Looking for a companion at 40 is not easy

It is not often that I find myself longing for a romantic partner.

I have been happily single for nearly six years and I have spent far more time enjoying my independence than pining for a boyfriend.

But now that my kids are getting older and taking up less of my time, I have found myself wishing for a companion.

No matter how hard I tried to convince myself that I should start dating again, I am not looking for love. All I want is a friend to share my life with.

I have friends, of course.

Friends I hang out with at play-dates with our kids or friends who keep in touch throughout the day by text.

My friends know everything about my life, from my credit score to my past relationships.

But they are busy people.

They have their own families and careers and none of them has time to hang out together, late at night in our pyjamas watching Netflix.

The obvious solution to my problem would be to date again.

I have considered it, but I have no interest in romance.

A new partner would expect some degree of romance, perhaps to live together or get married down the line.

But I like being single and the last thing I need is someone touching me at the end of a long day.

For single mums like me, it is hard enough to find the energy to deal with the demands of work and home without adding in a partner.

Yet that does not mean we do not still need the type of companionship a partner can provide.

The problem is not limited to single mums, however.

I have heard my married friends complain about the same thing and often they look to their friends to really listen and offer emotional support.

So if even my happily married friends are not feeling fulfilled, it makes dating even less appealing to me.

In the past, perhaps women met their emotional needs with the company of other women but, in today's hectic world, there is only time to do so much - work and family have to come first.

My friends and I joke about creating mum compounds, where all of us live together and our kids could grow up in the village we all crave, but no one is picking up to move to the same block or apartment complex.

None of us has found our way to the type of companionship we want. I have joined clubs and activities, even a gym, but none of them has led to meaningful connections that progressed much beyond adding one another on social media.

As soon as we begin scheduling meet-ups, someone's child gets sick or work gets hectic and the relationship fizzles out before it begins.

My closest friends are scattered across the country and texting or messaging on Facebook is no substitute for the type of companionship I crave.

I live in Seattle, home to technology companies and software geeks.

My own phone feels like another limb to me.

But in the name of friendship, I have made a commitment to putting it away.

So far, all that has accomplished is giving me more time to watch other people using their phones.

Everywhere I go, all I see are people on their phones and often they have headphones on and a clear "leave me alone" vibe.

No matter how hard I try, it seems almost impossible to connect with someone on a deeper level when it is hard enough to say hello.

And, really, that is the rub.

I am pushing 40 and I am not interested in forming big groups of superficial friends.

I am looking for a deeper friendship that provides true companionship - soulmates if you will - and that has always been in short supply.

Finding someone who has the time and emotional space to spend real time together at my age feels as elusive as a unicorn.

People my age are busy and there is no time to spare on friendships. As much as I like to think I will find my ideal friend, as time goes on, it feels less likely.

Maybe when my kids are older and more people my age have empty nests, we will find the time to connect with one another.

I like to imagine myself meeting my friends for brunch on Sundays and dinner on Tuesdays, a geriatric version of the (TV series) Sex And The City crew, and maybe the idea is not so far-fetched.

There is no denying that all of us will have more time when our kids are grown and our careers feel less pressing.

But, for now, I am still looking.

Not for a hook-up, a date, a boyfriend or even a husband.

But for just the right friend who will not mind when I answer the door in my pyjamas or who cannot wait to meet to rehash last night's episode of The Handmaid's Tale.

I'd like to think they will be worth the wait.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 07, 2017, with the headline 'Looking for a companion at 40 is not easy'. Print Edition | Subscribe