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What 2020’s Female Presidential Hopefuls Can Teach Young Women

They didn’t always follow the traditional romantic script, and you don’t have to either

Young women seeking inspiring role models on how to build a satisfying life need look no further than Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson. Not because they are running for president, as exciting as that is, but because they have somewhat outside-the-box life stories beyond the traditional romantic script.

You can be single

Harris was a never-married 50-year-old when she married Doug Emhoff in 2014, and instantly became stepmom to his two children.

As a single, professional women in my forties, and very much in the public eye, dating wasn’t easy. I knew that if I brought a man with me to an event, people would immediately start to speculate about our relationship. I also knew that single women in politics are viewed differently than single men. We don’t get the same latitude when it comes to our social lives.”

Still, she has lived most of her adult life as a single woman.

So many of us have not attended to the deeper issues in ourselves; in our minds, our hearts, and in our external manifestations that keep love at bay. We instead concentrate on making a list of what we’re looking for in another person. We would be better off making a list of the aspects of our own lives that we can either point to as places where we are prepared for love, or point to and recognize as places where we still need work.

The takeaway: Single women and single mothers can have rich, fulfilling lives.

You can find love at midlife

Harris was 49 when she met the man who would be her first husband, and 50 when she married — in other words, middle-aged. So much for the message that older women become invisible and aren’t valued in the dating market! Clearly, that is not the case.

You can have a starter marriage

Gabbard and Warren both married young, divorced and married a second time. When Gabbard married Abraham Williams in 2015, she was 33 and he was 26. Her first marriage, to her childhood sweetheart when she was 21, lasted four years and ended, she says, because of the strain of her being deployed for 18 months in Iraq.

You can be the breadwinner

Remember the headlines declaring that when wives out-earned their husbands, the hubs weren’t too happy? That would be enough to make any professional woman pause. And yet, here are Gillibrand and Klobuchar, earning more than their husbands and — guess what? — Gillibrand’s been married for 18 years and Klobuchar for 26 years.

You can be childfree

The U.S. has had five childless presidents, but that didn’t seem to be much of a problem because they were men. A childless woman? That’s a different thing because there’s still a belief that all women naturally have a maternal instinct ( we don’t).

You can create your own life

All of the female presidential candidates have had long, successful careers, some while raising children, some solo, some with supportive partners, some while going through the turmoil of romantic breakups. They have had to face judgment for their choices and all have faced, and continue to face, gender bias. And yet they are undeterred.

Written by

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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