Jean is 57. She has never been married and never had children. She never thought about being marriage or having a life partner until now.
Here is a bit of her story.
Did you consciously choose not to marry and not to have children, or is that the way that your life played out?
It’s just the way my life played out.
And how do you feel about that? Do you feel that you’ve missed out on anything?
Not really. The children — I gave it a lot of thought over time, and my basic take on it was that I was so ambivalent, that it was like, Nah, I’m not the kind of person who needs to have kids.
One of the things that broke up my first long-term relationship was, when I started raising the question, What do you think about this [having kids], he just ran.
I often find that people bring those questions up when relationships are heading south, to try to induce a change in it.
It could have been my way of saying, Okay, what’s the commitment here?
Do you want to be married now?
I would like to be married now, but having never been married; I don’t really have anything to gauge it against. I think that working with Jeanine Kaiser has been really helpful, because she’s helped me to address a lot of my fears, such as, Oh, if I get married, then I’m going to be consumed by this couple relationship, and I’ll lose myself.
I’m not completely familiar with what Jeanine Kaiser does.
She’s a dating coach; we’ve worked together to put my profile on the Internet. She’s encouraged me to spend time and energy in getting photos, professional photos taken of myself. She’s been encouraging me to go to Weight Watchers, and to be more girly, because I’ve always been more of a tomboy type person. It’s a little bit of life coaching. I’m really looking for the relationship that I can grow old with.
How often do you talk to Janine?
About once a week.
Over the phone?
How much are sessions?
I pay $320 a month.
What inspired you to seek out a dating coach?
Jeanine has a loss leader weekend that she gives, and I just really got sparked. I really started asking basic questions about my assumptions in life. Some of the ideas and assumptions of [mine] that were being challenged were fifty years old. And that was very refreshing. I was really taken by that. I wanted to continue the challenge. That’s why I went to her for coaching.
Your effort to become more girly, is this something you feel would make you more attractive to men, or is this something that you just want for yourself? Or a little bit of both?
Probably a little bit of both. Even though I said that I’m not girly — in everyday life one of my hobbies is belly dancing, because I get to put on lots of makeup, and dress up in shiny clothes.
Do you feel like a whole person, even though you’re single?[Hesitating] Yes, yes. I was hesitating because my automatic answer was Yes, and then I wanted to think about it, but yes. Yes. I think, though, that life could be better with the right male counterpart. Periodically I’ll see relationships that make me say, I want that.
Do you think there’s any sense of panic, in trying to find someone?
There’s a little bit. I try to keep it down to a dull roar, but it’s a feeling that I try to fight. The male population thins out, as you get older. That might be part of my desire for commitment. Up until now, or up until the last ten years, it was like, Do I want a man now? Okay, go get one. Am I done with him? Okay, that’s fine. I don’t need anyone right now. But that’s not what I want right now. I don’t want a throwaway.
Once you have this person, do you find that, that urge goes away, or is there something still lacking there?
What’s been driving it is sexual. I’ll just get so horny, it’s like, Okay, it’s time to do something about that. I think what’s different now, is that I’ve always just gone for the sexual attraction, there’s not necessarily much more in common. I would say that I’m probably a good example of someone who’s made some very bad choices in my life.
You said that the male population thins out, when you get older. Does that mean that they’re married?
They’re married. They’re more set in their ways. There’s more women to men available. I think men die off earlier.
What if you met someone, who wanted to be in a long-term relationship with you, but didn’t want to get married. What would that mean to you?
I’d have to think about it, because normally, that would be right up my alley. At this point, I would have questions about whether they were sincere, whether they were truly looking for a long-term relationship and what their issues were about not getting married. I would be asking questions about, Why don’t you want to get married? But I’d have to be asking myself that same question, as well.
Do you think, if you were to be married, or in a long-term relationship, that you would have to sacrifice some of those things you enjoy?
I’m trying not to think of it as a sacrifice, but more of an adjustment. The idea being that I am getting more from the relationship than I am giving away, in order to be in the relationship. If I’m giving away more than I’m getting, then that relationship’s not worth it to me.
What is your biggest regret, when it comes to dating?
Probably the amount of time that I wasted dating guys who really were not the right guy, for whatever reason — whether it was their availability, their health and well-being – I should have said, Oh, well you’re very nice, and you’re very sexy. Move along, now.
When you were younger, did you have a fear of twenty, thirty years down the road, being single?
What do you think married people have, that you don’t?
Not all married people — but in a good marriage, they’ve got somebody who has their interest in mind. It’s a shared interest in well-being, contentment, and making a good life together. That’s what married people have.
Do you think there’s anything that you have, that married couples don’t?
Oh, I’ve got lots of freedom. I love to travel, and I don’t have to ask anybody about whether this is convenient, or whether we have enough money, or what your plans are for the weekend.
I don’t have to do that double-check. I have peace and quiet. If there are any dirty dishes in the sink, they’re my dirty dishes. If I want to turn on the CD player and dance around the house at two o’clock in the morning, that’s totally fine. I can do that.