Happily Married, 40 and Dating


“I want to meet someone that feels like I have known them forever. Someone that’s a great storyteller AND a good listener. someone who’s adventurous, optimistic and a lover of life.”

I strike up conversations on street corners, in bike shops and at restaurants.  I ask people out on Instagram and go to meet-ups with the hope there might be a spark.  I let people set me up on blind dates and am always scanning the room at get-togethers to see who catches my eye.   

I want to meet someone that feels like I have known them forever.  Someone that’s a great storyteller AND a good listener.  Someone who’s adventurous, optimistic and a lover of life.  Someone who smiles often, makes me feel special and always says YES. 

Oh yes, I am happily married, 40 and it damn sure feels like I am dating, as I am making new friends.

Without having a workplace to ground myself in I was concerned as to how I would meet people in one of the biggest cities in the world.  I know myself well enough to understand that I need friends in my life.  My worst days are when I spend too much time alone.  My best days are when I am surrounded by people I love.  I knew when moving here Mission #1 was to create a community of like-minded people for myself.

Wildly, Tokyo is the smallest town I have ever lived in.  I can’t leave my apartment without saying hi to at least three people on the street.  I open my curtains in the morning and wave to friends below (which is kinda creepy and I need to stop.)  Everyone knows everyone.  Never in my life have I experienced a community like this.  It’s a combination of connections through the boys’ school, a bond over speaking English and living in an expat area.  I think this happens because:

We all need each other.  No one has a mother-in-law to reach out to, a high school friend to lean on or a sister to ask a favor of.  We have each other.  And on top of that, so many of us have spouses that are traveling like crazy, so when you need something, it is a friend you call.  

We want to learn about each other.  This life attracts curious people and it’s incredible to be so close with humans from all over the world that you feel comfortable asking about their culture.  Every day I learn boatloads.

Friendship happens on an accelerated level.  Back in MN, I saw my friends once a month if I was lucky.  Here, we can see each other all the time.  Day in and day out.  So weirdly, you meet someone and in two weeks, you call them a real friend.  

I’m open. Like really open. Like, kinda obnoxious, you can feel it in my energy open.

And of course, just like dating there are people you have instant connections with.  And people you don’t.  People that you feel like you have known forever and others that you still struggle to feel comfortable around.  Plus, for the first time in my entire life, I have the freedom to be so authentically me.  I don’t have a boss to impress, a reputation that needs tending to or a client to watch my mouth around.  I get to dig deep into who I really am and find people that love me for me.

Beautifully, in the short time I have been here, I have met people that, without a doubt, will be friends for life.  Whose guest room will always be open for us and vice versa. That being said, I am also starting to feel the heartbreak of expat life as the city exhales people you don’t want to let go of quite yet.

But just like that, the city inhales once again and new people arrive. Adventurous ones. Optimistic ones. Lovers of life. And I realize that I will never stop dating in this town, as there is always room for more amazing friends.

Melissa BertlingComment