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Love Letters

Is someone over 40 and never married damaged goods for dating?

It seems like there are reasons someone reaches that milestone age and is still single.

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So this one may hit a bit close to home for you, but I find myself wondering whether people who are middle aged and have never been married are worth dating. After 20-plus years of marriage and a painful divorce, I’m on both Match and Bumble. Initially, I swiped left on anyone who listed themselves as never married. My concerns were: 1) their life experience would be very different than mine; 2) they might be very set in their ways; 3) they might be afraid of commitment; and 4) something must be wrong with them if they haven’t managed to get married yet.


Yes, I know how awful that last one sounds, and I’m sorry. Rationally, I know a lot of wonderful folks simply have not found the right person and refused to settle. How likely is someone who has never been married by their 40s to be a good partner vs. someone who is widowed or divorced? — Divorced

A. Yes, this does hit close to home. Like, right inside of my glorious spinster house.

My instinct, when I read your letter, was to get very defensive about your concerns. I mean, who’s to say that divorced people aren’t set in their ways? Who’s to say they’re any better at being in a relationship than a person who’s never been married?

But then I realized that you’re looking for a certain kind of partner. You assume singles like me (42, never married) like life as is and have a ton of boundaries. That could be true. I do like my spacious couch.

The thing is, though, every unmarried person is different, and I can’t tell you what each wants. If a person’s profile looks interesting in all other ways, you should swipe right. For context, I just went to a close friend’s wedding. He’s in his 40s and it’s his first marriage. Because of school, life, etc., it took him a while to meet the right person. As soon as he did, he was ready for everything.


I do get what you’re saying. My divorced friends seem to know a shorthand for how to be serious with someone new. Many of them are used to checking in and making sacrifices for a significant other. But the unmarried people might have those skills from dealing with friends, family, and non-spouses. Don’t write anyone off. If you like a profile, do yourself a favor and give it a chance. — Meredith


You sure do have a lot of preconceptions about people you’ve never met. Signed, the guy who refused to settle, met the right one at 39, got married at 42, and lived happily ever after. THATGUYINRI

On your scale, any married person, regardless of personality, is better than a caring person who happens not to have married. BKLYNMOM

You, like a lot of people, are trying to find a shortcut. Stop cutting out huge pieces of the dating pool over largely arbitrary data points. PMCD101

I was 48 and divorced when I was fixed up with a never-married woman two years my junior. My friends were astounded that such a lovely and wise woman had never been married. After 11 years of marriage, I can barely see through the tears thinking how my original dreams underestimated our actual joy. USER3660976



Catch Season 3 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast. Get it at or wherever you listen.