But what struck me as we milled about the Doncaster fashion atelier was the speaker's assertion that for the women, especially single women, there was a deeper satisfaction in these gatherings, not just for the philanthropy but the camaraderie.
And yet, there was an underlying whisper – that this singleness was not necessarily by choice.
Because women are still wrestling with what they feel is a conflict between being powerful, independent women and the desire for partnership – and this engenders a secret guilt.
And therein lies the rub: Viewing the two as mutually exclusive!
Flipping through the book, I landed on a New Yorker cartoon quote: "Does my body make me look fat?"
It made me laugh. But it made me think too about how we get caught up on externals. Like any aspect of fashion or beauty, it's there to augment what's already there. Like a diamond in beautiful setting. The setting looks ridiculous without the diamond. But the diamond looks a little stranded waddling loose on it's velvet pillow too.
And let's not forget how long it takes to make a diamond, the years of pressure and flaying into facets that evolves into its polished, sparkling self.
But it's more often flabby thinking that gets in our way than what we actually look like.
So I called Thomas to talk about finding love in mid-life — although I knew what she'd say. She herself spent decades refining her own diamond-self and cutting away flabby thinking, if you will, to arrive at a point where she was ready for a new kind of relationship. And she found it — in her early/mid 40s.
Now at 53, she imparts her gentle wisdom to other women looking for love.
We are all going through a fundamental shift,"
she explains. "The old paradigm relationship was built around security, comfort and social status. It's goal—to create stability for family and community."
Now though, with so much in our world changing so fast, from family structure to virtual communities, the goal, she says, is
joining together in a shared vision, to become a growth-oriented relationship."
"Women over 40," Thomas continues, "are coming into their legacy years. We're ready to actualize our potential." Especially since women constitute more than half the population now (see Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn's Half the Sky) and a large component of them are Boomer women.
Do men feel threatened by this?
Women who feel this urge, she explains, will often try to evolve the relationship they're in. Because women are organized toward partnership. But if this results in exhaustion, frustration or emptiness, some will opt to leave a relationship.
I thought of a gardening metaphor: You can't grow in soil that has no nutrients.
But the good news is: More and more men are coming to her to learn about this new kind of partnership. Thomas calls it a co-creation, where you stand for each other. Remember, this pioneering territory, so it's OK not to have it all figured out from the outset.
Actually I'd think men might love this new collaborative approach. I was thinking that if I had to come out of the starting gate knowing I had to support not only myself but 2 to 4 or more people, plus pay all the utility bills and life insurance, be emotionally stalwart, wise, strong, and fix the toaster, I'd faint and never get up. (Although I know many women do this on their own too.)
So, how can you ready yourself for a fresh relationship? Thomas says:
- Clear away internal obstacles to love: If you're hanging on to resentments about previous relationships, you're more than likely to create that same dynamic again.
- Become the one you're looking for: Would you want to date you?
- Relationships tend to mirror our relationship with ourselves. Look at how you treat yourself. Are you living a B life? Is that what you want?
- Believe in the co-creative power: rather than wishing /hoping/ being sad about not having a partner, focus on co-creating with life and organize around that. Remember: Life is on the side of love!
- So…show up as a lover of life: if you want a fun, rich, juicy, soulful relationship, find ways to create that in your life (tango lessons, wine tastings, whatever turns you on).
- Avoid anchoring in resignation; instead have the courage to anchor into your desire for love — all that you yearn to experience, express, create and contribute in loving partnership. That kind of desire is magnetic and will bring love to you faster than you can imagine.
Finding a confident co-pioneer
- Remember men are in transition as much as women are.
- Realize there's part of you that may want a big strong man to take care of/rescue you. People are full of contradictions and complexities – he probably has some of those too. Just acknowledge it.
- Men are finding their way too, cut them some slack. The old paradigm was organized around one person's realizing their destiny, usually the "breadwinner." The new paradigm is organized around each person realizing their destiny.
Thomas noted that back in the early the '60s, there was a belief that women weren't as smart as men. Breaking away from that idea, "the rules of engagement were still inside a masculine paradigm of power."
New paradigm: Collaborative vs. Combative
Think of this as a Rugged Collaboration – kind of like learning the tango. Try the dance. Crave the future. It's one way to create a better future for everyone — setting relationships on a healthier path going forward. Pioneer into love.