It’s typically the third question I’m asked by people I haven’t talked to in a while. It comes up right after “how’s work?” and “where have you travelled to lately?”
Me: “No one.”
Them: “Oh, you’ll find someone.”
Me: “But I’m not looking.”
It’s not that I’m opposed to meeting someone. I just don’t feel it’s necessary. In my 20’s I did, but now I look back and recognize that was probably due to of pressure. My parents expected me, as their oldest daughter, to be the first to get married. Since they married in their early 20’s, I sent them into a panic when I wasn’t married as I approached 29. I couldn’t even mention a man around them without having to crush their bud of hope.
“John? Who is that?”
“Is he single?”
“Yes, but he has boyfriend.”
I’ve often been asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being alone when you’re old?” Given the current divorce rates, aren’t you?
Most of my friends were getting married then; some were having kids. I feared they’d all move away to suburbs where singles were uninvited or, worse, pitied at their annual block parties.
But eventually things changed, or at least my perspective did. I stopped seeing myself as a have-not and started appreciating what I have, which were all the things that didn’t require a plus-one. I have my own home and can do whatever I want in it. I often travel with friends, but I also enjoy traveling alone. And it turns out, I hate the suburbs.
I don’t hate dating, though, just what it’s become — online window-shopping or swiping of profiles that say nothing about a person beyond the fact that they like wearing jeans but also dressing up, going out or staying home for a quiet night. Mountains or beach? Both!
The last time I tried online dating was the last time I’d try online dating. It went something like this: We met for drinks, he ordered for me, insisting I try this awesome cocktail (it was not). Two hours later, as we were leaving, he said, “I realize this may be too soon, but I feel a real connection here. So I want to be up front with you. I’ve done time.”
He had served time for drug dealing, though he never sold to kids. So there’s that. When I had read “entrepreneur” in his profile, that’s not exactly what I had in mind.
Before you assume this was some big “incident” that turned me off dating, it wasn’t. It was years ago, and since then I’ve dated, even long-term. But I’ve also come to realize that online dating is, for me, a miserable means to a questionable end. Maybe marriage will happen; maybe it won’t. But it’s not a goal. I don’t feel a need to make it happen.
To those for whom meeting “the one” is a goal, I really hope you succeed. I have friends who have spreadsheets and shortlists and actively project-manage their dating with a focused energy I reserve for sample sales. As I listen to their countless stories of terrible dates, I’m sympathetic. I’ve been there. And I’m glad I’m not there now.
Many people find that last part difficult to understand: I’m happy being single. Maybe it’s because marriage and children have been the ideals for so long, with confirmed bachelor uncles and spinster aunts whispered about like family failures. Maybe it’s because we’re too focused on the future. I’ve often been asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being alone when you’re old?” Given the divorce rates, aren’t you?
I’ve also been told I’m too pessimistic, unwilling to fill my half-empty glass. Or, last week, a friend called me “unlucky,” as if finding someone is a lottery and I’m holding a losing ticket. More apt, perhaps, is that I haven’t bought a ticket at all. You have to be in it to win it, you know.
Why does being single sound so negative? Nearly 30% of U.S. households are singles, so I’m hardly alone in being alone. I’m sure many want to get married, but there are others, like me, who do not.
I’m not pessimistic, unhappy, or lonely. I have a wide circle of friends that I see often. I travel far and frequently. I have a home that I love, and enough wine to get me through the winter. I don’t feel there’s a void that needs to be filled.
I actually feel pretty lucky.