You are now at that age you thought was toooooooo old to be single. You are 30 and over and unmarried, goodness forbids! You may be single because you have not found your right person, are widowed or are even divorced. It does not help that at this age the pressure to wed from the society is at its peak. So much so that desperation can easily set in, all in the name of appeasing societies standards. Indeed, there is a joke that goes something like this: that when a lady is in her 20s, she has a long and elaborate list of the qualities that “Mr right” should have. The list includes: he must be a man of God, tall, handsome, have dimples, funny, successful, rich, clean, neat, well dressed and stylish, a great dancer, a gentleman who opens doors and looks into his woman’s eyes lovingly, well-travelled, sophisticated, rich, a true romantic (like the imaginary characters in romcoms), have a six pack, broad shoulders, nice legs for shorts and the list goes on and on etc. Then when the same lady hits her 30s and finds herself still single, the list is quickly reduced to half out of desperation, and that by the time she is 40 or close that the only requirement she has for Mr right: is that he should be breathing and nothing more. I know very funny, but also very deprecating!
Interestingly enough, I now find myself at the age of 36, single but my list has become even more elaborate and detailed, but with a twist that now includes pinches of wisdom that have been nurtured out of time spent in the dating scene and also seeing other people doing marriage. In fact, just the other day I added a few more requirements to my list, because I figured if I have waited this long, I might as well get everything my heart desires. I know right! Anyway, just kidding. My list has simply changed as my values, boundaries and experience have been tested by mother time. So much so that things that were once important have been thrown out and replaced by different values and standards. I now know who I am truly and as a result know what type of man I have no business getting involved with. Example, I now know that there is no point in being with a handsome, successful man if he has no personal relationship with God and as a result lacks kindness or even empathy. I mean what is the point of being is a “catch” in every physical sense but is unkind and a narcissist. Also, I am wiser and more intentional, and ironically, even more patient about when I meet this so-called Mr Right.
In fact, when I look back on my dating life, I see how it has dramatically changed, but in a manner, I like to believe is all for my good. Indeed, how people date in their mid-thirties and over is very different from their 20s and can be summarised into five very interesting ways:
You have discovered the magic of being 30 plus and single
When you are a young lady in your 20s there is this pressure to ensure that by 30 someone has picked you from the “shelf”, and further, that you have at least churned out two or three babies by the same age. Indeed, we are told that marriage is an “achievement” that is best accomplished in your 20s because it is supposed to give you purpose and fulfilment that you cannot get as a single person. Further, that singleness over 30 is some type of crime or worse some disease from the same family group like Ebola or Covid-19 or something. Thus, the goal of any girl from the time she is 20 is to be married before her 30s. If by 30 it does not happen, things can get a little dicey and as a result you can end up being so desperate that you end up giving chances to people you should have blocked from your life with immediate effect. However, when you have been jaded enough and eventually come to, you realise that you do not have to sacrifice yourself at the altar of marriage and end up with mediocre Tom, Dick or Harry all in the name of fitting in with society timelines. That everyone’s life is different, as are the seasons of life, and therefore it is okay to wait for the right person. It is only in this moment that you are able to see singleness for what it is.
So yes, you are now 30 or over and still single, but instead of this horrible existence “they” warned you about, you have discovered this sweet spot that nobody told you existed. It’s like being a child in a secret candy store. Indeed, you begin to see singleness for the gift that it is. However, this in no way devalues the beauty of marriage, just adds that being single can be just as beautiful if allowed. For me being single and 36 has been the most enlightening experience of my life. It has truly set me free to know, explore and to be myself. It is a great season not only for self-discovery, but to truly take care of myself and to follow my dreams whole heartedly. It is here that I have found myself, and this in turn has completely changed my approach to life in general. So of course, the way I approach dating is very different, I for example come for a date not from a point of lack or desperation, but a point of confidence where I know myself and understand what only I can bring to the table. Thus, if it works, good, but if it does not work then life goes on because I still have a fabulous life!
You know without a doubt that love cannot conquer all
I know it’s harsh but it’s true. In your twenties you are so naïve and truly believe that love can conquer all and you end up giving chances to people you should have backlisted with immediate effect. You guilelessly believe that you can pick any person to partner with, and that you do not have to care about their history, that it does not matter if they have been unfaithful and even if they treat you right because somehow your love for them can conquer all. That you can be unequally yoked, but love with conquer all. However, by the time you are in your 30s and you have been in a couple of relationships and you have seen life in all its glory, you quickly realise what a big fat lie that is. That love cannot conquer all and that not everyone is deserving of your love. You know without a doubt that all those damn Cinderella-type fairy tales coned you with their delusional storylines that preached everything from follow you heart (follow your heart my shoe! might I add that the heart is very deceitful), to love can conquer all mumbo jumbo. Damn those Hollywood romcoms that taught us that despite extreme difference, and even wrong character flaws, that as long as you followed you heart, and loved with all your heart that you would go on to live happily ever after. Lies, lies and more lies! Someone seriously needs to be arrested for the output of this propaganda. You know, if I actually followed my heart, I would have a fudge cake for supper every night because that is what my heart always wants from January to December. Yet just because I long for and desire for a fudge cake for supper every night, does not mean that it is good for my blood sugar levels or for my hips or my six pack dreams! Good things do not always come from “following your heart” in fact, in your thirties you know without a doubt how deceitful your heart is. Nevertheless, do not get me wrong, I am not saying that in your thirties you transform into this pessimist with a pitch fork who hates everything about love. You still revere love and believe in love, you just know that not all love is good for you and that unfortunately it cannot conquer some character flaws, only God’s love can do that, not man’s love.
You know that a wife/ husband cannot make you whole
Once you have lived a little beyond your thirties you realize that another human being cannot complete you and make you whole, period! This was a tough lesson to learn, but a lesson we are all forced to learn eventually whether single or married. This one was life changing for me especially because I grew up on a steady diet of romcoms and heard lines like soul mate, and that he/ she would lead to wholeness. Yes, I believed that line from Tom cruise’s character (Cameron)in the movie Jerry McGuire where he tells Renee Zellweger character (Dorothy) that “you complete me”. Having lived a little, I now know that it is a bunch of bullocks! A created thing cannot make you whole. You can only find completion in God. While it is wonderful to be married, to be a parent, a friend, a sister, a brother, or even single, we cannot find completion in any of this roles or titles. There is only completion in God, He is the one who defines you, and shows you who you are, and what you are. Therefore, it is unfair to put pressure on another person to make you whole. Marriage and relationships are about partnership, companionship, and purpose, but not wholeness. In fact, if you are unhappy and incomplete while single, then you will just bring your unhappiness and incompleteness into your relationships.
You know without a doubt that you are crazy
I am not proud of this one, but in your 30s you become a bit of a “pessimistic dater” and as a result when you go out on dates you are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. So yes, you are a bit of a pessimist in all things love, but in a good kind of way. This is because you know that no matter how good a person is, they are crazy in one way or the other, yourself included. Crazy comes in many shades, its everything from childhood baggage, to previous relationship baggage, mother/ father wounds, to different forms of life coping mechanisms, to quirks, to strange personality traits, to insecurities e. t. c. And yes, everyone has them! Yes, everyone has their special brand of crazy. Don’t believe me ask your ex, he/ she probably has a list of all your crazies! This is in contrast to what you believed in your 20s when you were all about rainbows and butterflies. When you were what I like to call an “over- optimistic -dater” to the point of wanting to give any and every douchebag a chance. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, it is in fact okay to be delusional in your 20s after all you are still young and naive. At this age you are not only blind to other people’s craziness, you are also extremely blind to your own. Nevertheless, at some point you grow up and realise that it’s not just others who are crazy, but that you are also crazy or even crazier. So, as you get older you absolutely never ever commit until you discover someone’s crazy or crazies, because only then can you determine whether you are suitably matched because not everyone has the same tolerance or capacity or even grace for the different types of crazy out here in this dating streets. It’s good to date the good in a person (what people often flaunt during dating season), but knowing the crazy is a plus as one is able to make better informed decision on whether to commit or to run for the hills. As a result, the older you get, dating is like a ticking time bomb where you keep looking over your shoulder as you wait for the other shoe to drop.
You know that warm fuzzy feelings are a distraction
By the time you are hitting your 30s and over whether you are a woman or a man, most have learnt the hard way that feelings are fickle and completely deceptive, and definitely not worth putting any stock on. You know without a doubt that those warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of the stomach, those damn butterflies that give you a high that make you feel like you are walking on water, may not always be good for you. I have to admit, that this is not the easiest lesson to learn and sometimes the mean Nairobi dating streets have to teach you this lesson over and over. Nevertheless, when you finally do you know that you can’t partner with any Tom, Dick or Harry simply because they give you butterflies. There has to be much more being offered at the table. After all those nice warm feelings eventually die down given time and are in fact the wrong building blocks for a successfully relationship. In the same vein you know that there is only so much that the “physical (wealth, success, beauty)” things can give you in a relationship in the long run, and that character matters most. For me learning that a beautiful man was not always a good thing, was a hard lesson to learn. I mean there is nothing like a nice tall handsome and beautiful man. However, sometimes they came all nicely wrapped up with an ugly heart. Beauty, is a nice quality but not something to base your whole relationship on. Of course, you need to look good, but it does not hold a relationship, further, beauty fades and beautiful people are born every day. Additionally, although it is wonderful to find a partner who is successful and can offer you the illusion of a “financially secure future”, you need more. While physical things and the butterflies in the pit of the stomach are all wonderful things, you are grown enough to know that you need to look for other qualities like discipline, faithfulness, kindness, respectfulness, dependability, loving, honest, loyal and ability to forgive etc. Yes, there are other things that make a partner worthy apart from what you can see with the physical eye!
I remember my Mr Right list in my 20s, it had everything from looks, to fitness requirements, to dimples, to a man with the innate ability to read my mind. Oh, it was long, detailed and extremely glorious. These days when I look back on my list, I have a good laugh and maybe a few tears (the good kind). I seriously do not believe such a man exists expect in some parallel universe or maybe in telenovels or in romance novels. Indeed, when it comes to Mr Right lists, I can tell you for free that at the “tender” age of 36 I have come to learn a couple of things that have been truly life changing for me. Firstly, that even if you get everything on your Mr Right list, not everything you think you want is good for you. Secondly, don’t ask for a type of man or woman with qualities you yourself are not able to give. Thirdly, while it’s nice to live in the skies at some point you have to come back to reality. Please do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with reaching for the skies and dreaming up this unimaginable human being, you should definitely not settle. However, what I am saying is you need to learn to separate your non-negotiables from unrealistic expectations. Lastly, let God write the list, He knows what you need more than you do.
You have a voice and are very clear about your non- negotiables
The best thing about being in your 30s especially if you are a woman, is that if you never ever had a voice before, you finally find it. You become more direct and very clear about what you want; this is especially true for women. The older a woman gets, she gets this enlightment where she realises that nothing is a must. You have no time for games, you have been there and done that. As a result, you are not afraid to ask questions you were too embarrassed to ask when you were in your 20s. This is a result of the liberation that comes as a result of finding yourself. You speak up, you speak your mind, and are better able to negotiate in love or in life matters from a place of confidence and self-love. When you are older, I believe that you are better able to articulate your non negotiables better. So, although you are more realistic about your expectations, you are also very clear about things that are negotiable and which are absolutely not!
Great job Ms Annie......your work is very inspiring. keep it up!
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