With the news that one of the world’s most eligible bachelors, Prince Albert of Monaco, is finally engaged to be married at the age of 52 comes hope for other never-marrieds who know that that their chances for getting hitched continue to decline the older they get.
Of course it’s possible to be fulfilled and unwed and marriage isn’t for everyone, but for people who do want to walk down the aisle (setting aside the issue of gay marriage for now), the trend has been that if it doesn’t happen in your 20s, it becomes less and less likely — though not nearly as dire as Newsweek’s now recanted prediction that women over 40 have a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting a band around their finger. It’s true that most Americans have tied the knot by the time they reach age 40, and though it’s difficult to get numbers on the probability of marriage at certain ages, it looks like the estimate is about a 40 percent chance for single women over age 40.
Which comes as a relief to a few friends of mine who never thought they would still be single in their 40s and 50s. Smart, educated, attractive women (I also know a few unmarried men, one of whom is 58 and a Jewish doctor no less — oy, how has he been able to escape the clutches of Jewish mothers everywhere?), they want to find a spouse but for various reasons, still haven’t found The One. But if the Prince is finally ready to settle down, maybe it means another prince is out there, albeit without his own country.
“If it happened for him, it could happen for me,” says Toni, a gorgeous 47-year-old Realtor who didn’t want to be tied down a few years ago but now wants a husband. “I don’t need to run around and be wild anymore,” she says, much as she imagines Albert feels. “Maybe he just grew up.”
My funny and lively friend Cathi, 45, doesn’t take any particular lessons from Albert’s engagement, pointing out the double standard that exists that says it’s much more okay for a man to be 52 and just getting married than a woman (Albert’s bride-to-be is 32). She thought she would be married by the time she was in her early 20s. It didn’t happen and while she wouldn’t mind being married now, isn’t actively searching for Mr. Right. She lives a full and happy life and can’t believe that some people think that “unmarried” connotes some sort of deficiency.
For my beautiful and sweet pal Kara, 46, the reality of singledom really hit home when she was at her most vulnerable point, just after having surgery and realizing there’s no one to bring you flowers, and worse, no one at home to help change your bandages. “When there’s no one waiting for you, you feel very much alone,” she says. “It’s very much the, ‘I’m alone with my cats,’ thing.”
Other unattached friends just are bewildered by their single status, as there’s no obvious reason why someone wouldn’t want to marry them. Their only “downside,” they say, is their “advanced” age. A younger guy tends to want to date someone his own age or younger. And men their own age and older tend to want to date…someone younger.
As true — and unfair — as that is, at least one friend has found a way to use her age to her advantage. Toni has tried online dating before but has now signed up with CougarLife, a dating website for older women looking for younger men.