‘I’m a middle-aged woman living alone. Sometimes I think: is this it?’

Tell Me About It: You are midway through life but there is a lot of living yet to be done

PROBLEM: I’m a middle-aged woman living alone. Even though I stay busy, my life is very quiet. I was seeing someone casually and we fell in love, but for different reasons we decided to go our separate ways. I miss him and sometimes I wonder would my life be better with him around?

Otherwise, I think, is this it?

Can you help?

ADVICE: You might have just answered your own question – it seems that your life is too quiet and you miss having a partner or person in your life. That this should be your ex-lover is debatable, but as you say you are midway through your life and there is a lot of living yet to be done. Very many people find themselves alone in mid-life, often due to separation or external circumstances, so there are quite a number of similarly aged people who are available and interested in relationships. Covid has uncovered the loneliness that many of us feel and, for those who lived alone, the past two years have highlighted for many just how difficult it is to live without having someone close to them in their lives.

You previously fell in love and my guess is that you both did not peruse this relationship for valid reasons. However, having had the experience of love, you can rest assured that this can happen again if you put effort into it. There is not just one person we can love and a quick glance at families demonstrates this. The love we feel does not divide up when there are more children, it simply grows to accommodate the next child.

Consider your life and what it needs and then stretch yourself so that you can reach that aim. Initially, this might mean developing more friendships and social contact in your life – you could think about what you are passionate about (or were passionate about at some stage in your life) and begin to make connections around this. When we have an interest in something it is easier for us to shine when partaking in that activity so use such an activity to broaden your circle of connections.

If you are considering reigniting your old love, it needs to be done with care and clarity and a determination to bring a freshness to all your engagements with each other

We don’t usually change our routines or habits unless there is a powerful reason, so you might use your sense of loneliness or unfulfillment to push yourself into action. There is a key moment when we are conscious of unhappiness but still have enough energy to invest in change, and now might be this moment for you – after all, you have written a letter to kickstart yourself into action. It is helpful if you can get encouragement from others; consider confiding in a friend, or if none are available think about joining a women’s group. If there is nothing available in your local area there are many online support groups and you will find that the opening up to others is part of the change you are trying to instigate. Getting experience of an online group might help to build your confidence in terms of creating an online profile and seeking dates in this way. The reality is that online dating is now where most people meet and all those other people who are seeking partners are also going online to connect with possible others. A very good and funny book on the topic is Meeting Your Match by Daisy Buchanan.

Many people give an ex-partner a second chance and sometimes this works out, particularly if both people have grown in self-awareness and have reflected wisely on their own part in why the relationship ended. The difficulty lies in how hard it is to change patterns and the couple can slip into old habits that cause the old problems to re-emerge. If you are considering reigniting your old love, it needs to be done with care and clarity and a determination to bring a freshness to all your engagements with each other. Be careful not to bring too much of an aspect of measurement to the relationship as it is hard for something to thrive when it is constantly being assessed. If you go down this route it might benefit you to have some sessions with a couple therapist, simply to help the two of you to identify what the pitfalls are and develop a plan to deal with them (familytherapyireland.com).

Your life is precious and you want to create the very best for yourself. You know it needs expansion and connection and this needs serious attention, regardless of whether you go back to your ex or not.