Dr. Shonda Lackey

Licensed Psychologist & Script Consultant in NYC | Helping Cultivate the Art of Introspection | 646.926.2198

What People Rarely Tell Women about Being Over 30, Single, and Childless

Many people don’t express sympathy for single women past a certain age who say they want marriage and children.  It’s often easier to blame single women for their circumstances.

Melanie Notkin’s post, “My Secret Grief.  Over 35, Single and Childless,” captures the essence of what many women experience, but can’t seem to put into words. Notkin describes her own battle with grief as a result of not having the marriage and children she always wanted. By age 35, she expected to be married with at least two kids.

So often, women who don’t suffer from fertility problems, but are childless, are told to hold on to hope that one day they’ll be wives and mothers. Many women not only hope, they put action behind their hope. They go to therapy, put up online dating profiles, get comfortable with their own company, and brave events alone.  One year goes by, then another, and before they know it, they’re still single and their biological clock is ticking louder than ever.

It can be painful to put in effort without seeing the results you’re hoping for. This is when the grief creeps in. Even friends who once remained hopeful are eventually at a loss for words and often disappear as they spend time with their own significant others and families. Women are often left alone to fight through their feelings of grief. Many wonder how you can grieve for something you never had in the first place.

But that’s the point. Notkin calls for women to give themselves permission to grieve for the marriages and children they never had.  First proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969, the stages of grief include denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. People don’t necessarily experience the stages in order and grief is often expressed in different ways at  different times. Some women may experience grief after they can no longer have biological children.  For others, grief comes after they find themselves single for a substantial amount of time even though they have done all they can to change their situation.

The notion of acceptance is powerful and helps you regain control of your life. Accept that you may be single and unmarried for a very long time, possibly forever. Accept that you may never have biological children within marriage. The thing is, on your road to acceptance, you’ll probably feel many negative emotions as you mourn.

But instead of forcing yourself to smile and pretend you’re happy with your love life when you’re really not, allow yourself to grieve.

If you found these tips helpful and would like to do more in-depth work, contact me for a free 15 minute phone consultation. I offer private workshops.


Tips for Dating After 30

Some men and women have reached the age of 30 and are content with their lives as singles. But others experience frustration, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.  They often wonder why they’re over the age of 30 and still single, despite their desire for a relationship.  Does this sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve become more focused on your relationship status as more and more of your friends get married and start families.

Dating at this age can be difficult for three main reasons. First, the pool of compatible partners may be smaller depending on the qualities you seek.  Second, you often face stigma about your relationship status. Third, your emotions may make you feel like giving up all together.

Whether you’re taking a break from dating or are actively dating, these tips can help you make healthier decisions about your love life.

1) Define the type of relationship you want. Without a goal, you’re more likely to get distracted and thrown off course. Is your goal to get married, to have a committed relationship that doesn’t lead to marriage, or something else? Are you ready for commitment or can you be honest with yourself and your partner if all you want is a sexual relationship?

2)  Identify preferences and deal breakers. Get clear about your values and what’s important to you in life. For example, you may prefer a man who is 6′ 3″, or a woman with brown hair.  However, you may not consider it a deal breaker if a man’s under 6′ or a woman has blonde hair. On the other hand, based on your values, you may determine it’s a deal breaker if your partner doesn’t want to have children and is unwilling to change after you express your desire for children.

3) Work through unresolved issues. Confront emotional barriers that could impact your next relationship. If you keep attracting the same type of men or women and end up hurt, most likely there’s some issue you haven’t addressed.

4) Be willing to put in effort. Healthy relationships don’t materialize from thin air.  Relationships are best when both people contribute 100% effort.

5) Recognize red flags. The sooner you can pinpoint a problem, the sooner you can work on the issue or leave if your partner is unwilling to change. You can spot toxic behavior even if you haven’t yet formed a relationship. Lack of trust, intimacy, respect, similar values, along with communication problems, or abuse all signal an unhealthy relationship.

6) Clarify your views on sex.  Some may consider this topic taboo, but just because you’re single, doesn’t mean you won’t crave sex. If you’re okay with having a one night stand or a friends with benefits arrangement, so be it. But if you’re not comfortable with that idea, stand by your decision and don’t change to please someone else. Either way, make sure you’re able to accept the consequences. The sex may be great, but even if it isn’t, you can still get emotionally attached to someone who won’t commit to you.

7) Be comfortable being alone. Dating and seeking a relationship because you can’t stand being alone can ironically lead you to feel lonely. Your haste could lead you to get involved with the first person that shows interest, even if he or she is a poor match. If you don’t like your own company, why should anyone else?

If you found these tips helpful and would like to do more in-depth work, contact me for a free 15 minute phone consultation. I offer private workshops.