“Ask a Priest: Single at 44 – Have I Missed the Boat?”

Q:  I am a single, Catholic, 44-year-old female. I have never been married and do not have children. I spent the better part of my life being overweight and as a result was seldom asked out. During the past two years with the help of a dietician I managed to slim down and would like to try dating. Unfortunately, so far things are not going well. Most people my age are already married. Other difficulties include that fact that many of the activities geared toward older singles revolve around the “bar scene,” and I am not that type of person. My beloved mother passed away a few years ago, and my remaining relatives are not sympathetic to my situation. To them I am simply an old maid who “missed the boat” and should be satisfied with activities like volunteer work to fill the hours not spent at my job. It is seems unfair to me that a person should be written off simply because they didn’t get married at a fairly young age and start a family. Surely there must be someone out there would enjoy the company of an intelligent, kindhearted woman who loves reading, movies, visiting museums, classical music and is a good cook. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions you might have to help me in my quest to meet someone special. – L.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I am sorry to hear about your situation. It must be very difficult to feel alone and “written off.”

Jesus certainly doesn’t write you off. Nor does the Church. You are a beloved daughter of God, for whom Our Lord shed his blood. So it’s good to remember that there is a Man who loves you deeply. Your relatives’ opinion doesn’t match Our Lord’s.

So where do you go from here?

First, it needs to be said that there are no guarantees of what lies ahead. You and I can’t foresee the future.

What you do have a handle on, though, is the present. You have a heart that is made to love and to be loved. At least for now you have control over half of that equation. You can love others now, through your prayers and acts of charity.

You mention your relatives and their suggestion about volunteer work. That is an idea worth revisiting. Getting involved in some kind of charitable work could have a lot of benefits.

First, it can help give you a sense of purpose. Your 9-to-5 work need not be your whole life. Volunteer would give you the chance to use your heart and reach out to others. You would see the struggles of other people, which could help put your own sufferings in perspective.

Also, it would increase your chances of meeting other good people, who could give you a network of support. It would certainly be a healthy alternative to the bar scene.

A key benefit is that volunteer work would help you be pro-active. It would keep you from staying stuck in idle. And people who are pro-active and helping others can be – let’s say it – more attractive. And thus more likely to meet that special someone.

Again, there are no guarantees. A spouse is a gift from God. God might have the gift in store for you, but he also might have other gifts in store. In any case your getting involved in charitable works could give glory to God and help fill the void you feel.

(You might find two of my earlier postings helpful, What is a single person to do? and What if my best dates have been with non-Christians?)

It would be extremely helpful, too, to keep up a solid prayer and sacramental life. An occasional retreat might help, too. An online option is our Retreat Guides.

Stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary. You might also want to pray to a saint, such as St. Anne, for help in finding a husband if it is God’s will.

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