Are All The Good Ones Taken?

If you’re single later in life, you may be asking yourself that question. Now, here’s the answer about what’s really going on…

By Isadora Alman

ave you ever received a chain letter requesting that you send along a dollar, a recipe, a joke, or good wishes in general? An unusual version of these letters popped up in my email box recently: “Wrap up and send your mate to the woman whose name appears at the top of the list and add your name to the bottom. In less than two weeks, you will receive 1387 husbands. A few of them at least should be keepers.”

While married women may have chuckled at that email, single women
Rethink long-held beliefs and seek new input.
who received it may have thought, Hmm… how does a person like me get one of those keepers? Perhaps all the “good ones” seem taken because you’re looking in from the outside—and appearances, as you well know, particularly of a perfect union, can deceive. You may also subscribe to the unrealistic belief that after a certain age (and that age is whatever you believe it to be), all the “good ones” are gay, married, or, at any rate, unavailable to you. You may believe that the single male population over that theoretical age is composed of nothing but leftovers and rejects you wouldn’t want at all. There, now those thoughts are out in the open. So let’s look at how to get past this negative thinking. How can a woman no longer in the first blush of youth and enthusiasm avoid becoming bitter or bored with the search? By rethinking long-held beliefs and seeking new input. Here, based on my many years as a relationship therapist and an advice columnist are the details:

Realize that new prospects are available every day…
First, let’s look at the assumption that all the good ones have forever removed themselves from the marketplace. How many people do you know who are still with their very first love? A very small percentage, I would guess. Most have loved someone and — whether in junior high school or last year — found that the relationship ended and then they were single. Now, if your world view is such that you think all those “discarded” guys are taken, you’re believing that they immediately became attached to someone else, leaving you out of the musical-chairs mating game. But sometime in there they were at least momentarily unattached. Relationship roundelays have been going on since
So what if the person is a few years older or younger… ?
kindergarten and will continue forever as people move, separate, outgrow, disconnect, and divorce. “They lived happily ever after,” alas, is not the end result of everyone’s fairytale romance.

Believe it: There is a constant supply of new and interesting potential mates in the world. If you see all the same faces and they all seem stale, perhaps it’s you who needs to be doing some new small things in order to see some new faces. Go to your gym at a different hour, try the bookstore one neighborhood over from yours, or join a discussion group on a new-to-you topic. Since most men over the age of 14 are probably being recycled and are not out of the market forever, ask your circle of friends whom they know is newly single.

Approach possible dates with an open mind
Second, remember there are always surprisingly delightful, overlooked bargains to be had—both in shopping and romance. Just as you look forward to your favorite store’s end-of-the year sale of merchandise that has been picked through and rejected by hundreds of other shoppers, garage sales, and eBay auctions, know too that the same principle applies to love. There are gems out there who will appeal to you and only you. Quit assuming that the guys who are single at a later age as damaged goods in some way. How would you feel about someone who viewed you from that perspective? Instead, consider the guy whose online profile you’ve seen running for quite some time but had thought he was a few years too old or too young for you. Who’s to say he isn’t your soul mate? The same could be said for someone who seems like a catch but lives 20 versus 5 miles away from you—should that distance really stop you? Sharpen your eye by browsing, and remind yourself of all the bargain bins that have been your personal treasure trove. Now go out there and find your gem, and enjoy yourself in the process.

Isadora Alman is a California-licensed marriage and relationship therapist, a Board-certified sexologist, author of several books, and a syndicated sex and relationship columnist for more than 20 years (visit She is a frequent TV and radio talk show guest, as well as a lecturer and workshop leader.
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