ICF-certified life coach, dating/relationship coach, and long-time fitness professional Treva Brandon Scharf paid her dues in the dating world. She loved and lost, dumped and got dumped, and finally became a first-time bride at the age of 51. Her debut book, Done Being Single: A Late Bloomer’s Guide to Love (Greenleaf Book Group, March 21), is part self-help/dating advice, part-memoir, and 100% delightful. We are pleased to share this Q&A with the author, along with an excerpt from her book.
Question: Why did you write Done Being Single and why is it important that people read it?
Treva Brandon Scharf:
After a few years of blogging about later-in-life-love, I decided I wanted to go deeper and tell the untold story behind the stories. Not just the lessons I learned, but the actual events that inspired the lessons. The lessons are the backbone of the book, and regardless of your age or relationship status, I like to think there are universal things to learn about life, love, and the human condition. That’s why people should read it.
Question: How did you resist societal, familial, and peer pressures to get married?
I didn’t resist societal, familial, and peer pressure, as much as I powered through it, made the best of my situation, and pressed on. I took full ownership of my singleness, made it look good, and managed to find enjoyment in it, so who could argue with that?
Question: What is single shaming and how did you cope with it?
Single shaming is subtle or not so subtle judgment of your single status. It’s feeling less than or a second-class citizen because you’re not married or in a relationship. It comes with the territory when you’re single, and you have to have either a thick skin or a rock-solid sense of self (both of which I had in between moments of extreme self-consciousness). Coupledom is still the ultimate prize and a high mark of achievement in our society, and I bought right into it. I subscribed to it. I thought I’d have more legitimacy and acceptance if I was married—or at least I’d get less judgment. It’s like a club you can’t get membership to because you don’t have the right credentials or pedigree. I coped with it because I had no choice. It was singles survival, plus I didn’t want to give the haters the satisfaction of making me feel bad.
Question: Your book contains a lot of advice on self-love and acceptance. Why is radical self-reflection so important for self-improvement?
Taking a hard look at yourself (and your patterns, habits, and choices) is radical self-reflection. Your issues may be painful to face, difficult to hear, and cringey to admit, but when you take responsibility for your part, you’re taking the first steps toward growth, change, and acceptance. Radical self-reflection can open up new worlds, heal old wounds, and set you on a better path.
Question: What are the top three pieces of advice you hope readers walk away with?
- Own your timeline without apologies. If it takes you a little longer to find yourself or achieve your goals, so be it. Go at your own pace, but always keep moving forward. You’ll bloom when you’re ready.
- In dating and in life, put forth your best effort, then detach from the results.
- The most important relationship is with yourself, so make sure you nurture it with love, allow it grace and forgiveness, treat it with kindness, and always remind it of its worth.
Question: Can you include an anecdote that’s included in Done Being Single?
“As a coach, I believe there’s strength in the struggle, but I also believe there’s strength in having faith. Not the religious kind, not even the spiritual kind, but the kind that reminds you that if you don’t lose another pound, fit into your jeans, get married or remarried, or have abs of steel, you’ll live.
Being single takes faith. Faith that your person is out there, that finding The One is a real possibility. Without faith, why date? Why swipe? Why bother? But there’s another kind of faith required to be single: faith that you’re going to be just fine being single.”
Question: Who is the ideal reader for Done Being Single? Did you have an audience in mind when you began writing?
When I began writing, my goal was to speak to post-50 singles and late bloomers, but as it turned out, I ended up writing for readers of all kinds, interested in achieving their personal best in life and love.
Question: You have a blog and podcast as well, correct? Tell us about those and where else readers can follow you!
I have a blog I originally called “The Late Blooming Bride” (I’m now The Menopausal Wife LOL) and a podcast called “Done Being Single,” that I host with my husband. Both blog and podcast can be found at my website www.trevabrandonscharf.com.
Definition of a Late Bloomer From a Self-Identified Late Bloomer
by Treva Brandon Scharf
The following is an excerpt taken with permission from Done Being Single: A Late Bloomer’s Guide to Love by Treva Brandon Scharf
This was supposed to be the plan: meet a nice Jewish guy in my 20s (early 30s at the latest), date for a couple years, get married, have a big wedding, move into a white-picket-fence house in some upscale neighborhood in West LA, have a few kids, quit whatever job I had to become a soccer mom, a lady who lunches, and a full-time wife to my suit-and-tie banker, lawyer, or doctor husband.
As a child born in the early 1960s, I, along with countless girls of my era, bought into the social and cultural norms about love and marriage, along with the timelines and expectations that came with them. Back then it was a for- gone conclusion you’d get married at a designated time, to a designated person, according to a designated plan.
But that didn’t happen for me. It didn’t happen in my 20s, 30s, or even in my 40s. As my mid-40s crept into late-40s, I knew there was a problem. There’s no technical term for it, so I made one up:
I had late-onset marriage.
Having late-onset marriage meant that the husband, wedding, white- picket-fence house, and kids, would all have to wait. The married life I was supposed to have wasn’t happening—and might not happen at all—so I had no other choice than to go to Plan B. What was Plan B, you ask? Realizing this was going to take a while, so I had better get on it.
Plan B wasn’t what I wanted, not what my parents wanted, and not what anyone expected. If there had been a Vegas sports betting line in 1963 on my wedding date and you laid down 50 bucks on the over/under, you’d be a gazil- lionaire right now. No one ever thought I’d be so late to my own wedding, let alone the oddsmakers.
As I like to say, I didn’t choose to get married at 51. It chose me.
The odds of me getting hitched after 50 weren’t good, and Newsweek magazine confirmed that with a story in 1986. The article carried the headline “Too Late for Prince Charming?” and included an alarming prediction: “It’s easier to be killed by a terrorist than it is to find a husband if you’re over the age of 40.” It set off mass hysteria and panic for single women everywhere. The article has been debated and debunked so many times over the years that Newsweek eventually retracted it. The trauma that ensued is still fresh in my mind.
I was 23 when the article came out, a year out of college and living in New York City at the time, with a bright future ahead of me and marriage somewhere on the horizon. I saw the hysteria the story caused, but didn’t get hysterical, nor did I get the panic memo. Who were these women who couldn’t get married? I naively thought that all women could get married when they wanted, regardless of age. My thinking was “Of course I’m going to get married one day, so why hurry? I’m young, attractive, and there’s a whole world of guys who will want to marry me. I’ve got my pick.” Ha! Little did I know it would apply to me many years later, when the panic finally set in, and I no longer had my pick. Last laugh on me.
Marching to a Different Drummer
I didn’t set out to be a late bloomer or a late-blooming bride, but here I am writing this book as both. It only took me 50 years, but according to my schedule, I’m right on time.
That’s how we late bloomers roll. We take our time, march to the beat of our own drummers, and follow our own cadence and tempo, regardless of the rhythm around us. We go at our own pace. Our success can be slow-going, or sometimes not at all. Our greatest asset is patience; so is our greatest challenge. Our destinations may be different, but our journeys are the same: we get to where we’re going just a little later than most.
Being late is the story of my life—maybe it’s your story too.
There are all kinds of definitions of late bloomer, but my favorite is “an adult whose talent or genius appears later in life.”
I’m no genius, but when it comes to getting married, I do feel there was a kind of unintended genius by waiting. Waiting gave me ample time to figure out who I was and what I wanted (and didn’t want, which is just as important). Waiting allowed me to tie up loose ends, resolve old issues, and get emotionally healthy. Waiting taught me to appreciate the insights a late-blooming life can give.
But the truth is, everyone is a late bloomer in some way; we’re all a work in progress, and we blossom a little bit more every day. The learning, growing, and evolving never stops.
Late bloomer or no late bloomer, there’s nothing wrong with taking your time, especially when it comes to love. Taking your time allows you to be more discerning about whom you date and let into your life. Plus, it gives you more time to weed out the riff-raff.
When I was single, I must’ve cleared a thousand acres of dating riff-raff before I could even see what I wanted. Just to be sure, I went out with all kinds: Average Joes, Prince Charmings, Peter Pans, confirmed bachelors, nerds, titans of indus- try, unemployed actors, and guys you bring home to Mother.
I was an equal opportunity dater whose dating life was like a cross between an international food court and a Hometown Buffet.
At the same time I was plowing through dates, I was plowing through jobs, trying to figure out what I wanted to be.
My first job was in advertising, where I discovered my knack for writing. In New York, I worked my way up from creative assistant to copywriter at ad agency BBDO. My early writing assignments included salad bar hangers for Pizza Hut, print campaigns for Pepsi, and trade ads for Visa. After five years, I moved back to Los Angeles and continued working in advertising. I wrote menu copy for Baja Fresh, online banners for Martha Stewart, liner notes and press releases for a record company, web copy for assisted living facilities, on-air pro- mos for urban comedies, and movie posters for studios. I’ve also written reality TV content, feature film scripts, blogs, and now, a self-help memoir.
I was a true freelancer in every sense of the word, in that I never stayed with one gig or guy for that long. One could say I had job and relationship ADHD. As a result, it was hard getting traction in any one area. So in addition to having lousy timing, I had even worse staying power.
I hadn’t met the right guy, and the fact that I was too self-reliant and inde- pendent (if that’s even a thing), didn’t help. I’m an Aquarius, and we prize our independence. I also have a Capricorn rising and a Virgo moon, so I’m a hard worker, but have a neurotic side. I’m obsessively organized, analytical, picky, and controlling. My closets and drawers are color-coded, my bra and underwear always match, and clutter sends me into a mental tailspin. I’m also claustrophobic, so small spaces and the wrong relationships tend to freak me out.
I realized that the need for constant change—and slowness—had become a pattern, and not a productive one, and yet I felt helpless to do anything about it. The wiring was already installed, and the die cast. Was it some kind of pathology? A personality quirk? My parents’ failed marriage and angst-ridden divorce? Or maybe it was my high tolerance for being on my own that played a part in my romantic life failing to launch in a timely manner.
Regardless of reason or cause, I ended up being late to just about all of life’s important dates.
About the Author
Treva Brandon Scharf is a late bloomer, born and raised in Beverly Hills by two Hollywood talent agents. She is the product of divorce, an admitted commitment-phobe, serial dater, marriage first-timer at 51, and badass with a heart of gold.
A former advertising copywriter, Treva is an ICF-certified life coach, dating and relationship coach, and long-time fitness professional. When Treva isn’t dispensing tough love dating advice, she’s a Special Olympics coach and mentor to at-risk kids. She is passionate about politics, policy, and people of all ages and abilities.
Treva co-hosts the podcast Done Being Single with her husband Robby Scharf, a fellow late bloomer. Together, they deliver dating intervention and relationship advice to listeners all over the world.
Treva’s writing and interviews have been featured on Bustle, Yahoo Health, AARP, Business News Daily and UpJourney. She’s a voice for strong, independent women, an advocate for empowered singles, and a champion of late bloomers everywhere.