Are you still single at 40? Me too.
It’s no secret that being single at 40 can feel much harder than being single at 30 or 20. It’s easy to worry that the older you get, the less likely you are to meet someone.
You can wonder to yourself, why isn’t it happening for me when other people seem to have successfully found love and settled down. You may even start to panic that there is something wrong with you.
But there are plenty of reasons why you would find yourself still single at 40, many of which are actually a good thing (no, really!)
Here are 10 possible reasons why you’re still single and how to change it if you want to.
10 reasons why you’re still single at 40
1) You have unrealistic expectations
Most of us carry some unrealistic expectations around love and romance. Blame the fairytales we grew up on and the Hollywood portrayal of love in the movies.
We think that finding Mr or Mrs. Right should be effortless and that we should fall head over heels for our soulmate. But this just doesn’t happen in real life.
This very idea of the “perfect match” or “the one” can be incredibly detrimental to your search for a fulfilling partnership.
It neglects the fact that real love takes effort. Everything doesn’t magically fall into place as soon as you meet the “right” person.
The less glamorous truth is that real-life relationships are a choice. You decide that you want this person in your life and you put in the work required to make it happen.
If this sounds like a very unromantic assessment, it isn’t intended to be. It’s not that love isn’t powerful and enriching. It’s more to say that expecting too much out of love can set you up for failure from the start.
If you expect fireworks, rom-com adventures, and ‘happily ever afters’ from your romantic encounters, you are ultimately setting yourself up for disappointment.
The problem with fantasizing about your dream love is that any real human being is likely to measure up short.
Try to be mindful of when you are letting pickiness get in the way of creating genuine connections.
Ditch the unrealistic checklist or the image you have crafted of the perfect partner. Instead, focus on the core fundamentals which really matter to you.
Do you share the same values? Do you want the same things? These are far more important than shallow or surface things you think you are looking for. Work out what matters most to you, and what is less significant.
Recognize that love and relationships will always involve some compromise. Being too picky or judgemental is going to push people away. Nobody is perfect, so don’t expect it of anybody.
2) You’re stuck in a rut
Is it hard to find love after 40? Absolutely not, but at the same time, it can feel trickier if lifestyle factors are at play.
It’s sometimes the case that the older we get, the more fixed into a certain routine or way of doing things we become.
It might be that you are feeling more isolated at 40 than you felt at 20. Your daily routine may be way more stable. You may become less prepared to change the older you get.
This can all contribute to making it harder to meet someone new.
I saw a funny meme that summed this up perfectly:
“Single at 25: I have to go out and meet someone.
Single at 40: If it’s meant to be, the right person will find me in my home.”
I found this pretty hilarious and also felt pretty called out too.
There isn’t a recipe for love, and it can strike at any time, place, and age. But unless you’re planning on falling for your takeaway delivery driver, then you probably have to make sure you’re still putting yourself into situations that help you to meet someone new.
Going to the same job you’ve worked at for years, coming home, and not doing much else can create a rut in your life that keeps you single, even when you want to meet someone.
To break free of these habits, you need to take stock of where you are now. What are the things that could be holding you back?
What do you feel stagnant about? Is there something you could let go of that would help you move forward? Or something you could introduce into your life to shake up your routine a little?
Take some time to reflect on how you spend your day. Are you spending too much time alone? Are you sticking to the same old routine day in and day out?
If so, it could be time to shake things up a little. Try something new. That could be joining a gym, starting a new hobby, taking a course, making more of an effort to socialize, and putting yourself out there.
It’s less about hanging out in bars in the hope of meeting someone (although that can work too). But it’s more about being prepared to embrace some change that will clear out any stagnant energy that could be holding you back.
3) You won’t settle for less than you deserve
Like I said in the intro, there are reasons why being single at 40 is a really good sign. Far from it meaning there is something wrong with you, it can reflect the absolute opposite.
The reality is that there are plenty of people out there who are currently in unfulfilling, unhappy, or downright toxic relationships because they are so scared of being alone.
They’d rather put up with a bad relationship than have no relationship at all.
Being single at 40 can show that you are not one of those people. You aren’t prepared to put up with the pain and problems of a relationship that does not work.
Maybe you’ve had long-term relationships in the past, but for whatever reason, they just didn’t work out.
Rather than this being a “failure”, it can also be a sign of healthy self-esteem where you are not prepared to sell yourself short and accept less than you know you deserve.
There is a difference between being too picky or too demanding and not being prepared to continue with a relationship that doesn’t work. The latter is what we should strive for.
You don’t have to, and shouldn’t, settle for anything less than you deserve. That’s why the solution isn’t something you particularly need to do, it’s more of a switch in mindset.
Realize that a heck of a lot of people out there who are settled down, married or in long-term relationships are far from being #couplegoals. You don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. The grass most certainly isn’t always greener and plenty of people would give anything to be free and single again.
You are prepared to show patience in waiting for the right type of relationship to come your way. But when it does, it will be all the stronger for the healthy boundaries you have set.
4) You haven’t worked through issues that keep coming back up
Do you feel like you’re continuously repeating the same sorts of mistakes in your relationships?
Maybe it’s that you end up with the wrong people and find yourself pulled towards unhealthy attractions. Perhaps certain defense mechanisms seem to kick in every time someone gets too close and your self-sabotaging patterns mess things up.
Unresolved issues, insecurities, traumas, self-limiting beliefs and baggage that we haven’t dealt with can keep returning to derail our relationships.
We may think we’ve moved on, but we haven’t. We might think we’re over it, but we’re still carrying around unresolved emotions and feelings. And if we don’t deal with them, they’ll always return to haunt us.
It’s important to realize that these issues are part of our personal history. They are not “bad” per se, but they are part of who we are as human beings. And until we address them head-on, they will keep popping up again and again.
There are many different types of therapy designed to help you identify and change the underlying beliefs and behaviors that might be keeping you stuck.
They teach you how to better manage your emotions and thoughts so that you can make healthier decisions about your love life.
Have you ever asked yourself why love is so hard? Why can’t it be how you imagined growing up? Or at least make some sense…
When you’re dealing with still being single at 40 it’s easy to become frustrated and even feel helpless. You may even be tempted to throw in the towel and give up on love.
I want to suggest doing something different.
The world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê teaches that the way to find love and intimacy is not what we have been culturally conditioned to believe.
In fact, many of us self-sabotage and trick ourselves for years, getting in the way of meeting a partner who can truly fulfill us.
As Rudá explains in this mind blowing free video, many of us chase love in a toxic way that ends up stabbing us in the back.
We get stuck in awful relationships or empty encounters, never really finding what we’re looking for and continuing to feel horrible about things like being single.
We fall in love with an ideal version of someone instead of the real person.
We try to “fix” our partners and end up destroying relationships.
We try to find someone who “completes” us, only to fall apart with them next to us and feel twice as bad.
But Rudá’s teachings offer a whole new perspective and give you an actual practical solution.
If you’re done with unsatisfying dating, empty hookups, frustrating relationships, and having your hopes dashed over and over, then this is a message you need to hear.
5) You prioritized other things in life
Life is a collection of decisions and choices. Each slowly and silently slot together to create a picture of how our life looks today.
It’s common to want it all. And whilst you totally can have a balanced life that feels fulfilling in all areas, it’s important to recognize your own priorities.
Your priorities aren’t wrong or right, they’re unique.
It may be that you prioritized your career. You may have prioritized a life of adventure or travel. You could even have prioritized another person, such as raising your child as a single parent or caring for a family member.
Personally, whilst all my friends were settling down I went skipping around the world seeing new places and moving every few months. I strongly suspect this has at least contributed to me being single. But I’ve also had a total blast over the last 10 years and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hindsight or feeling like the grass is greener on the other side may now create some sense of regret for you. But I think it’s important that we remember what we have gained from the choices we did make.
Importantly, recognize that it’s ever too late to travel down another path or shift your priorities.
Choosing to focus on other things up until now doesn’t mean you’ve “missed out” on anything. Be grateful and acknowledge what you already have and where your decisions have led you.
If you are happy with your current priorities then accept that for you, love may come further down the list. That’s perfectly ok.
If you aren’t happy with your current relationship status then maybe it’s time to shift your priorities to reflect that you want to create more room for love in your life now.
6) You aren’t emotionally available
Falling in love doesn’t just feel wonderful. For plenty of people, it also creates anxiety along with fears of rejection and fear of potential loss.
Being emotionally unavailable means you may have persistent difficulty handling emotions or getting emotionally close to other people.
If it feels too uncomfortable to let someone in then you avoid doing so — whether it is conscious or unconscious.
You don’t want to allow yourself to get hurt. But as a consequence, you also don’t experience the joy of deeper connection.
You may say you want a relationship, yet at the same time push against it. As author Robert Firestone, Ph.D put’s it:
“An unavoidable truth about human beings is that very often the beloved is compelled to punish the lover who appreciates and acknowledges his or her positive qualities. When people have been hurt in their earliest relationships, they fear being hurt again and are reluctant to take another chance on being loved. They utilize distancing behaviors to preserve their psychological equilibrium.”
If you have developed a fear of intimacy, you could find yourself still single at 40 no matter how much you wish you weren’t.
You have to be prepared to dig deeper into yourself and figure out what is going on below the surface.
Look at your relationship history (including childhood relationships with parents or caregivers). Are there triggers that make you feel unsafe or scared of love?
Try to pay attention to that voice in your head that may be feeding you negative stories about love, relationships, or even yourself.
Keep an eye out for defense mechanisms that might kick in when you meet someone new or start a relationship. Recognize when you are staying in your comfort zone and challenge it.
Acknowledge feelings of discomfort, fear, rejection, loss, etc. rather than try to push them away. But equally try to embrace the exciting ones that can come with romance — such as passion, joy, and desire — even if they feel a little threatening to you.
Learning to see and challenge a fear of intimacy can take time. But trying to vigilantly stay open and be more vulnerable can help you become more comfortable with the idea of getting closer to someone.
7) You’re strong and independent
Are you the type of person who doesn’t rely on others for your needs?
We all have different personality types, and not everyone feels the need to be in a relationship.
It is a positive trait if you feel comfortable being single. If you feel confident in taking responsibility for your own needs in life, this can be an incredibly empowering feeling.
It’s only problematic if your strength and independence is manifesting in an inability to accept help or support from others, even when you want it.
If you already enjoy a well-rounded, full, and fulfilling life of independence then it really doesn’t matter if you are still single at 40. Plenty of people choose a different lifestyle.
Romantic relationships are far from the be-all and end-all in life. Whilst love is important, it comes in many forms and it doesn’t have to be through a romantic source.
But if you think that you may have become a bit too independent, to the extent that you are inadvertently pushing others away, then it’s time to let people in. Just because you can do everything for yourself, doesn’t mean you have to or that you should.
8) Societies “timeline” has changed
The average age for people to get married in the 1940s in the US was around 24 years old for a man, and 21 years old for a woman. Now the average age for people to get married in the states is 34.
My point is to illustrate how times have, and still are, changing. Plenty of people are setting out a timetable that suits them, rather than any conventional timetable set by society.
Maybe a few decades ago a single woman was considered “left on the shelf”, or a guy was labeled a “confirmed bachelor” if they were still single at 40.
But these days romance, love and relationships do not follow the same sort of pre-prescribed mold.
We’re all waiting to do things later in life — whether that’s have children, get married, or feel ready to settle down.
Try to challenge any notions you may have about what your age has to do with being single.
Other than in your head, is it such a big deal? Can you not actually find love at 40, 50, 60 or even 100?
As columnist Mariella Frostrup nicely illustrates in the Guardian newspaper, things happen when they happen:
“I met my now husband and went on to have two children in my early 40s. Meeting a partner with whom your future collides, can and does happen at any age.”
9) You have low self-esteem
I’m not one of those people who believes you need to ‘love yourself first before you can find love with someone else’.
But if you don’t believe you deserve happiness, if you don’t believe you deserve love, it’s obviously going to make finding love a lot more difficult.
Having a low self-esteem and opinion of yourself can mean you don’t put yourself out there. The negative voice in your head might tell you nobody would want you or you’re not good enough to find someone wonderful.
A lack of confidence can be the reason you find yourself single at any age.
If you’ve been struggling with low self-esteem for a while, you need to actively work on improving your self-love and self-worth.
You may even consider seeking some professional help in building your confidence or dealing with any underlying mental health issues (like depression) that could be exacerbating the issue.
10) You’re living and learning
You have probably gone through some ups and downs romantically. You’ve no doubt learned some hard (and important) lessons along the way.
You’re on a journey. And each experience will have offered something to help you grow and get to grips a little more with life.
I know first hand that still being single at 40 can create a sense of anxiety at times. But it’s usually when we buy into an illusion. We worry someone else’s life is more “complete” or that being single now may mean it will always be that way.
But let’s remember that life holds no guarantees for anyone. That couple you look at with envy could be divorced this time next year. Whereas your ideal partner could arrive in your life tomorrow.
Aim to live life one day at a time. Stay open to the endless possibilities that are yet to arrive. Learn from any past mistakes in love and use them to propel you towards an even more prosperous romantic future.