Thursday 14 December 2017

Dear Mary: My life is slipping away and I fear I'm going to be left on the shelf

A read is disillusioned following a number of unsuccessful dates (photo posed)
A read is disillusioned following a number of unsuccessful dates (photo posed)

Mary O'Conor

Mary, at what stage do I accept that I will be a forever singleton? I'm a woman in my early thirties with a good job, I own my house, have a good personality and a fairly hectic social life at times. However, while I feel like I have the world at my feet, I have always felt that I have failed in my love life.

I have had one serious relationship - in my early twenties - it could have been described as a difficult relationship but I loved him. He was my first true love. He promised me the sun, moon and stars and spoke about marriage - and then one day he just ended it. I was broken. It was like a death to me and for two years I had no interest in men or dating.

Four years ago I got my life back on track and I decided I wanted a relationship and marriage so I made serious attempts to meet men. I've paid memberships for online dating services and I went on blind dates, but I was constantly disappointed with the men and the dates. They would cancel the dates or turn up late.

Some would act awkwardly, we'd have nothing to talk about or they were just not my type in general. After two years of online dating I decided to quit that form of dating and go back to the old method of meeting people on nights out or at social events. I am a very sociable person and would be confident enough to go and chat to men. However, in the last few weeks I've just become increasingly frustrated with how men are acting towards me. Any men I've met out on nights out or social events have ended up lying to me about either their names, their ages or their marital status, and have made a fool out of me.

Practically laughing in my face like I was a great woman for going chatting to them but they had absolutely no interest in me even though this was after them pursuing me! On two separate occasions dates have been arranged and they haven't even bothered to text to cancel, leaving me all dressed up with nowhere to go. In both cases I simply deleted their numbers and never contacted them again.

I'm just bored with finishing work and coming home to an empty house and no one to talk to. I have a wonderful group of friends but they have all moved on with their lives and have babies. I am very certain that I'm not the problem. I know I can get a date and I attract men and can hold a conversation, but the constant disappointment of being hurt and made a fool of by men is beginning to wear me down.

Although I can laugh and joke about this over a glass of wine with the girls, I feel it's beginning to break my spirit and I don't know if I want to put myself out there for much longer because the thoughts of being hurt and being let down is the worst feeling in the world. I'm afraid of slipping out of sight and being "left on the shelf".

Mary replies:  What an amazingly honest letter and I'm sure many other female readers in their thirties are nodding their heads in agreement.

Because it can be difficult out there in the singles world, particularly when lots of your friends are getting married and having children and it hasn't happened for you yet. As the daughter of a friend who is in her early forties and recently married, remarked to me just before the wedding "I had to kiss an awful lot of frogs before I met my prince"!

Good for you for exploring all the different avenues open to you and I am sorry that none of them have worked out. Any rejection must bring back memories of your first love and the break-up, so some of these experiences will have been particularly difficult for you.

I suggest that instead of looking at a guy that you meet as potential relationship material, try instead just to enjoy the evening and don't be too anxious to make it work.

If you give the impression of not being on the lookout for somebody but are instead quite happy in your own skin it would be a good thing, because while you may not feel that you are giving out what I call 'searching for somebody' vibes, unintentionally you may be doing so.

I don't know what agencies you tried previously but it may be worthwhile to give them another chance. If you are in Dublin, Sharon Kenny at The Matchmaker ( has a good and caring history and meets everybody before they are put together and follows up on dates to see how they have gone.

If you are anywhere in the Dublin, Cork, Limerick or Galway areas then It's Just Lunch have branches and their idea of arranging to have people meet up for lunch or a drink has also had very good results.

Another avenue for you to explore would be one of the Meet Up groups that are all over the country where you choose a group of people who share the same interest or hobby as you and then go along to one of their meetings. As you are outgoing this should not pose a problem to you.

But above all don't give up hope - there will be somebody out there who is right for you.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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