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Opinion | Sexuality

The Grief, Happiness, and Hope of Late-in-Life Singleness

What I learned from decades of asking, “Why am I still alone?”
The Grief, Happiness, and Hope of Late-in-Life Singleness
Image: MilosStankovic / iStock

Over the decades, I have attended countless bridal showers, wedding ceremonies, baby showers, and anniversary parties. Again and again, I celebrated my friends’ milestones while waiting for my own happy ending.

Then this year, on my 58th birthday, I bought my wedding dress. Finally, my wait was over.

For a long time, every milestone and every missed opportunity for true love (including a short relationship in my 40s with a verbally abusive man) prompted me to question God: Why did you allow this to happen? Have I not been faithful? Am I not a good enough Christian? Do you really care about me?

Why am I still alone?

I’d always try to encourage myself by saying I only needed to meet one marriageable man or that God could bring “the one” to my doorstep. But as I grew older, my situation began to seem like a walk through an endless desert.

I was not alone. A decade ago marked the first time more than half of American women over age 18 were unmarried. Adults of all races are marrying later, and marriage as an institution is seen as a failing one. The situation is especially dire for black women like me, whom the New York Times describes as victims of the “vanishing black male,” men who are incarcerated or not as educated or financially sound as their black female counterparts.

As I passed 40, then neared 50, my singleness felt like grief. I had to come to terms with the empty arms of not having a child and the possibility of growing ...

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