I've been single for a long time. I've lost track of how long. Years, for sure, but not a decade—at least not yet, anyway!
And by single, I mean not partnered, exclusively or otherwise, and not even dating. I might have been on a date or two during this marathon of singleness, but those dates must have been so memorable that I can't remember them.
So, why am I single? By choice? Fate? Bad luck? Good fortune?
Heck if I know, other than being a member of the exclusive club of coupledom is not a priority for me. And that's probably the biggest issue if one were to think of being single as a problem.
Being single is often treated as a problem to be solved. As if a person couldn’t possibly be happy living solo, doing what she damn well pleases.
Single-shaming can be low key and come off as concern, but it’s pervasive. Our culture places heavy emphasis and value on being coupled, but this is discrimination and it needs to stop. This doesn’t get to me, but I know lots of single women who struggle with the inquiries about why they aren’t married/partnered and the like.
Occasionally, people have said things like: You are amazing/cool/interesting, why are you single? As if I can't possibly retain my amazing-ness outside of a couple. Friends, this is not a compliment. It's akin to the "you look good for your age" comment.
When I was younger, I was relationship-oriented. I stumbled into long relationships, and short ones, too, but none of them were as gratifying as being on my own. There were moments, yes, but on the whole, nope.
I like my time alone, to use it the way I want. I can't imagine making room for someone else's schedule. This admission makes me seem cranky and selfish, but I'm not—I know what I like and what works for me. I’d make the room, but not if it meant I’d have to settle. Someone would have to be pretty fabulous to give them calendar space (I hope you’re not settling, either).
Despite being protective of my time, I don't rule out a partnership/relationship of some sort. Lest you think I'm jaded, I'm not—at least not entirely—it’s not one of the reasons I remain unattached. I was jaded many years ago, but it wore off, or I just became unjaded somehow.
Romantic Love is a Lie
I don't believe in the romantic love mythology that we've all had shoved our way via movies, advertising, and well-meaning friends and family. I think it does a disservice, especially for younger people, who think permanence, happily-ever-after, and the one are goals to pursue.
Nothing is forever: life, trees, reality TV, or relationships. Everything has a lifespan, so why should a relationship between humans, who are prone to whims, changes of heart, and general unpredictability, be any different?
Of course, this doesn't mean there aren't exceptions. Those long-term couples who have been together for six or more decades, and the monogamous partnerships that genuinely work for both parties, but things change—people grow, and in the presence of new information, people's needs and desires evolve. To think this won't happen, or that it's a failure if it does, means the thinker is not living in reality and needs to expand their idea of success.
When people fall out of love with us it sucks. But it's far better to be in an honest and loving relationship for a shorter period than to muscle our way through a love that's tainted with deception and resentment, only to then, finally, come apart.
If I were to become romantically involved, my paramour and I would need to create a different relationship model than the one we’ve been fed.
I wouldn’t walk the well-worn path that's resulted in so much discontent. I’d want something more liberated, a connection infused with honesty and space—breathing room to be something more than a snapshot in time that we cling to (don't ever change!). To be expansive enough to love open-heartedly, instead of strangling the love and affection with a possessive closed fist. To allow our personhoods to flourish, instead of merge until one can no longer tell the left lung from the right.
But that's not likely to happen for me, and that's okay. I stay open to the possibilities, but I am a realist. My current status shows no sign of changing.
Reasons I'm Likely to Stay Single
I think I'm a bit too odd for most people. I know we all feel weird or strange, and we are, but my quirks are plentiful enough that I imagine no one would want to put up with me. Some days I can barely put up with me!
For instance, I'm undisciplined. I don't work a regular job; I haven't had a job for about 16 years. Working for myself has been the best thing ever, but it makes me prone to bouts of laziness, overwork, and extreme napping. I work when I need to and want to, when my body and brain permits, not according to a boss's demands or time clock.
I'm not fond of a lot of things that most people like. Here I go again painting myself as cranky, but it’s true. I can be a real buzzkill for some people.
I don't like TV even though I have one for the first time in 25 years. It sits in my living room, brooding. Sometimes I turn it on when I notice it, either to watch something in Portuguese or Netflix. Yes, I have Netflix—now there's something people like!
I don't enjoy going to the movies, festivals, theme parks, or fairs—anything where people are in a contained space and/or are loud and well, just everywhere.
Lots of people + loud noise + bright lights = no fun for me.
I used to suffer through these things I thought I was supposed to enjoy until I stopped doing things out of obligation.
I'm not a sports fan, either, and although I like nature, I'm not particularly outdoorsy. I like the great indoors as much as the great outdoors. I wish I had the sporty gene, but I think my brother got mine as well as his.
And alas, I'm not a partier; I don't drink. Oh, and I don't eat animals, either. Clearly, I'm no fun at parties (the ones I don't go to).
Proposed Dating Profile
Based on the above, can you imagine my online dating profile? Perhaps it would go something like this:
Left-handed quick-witted introvert. Writer, reader, thinker, daydreamer, in search of that special someone (or two) who doesn't mind my need to have things in their place (except for that ever-growing pile of papers) and is willing to indulge this inclination. No crumbs on the counter, please.
The ideal candidate won't mind eating mostly the same foods over and over (would be best if they enjoyed chick peas, broccoli, and pasta), won't goad me to try a sport or gym that I already know I won't like, and will accept my long periods of quiet solitude without making it about them.
In return, once I come out of my protective shell, you'll have a fierce, kind, loving, funny, devoted, and sometimes frustrating human with whom you can share all your dreams and secrets (they'll be safe with me).
Yeah, I'll be single for a long while, I suppose.
I hope you found these musings on being single to be a bit fun. I'm okay with my status, and I hope you read nothing but playful self-examination into my words. I’m not fishing for anything—especially to be told that I’ll find someone. Really :)
Alternatives to a Standard Relationship (yearly renegotiation & separate spheres sounds good to me!)
Marvel at these photos —> The Incredible Ice Formations of Lake Baikal
Food Work via Culture Study
Conversations with Friends and Normal People, two novels by Sally Rooney
—> If you enjoy life: examined, please support me by sharing it—and if you want, you can buy me a coffee. Thank you—it keeps me caffeinated, inspired, and writing!
Shanna: Saw you today on Andrew D's YouTube video and just now pouring through your posts. Likely will take you up on the 1-hour discussion (12-18 months out from PT). Your comments hit home - divorced, tried online dating (I'm at 5' 6", but even the shortest of women at 60-ish are pining for a tall, handsome, romantic, cowboy gentleman partner? Get a grip!) Nonetheless, a minimalistic, non-materialistic, stoic, grateful life is a beautiful thing. Life should be an interesting adventure - paired or not - every moment savored. Hope to talk soon. Thanks again for your post.
Lovely piece. I am currently paired up but more of my life has been just me, myself and I, and I was quite happy that way. So often it seems like people let themselves be convinced that they need to value being in a committed relationship no matter the costs (same thing goes for having children). I think it’s a gift to be comfortable with yourself by yourself and that doesn’t mean you are unable to be open to a romantic relationship if the right person(s) come along. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they do but are a good fit for your life only for a short time.