It’s hard to find love when you’re a work in progress

Are you having a feeling?

Send your own dating/single/relationship/marriage questions to [email protected] or fill out this form, please. 

Dear Meredith,

I'm scared to write this letter, but I'm also at the end of my rope. I'm a middle-aged single woman who hasn't aged well physically. It's not just my body; it's also the fact that I’m losing my hair and other changes to my appearance that seem to be age-related and biological.

I have a lot to offer someone. I'm smart, educated, have a good job, have hobbies and friends and a good sense of humor. But I can't attract anyone's attention on a dating site, and never seem to attract anyone romantically in real life either. I don't have any family that's still alive, and friends and hobbies only go so far in filling the gaping hole in my heart. I have tried for years to get myself to lose weight as a starting point, but my overeating is tied directly in with my self-esteem issues and nighttime emptiness and I just don't have the motivation to do it with things as they are. Please don't tell me to get therapy. I've been trying for over a year and am on a million wait lists but no one is taking new patients. I just keep thinking that I can't be the only sad-with-potential middle-aged work in progress … but where can I meet other people like me? I know they're not on the dating sites because they aren't attracting attention either.

- Hopelessly hopeless

I'm sorry about this shortage of opportunities for therapy. I am finishing a story about this very issue – how empty it can be to recommend therapy when I know most therapists have waitlists miles long because of COVID, etc. I will say that there are group therapy options. I've interviewed a ton of therapists for the story (publishing soon, I swear), and some say that group work should not be overlooked. Also, your doctor might be able to help find you some specialists to deal with other issues.

But aside from that, let's think about where works-in-progress ... make progress. They switch up their hobbies. They take classes. They play pickle ball. (I don't really understand what pickle ball is, but it's been recommended to me by many people over the last six weeks, and all of those people were 50s and older.) You have a very full life right now, but I don't know how much of it exposes you to new things and people. Scenery changes are good.

Also, have a friend help with your app profile. Maybe you need to switch up your pics. Sometimes the app experience is better with a support system.

I do wish you weren't feeling a "gaping hole in your heart" because of your singleness. The right romantic relationship could be lovely, but it's not everything. Maybe there’s a long-term project that can hold your attention and give you real accomplishments to look forward to. That would certainly give you plenty to talk about if you wound up on a date.

– Meredith

Readers? How to you date as a work-in-progress?