I’ve been writing and rewriting this post for a long time now, trying to buck up the courage to click “publish.” It’s very personal and I’m not sure the whole world needs to hear my thoughts on Single Lady Life, but recently some friends and family brought up my state of singleness over brunch. (Honestly, I’ll put up with anything if it involves brunch). Our conversation reinvigorated my passion about this topic, and made me brave (or foolhardy!) enough to finally click that button, so here we go . . .
Out all of my many personality quirks, my lack of a significant other seems to be the one that prompts the most unsolicited observation.
Ever since I was in high school, people have had Thoughts (yes, with a capital T) on this subject. At some point, nearly all my colleagues have tried to set me up with an acquaintance; my friends “accidentally” volunteer me to round out their dinner parties when there’s a single guy in attendance; and an uncomfortable number of business meetings begin with the inevitable question, “So, are you married/engaged/dating/single/etc.?” I once went into my bank for a meeting, and by the end of it, the manager was trying to get me to come back the following week so that she could introduce me to another client of hers.
Look, I get it. In pretty much every way, I fit into the Basic White Girl stereotype, and so it seems perfectly in line for me to have locked down some WASPy guy in finance by now. (No offense to WASPy guys in finance – I do love a good Brooks Brothers suit).
For those of you who see beyond the supposed Basic White Girl checklist (no offense to Basic White Girls – I’ll see you all at Starbucks later) and inquire about my dating life simply because you want me to find my Prince Charming and live happily ever after – I get that, too. I absolutely love attending weddings (OK, yes, the open bar and dance floor have a lot to do with it), because nothing makes me happier than celebrating friends who’ve found a permanent partner-in-crime. I understand that you hope I find that kind of companionship, too.
Yet even when I factor out shallow assumptions and good intentions, I’m still left with a lot of frustration over the number of people who feel like they know what’s best for me and my love life.
Maybe it’s stupid and self-centered to think that anyone is really that invested, but I spent the past week counting how many times someone made a comment about it, and I hit 22 before I lost count. That seems like enough to justify this post.
So here I am, finally saying everything I’d like to say about being single. Fellow Single Ladies, I’ve got your backs. Brunch sneak-attackers, I love you, too.
- I’m more than my relationship status – It’s 2018 and I can’t believe I even have to say this, but alas . . . I feel like I should amount to more than a ring on my finger or a man on my arm. I really do understand that just because you want me to find love doesn’t mean that you think I’m worthless without it. But sometimes, when you focus so deeply on my relationship status instead of my actual life, it feels like you find me lacking. I don’t want your pity, your concern, or your excessive psychoanalysis. I mostly just want you to watch Wonder Woman with me for a third time and to let me eat a couple of fries off your plate even after I said I didn’t want any.
- You’re not going to change my mind by talking at me – So many of my friends seem to think that they can simply wear me down into randomly dating someone, and that they know my motives for my dating choices thus far. For the record: I’ve been stubborn since the day I was born. You’re not going to talk me into something through sheer volume or length of conversation. I’ll listen to you, and if you’re someone close to me, I’ll definitely take what you’re saying seriously, but ultimately, I am my own person.
- I’m not afraid of being alone – No, I’m not afraid of dying alone. I’m not even afraid of being alone. Finding time just for myself is really, really hard to do and a genuine luxury when it happens. Maybe this will change down the road as more of my friends get married and start their own families, but for now it feels like I never have enough time in a day. I’ve spent years intentionally investing in my friends and family, and I’m lucky to have a lot of meaningful relationships in my life. Perhaps one day a significant other will be among them, but it doesn’t feel essential to me.
- I’m not afraid of being hurt – It always surprises me when people toss this one out. I’m a pretty straight-forward person, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a calculated risk-taker. By this I mean: it takes a lot to earn my trust, but I give it where it’s due. I’ve had incredibly close friends who’ve hurt me, and I know I’ve hurt them. It can be ugly, and heartbreaking, but life goes on. Sometimes the relationship is irreparable, but often we’re able to talk through our feelings and come out even stronger. I’m OK with being vulnerable with someone I trust. Sure, I don’t exactly wear my heart on my sleeve. But I also don’t play games and I know exactly who I am, warts and all. If you stick around for a bit you’ll find that my “walls” aren’t really as impenetrable as they seem.
- No, I’m not just being picky – This is probably the point of which people most often accuse me. Surprise! I don’t have a checklist someone has to pass before I’m willing to date them. I don’t really care what they look like or what their job is or where they went to school. Sure, it’d be great if he was taller than me even when I’m in heels (I wear a lot of heels), and could defend me from spiders, but none of those are “deal-breakers.” I will absolutely judge you by how you treat the wait staff and what you do with your grocery cart at the end of the shopping trip, but that’s about it. There are some things that deeply matter to me: Do you want to make a difference in the world? Do you have a sense of humor and do you get my jokes? Can we have a meaningful conversation? How much do you care what I look like? (Because this is probably as good as it’s going to get). Do you have passions and hobbies? I think that these are reasonable concerns and I’d hope that you’d hold me to them, too.
- It’s not a lack of confidence – Conversely, sometimes my friends suggest that I’m simply not confident enough in myself to seriously date someone. (Side note: I always have to laugh when someone tells me that I’m being picky but that I also need to be more confident. Pick one, people!) In some ways, maybe they’re right; I’m no Jennifer Lawrence. But I do know that I’m funny, adventurous, hard-working, thoughtful, loyal, caring, and a damn good gift-giver. I get along with everybody’s parents, I adore all kinds of animals, I’ll try almost anything once, I have a wide variety of hobbies and interests, I’ll pick you up at the airport at 3am on a Tuesday and I’ll even bring Chick-fil-A with me. I know who I am and what I bring to the table, even if it isn’t JLaw-level looks.
- I don’t actually share everything with the Internet (or you) – Just because I tend to share a lot online (you can’t really write a blog if you’re not willing to let people in), doesn’t mean that I share everything. There are some parts of my life about which I’m intensely private, and dating is one of them.
- I respect myself and him – I know that line, “It’s not you, it’s me,” is considered a total cliché, but I think there’s some merit to it. I respect myself enough to know if I just don’t click with someone, and I respect the guy enough not to lead him on. Often the disconnect really does lie with me, and it’s not fair to someone whom I admire and respect to pretend otherwise. My time is precious and so is yours, and often my schedule is too crazy, anyway. So I promise I’m not playing hard to get if I say no right off the bat, and I won’t let you waste your time and money (although I will always try and pay my own way!) on multiple dates if I don’t think we have potential. You deserve better than that.
- No, I don’t mind getting asked out/set up/introduced – Even though I’ve spent the past eight bullets lamenting perceived interference from friends and family, I want to be clear: I’m not actually opposed to meeting your roommate’s brother’s best friend. It’s actually very flattering that you think I’m worth someone’s time. I’m probably not going to want to meet the twice-divorced 40-year-old with 5 kids solely because we’re at very different stages in life, but I’m not close-minded and I’m not unreasonable. Go for it! Just please respect me if I say no, and don’t act like the sky is falling if I say yes.
- I’m not worried about it, so you shouldn’t be either – I love you all very, very much, and I realize that the brunch-based sneak-attack was merely an outpouring of love. But honestly guys, I have bigger things to worry about than my relationship status. I’m open to the possibility, but I’m not going to sweat it. If I’m single my whole life, it’ll be OK. If I date a guy for years and he dumps me, I’ll be pissed and probably take a few photos of him to target practice (or more accurately, Target practice, because #RetailTherapy!), but that’ll be OK, too. My point is this: I have a fabulous, full life. Maybe one day it will include a significant other, but if it doesn’t it’s not going to upset me and it shouldn’t upset you.
So, to all my Single Ladies – I hope this resonates with you! Let me know if I overlooked something you wish you could say to your friends and family who worry about your relationship status . . . And remember: relationships are wonderful, beautiful things. I hope you find the right one, if that’s your desire. But you are always enough, just as you are. And you matter to me.
To my friends and family – thank you for caring about me and for wanting every happiness for me. I am so very lucky to have people like you in my life, especially when I’m hangry (#BrunchForever) and not a particularly fun person to be around. I love you all more than words can say, and it’s probably because you’re so good to me that I don’t worry about my lack of significant other. You are significant to me and you have always made me feel significant as well.
And to the gentlemen reading this, who have been courageous and kind enough to ask me out over the years – thank you. Thank you for wanting to get to know me, for listening to me, and for making me feel attractive but for valuing me for more than that. Thank you for taking a risk and for being secure enough in yourselves to know that when it doesn’t work out, it isn’t a personal slight. Thank you for continuing to be my friends rather than being angry or awkward. Thank you for being the kind of men who will one day make the right woman so incredibly happy (if that’s what you want and if you haven’t found her already!), and who make the world a better place simply by being yourselves.
Thanks for reading, everybody . . . now I’m craving brunch!