I was 39 when I got married. I did not have a kid till I was 40. At 35, I was like, do I even want kids? You know why I did not know? Because I was not in love. A lot of times we try to shelter our self – women are bad about this.
There are different things you can do to figure out what you want in life. Make a vision board or talk about those feelings with people who already have what you are looking for. Get your needs met by playing with a niece and nephew. Find fulfillment until or if those moments happen for you. Maybe it is hanging out with a guy that you dated once that just became your friend because you are just lonely. Everything is not meant to be forever. You can also try drafting up your relationship history: Write down every person you have ever dated, why you think you were attracted to them at that point in your life, why you think you broke up and why he or she would say you broke up. Then write down your parents’ history. What attracted them to each other? If they broke up, what were the circumstances of why they broke up from each vantage point? You need to understand what you are looking for at each point in your life.
For people that are planners, I would say write down your goal and then write down the emotion of the goals. I want to be a young mother. If the goal is “I want to have 2 kids by the time I’m 35,” you need to ask yourself why. It could be because your mom told you that you should, or because your sister did it. But why else? Because you are lonely? And then why else? Because you do not have any aspirations? You have to keep writing it out until you get to the reason. Ask other people probing questions like, “What do you think are my attributes? What do you think is fun about me? What was your first impression of me?” Do not take yourself too seriously. You might need to have a moment with a random. I would say do not put yourself in a box. Everything has got a season. If you want a wild month, just tell yourself, “I’m going to take this off my to-do list this month and I’m going to quit worrying about forever.” Sometimes we focus so much on what we want that we can’t enjoy the here and now.
Another one of the ways to getting what you want is to assemble a friend council, not of girl friends, but of different people that have different roles.
- The mentor. Someone whose marriage or relationship your truly respect and want to emulate. Take the time to sit down and ask them questions. “How did you know this person was the one?” or “What did you have to do along your journey? What did it look like?”
- The guru. The friend that tells you “nope, don’t do that” and gives you a couple of things to do to go out there and make it happen.
- The one who tells you like it is. The friend that tells you when an outfit makes you look pregnant or you are acting crazy.
- The fun friend. Someone you can call up whenever and they will go and have fun with you.
- The listener. Someone who will listen to you moan and ruminate about your dating life and just sit there paying attention.
When it comes to dating apps, you have to slow down ask yourself your intentions on these apps. Are you bored on a Friday night, looking for entertainment and looking for someone to talk to your friends about? Or do you really want to meet someone. If your intention is just to have fun, then take it for what it is. If you are truly looking to date during quarantine, treat it like a real date. Maybe chat on the phone the first couple of times to understand what you are looking for. Prepare for the date like you would normally — get dressed up, think of the things you would like to talk about and share. If you are not okay emotionally, quarantine probably is not the best time for you to try to date.
But if dating apps are not working for you try writing down your core values, what you are looking for and do one thing that is different in your routine every week. [Pre-lockdown], I would either go to a new gym, a cookout with someone from work or a painting class. I would do something that made me feel good but different. If you are going to the same wing factory and movie theater every week, you are not going to meet your dude.
If you are afraid of putting yourself out there, note that identifying that fear is pretty strong. Fear is just lack of action. We get kind of paralyzed in “I’m going to stay in this relationship because I’m afraid if I don’t, I’ll be alone forever” or “I’m going to stay single because I don’t want to feel how he made me feel.” The only way to get past that is to do the work. It does not have to been 10 years of psychotherapy. It is about identifying your triggers, your boundaries and the narrative that plays in your life. You could have all the confidence in the world, have a great body, job and still be tearing yourself up mentally and that is where you really have to do the work. Defining relationships often change our trajectory and get us closer to what we really need. You have to have the guts to get out there.
The reality is if someone is hot, and you have great sex, once you have hung out with them, had kids with them and you are well into the relationship the thing that’s going to keep you there is how they make you feel. I don’t mean loved but I mean do they make you feel like you can go after your dreams. Do they empower you? There is weak love and strong love. Does this person make you feel weak or strong? It is real basic. When you feel strong you feel seen, heard, accepted, empowered, free to dream and are full of life. When you are in a weak situation you anger easily, keep stuff to yourself, do not show who you really are and are constantly trying to contort yourself.
I think, if anything, now is the time more than any other time in your life to self-reflect and learn because it is so valuable. You know what is holding you back. You might not be able to say it in a sentence, but you know a little bit about what’s stopping you from getting what you want. Take a swim in that pond for enough time.
Remember that timing is always perfect – it just may not be the timing we set for ourselves. When you are supposed to meet that person and procreate or get married, you will do it and you will not question it.
Denna Babul is a relationship expert, the Founder of the Fatherless Daughter Movement and author of “Love Strong,” where she uses her years of experience as a relationship coach—and her personal experience—to give women with relationship dilemmas a guide to taking their power back.