At 41, I Can’t Make A Relationship Last

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I’m a 41-year-old heterosexual male and have been single most of my life. My relationship experience boils down to many situationships, and one serious relationship that led to a year of living with someone. That ended badly because she was a narcissist.

That relationship was six years ago, and I wasn’t truly in love with her, just worn out from the trials of online dating.

I have been in love four times in my life. In each of those instances, the woman ended the relationship. They all had the same reason: lack of connection (according to them). In most cases, we both wanted the same things and enjoyed the same activities. There was never a dull moment or reason to self-reflect, so I was surprised when these relationships ended. Is there a blind spot here? Am I missing some important part of interpersonal relationships?

It generally takes these women four to five dates to make their decision, but … whatever happened to letting the love grow with time? In the stretch of time between these situationships, I sit on the apps, and boy does it take a long time to find someone I could see myself with. Its exhausting and frustrating. Many matches on the apps never lead to anything.

I try to counteract my loneliness with activities like hiking, and I also love to travel a lot. I fill my calendar with trips. While I enjoy these experiences, I always wish I could share them with somebody else.

Friends and family do not provide me any comfort, as I feel they do not understand me. Meeting people is not enjoyable either. I find myself disliking many of them. You could say I have been seeking a relationship for 20 years and have been deprived of it because no one gives me a chance. What else can I do?

– 41


I’m interested in the friendship part of this. You don’t need a massive pack of friends, but I do believe it’s important to have a few people you trust who offer a different kind of intimacy.

Have you ever had a good friend? Would it be possible to reconnect with someone you liked when you were younger? I say this because even if you meet someone wonderful for romance, they can’t be everything to you. Breakups feel a bit less intense when you know you have people in your life who keep showing up, no matter what.

Friends can also help you learn to read the room. I can’t begin to guess how you come off to a prospective partner because I’ve never met you. But an old friend, maybe someone you can reconnect with by phone or in person, can tell you things about yourself you can’t see on your own.

Also, there’s friendship involved in most long-term romantic relationships. I believe that healthy (and fun) platonic bonds – even one or two – can help you become a better partner.

My advice is to work on that – to give people a chance, as friends, the way you wish women gave you a chance when dating. So many people like hiking. At the very least, you can go with a group and do a little bit of talking – and listening – along the way.

Also remember that many people write in about having a zillion first to third dates, but no meaningful relationships. We get a lot of dating fatigue letters. That means there are women out there who are like, “Ugh, why don’t people give me a chance?” You just haven’t met the right ones yet.

Keep at it (I know it’s difficult). The friend goal might result in some personal growth. Also, group activities – the kind where you travel with strangers – might be annoying, but helpful. Focus on all kinds of connections, and you might find one you like. At the very least, it’s practice – and something to do.

– Meredith

Readers? How can this LW change this pattern? Is this just how it goes with dating sometimes?

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