I never thought about what dating in my forties would be like because I never imagined that I would ever be tasked with finding out. As an American-born Nigerian, I was straddling two very different worlds, and the common bond was the fact that I would settle down with either a Nigerian or American.
My parents weren’t stiflingly traditional like most Nigerian households, and even when they tried to play that role, it came off as hilariously endearing because their kids knew it wouldn’t hold.
But there were some things that were non-negotiable, like attending boarding school with other mates at the age of twelve, and pursuing our college education to the full extent of our chosen degrees, which had to be bloated with the promise of lucrative careers.
When it came to their demands for life partners, the hope was that my brothers and I would stick closer to home, but if we did stray it had to be for a really good reason. But the most important thing was to marry for love and not because cultural barriers needed to be avoided at all costs.
I’m assuming my brothers feel accomplished in that area since they’ve settled with their spouses, and so the only one to worry about is me.
I’m single and trying to date, but the role I’m playing as a woman in her mid-forties who doesn’t want her age to be factor to men who still want to have children isn’t working out too well. Men are righteously aware that they can reproduce well into their seventies, and so that knowledge makes women like me cringe — especially when we’re still at an age where it should be possible, but medical complications fucked us for life.
It’s a sore subject that most women in my position don’t want to talk about, but I’m no longer afraid to tackle the reason why I’m the desirable/undesirable woman who can’t define who she needs to be in potential relationships.
The last serious bond with a guy was awhile ago, and there was still promise of what could be with him or the ones after. My body belonged to me, and there were no warning signs of the kind of betrayal that robs you blind and switches the narrative before you have the chance to mentally prepare.
I was never the girl who wanted the blindingly huge diamond ring and the big, fancy wedding with the bedazzled White gown that sports an endless train.
But maybe I should’ve been that girl.
If I had known that the option to have kids would end at thirty-nine, and that I would spend the years after grappling with alcoholism, debilitating hormonal disorders, erratic mental frequencies, and a non-existing career — I might have made the extra effort to settle down at twenty-five and push out at least three babies, while doing whatever I’m doing now with my writing.
But life is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get.
And so the “woe is me” phase is here to stay as I grapple with the fear of being alone indefinitely because of the lack of self confidence that ensues when you start getting closer, and then suddenly the shock sets in when they discover that you’re not nearly as young as they figured you to be.
Your age leaves a bitter taste in both mouths, but you’re the one that looks visibly disgusted. He just looks a little sad. He knows that you know why it won’t work, and why it can’t get beyond polite banter.
The scenario plays out like a well-rehearsed play each time, and denying the nagging reminder that my strategy must change means that I continue to punish myself until I can’t take it any longer.
It’s no fun wasting away, and it’s even less fun trying to figure a way out of the funk of your lifetime.
How do you conform to dating older guys who’ve already had a complete life with someone else, and are now old enough to not be so picky? How do you reset your palette to date much older guys when you’ve been dipping too long in a pool that has become tragically too shallow?
If only my interior matched my exterior and I could prove that age is nothing but a number by getting miraculously knocked up by my much-younger lover — who loves me even more for making the sacrifice.
But that’s Hollywood, or extremely fertile women with delicious vaginas and ultra-fit cervixes to boot.
I’m the woman whose getting older and grayer, and looks in the mirror and still sees a thirty-two-year-old staring back at her. And now that she’s filled with much less vodka and gallons of spring water — the glow is even more palatable.
I know this because I’ve been told, and furthermore, guys that look like I could birth them, ask me out and I just smile and thank the God I don’t serve, that my sunglass are still on.
So what do you do when you feel good, and look great, but can’t date because you’re desirable now, but undesirable later?
It’s an interesting place to be for someone who never considered being in the challenging position of being embarrassingly vulnerable in ways that strip your ownership of womanhood.
Fertility is sexy, most men relate it to how they fall in love and lust with the woman of their dreams — at first sight.
When actor Michael Douglas laid eyes on the stunning Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, he told her he wanted her to be the mother of his children. My father admitted that he felt the same way when he saw my mother for the first time.
The challenge of dating when you’re essentially “past your prime” puts a damper on things, and then when it’s clear that your reproductive parts are possibly out of business, that brings makes your value considerably lower and gives the competition more than a leg up.
This isn’t an attempt to answer the unanswerable or offer words of encouragement as a way to prove how things are never as dire as they seem. And I’m certainly not begging for compliments or even empathy because I’m slowly making peace with my lifelong predicament.
It’s just a way to shed light on an area that’s quite cumbersome, and also hoping that there are more like me out there, who loathe online dating and prefer the social mechanisms of yesteryears because that’s how we excel.
And just when things are getting cozy, it gets real a lot quicker than anticipated, and suddenly your age and what that means slides you from “desirable” to “undesirable.”
And you sit there wasted.