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

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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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One Comment
  1. Hi there, first of all, 44 is not old at all! It is young in an age where people are living past 100! I think society has gotten into bad habits of ageism towards both the young and those older over 80. But gosh you are still young.

    First of all yes, the bar scene is not a good place to be when looking for a husband, usually the men there are not decent-minded. There might be some who are though but often it is not the ideal place to go. do you maybe go out to a bar with your friends? perhaps they know someone who is decent who would be suitable?

    the idea of some volunteering is good if you have a hobby or interest/skill that you could utilize for volunteering then it is a really lovely thing to do. I have always been very happy when doing volunteering even if it is for a short period of time you get to meet the most lovely kind-hearted people. You never know you might meet someone special there and if not you are bound to make some nice friends.

    Another suggestion is doing an evening class in something you have always wanted to study up on it could also give you the chance to meet someone with the same interests as you.

    Does your local church have any activities on (in normal times) ? sometimes there are social events you could go to and you never know there might be a nice man who belongs to the same Church parish as you.

    Where I am in the U.K there is a Catholic dating website. Now I always think that meeting a man in life such as through the volunteering and getting to know them as friends first is always the better option. Dating sites are not good as a lot of men on these sites have no morals when it comes to dating and love. But perhaps there is more of a chance of meeting a decent man through a Catholic website? Of course if you do go dating that way always tell friends where you are going etc until you get to know the man. Most Catholic dating websites will be actual decent Catholic men, but on maybe rare occasions there might be some who are not decent or not even Catholic on those sites so use common sense and always be careful. But it could be for you.

    Also there is nothing and I mean nothing in wrong in being single at all. Find happiness in yourself and with who you are and spend times with friends or make new friends volunteering etc. I would pray to God for him to pick the right man for you. Remember God’s timing is not your timing and he might find you the right man or he might have other plans for you. But when you are truly on God’s path of what he would want for you it is where you will be at your most peaceful and happy. It could be that if you were to marry you might not be happy and God might be saying no to a man for you, or it could be that God will help you find the right man in which you will be happy. Some people find their husband in their 50’s 60’s even 80’s.

    The most important thing is not to panic, try to accept how things are for you right at this moment, think what things you would like in your life such as volunteering, going to church not just on Sunday but maybe occasionally during the week? and maybe doing a part time leisure course or study course to help make your life more fruitful and happy.

    Sometimes taking some time out to read good books have a hot drink and look out of the window, or go for a walk near flowers and trees to look at God’s beautiful creation really helps us when we are feeling dissatisfied with life. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Life is a journey one step at a time.

    When you feel lonely remember you can take that moment to also pray to God and to talk to him. I always feel better when I pray and sometimes have a chat to him. I feel that I have spent some time with God and that is very special and lovely. Our Lady and Our Lord Jesus are always there to pray to too.

    I very much agree with praying to Our Lady, she is good to pray too to ask for strength and to feel peaceful.

    I really like the words the priest has said : “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.”

    This is so so true and how wonderful is that truth?
    Your relatives are maybe caught up in societies bad habits a bit. If they maybe looked at the way the Church sees people then they would not have said those things. We all sometimes get into the habits society has built for us. But look instead to what God has built for us, he has built us, pure love and it is a love that is there for us right now.

    Try and work on inward happiness and contentment and change some of the things in your life that are maybe not working for you. For example, are you going home and watching too much television? I know when I do that I personally start thinking eek I live in a small apartment argh I dont have that figure or that outfit. So I switch it off and think what programmes will make me happy to watch and how about I read a book instead. And plan a some time during the week to read even just a little of the bible . And then I realise wait! I actually like my tiny studio apartment: so I will tidy it up and make my home as comfortable as possible for not just myself but for when people will visit. Wait! God loves me just as I am: how can I try to be a better person? what can I do? You see there are things out there like the media and current society that make us unhappy we think we ought to have those things it promotes. But the things that the Church and God teaches us are much better for us because it is truth.

    I am pretty much a spinster although like you I think it might be nice to meet a nice gentleman. But at the same time there is nothing wrong with being a spinster. I enjoy my time alone (as I am introverted) and I think that I would have never gotten the time to compose music and sing if I was a wife. But still, it might be nice I have really asked God to deal with that and I will happily accept whatever answer he has in store for me. So I do not worry or fret about it. And if you really do want a husband still do not fret or worry be calm and if it is meant for you it will come in time.

    You sound like a lovely person with lots to offer the world. Walk the journey that God has for you , one step at a time.

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