Q: Hello there,
I am a 40-year-old single woman. My career is solid and I have a small circle of great friends. I have a house and fun interests.
I had a few 4-plus year relationships in my 20s and early 30s. Spent the later part of the 30s trying desperately to date and find a partner (male). I'm not looking for kids, so I don't feel the pressure.
The last few years I've been more of a loner -- I just don't want to date anymore. Why even try when I can either stay home without hassle or hang with friends? I try to online date every once in a while -- either the guys go sleazy within two emails or things fizzle for some odd reason. I don't go to the bars enough. I'm often hiking/running, but I'm on the reserved side, so I probably don't put off the flirty/single vibe. I'm all for flirting, but not with strangers. And at 40 it seems tough to know who is single and looking, and I certainly don't want the unavailable.
I would really like to ignite the spark/desire/energies to date. I've lost all recognition of love and lust, and don't think the search is worth it anymore. At the same time, I don't want to end up alone for the rest of my life. Do you have any suggestions for this dilemma? Readers? (But go easy, please.)
There's nothing super wrong with me, but I do know that I'm not perfect. On the outside I'm slim-enough, pretty-enough, with enough style and sense. Inside, Iím probably reserved, too independent, and internalize things too much. But nothing I haven't been working on fixing.
– Apathetic Spinster, Cambridge
A: You might be sick of dating, but you're not apathetic about being single, AS. You understand what you're missing and want to do something about it. You just need balance.
My guess is that you're still exhausted from those desperate years in your late 30s. The boyfriend hunt took over your life and you just don't want to return to that period of urgency. So don't.
Continue the online dating, force yourself to RSVP to events that put you in new circles of people, and remind your close friends that you're still looking to meet someone nice. But don't turn the search into a full-time project. Again, whatever you did in your late 30s sounds overwhelming. This is all about your state of mind and how you perceive the process.
Also remember that you've spent much of your life in relationships, which means you attract people and are capable of feeling sparks. You've been in a rut for a half a decade or so, but some people spent their entire 20s going on random dates here and there and hating the bar scene. Many of those people truly believed that if they didn't find someone by 30, they'd be alone forever. They thought the process was worthless. They were wrong. Same goes for 40.
The hunt is worth it -- just don't let it take over. Easier said than done, I know, but that's the trick.
Readers? Is she really apathetic? Is this just dating fatigue? How can she reboot so that she can date again? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.