I thought I’d be in another relationship by now

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I got divorced about six years ago. Since then, I haven't dated, had sex (or even kissed a man), or had a relationship of any kind. I am a mother to three children and I have a busy job. I'm 47. My job is part of the issue – I hate the idea of putting my face on dating websites.

I have met a couple of men, however, through that method, and it's never really proceeded beyond first dates. One guy sent me unsolicited pics. That was kind of a funny/extreme story to tell people, I suppose. I declined his kind offers. I've found the entire process totally demoralizing.

I am perfectly cool with meeting strangers. I'm not an awkward or a weird person, but whatever vibe I'm giving off, they're not interested. The worst part is that I don't find a lot of these men very attractive, but I've tried to be positive and friendly, and then when I get rejected by them, and I don't even think they are super-amazing, it really knocks me around.

I've found men don't approach you in real life because of the apps. I think there definitely must be something wrong with me. In fact, my ex-husband said that to me at the height of our divorce – "nobody will ever want you." I was indignant and was sure that would not be the case. But it is the case, and it seems he was right. Strangely, a big part of why we divorced was that I was so desperate to find love and someone who cared for me. I was so hopeful this could still occur and that I hadn't ran out of time, but I fear I have. It wounds me a good deal, as I don’t have a close family. My whole life I've secretly dreamed of finding someone who would care for me. I don't really see my life changing. How do I make peace with this?

– Alone


I hope you've talked to a professional about why you got divorced and how you were affected by the end of your marriage. Your ex said a terrible thing and now it's stuck in your brain. If you haven't thought about counseling, please consider it. It's a good way to get perspective, especially when you begin to believe absolutes. Words like "always" and "never" aren't helpful in your situation. A therapist might be able to filter those words out of the narrative and help you get some clarity.

I'm sorry you received unsolicited pics. I do think there are good people on apps. If one app doesn't work, you can move on to the next. Swiping can be grueling and can contribute to that feeling of hopelessness, but if you set a limit on how often you participate, the stakes might feel lower. I can assure you that post-quarantine, there are going to be more people on these apps. Maybe they'll have a better sense of what they're looking for. I am guilty of making many glass-half-full assumptions about post-lockdown life. It's just that I've heard from so many people who want to do better when it comes to looking for (and maintaining) a relationship. I'm very optimistic.

Just so you know, many single parents can tell you that six years go by in a blip. Three kids and work keep you busy. I’m not surprised your love life hasn't been the main event. But you haven't run out of time. In fact, as your life progresses, you might find that you have more time to spare. There's no deadline for finding a partner. I know you want one now, but you can't control timing.

– Meredith

Readers? Is six years of singleness unusual for a busy single parent? How can the LW get perspective?