’t say it really worked out, can I? Same issues with career, and other areas too.

    I have no fear of committing from my side. It’s the other side that I worry about.

    I’d really like to be someone else’s “christmas” for once.

  20. Haven’t got time to read all the comments,I’ll have to postpone that for later.

    But “redefine Christmas” the “depth vs. variety” that really struck me…brilliant.

  21. I always thought it was harder for me to find a guy because of my Venus square Pluto. Reading this makes me think if it’s that plus my Venus and Mars conjunct in Gemini! Aargh! I agree with Lisa13. I’d like to find the guy that feels it’s Christmas everyday with me too…..

  22. Nice topic to discuss Elsa.

    There was no avoiding the almighty Pluto transit for me and it involved lots of soul searching and the conquering of few fears.
    Maybe it’s easier for a Scorpio to locate the route causes of things but locating them alone doesn’t get rid of them, It has to be externalised, you got to face it to conquer it.

    The hardest one involved my mother
    Years ago (with reasons) I swore to emotionally shut her out and never let her see the real me because deep down I didn’t trust her. I told her exactly what I thought and felt and how angry I was at her and that I’d like to make things better.
    I was a sitting duck. Powerless, exposed,no pride,
    crying in a public park and nothing else to do but make sure everything was said.
    Result
    No more fear of commitment and I find it easier to make decisions (I was becoming more and more indecisive and ignorant of it all).
    the creation of a mother-daughter relationship.
    and…
    The Scorpio learnt how to let people in 🙂

    You have nothing to fear but fear itself.

  23. oooo one last point

    I think with fear the best way to start is to be honest with yourself. Then you can start to figure out why and where that fear came from and make an attempt to conquer it. After that you’ll be able to “redefine Christmas”

    But maybe (Victoria) you have a fear of changing yourself – fear of the unknown?

  24. ok – I was going to write something longer… but instead…. have you seen the Atlantic article?

    I think this sums up my problem a lot. One of the criteria by which I judge a man is whether or not he’ll enhance my life. If I think a guy’s going to drag me down… I run!

    I think the recession is making this clearer. I believe that women are being forced to settle. I have refused to so far….but now I wonder at what cost? A friend of mine once told me we pick the people we can tolerate. I think she was on to something… but I also think I’ve been up against some intolerable behavior.

    I’m trying to have hope, but the last couple of weeks have been tough.

  25. I am just like the writer, commitmentphobic to my Sag/Aqua core. But conflicted. Common sense tells me it would be foolish in my mid-forties to walk away from a good satisfying relationship if I find one given my declining ability to attract partners. In that case, I might appear to shift my values and appreciate what I have but still feel resentful and trapped by the tedium of the day-in day-out of life with one person. I’d need an outlet to express that considerable bile so it doesn’t come out at my partner. But it will probably always be there.

  26. Helen Gurley Brown said: “Marriage is insurance for the worst years of your life. During your best years, you don’t need a husband.” She adored her husband, David Brown but also said of him: “We need a lot of time not to be together.” She was an Aquarius, David Brown was a Leo.

  27. Oei, oei, oei!! I know this. It has cost me so much! And I did hurt others and myself. But now I am older (62) I found peace with it. It was a hard way to go but it brought wisdom at the and. Indeed, it will never leave but you can learn to handle it! I can almost write a book about it! 🙂

  28. Super great post!!!
    “Redefine Christmas” is really a wise suggestion. I think it applies to other areas of life s well, not just partnering.
    When faced with changing situations and choices in life it makes sense. When you no longer have ALL the options, better settle for a different, more “realistic” and probably less frustrationg version of Christmas. Difficult to come down off a cloud, but the landing is perhaps safer. (And I hate “reasonable”… but, sometimes, well, gotta get reasonable, or get it in your face.)

    I love @Scottish’s quote “Marriage is insurance for the worst years of your life. During your best years, you don’t need a husband.” So funny, so true!

    Thanks for re-posting previous posts because although they are available on the site, there are so many it is not obvious to pick out such a good one among them all.

    • I love that quote too Satsun :). Appreciate the reposts as well.

      It is hard to redefine Christmas. I find the reality of “Steak nights are over for you, enjoy your nice roll and pretend to yourself it’s a steak until a lie becomes the truth since it’s the best you can get at this point anyway” tough to handle. But that’s how it is.

      • Yes, I agree, it’s hard to downsize Christmas!
        But luckily, some stuff evolves by itself – like, would you want to be eating caviar ALL the time??? Might get tired of, go back to steak & potaoes or something like that. Priorites change too, thank gods. (Haven’t seen many cheerleaders over 40. Or are they hiding?)

  29. Oddly I don’t have a problem with a prospective partner feeling the exact same way about me. I would take it as a given.

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