Dear Ellie: I’m 46, never married, no kids. I understand myself well enough to know that I probably wouldn’t have done that well with motherhood. I’ve had a very good mother as role model but wasn’t as giving a person as she was with three young kids.
I’m an artist and go through periods of self-absorption that wouldn’t have allowed for consistent attention and dropping my projects on a moment’s notice.
I love my close friends’ kids and of course, my nephews and nieces, and they seem to love me, which I attribute to my being “different” from their structure-loving parents.
When I spend time with them, I’m more spontaneous, and introduce them to things their parents wouldn’t think of, like using paint to show the world through colours instead of through how we use things.
Example: A lake is deep and moody blues with sunlit sparkles on top or a home for fat grey raindrops… not just a place to swim and then leave.
See? I’d never get to the laundry or cooking three meals a day.
But I’d love to find a soul-mate to love and be loved by before I turn 50. It doesn’t have to be a traditional relationship; we don’t have to marry or even live together. I’d be happy to know there’s someone out there who’ll rush over if needed, hold me tight when I’m frightened, and laugh when I’m silly. I know I can be that partner in return.
How and where do I search for an offbeat, empathetic, untraditional, loving partner?
On My Own
There are offbeat and empathetic people in many aspects of life but they don’t always wear a sign you’d recognize. You have to draw out people you meet — whether online or through an activity or informal chat.
Use your own interests to join chat groups — not only to seek artsy people like yourself, but for the kinds that sound thoughtful when they speak, who listen and ask questions of others.
Be open when you meet new people (but still discreet and socially-distanced if in person). Don’t assess them from their outer aspects e.g., how they dress, but how they interact — eg. whether looking around or taking time to talk, distracted or listening, etc.
Even if someone displays only one or two characteristics that appeal to you, give them a chance for further conversation. There are hidden gems in many people’s personalities.
But drop the deadline of finding a partner before age 50. That age number does not mark either an ending or a lost opportunity. It’s a false construct by which to measure your personal achievements and self-esteem and will hold you back from the very goal you seek. Be yourself!
Feedback regarding the woman who has trouble accepting that her boyfriend has ended their relationship and keeps reaching out (May 27):
Reader: Her letter probably pushed him away. It forced him to make a decision. He decided for his daughter, which was the only decision he could’ve made. The letter-writer came across as being needy, and he already had his daughter needing him.
She should let some time pass. An eight-month relationship is not a long-time commitment.
Now, she should send “thinking of you” cards on the next two occasions only: his birthday and Christmas. If there’s any hope, eg, a change of mind, he’ll reach out. But if no response, then it’s time to move on.
Feedback regarding the wife who left her husband and children to live with another man, then asked to return after six months when dumped by her boyfriend (May 25):
Reader: The cheating wife’s request to return to her husband/ family/home means she’s matured. We all make mistakes and when willing to do better, deserve a second chance.
The father could tell his teenage children that their parents’ love was real and maybe has also matured.
He could tell them that although it’s been a very difficult experience, it’s an opportunity for all to be enriched from it.
Such an attitude could bring this man/husband/father respect, trust and affection from his family, and eventual joy and happiness for everyone involved.
However, he should first seek legal advice. His wife must seek individual counselling and fully understand the hurt she’s caused her children.
She must accept marital counselling, too and family counselling is also essential.
Ellie’s tip of the day
Your own special interests can lead you to find an empathetic partner who also brings uniqueness to a relationship.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.