I'm sitting here preparing to guest lecture in the Psychology of Aging course at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) and listening to Aaliyah's version of "At Your Best (You Are Love)", which has been on repeat. This song is definitely a 90's music favorite of mine. *singing, "At your best, you are love." When I'm the healthiest, I am love. I am capable of loving and receiving love. The only thing is, how do I approach the stumbling block that come when I'm trying to give/receive love?
My tolerance of nonsense has decreased as I've gotten older. I've learned my likes/dislikes as it relates to what I want from my significant other. I've also taken note of what I bring to the table and if nothing else, I know I'm hella dope (dope = cool), which took a long time for me to believe. However, even though I've learned all of these things, I'm still...S-I-N-G-L-E.
Society has trained us to have timeframes for finding someone, marrying that person, and then having kids. However, when we realize life does not follow our created timeframes, we develop a fear that our desires will never be met. We even get to a point where we believe our age becomes the determining factor of if our dreams of love will actually come true. Fearful that every year we turn older, the less likely we are to see our dreams come true.
Ageist Thoughts Towards Aging & Dating
Ageism can show up in any aspect of our life. So, it shouldn't be surprising when ageism pops up in the dating world. Think of how many ageist thoughts you've had as it relates to dating, especially if you're currently single. Thoughts like:
"Nobody wants someone as old as me."
"I'm too old to get back out there and try to meet new people."
"Since I haven't found anyone by now, I probably never will."
Like I said earlier, during this journey of singledom (I made that word up, juuuust go with it), I've learned a lot about myself. However, past experiences have taken me through several stages that I think we should discuss.
The Breakdown of "At Your Best" Lyrics
There are three stages I feel we all go through when we start considering the whole "putting ourselves out there" in the dating world. The Awkward stage, the Apprehension stage, the Available stage, and then recognizing that At Your Best, You Are Love.
1. The Awkward Stage:
"When I feel, what I feel sometimes it's hard to tell you so."
My favorite line to guys used to be "I'm super awkward. No, Like I'm suuuper awkward." Not realizing that part of my "awkwardness" was related to the fear of not being accepted. In aging, I'm sure we've all had a thought or two about the possibility that the person we are dating, or spending time with may not accept us for who we are. Being awkward made it difficult for me to effectively communicate with a guy, which made me want to give up all together and just be alone at times. However, it took years for me to recognize this issue could be resolved once I could accept myself versus being concerned about if others were accepting of me. I'm goofy. I laugh at everything. I have crazy, craaaaazy quirks. I'm cool with that.
What are some things that you accept about yourself?
2. The Apprehension Stage:
"You may not be in the mood to learn, what you think you know."
Ap-ri-hen-shuhn - anticipation of adversity or misfortune
Do you remember your first heart break, or the first time you were rejected by someone you were crushing on? I'm sure recovering from that took time and you were more than likely a little apprehensive to put yourself out there again. It's like falling off of a bicycle for the first time and fearing it will continue to happen if you ever ride again. In life we lose trust in people and things because of the hurtful experiences we've had. Whether you've been divorced, cheated on, a widow/widower, or rejected, please know that the stage of apprehension is, at times, inevitable.
Another layer of apprehension is of course the main reason for this post, which is your age. As we get older, some of our standards may change and things we once said we'd never accept have all of a sudden become something we overlook in a prospective boo. (There's nothing wrong with that, as long as it's not out of desperation) For some of us, we may say we'd never date someone 10 years younger/older. Then a lil' cutie comes around and he/she has everything you ever wanted. However, that apprehension could kick in when you and this individual go out on a date...in public...IN FRONT OF PEOPLE...and there's some form of evidence that there's an age difference. SO WHAT?! Don't let that stop you.
As always, society creates these images of what's considered "right/wrong" and we conform to it without even realizing. Don't allow your apprehension of potential backlash from society ruin something that could be a good thing. Do you and push through!
3. The Available Stage:
"There are times when I find you wanna keep yourself from me"
I've turned down a lot dates and that's nothing to brag about. I try to process my reasoning for doing that. At times I'm just super picky, not interested in who is inviting me out, and/or plain ol' not available. But, I thought you said you aren't in a relationship? You asked. I'm not, but I'm good at making myself unavailable because sometimes... it's just easier. My comfort zone. I'm sure we know that nothing good has ever come out of a comfort zone (I feel like I saw that quoted somewhere). At times, we are our biggest stumbling block!
A comfort zone will let you see the potential in someone, but still cause you to turn your head the other way. A comfort zone will let you notice how physically attractive someone is, but cause you to still say "nah" in your head. Getting out of your comfort zone can be one of THE most challenging things, but it's definitely worth doing!
What would you do if your comfort zone wasn't holding you back?
Also, with being available, if you're a homebody like me, you have to challenge yourself to get out more. Go to events, go out to eat by yourself or with friends, or go to the movies. The more you get out, the more you make yourself available to meeting new people. For those who may not be able to get out as often as you'd like, or who face mobility issues, don't forget the power of social media. I am a believer that social media is a great thing when used for healthy purposes. Online dating is always a great place to start, but don't limit that to your only source to meeting people.
At Your Best You Are L-O-V-E
I was recently asked if I was currently in a relationship and of course I responded with "no," but like I said earlier it's not because I don't have the desire. When I look back on past relationships, I see the unhealthy decisions I made. I see how I grew from those situations, as hurtful as that growth may have been. I'm not in a rush because when the time is right, then it will happen. I had to learn how to be the best version of myself and in that, I have been the positive motivating force within my life. Now, anyone who comes into my life and brings that same level of positive motivation, will be bonus!
Whether you're 26, 37, 49, or 79, continue to be your best self. Know that at the right time and the right place what you desire will come to pass. Keep in mind that in all things, there's some level of risk that one has to take to get what he/she wants. Think positive. Open your mind. Take. A. Chance. Put yourself out there again and see what comes back! Know the normal feelings of awkwardness, apprehension, and the difficulty of making yourself available will occur. You're going to be okaaaay though! Process.
Happy Valentine's Day!
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