Is It Harder Because I Am Older?

Is it harder because  I am older? Because I have never been the girl who had a guy? Or because I am a priest and the fear that I might not date anyone again haunts me? When my boyfriend and I broke up 7 months ago I was devastated. I told myself I was fine, but I wasn’t. I have always been the strong, independent type who was friends with the boys and played sports. Having a boyfriend never defined me, and never has it ever been something that I pined for or missed. Until now. It was a year-long relationship in a new town. Surprisingly, I had dated 2 guys for 6 months each back-to-back, then not too long later, I met this one.

It was not a perfect relationship…we were not completely right for each other. But he was sweet and basic and it was nice. Nice to know someone for a long time, to go through all the seasons and holidays with one person. Nice to actually not be the odd girl – the one without a guy. Nice to talk about “us” and say “we”.  And I think I got used to it. Part of me might have been settling for someone who was great, but not my soul-mate. But, gosh it was comfortable. It was great to be part of a couple. I wasn’t lonely.

So now, 7 months later, I don’t drive past his house for fear of seeing the new girl’s car. I make myself not Facebook stalk him. I want to delete the pictures I have on my computer, though someone tell me why a Macbook seems to keep pictures no matter how many times I put them in the trash bin? I actually sent the pictures of the boy and his grandparents to his dad because his grandparents are old and I was sad deleting them without someone having copies.

Why is this break-up so hard? Partly I know the answer is what’s above…it was nice. I like having someone care about me. I like grocery shopping with someone else in mind. I loved decorating my home for Christmas and knowing  someone would actually celebrate with me there.  And part of the answer is fear. What if I am single forever? I’m not boy-crazy, never have been. I went to seminary on my own. I just paid off my college loans. I bought a car and a house on my own. I can plant a plant, fix a door, make a fire, change a light bulb and write a sermon. Do I need a man?

Is that the real question though? I don’t know. I know this week when the passage on divorce comes up in our lectionary that lots of people will be preaching on marriage. I know my ring finger feels as empty as my house does on those days off when I haven’t planned to be away. I know I feel a tinge of pain when married people complain about their spouses and I wonder if they even remember being single.

So far I have been disappointed by love. I always seem to have a lot to give and no one to give it to. I never seem to feel like I get enough and can’t figure out how to request it. I have pets. I have a few friends in this new town. I have closer friends in other states so I call them. My best friend does have the knack of calling at just the right moment and reminding me I am loved and making me laugh. These little resurrections help keep me on track and not in the loony bin or on drugs. Ok that might be a slight exaggeration, but they help.

I can only hope that my life wasn’t meant to be lived alone. Until now, I’ve done a decent job of it by myself. But things are changing. I am in my 30’s and the idea of settling down doesn’t , as my friend says about having children, “make me want to vomit anymore.” It’s time for football Saturdays full of family and close friends. It’s time for sharing all that I have worked for. It’s time for another stocking on the mantel.

The Single Rev’s Guide to Life invites submissions on topics relevant to the lives of single clergywomen, be they pithy, poignant, or anything in between.  Please email articles to [email protected].

6 replies
  1. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    Thank you – I feel so much the same. I have been a priest for three years now – and a single for three years and a month. Maybe not everyone is supposed to be two in the end…

  2. Elsa
    Elsa says:

    This makes me want to cry though I have no tears left after a relationship (very similar to the one you describe) ended only a month ago. And I gotta say, every single church member has recently commented about how I have so much to give and they hope I find someone who deserves it. It makes my heart hurt more.

  3. Amy
    Amy says:

    Thanks indeed for your vulnerability and honesty. I’ll join the chorus of single women who’ve had recent romantic disappointments and say how much I identify with the longings and the frustration of feeling that longing when you’re a “smart, independent woman.”
    And well meaning parishoners… how don’t they know that when they say things like “you’re so amazing, of course there’s someone out there for you,” it doesn’t actually help?
    This is why those “little resurrections” (a phrase so beautifully appropriate) get me through it all.

  4. Should we start a club?
    Should we start a club? says:

    I’ve always been quite independent and enjoyed my friendships so much I never though twice about not going on a single date in my 20’s…and I turn 30 this year.
    Occasionally I wonder what future churches will think of me if I’m still single in my 30’s and 40’s (and beyond?). Right now my first parish probably thinks I’m younger than I am since I have a young face, and it is a big church so they don’t get involved in my dating life (or lack there-of…) but what about a smaller church in the future? Will people not come for marriage counseling because I’ve never been married? What will a life-time of preaching wedding sermons be like if that isn’t something in store for me? Is this my own insecurity and desire for a partner or simply one more thing I think my church expects of me?

  5. Asa
    Asa says:

    I’m only 25 so I’m not quite ready to settle down just yet but, I know some day I absolutely want to settle down. But even right now I can’t get past the “so what do you do?” question. God put the desire in my heart to share my life with another person; just some days I wonder if God forgot to put my other person here on earth. Thanks for your article.

  6. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I got dumped by a man Saturday at a family wedding. While I miss him, I think I miss the hopefulness that he might make me a “we” more. And I did delete the pictures from the Mac.


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