I have a lot of thoughts about relationships. (You may have picked that up by the nature of most of my columns.) And while I’ve had some pretty serious “are we about to get engaged?” level of relationships in my time, for the last few years I’ve been starkly single.
read this if you're in your saving era this summer
And I’m fine with that. Not “fine” in the way people who are not fine say they’re fine. But truly, authentically fine. In fact, it seems as though everyone else is more concerned about my lack of a partner than I am—women’s magazines, my grandpa, my married friends, and, yes, the lady who does my nails. For a while in my early 20s I went to a church where they very starkly separated people into two groups: married and singles. I remember disgruntledly thinking that singles is a word for dollar bills, not people—but it was clear some people find comfort in these two labels.
It seems as though everyone else is more concerned about my lack of a partner than I am.
Now that I’m in my 30s, it seems the panic level is higher than ever…on my behalf. People are worried about my happiness, my finances, my eggs. And I often feel like I’m in the twilight zone, looking around at everyone screaming, waving their arms above their heads as I’m all, “Hey, does anyone wanna talk about other cool things besides boys?”
So, to ward off the worried folk who behave as though being single is something to be cured—and fast!—I thought I’d make a list of reasons why I am single. Maybe some of you “singles” out there (sorry, had to) have felt this same way—and to quote Arrested Development, “There are dozens of us!” So here is a non-exhaustive list of some of reasons why I am currently single.
1. I like being single.
Yes, it’s true. (GASP!) There are a lot of things I really love about being unattached. The other day, actually, I pictured myself in a serious relationship and got panicked thinking of all of the things I would miss about my current life. This is not everyone’s story, but it’s mine. I like my independence and I like staying up late at night, lounging diagonally across my bed eating crackers alone.
Satisfaction with my life isn’t based off of being paired off or not.
2. I choose the wrong men.
I have to be honest, sometimes I do think I have bad taste in men. Offense intended, exes. But instead of seeing this as The Big Bad Thing keeping me from my soulmate, I view it as I do any other baggage or hangup—I get counseling, I read juicy, soul-cleansing books, and I try and be as honest with myself as I can. Oh, and I regularly remind myself to open my eyes to different types of people that I wouldn’t normally be drawn to.
3. Timing is luck.
I read a glorious article the other day entitled “I Found Love Because I Got Lucky, not Because I Changed Myself.” In it the author basically debunks the idea that we have to do all of these clichéd things (put yourself out there! Become your best self! Let go and let god!) to find love. Here’s a great chunk:
“I’m here to tell you that I didn’t do anything differently than I normally did. I didn’t fundamentally change any part of myself to finally find a happy relationship: I didn’t read a slew of self-help books and start going to SoulCycle to Get Right. I didn’t try a new dating app or a new therapist, and I didn’t arrive at some place of spiritual enlightenment at the end of which I announced to the world, “I am ready for love,” with my arms outstretched in the air. Reader, I got lucky. That’s it. For once in my life I got phenomenally lucky. I’m still the same old me with the same insecurities and biases and hangups but now I’ve found someone I love very much who loves me back. My before and after photos look almost identical, except I’m not alone in the after one.”
So I may be single because of luck or timing (or both) or because I keep deleting all of my dating apps or because the person who lights me up and laughs at my jokes and brings my baked Cheetos hasn’t moved to Chicago yet. And to that I shrug and say c’est la vie.
4. Because it’s OK.
The thing I loathe most about the whole conversation is the idea that my satisfaction with my life and myself should be based off who is or isn’t in my bed or signed on my lease. What a disastrous way to approach life, actually. I read a book last year called Loving What Is and before you point your finger at me and scream “hippie!” let me say that it simply offers the badass (and for me life-changing) message that happiness can be found when we learn to embrace reality. I am single because I am single and that’s what today looks like, so hell, that’s what I’m goin’ with.
I hope that as the conversation continues to mature and develop, we can see outside of that binary way of defining ourselves by whether we are in or not in a relationship.
Before you think I am all zen and easy breezy, let me make clear that I completely understand (and empathize with) the fear, loneliness, and pain that can come from being without a partner. It can be especially brutal as we get older and our friends are married (and then divorced and then remarried) and as we realize we may never have kids the same age as our college girlfriends, all on their second or third baby. This is all real stuff.
I in no way want to diminish those feelings for any of you—I’ve been there. I’ve cried myself to sleep, I’ve bitched to friends about how terrible men are these days, I’ve read dating books and followed bad, trite advice on how to attract and keep and please a man (barf times one thousand).
And I’ll probably be there again—but I sort of hope not. I hope that as the conversation continues to mature and develop, we can see outside of a binary way of defining ourselves, and especially by whether or not we are in a relationship.
I hope that even if others see me as a sad spinster who exists solely to hold the door open for a woman pushing the double stroller, I see myself for all of the layers and complexities I possess. I hope I continue to appreciate how fulfilling my other relationships are. I hope that in my next relationship (if there is one), I don’t do to my single friends the well-intentioned things my coupled friends have done to me. I hope that we realize how many other fascinating things there are to know about a person other than who they call bae (or whom they refuse to call bae).
So there you have it, why I’m single. Now can someone please mail this to my Gramps?