Sex and the City: Desperately seeking Ms Right

I am 38 and all my school and college mates are married with kids. I too dreamt of having a partner and a family, and I dated some girls who I thought would be the One. But none of those relationships worked out and I was heartbroken many times over. I have become bitter about women and yet I see the dream of having a family with a loving companion. When I get really desperate, I go on dating apps, but invariably the women I land myself with are way elder to me and not at all someone I would want to live my life with. They are all very eager for a one-night stand, but when I have sex with them, I feel dirty and very self-depreciating the next day, because at the core this is not at all what I want. I feel stuck and don’t know how I should go about fulfilling my dream of a family. What should I do?

There is a certain socio-emotional benchmark you have set for yourself which you have been unable to reach. It's not a bad plan to have and yet plans do take on a life of their own since your desires are not the only deciding factor in your success with that plan.

It's excellent that you're clear about what you want. The Wife. The Kids. Love. Family etc. These are all wonderful additions to our lives but these elements and roles are not available at shopfronts - ready for deployment.

Relationships aren't discovered, they are cultivated and subsequently nurtured. Too technical? Well, it probably is as technical as it is emotional. People tend to forget that building upon love is both a logical and logistical decision in addition to it being that giddy and footloose feeling that they sing about in the movies.

Companionship often means altered finances, a change in living arrangement and a considerable rewiring of one's daily schedule, social calendar and sometimes even one's diet! With all these changes in tow, self-evaluation will help you work better towards your dreams.

Self-evaluations entail seeing your life journey with a little more patience and empathy. The many speed bumps that you hit may have staggered your progress on the love front.

A tribulation is as much a part of one’s journey as the desire for 'better days'. Your timeline needs to be flexible and realistic. You've been heartbroken multiple times. Your emotional wounds will take time to heal but healing isn't automatic! A mindset shift is needed. We must learn to bear the costs of both helpful and unhelpful choices.

A one-night stand (while making you susceptible to STDs) is a sexual transaction. The unwritten contract of such a transaction would read: You please me and I please you and then we move on to the next opportunity.

Therefore, you not feeling emotionally drawn in to the ladies you are sleeping with is a natural consequence of the detached nature of such 'give and take'.

Much like you may not get emotionally attached to your local grocer or chemist since rules of limited engagement apply. Interestingly though, it would be limited to blame dating app culture and one-night-stands as the cause of your disenchantment and growing concerns just as it would be foolhardy to blame the existence of refined carbohydrates for obesity trends.

If people can choose what they eat, they can also choose whom they meet. Having a fulfilling relationship requires you to change your social habits and for you to manage your emotional expectations better.

The concept of 'finding the one' may seem easy and almost natural to some, just as learning to skate may be easier for some people rather than it being a universally learnable skill. Some people take their time with love and with life.

The speed at which romantic relationships develop could easily match the speed at which they are called off. Yet, embitterment is a mindset choice. You could see your failed relationships as either catastrophic roadblocks to your goal or as emotional stamina-building inflection points.

Seeing it as the latter will help you make a realistic assessment of what you're doing to contribute to your own misery by not moving on from past mistakes.

You have taken your time and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. So many famous celebrities, literary figures and leaders too had troubled personal lives. You're not alone and you can certainly train your mind to see your situation as a concern rather than a crisis.

There are several places where you have a chance to meet interesting people of the opposite sex. Join a hobby group or club - like a dance class, trekking group or book club, try going for a single's event organised in your city, perhaps - have a preliminary chat with a matchmaker and try and attend events where like-minded people may show up and you could make new friends.

Your bitterness about women is your only true inhibitor. Not all women are the same. People are full of nuance, habits and are often unaware of their thinking patterns.

Despite what anyone else may say to you about the ‘right age to get married or the right age to have kids’: there is great peace to be found in knowing that No 2 life journeys are identical - even among twins! As you go through the laps, you have had a few more pit-stops but that does not mean you are not good enough for the race. Adversity visits everyone. What we do with it, is ultimately a personal choice.

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