There was a time when I was just turning 30. I was freaked out. All my friends were getting married or were married already. Yet 90 percent of my relationships with men could all be summarized as crap by that point, minus a few gems. My longest relationship was an impressive three months long. I had failed at men and they had failed me. I picked jerks. I chased bachelors. I generally was one of those vulnerable young women riddled with horrific low self-esteem from acts of abuse from my teen years...who just didn't pick nice guys. I avoided them and any kind of serious intimacy like the plague until eventually, I met my ex-husband and he seemed so nice. And he was for a long time...until towards the end, when he wasn't.
Now as a late thirties divorced mom, I see and hear you almost 30-year-old ladies talking. You want to get married. You think no one is out there. You want families. You want love. And it has to come now. You're almost 30! Stop the press! Your clock is ticking. Your heart is aching. You wonder what it will take to meet "the one."
But I am here to tell you something important.
You are not old. You are beautiful, wonderful, and amazing all on your own without any man or woman, whatever your flavor, to validate that. You have every right to want a family, a dream...a white-picket fence, but for god sakes, stop scaring yourself.
You are not teeming on the edge of dementia. You have much to offer and much to hope for, and so much still to learn, see, and do. A partner will not be the pinnacle of your life. Your dreams and hopes are the cake you should eat. A partner is merely the icing at best, decorative cake flowers at the least on your happiness cake.
Don't rush into a marriage or hook-up with someone, just because you are 30 and freaking out.
Don't settle into a situation because you fear this is the best it is going to be. Don't sign on for life with someone just because you want so badly to be loved.
Don't believe that your time is up. It is just beginning. It's no secret that your thirties are often better than your twenties, and I am telling you that as a divorced woman.
I wanted so badly to be loved. When I met my ex-husband, he had just sailed out of a five year relationship. He too really wanted a family. The white picket fence dream. And he was so cute. And he liked me. He pursued me. He was normal, attentive, stable, employed, and not actively trying to get me into a threesome with one of his friends.
George, let out an A-P-B! We've got a husband here!
Did I mention that someone loved me? Me. The girl that men treated like a real-live Barbie-- a doll they could play with when bored and then stick back in my dreamhouse without me complaining?
I was so thrilled with my adorable, quiet and sweet guy. A few months later, we got engaged. Yes, I said a few months later. (Red flag, anyone?) My family was happy--they liked him--and also shocked. I hadn't seemed like the marriage type to them. I was so over the moon in hormones and love that a year later when we broke up (Where's that red flag again?)...and got back together again I wasn't thinking, "Oh maybe we don't belong together. Maybe he doesn't really love me for me. Maybe he can be very hurtful. Maybe we are each other's total opposite. Maybe we don't share each other's values and should move on as friends." I was in love and damnit, Laura Lifshitz was going to get married come hell or high water! And he didn't want to lose me yet either. He loved me he said.
Six years later and one child in when our marriage started to crumble due to many reasons, I hung on tight, gripping onto small beads of hope. That "almost 30-year-old" desperation was in my voice again so many years later.
What if I wasn't truly unhappy, but just having a life crisis? What if he was the one even though he didn't seem like the one? And then when I realized that I was truly very lonely, unloved, and unhappy it was another song and dance. What if I would die alone? What if I was making the biggest mistake of my life?
When we finally pulled the trigger after two separations, my ex-husband and I read the writing on the wall. As much as we both loved our daughter and had invested so much time in each other, we were utterly wrong for each other.
So what I say to you, you lovely, smart, ambitious, and charming Almost 30-Year Old Women: do not rush into marriage thinking it is the answer to all of life's riddles. It is wonderful, challenging, difficult, rewarding, and amazing when it is the right person. But if you rush into something out of fear, it is heart wrenching. It is soul-crushing.
You will find your dreamboat when he or she sails into your harbor on any given day. Just don't become single-focused. Travel. Love. Make friends. Pursue your dreams. Enjoy yourself. And I promise love will come into your life.
And you won't be 80 and in the elderly home in diapers when it happens. Least, I hope not.