Maybe the single life when you’re a woman in your 40s is a dream come true – or maybe it’s your worst nightmare! Perhaps it’s a little of both. Maybe you feel like a failure because you’re not in a successful relationship, or you feel like a success because you escaped an unhealthy marriage.
“I feel like a failure because although I am successful in my career and I raised my 21 year old daughter by myself, I’ve never been married,” says Renee on 7 Ways to Stop Feeling Like a Failure When You’re Over 40. “I was engaged three times but never ended up marrying any of my fiancés. I feel like I have failed at so many relationships. It’s hard being 43 and alone at this age. My daughter is never around. It’s hard knowing my ex-fiancé married someone else five months after we broke up. I never thought I would be single in my 40’s and I’m very lonely and sad. I love the Lord and I am a Christian but I still feel sad and alone.”
Yes, it can be lonely and difficult to be a single woman over the age of 40. Your kids are grown — or maybe you’re childless, like me. Your friendships have changed, or you’ve lost touch with the friends you knew and loved. Maybe the breakup affected your family relationships. You’re adjusting to a whole new life, one you didn’t choose or expect. And it’s not easy. But, you’re not alone! You don’t have to go through this adjustment by yourself. Instead of walking alone, I hope you choose to become the happiest single woman over 40 you know, and that you join me in Blossoming into the woman God created you to be!
In this article, you’ll learn how your perspective affects your life. If you’re calling yourself a failure because you’re a single woman in your 40s, then you’ll feel and act like a failure. And failures don’t Blossom. But if you see yourself as a woman in transition or a strong single woman who is entering an exciting new season of life, then you’ll be filled with life, hope, and joy. How you see yourself determines how you act and feel. And, you have control over how you see yourself.
How to Adjust to Being a Single Woman Over 40
You, my friend, are entering a new chapter of life. If you’re a Christian woman in your 40s, then you are more powerful than you know, stronger than you realize, and smarter than you think! Following Jesus won’t erase the pain of divorce or failed relationships — or even the loneliness of a single life — but it will give you hope and strength to live a life you never dreamed possible.
1. Tell your story
Adjusting to your new single life is a process that takes time. One way to sail quicker and farther is to share your experiences. Tell your story. Join other women who are adapting to a life they never expected. Find common ground and similar experiences. Share tips on how to adjust to being a single woman over 40. Air your grievances and celebrate your successes. This is healthy, and will lift your spirits and multiply your joys.
How did you come to singleness as a 40-year old woman? Who were you before your relationship ended, and where is your life going? What secrets are you keeping?
Writing your story is even better than telling it. Give yourself 20 minutes to write down everything you think about yourself. Go somewhere private, quiet — or even to a busy coffeehouse. Write in your journal. What God saying about how your relationship ended? About you? About your future?
2. Listen to the story you’re telling
What is the story you’re telling yourself about the breakup? If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you may have adopted your ex-husband or ex-boyfriend’s negative or toxic perspective of you. Maybe you believe his lies and you’ve lost touch with who you are. Maybe you’ve come untethered from God, and you think you can’t be happy as a single woman in her forties. Maybe you think you’re unworthy, unlovable, and incapable.
What are you telling yourself about who you are, where your life is going, and what you can and can’t do? Listen to what you’re saying about yourself and your past relationships. Are you treating yourself with compassion, forgiveness, and kindness?
In 7 Ideas for Living Single After a Serious Relationship Ends, I described the power of journaling for women over 40. If you haven’t started or kept a diary for years, now is the perfect time to dig that journal up and start writing.
3. Look at what you believe about yourself
In his podcast Change Your Life, Change Your Story, Michael Hyatt encourages us to listen to the voice in our heads (our “narrators”). What is that voice saying, how often does it come up, and do you believe what it’s saying about you?
For example, your narrator might be telling you that you’re a failure because you’re a single woman over 40. Your relationship or m marriage ended, your self-esteem is destroyed, and you’ll think you’ll never heal from this breakup. Maybe the voice in your head is saying your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband was right about your weaknesses and flaws. Maybe you think you deserve to be alone because you’re not worthy of love. It’s not true — and only you can change the story you’re telling yourself.
4. Decide to stop believing bad things about yourself
What is God’s perspective of you and your life? Is He the source of the negative things you’re telling yourself?
If you accept God’s image of you instead of the negative story you’re telling yourself, you will be renewed with joy, strength and hope. Instead of believing the lies, choose to live with Jesus. He will give you the power to write and rewrite your story in real time, as you live it out…and you are letting Him pull everything together for your good. You believe and trust Him, and you know His heart is loving and kind.
When you change your story, you change your life. If you re-examine what you believe about yourself — even in the unexpected season of being a single woman over 40 — your story will end even better than you could ever imagine.
5. Change your story by changing your focus
Your story has incredible power. For example, if you’ve been telling yourself that you’re unlovable, weak, or unable to survive on your own, then you won’t find strength to Blossom. If you’re telling yourself that you aren’t artistic or musically inclined, then you deny yourself permission to be creative.
What would happen if you told yourself a different story? I’m not saying you should lie to yourself. Of course you’ll still be a woman over 40, single and adjusting to her new life. But your focus will be healthier and stronger. If you change what you focus on, your emotions will change in positive ways.
The beliefs you have about yourself will look different when you write them down. Their power will begin to evaporate as you’re writing. You’ll see your thoughts more objectively because you’ll bring them into the light.
Writing down the thoughts you have about yourself will help you see yourself more clearly. Writing will also help you get unstuck — especially if you’ve been in a “victim” mode. Honestly and authentically expressing your thoughts about this adjusting to life as a woman over 40 will help you change your story.
6. Pay attention to how your thoughts make you feel
Decide if your old story (eg, “I’m a failure because I’m a single woman in my forties”) is dragging you down or lifting you up. How do your thoughts make you feel? Your beliefs are driving your behavior, your emotions, your reactions to others, your ability to make good decisions, your ability to get healthy and Blossom.
What are your beliefs creating in your life? How is your story changing how you feel and think about yourself? Keeping doing this — it takes time for it to sink in! Take a step back, be objective, and really think about how your thoughts are affecting your life. You can see if your story is dragging you down or lifting you up.
7. Write a different story about your life
This is where it gets interesting, because it gives you even more power. You can learn how to focus on a different aspect of your story — and you get to change how your story ends. Your life isn’t over yet!
If you’re telling yourself how stupid you are for staying in an unhealthy relationship until you turned 40 or 45 or 49 years old, it’s time to reframe your story. Find the positive parts of your experience and focus on that. For instance, you may have stayed with your ex-husband or boyfriend because of your strong sense of loyalty, your love for your children, or your belief in your wedding vows. Those are positive qualities that show your good character and values.
When you change your story, you change how you feel about yourself. Then, you can start to heal and move forward. Don’t stay stuck in the story of “I’ll never adjust to being a single woman in her 40s.” Don’t allow yourself to be a victim. You get to choose how you’ll recover from this breakup, how long it’ll take you to let go of your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband, and how your life will unfold from here.
Come, read How to Be Happy Single When You Wish You Were Married if you’re still sad about the end of your relationship.
Feel free to share your story in the comments section below. What do you believe about yourself, as a single woman over 40? Are you surprised to find yourself in this stage of life, or did you expect it? What are the best and worst parts of not being in a relationship?
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.