Looking for Valentinaville….

So far, my number one, all-time most popular blog post on Transition Times has been my 2012 Valentine’s Day post, “There’s More to Love than Cupid and His Arrows,” which was read by nearly 30,000 people worldwide in the past year.

In that post, I reflected on how the Valentine’s Day celebration of love could and should extend to more than just romantic love—we should celebrate family love, I said, the kind of love that runs “like molten gold at the core of a happy family like mine.”

A year later, and still without a romantic attachment this Valentine’s Day, I feel no different—but my thoughts on this issue are more defined.

marilyn-monroe-diamonds-gentlemen-prefer-blondes-blonde-movieIn American culture, and I am sure in many other cultures around the world, it is viewed as a shortcoming to be without a romantic partner.

To be alone, without a significant other on Valentine’s Day, is a source of shame.

Well to hell with that, especially for mature women!

I see so many women my age, midlife or older, without partners.

Is this just an American phenomenon?  I wish my non-American friends would chime in and let me know.

Here in the States, the divorce rate is astronomical, and we seem to have a surfeit of single women—either the 30- to 40-something put-career-first-and-never-married cohort, or the 40- to 50-something just-couldn’t-take-it-anymore divorced group.

And then at the upper edge of the age scale, there are the 70-something widows, too.

For men in all of these age groups, there are plenty of women to choose from.

After all, it’s not unusual for a man of 60 to take up with a woman 20 years his junior.

But when was the last time you heard of a woman of 60 partnering with a 40-year-old man?

For heterosexual women, the field narrows considerably as we age.

And the risks grow.  Why would I, as a 50-year-old, really want to take up with a man twenty years my senior?

If I were to enter the dating market now, I’d be lucky to find a guy my age to partner with.  Most guys my age are looking for younger women, and they don’t seem to have any trouble finding a match.

On Valentine’s Day, 2013, I’d like to affirm the fact that women don’t need romantic love to be happy.

I’d like to suggest that women be more appreciative of the love and support we get from each other, and from all kinds of non-romantic attachments.

In the old days, women who sought to avoid marriage ensconced themselves in nunneries, and had a pretty good life there (check out the life of Sor Juana for an example).

I am wondering if today we need a modern form of the nunnery, a place where women of a certain age could go to live full, empowered, mutually supportive lives free from the pressure of romantic attachments.

Maybe we should found such an institution, and call it Valentinaville.  Just for us.

Why waste away in Margaritaville when we can be happy in Valentinaville?

Leave a comment


  1. leavergirl

     /  February 7, 2013

    Oh please please PUH-lease start one of these nunneries! 🙂

    I am in the 50-70 ‘dumped for a younger woman’ cohort. But you know what? He did me a huge favor. I have a life of my own again! Yey! And his crazies are inflicted on someone else now… sweet revenge… 😀

  2. leavergirl

     /  February 7, 2013

    Oh, and check out the Beguines. Our nunneries have a lovely history.

  3. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  February 7, 2013

    Thanks for your enthusiasm, leavergirl! Yes, somehow the whole idea of nunneries has been haunting me lately, I guess in connection with wishing for an intentional community that really felt like a community. Of course, in reality communities are messy and hard to sustain…just like romantic relationships…but one can still dream….

  4. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had communities where ALL of us–young, middle-aged, old, single, married, heterosexual and otherwise–could live together and feel supported and loved and valued not only by our immediate families and intimate partners but by everyone? To me, that seems like more of a pipe dream than Valentinaville, but worth seeking!

  5. Anna

     /  February 9, 2013

    I’ve been divorced for 21 years. I always assumed I’d be fully matched and mated at this stage in my life, at 59 years old.

    I’ve thought about communities, nunneries. As a child I was a “churched” Catholic, and have great regard for many real life nuns, who are the driving force and heart behind the best works of Catholicism.

    It’s interesting to consider the dynamics behind sucessful communities — people united by common goals, be it raising and selling German Shepherds, like the Monks of New Skete, or benevolent groups offering services and care for displaced children and families.

  6. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  February 9, 2013

    Yes, I think one of the essential characteristics of successful communities is that the members are focusing at least as much on what they have to give as on what they want to get out of the community. True for relationships too.

  7. Speaking as an unmatched middle-fifties facially challenged male, I believe that a very great deal depends upon one’s point of view.

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  February 10, 2013

      Yes, no doubt–but at least among my circle of friends, the odds seem very much against women over 45–

  8. Anna

     /  February 10, 2013

    I’ve been watching the PBS series, “Call the Midwife”. It’s about an order of nuns who work as midwifes, alongside young single nurses in East End, London during the 1950’s. The arrangement presents an intriguing model for a successful community. The nurses have their own cozy rooms at the nunnery and the freedom to pursue outside interests — including dating. It’s a fresh take on a group of women united in their mission to serve the larger community.

  9. This is an interesting post. After a number of not-so-good relationships over the years–some better than others, but three of them joyously having given me my four terrific kids–I am in a committed relationship for the past 26 years with the love of my life. I cannot easily imagine life without her. I consider myself immensely fortunate. Still, I do not believe a romantic relationship is the only ticket to happiness. In fact, I am convinced that no romantic relationship is better than one with problems. I think one of the reasons so many mature women are on their own these days is that we are far less willing to settle than was once the case. Feminism, even for many women on the fringes of that multifaceted movement, has made us all more able to demand the respect every person deserves. So, despite the fact that much of mainstream society may look at single women askance, alone with dignity is definitely better than coupled and having to make excuses–to ourselves as well as to others.

  10. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  February 11, 2013

    26 years, that’s amazing and wonderful, Margaret! I am interested in women who have moved from heterosexual to same-sex relationships, and how the two compare/contrast. Much more to be said on this….


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