The Single Files: over 50, over child-rearing and unattached
Being single ... in your 40s
“Being single is a state, not a condition. Singlehood is not a disease,” says Susan Conley, a 48-year-old journalist and writer, divorced since 2009. A witty, independently minded blonde, Conley loved being married, but the relationship ended.
Instead of throwing herself into another relationship, Conley took the inventive step of learning to ride a horse. “Every single self-help book you’ll ever read will tell you to live in the present. The horse knows if you’re not paying attention,” she says.
She is now a proficient horsewoman and, more importantly perhaps, she is clear that the loneliest place to exist is inside an unhappy marriage.
Her friends and colleagues are hugely important. “I am grateful for my life,” she says simply. “One of the great things I’ve achieved, having gone from being married to divorce to being single, is that I’ve become so much better at asking for help.”
Conley has not had a child. “That ship has sailed,” she says, “not without regret.” She points, however, to the importance of her role as “a parachute aunt” to her American-born nieces and nephews.
For Conley, the negative implications of living alone are tempered by the knowledge that she is a person who needs her own space. “If I did live with someone again I’d need my own tree house, a room of my own. I need my solitude.”
I ask if the Sex and the City fantasy of rotating boyfriends like rotisserie chickens holds any relevance for her, and she laughs. “Certainly not in this city. I don’t know anyone who lives like that.”
Internet dating she describes it as “a myth . . . There is a fantasy that you are going to meet all these men, and really it’s just about clicking on to the next profile in the belief that there is someone better on the next screen.”
Being single is “just the now”, she says. She is busy and productive: her new digital novel, That Magic Mischief, is available on Amazon now , and while she is interested in meeting “a human man”, she is refreshingly candid about her priorities. “Sure it would be lovely, but, frankly, the horse would have to come first.”