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There’s a plethora of reasons why you might be single at 50. It could be you’ve never married or been in a long-term relationship because of your personal circumstances. Perhaps you’ve survived a painful break-up or your partner has died. Maybe you have elderly parents to care for, or still have children at home. You could also feel geographically restrained and believe that your choices are limited. Money is possibly an issue. You may have dedicated your life to a busy career. You could just feel happy being on your own.

In this article, we'll examine the common causes of being single at 50 plus and what this means for those either looking to remain independent, or re-enter the relationship world.

Why Are You Single at 50?

1. Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations about what you’d like in a partner are at the top of this list. They say that expectations are resentments in construction. Alternatively, perhaps you repeatedly choose the same kind of unsuitable partner, a common form of self-sabotage. The definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Some people ignore red flags in a potential partner, wrongly believing they can change the person. Maybe unconsciously you don’t believe that you deserve to find love. These patterns can stem from childhood. Real life and love aren’t the stuff of Hollywood. It can be hard work but anything worth having usually takes effort. 

2. Unresolved Emotions

When we’ve been wounded in our past it can be difficult to overcome these feelings and to learn to trust in life and love again. You may have grown up in a home that was like a war zone and at some level you decided that you were never going to let yourself be that vulnerable again. Maybe you lost the love of your life and can’t be bothered to find a new partner because you feel that it could never be the same. You close yourself off emotionally for fear of being hurt once more. You need time to heal, but this doesn’t mean that you should live permanently on an emotional desert island. 

3. Fear of Intimacy

When you’ve been out of a relationship for a while, the idea of being intimate with someone can feel terrifying. And it can be even scarier if you’ve never had an intimate relationship. Where on earth do you start? It could be that you feel physically out of shape and fear that nobody will be attracted to you, so you refuse to put yourself out there. Taking a risk can be terrifying. 

4. Commitment Phobia 

Being a commitment-phobe can also be a protective mechanism. If you never allow anyone to get close to you, then you’re never going to get hurt. I like the acronym FEAR – Fear Everything and Run BUT it can also mean Face Everything and Recover. The choice is yours.

5. Fear of Rejection

This is an issue for many people. Having a negative mindset will get you nowhere. Life is full of risks. We take them every time we go out of the front door. I’m proof that staying indoors can also be dangerous. The bedroom ceiling once caved in on me while I was lying in bed! 

6. Looking for Love in the Wrong Places 

Online dating and apps aren’t for everybody. Neither is going on a pub crawl or to a nightclub. There are better ways in which to meet people. You should look for somebody in a setting where you feel comfortable. Take some classes or do something which gets you to interact with others. If you’re an animal lover with the time and money available, getting a dog is a wonderful way of meeting others.

The Differences Between Men and Women

Life can be unfair. There are more single women than single men. Men seldom stay on their own for long. I sometimes say that if a man has teeth and a pulse, he’ll be snapped up! This may be somewhat trite, but many men don’t do well on their own. Of course, there are also many women who prefer to be in a relationship. I’m one of them – I haven’t been married three times for nothing! In addition, ageism doesn’t operate so much against men. The mature man may be seen as being “distinguished” whereas women are just plain “old”! Men can be seen as being “pickier” and more confident, but they have to learn to manage their expectations too. My husband Peter used to joke that his ideal age for a partner was 24, but he’d readily admit that he’d have nothing in common with such a young woman! 

The Consequences of Remaining Single

To reiterate, it’s absolutely fine to want to remain single, if that’s what you really and truly want. Some people are happy being on their own and your status needs no explanation to others. You can always review the situation if and when you feel ready. On the other hand, some people are lonely on their own. Ask yourself why you’d like to be in a relationship and try to be as honest with yourself as possible. Is it because others are in one, or because you fear ageing, financial insecurity and dying alone? We never know what’s around the corner, whether we’re in a relationship or not. It’s seldom a great idea to get into a relationship and stay in it if it’s not satisfactory. 

Takeaway Tips


Author: Cynthia Spillman was CEO of The International Dating Academy, a one-stop dating shop for people who wished to improve their dating skills. Her area of expertise is in mindful relationships for the mature person. Her second book, 'From Dinner Date to Soulmate', is a witty and empowering route map for older women searching for love.

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