I'm 40 and Still Single. Why Don't the Men I like Ever Fancy Me?

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Byline: Breathes there a man with soul so dead Who never to himself has said, This is my own, my native land! BEL MOONEY Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) www.dailymail.co.uk/belmooney

DEAR BEL I'M NEARLY 40 and not the most confident of people and it just seems to me that what comes easily to others, having partners, babies, money, a good job, etc, doesn't come easily for me.

Three friends recently announced that they and their partners were expecting babies, and although I'm very happy for them, I am also jealous as I feel it's never going to happen to me.

If I was younger, it wouldn't bother me, but my age and the fact that I've never had a boyfriend makes me feel that it never will happen. I've been in tears ever since I heard their 'happy news' and am in tears now writing this.

As I haven't got much of a social life, it's probably my fault as well. But in the instances when I do go out, I'm not the one that men are attracted to, which makes me feel even worse.

Plus, my shyness probably makes me look 'stuck up' or aloof, when that isn't the case. I'm on so many dating sites but cannot afford the full membership on them all (or a few) to access all the features.

On the few times that I have had full membership, most of the men who sent me messages weren't men that I was attracted to. And those who I did like the look of and emailed either ignored me or stopped contacting me after a few messages, which does nothing for my lack of confidence.

I've even had men over 50 (one was 65 years old) contacting me. I don't want someone that old and think them disgusting to even think that I would.

I just wonder what's wrong with me, and why can't I find someone to be with and to have a family with, when others seem to manage just fine? An ex-colleague met her fiance, who was a customer, at work. Do you think it'll ever happen for me? Have I missed the boat at my age? What am I doing wrong? MILLY THE build-up of questions at the end of your email combined with its general over-anxious tone lead me to the conclusion that you're in a state of abject panic.

That's why the first thing you have to do is learn how to relax. Unless you do, none of the things you dream of will happen.

Before I say anything about internet dating or joining clubs (the advice columnist's staple!), I counsel you to take some deep breaths and think about how you can develop who you are.

You might like to look at a useful website set up by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (rcpsych.ac.uk) and click on 'Shyness and social phobia' on the left-hand list. Just seeing if their criteria apply to you may be interesting, and while I don't approve of 'medicalising' conditions like shyness, I do think you can pick up tips about ways of managing.

Then you must learn to live in the present. Make a point of noticing something special or beautiful each day -- and contemplate it. Keep a happiness journal with these things noted. Cook properly. Meditate. Do anything to help the slowing-down process. That's what it's about. …