Titas of Manila: 40 and 'looking for someone to love'
Actively Dating. Looking for someone to love.
In the last edition of a 3-part series, one of the 3 women that I interviewed, Jade* was the one who was the most introspective. She’s given a lot of thought to the realities of being single and unmarried in your 40s. “I’m really glad you’re writing about this. The younger women should know what it’s like,” she said. (READ: Titas of Manila: Single and in your 40s)
Some context: Jade’s life is picture – no, let me rephrase that to language that is more appropriate to this tech age – IG perfect. Her life is filled with travel and because of her love of extreme sports and adventure. She’s at the pinnacle of her career and has built a nest egg of financial security.
“If I were to make more money, at this point, it wouldn’t make me any happier. I’m okay."
She’s at the top of her game and says with the barefaced honesty of a self-assured and self-made woman, “I have never looked better in my life.”
Jade shared some of the self-actualized truths that have come out of her introspection.
Self-actualized truth #1: "Love will just come" is a myth
Jade is actively trying to date. She emphasized “trying” because the biggest hurdle right now for her is not finding someone to date but an appropriate match.
“My dating range is mid-30s to 50. That’s pretty wide, but bulk of who you will meet in that age are either in a serious relationship or married, single but recently separated or just got out of a serious relationship. They are not open to something serious.”
This already makes for very shallow dating pool of options, and then you have to consider other factors like shared values and general compatibility.
But Jade is making an effort to put herself out there, telling me the first half-truth that she says needs re-calibration. “People always say, ‘Darating na lang yan’ (Love will come).”
In her 20s, Jade bought into this axiom. She spent most of her time on friends and building her career. “Yun darating na lang yan, isn’t true for everyone. You have to put in the time to meet people. It was effortless to meet people in my 20s, now it requires effort. The advice "be yourself" is misleading. You need to adapt when you’re trying to attract someone or dating someone you like. Still be yourself but put another layer on top of it.”
Online dating apps are her main platform for meeting people but she has found that it’s more fun when abroad. “When I go abroad, there’s an abundance of options. I can date multiple people in a day and we’re talking about profiles of really smart decent guys.”
Turning her geo-tag back to the Philippines is a reality check. “I think there’s still a stigma to online dating. There’s a connotation that you’re desperate or looking for something casual so many people here are looking for a hook-up. It’s very different from 'let’s date and see where it goes.'”
That point made for a good segue to sex and what it’s been like. “Generally, sex is expected to happen earlier because we’re in our 40s and sex is a natural component of a relationship. You’re also more secure about yourself and this translates to the bedroom. You’re open to experiment and ask for what you want.”
She added that if you’re dating someone older, sex is less important. “Maybe because their sex drive is lower,” she laughed.
Sex, intimacy and how soon you should have it, the fear of attachment are issues that women of all ages wrestle with. “Deciding to get intimate with someone you’re not in a relationship does not mean you’re easy. It’s really up to you. You have to know when you’re ready.”
Self-actualized truth #2: Life is a mixed bag
It is only the physical number of age that makes Jade feel old. “I’m 44 and when I think about that, I think: Where has the time gone?”
On one hand, she has accomplished so much. It’s a life that is beyond what she ever imagined for herself. On the other, when she hears that her friends are already celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary, she sometimes thinks she’s fallen behind.
“I missed out on some things, but it allowed me to focus on other things. This is true up to now. I look so much fitter and younger than people my age. That’s because I have the time and resources to devote to self-pampering and going to the gym. My married friends crave more ‘me’ time. Life is a mixed bag.”
Self-actualized truth #3: Age is just a number
Most of the men Jade has gone out with are younger than her, some a decade younger. “I find that men now are attracted to physical attractiveness and personality rather than fixating on age. For me, that’s great.”
The drawback, as with any relationship, are the more detailed filters like life stage and if what you two want at this point in life align. “The dating pool is simply smaller so you need to exert effort to find appropriate men to date. But they are out there.”
Self-actualized truth #4: Some relationships really have an expiration date and that’s okay
Like many people, Jade was fixated on finding The One. “We’re conditioned for that. If he’s not The One, you immediately discount them. I’m more open to meeting people. Maybe he will be someone that I will date just for a while and that’s okay. Just try because you don’t know how this will turn out. People come into our life for a reason, season, or lifetime and that’s all okay.”
Self-actualized truth #5: Be open, everything is a learning experience
Jade had imagined that she would be married and have kids by the time she was in her 40s. Reality is different. Perspective is everything in terms of softening what could be the rough edges.
“You will have a vision of what you want in terms of career, dating and relationships. Sometimes when you’re actually there, you will realize it’s not what you want. You have to be flexible and open to what reality will bring.”
For instance, Jade wanted to have kids and at one point, seriously considered having them even without a co-parent. She’s pulled back from that a bit, mostly because there are young kids in her family who fulfill her maternal instinct to care for others. She’s also taking care of her parents – a responsibility that she welcomes.
“Being the single one in the family and a girl means that taking care of your parents will likely fall on you. It was unsettling at first to live with other people again, but I don’t mind. My folks and I are at stage where we enjoy each other’s company.”
Perspective also means adapting to life’s realities and swinging with its unpredictable punches.
“Take the time to think and be honest with yourself. If this is not the future you want – being single in your 40s – you have to make the time to meet new people and date. Put the time into building relationships. For me, some relationships caused me pain. Some made me feel good. There was bad sex and amazing sex. Everything is a learning experience. If in the end, I don’t meet anybody, I’Il know I really tried. I made the effort.” – Rappler.com
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