From Our ReadersThe Truth About Being SingleFrom Our Readers

I’m pretty sure I read somewhere once that to be young and single is the ideal life. Well, if that’s the case, I think we can correctly assume that my life is ideal. If you, however, are like pretty much any other normal human being, that is only “ideal” when you’re in between relationships and are currently exercising a massive amount of hatred and disdain towards your most recent ex. Or all of your exes. People only like to revel in their “singleness” when they don’t have something better.

I’m 24. And I’ve been single for every single one of those years. Incredible, right? Now, before you think I’m asexual, a closet lesbian, take fashion tips from Richard Simmons, have hair that resembles Weird Al’s mane, or that I’m a crazy feminist who runs around braless, let me kill the suspense – I happen to like my bra very much, thank you.

What’s interesting is it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really started becoming conscious of my “single” life. It used to be something I only acknowledged in the presence of my other single friends on nights where we would get together, make pizza and cookie dough, and eat ourselves into comas while watching the same Rom Coms over and over [I can accurately quote the entirety of Pride & Prejudice, both versions]. We would laugh until we cried, gossip about the boyfriends we would have someday. So what if “our boys” hadn’t shown up yet? We were waiting for that twist in the last act. We were young, alive, and crazy. We had other plans to take care of.

Then the inevitable happened. It was only a matter of time before all of my single friends started finding significant others. It came to the point where it was more common to see a relationship status or an engagement announcement on Facebook than an Instagram photo. Friends got into relationships, broke up, dated each other, broke up, dated other people, broke up… and all this time I’m still flailing around in my singledom, giving advice to these friends that I am in no way qualified to give. I received my first wedding invitation in the mail recently – my first friend from freshman year at college. I knew it would happen at some point, but it still was like someone threw a left hook at my jaw: I’m now at the age where you aren’t necessarily off-your-rocker-crazy to be getting married so young, but rather it’s an increasingly acceptable next move in your life.

I love the idea of weddings. There is so much joy and hope and love filling every single moment. But if you wanted to pick an event that seemed to erect neon signs against your will that flashed SINGLE! SINGLE! SINGLE! above your head, a wedding would be the ideal occasion for that. While everyone is swirling about in the merriment of love, you’re left dancing with the five-year-old ring bearer. We all love the ring bearer, but after an hour of acquiescing his requests to be lifted every ten seconds, you’re left feeling incredibly sore and incredibly lonely.

I never used to feel lonely. Alone? Absolutely. But there’s more to loneliness. You can be alone without being sad, without aching in a way that you don’t understand. Loneliness is different. You can be in a room filled with your favourite people in the world and loneliness can still sneak it’s devilish little head in and prey on you. Loneliness is a different kind of beast that feeds on your barely kept composure and confidence until you are ridden with a feeling that you don’t want to call hopeless.

I tried to figure out when that transition happened, when I went from being alone to feeling lonely. It’s like one day the world thought it would be amusing to obnoxiously point out what I was missing; like I needed a violent shove from my “I’m single and content” state to an “I’m single and I really don’t want to be” state. And now, when my mind fails to distract itself, loneliness creeps in. I end up internally flouncing around in my anxieties about just how single I am. When did this happen? And when I can’t find any more shiny objects to divert my attention to, I am left talking myself into circles, frantically trying to figure out why I’m single. Am I simply craving attention? How is it possible that I so desperately want something that I have never experienced and can’t begin to understand? Why am I left sitting at the singles table? Am I too independent? Am I too loud? Am I too opinionated? Am I too tall? Is it me? What am I doing wrong?

And that is what I hate the most. Those thoughts that I struggle to keep to a minimum, but are enough to disgust me for hours. I hate thinking that I’m single because for some reason I’m not good enough. What does that even mean? Why can’t I bury that thought in an inaccessible filing cabinet in the most remote corner of my brain? But after so many years of failing, the common denominator in every single equation is me.

Sometimes people try to tell me I’m not ready to be in a relationship. Or that contrary to everything I have felt my entire life, it’s obviously not what I really want, that if I truly wanted a relationship, I’d be in one. Who IS ready for a relationship? Is there some test that I don’t know about? Did I fail it without knowing I even took it? And you’re right, I’d much rather fall asleep hoping for that one day instead of experiencing it.

Over the years, there were boys who expressed interest. Some were never going to be right for me. Some were very good friends. Some were guys who I managed to hoodwink into asking me on a real date. But nothing ever worked. I never seemed to get past that fateful first date. And as a strong young woman in this world, I’d like to fancy myself invincible to the flitting emotions that so many women in the world have fallen prey to in the past. I hate that I have become this girl who finds the thought of being single so disorienting and the thought of a relationship so daunting. I have no idea how to be close to someone. I never wanted to need anyone. Am I single because I’m independent or am I independent because I’ve always been alone?

Sometimes when I’m walking down the street, I’ll see two teens wrapped up in each other on a park bench, stealing kisses. Or my roommate’s boyfriend will come over one night, excited about the elaborate plan he concocted for their one-year-anniversary. Or an elderly couple will amble by, holding hands like they never want to let go. Or the couple kissing in the middle of the street in spite of everyone watching, because fuck it, they are in love and who gives a damn about anyone else. Good for those people; I want what you have.

I met a boy once. A boy who I thought was a game changer. A boy who could change my world. A boy who could silence every doubt, every hopeless thought I ever had. A boy who had the power to fill the empty spaces in my life. This boy was not like the other boys. And yet, after years of being an unwilling and yet very willing participant in some elaborate and twisted dance, nothing happened, save for the bullet that shot a gaping hole in my parachute of hope. A hole that sent me crashing to the ground, snapping every bone in my body. I thought that just once I wouldn’t be left picking up the million little pieces my heart had been smashed into, telling myself “you knew better.”

You’re probably thinking that that sounds like an overly dramatic response for someone to respond so intensely over something that hovered in the grey area that comes before relationship, but when you are me and you haven’t had a real relationship, this was, and somedays still is, incredibly heart-wrenching. While everyone seemed to gracefully glide into their twenties, my emotional-age was left somewhere around 17. Everything is still new to me. I’m still working it all out. I’m still trying to figure out what it all means. So when it crashes and burns, I fall harder than I think I should at my age. And that is frustrating, since I fancy myself Superwoman. But at the end of the day, I have perfected the art of rebuilding. I pick up those scattered pieces, I find the strongest glue in the world, and I delicately rebuild myself, scared to death that one day I won’t be able to find all the pieces or they won’t fit anymore.

The truth is, I can’t wait to be in love with someone who is in love with me. And that fact hurts me because I can only sit here hoping and wishing that I’m one of the lucky ones, while never forgetting the reality that I might never be.

By Holly V Furman & Kayla Jackson

comments

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  1. So do I.

  2. Just wanted to say that I was in the same boat as you (only differing in that I briefly dated a nice guy that I didn’t really care for in that way because I was lonely, but this didn’t make me happy, of course). I had felt the way that you describe since graduating college; I wanted to meet someone and still hadn’t by the time I was 27. On my 28th birthday, I met a man who had been looking for someone to love too. We met at a party and we conversed for 5 hours without pause. That was almost 5 years ago. We’ve been married for over 3 years now and we are happier than ever and love each other more than ever. It can happen. I am not sure I would have believed that if it hadn’t happened to me, but it is true. Of course, it happened after I had given up on NYC and determined to leave for other experiences and was no longer looking for a relationship :-)

  3. I know exactly what you’re feeling because I’ve felt it too. Although I am still single, I feel less of what you’re feeling. I just recently wrote a blog post describing my change of heart. If nothing else, I hope it will give you something to think about.

    http://craftysojourner.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/the-s-word/

  4. This is amazing! Although I have been in a relationship before (mostly in high school), I have fallen privy to the single life in college and it is so damn hard. You wouldn’t think so (by the amount of hook ups and one night stands), but when I see people in a serious, committed relationship, I can’t help but feel a little envious.

    I promised myself, before I entered college that I would focus solely on myself and my education. I didn’t want another guy interfering with my personal growth and stifling me like my last boyfriend did. So, therefore in giving up harmless dating or jumping into a relationship with someone, I have sacrificed potentially having a relationship with some great guy.

    Anyways, thank you for such a truthful and transparent piece of work. It’s amazing when you hear about people who are going through the same things you are, and who feel the same just as well. I think being single gives you time to focus on yourself & what you want out of a partner, instead of just falling for someone who shows interest in you. Being “Superwoman” is way more awesome.

  5. My best friend sent me this and said, “Did you write this?” Because i might as well have. Im so happy that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  6. Just remember – you can hide in the bathroom when they throw the bouquet at weddings. :)

  7. The title of this article bothers me. This is not the truth about being single, this is the truth about how you feel about being single. I understand a lot of the feelings you mention in there, I actually went through most, but I don’t think every single girl/woman feels like you. Of course there is the loneliness and the heartache when you see couples around you. But I do think everybody is different and loneliness can be appreciated. After all you can’t never see things as clearly as when you are single and empty of feelings for anyone.
    On a lighter note: keep in mind that in 3 years, it’s really likely that your married friends will envy you ;)

  8. Me before I met my boyfriend. We got together this year and with been friends for 2 years before that. I’m 26 btw and yep, he’s my first. Keep hoping! He’s just around the corner and he’s absolutely worth the wait. :)

  9. I’m 22, and this might as well be a page from my diary. It’s one of those things that I’m glad other people are going through it and find solace in that, but knowing you’re not going it alone doesn’t really make it any easier or hurt any less, either. Here’s to keeping out chins up and our hearts open. <3

  10. When I read this, it was like reading about my own life. Then seeing all of the comments from others in the same situation made me feel somewhat better. We’re not alone in this. It’s happening to a lot of us. I’ve had the same burning questions of “What’s wrong with me?” and “What can I do to become a better person (to get a good relationship)?” but the truth is that there’s nothing wrong with me. Sure, I can be a better person, but that may or may not change anything. In fact, it didn’t. I tried showing interest in one of the Game Changers, but after years of inexperience, I just didn’t know how to show him how I felt without worrying he’d scamper away like a little woodland creature. Just as I had gotten my courage up to say something, he got together with a mutual friend of ours; a girl who is almost the complete opposite of me and has already been married once. Leaving me, once again, to compare myself to others and wonder “What’s wrong with ME?” I don’t think there’s something “wrong” with any of us, but it doesn’t answer the question as to why those of us who really want this to happen in our lives somehow can’t make it happen. I try to remain positive, but it’s hard sometimes.

  11. are you me writing from other time? i’m there, even the boy, everything, is all in your article. it’s actually scary.
    if you ever find some answer besides the glue one…. i bed you please let us know. and if you find yourself as one of the lucky ones, also let us know. i’ll be thrilled to kick you out of our cell/club.

  12. This is the most perfect article I’ve ever read and I FEEL YOU on all of it. Seriously. I’ve grown tired of listening to love songs with no one to direct them at.

  13. I’m 28 years old and have also been single my entire life. I’ve never really had a serious relationship -other than momentaneous hook ups and flings-. It’s not easy being single and at times you feel hopeless and all of those silly thoughts start popping up in your head that maybe you are the problem. Believe it or not i have also had my heart broken- even if I have never been in a serious relationship-. But just like you mentioned in your article, when you feel that this guy will be “the guy” and then he let’s you down, it’s like that whole dream you had built up get’s destroyed to smithereens. But there’s a quote from C.S Lewis that has always kept my hopes up and that I always read when I feel this way, which is the following: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” Hope this quote helps you as much as it has helped me :)

  14. This paragraph made me cry:

    I met a boy once. A boy who I thought was a game changer. A boy who could change my world. A boy who could silence every doubt, every hopeless thought I ever had. A boy who had the power to fill the empty spaces in my life. This boy was not like the other boys. And yet, after years of being an unwilling and yet very willing participant in some elaborate and twisted dance, nothing happened, save for the bullet that shot a gaping hole in my parachute of hope. A hole that sent me crashing to the ground, snapping every bone in my body. I thought that just once I wouldn’t be left picking up the million little pieces my heart had been smashed into, telling myself “you knew better.”

    I could have written this!

  15. I’m 25 and in the exact same state, from the loneliness to feeling like its something about me. From those countless wedding photo, and baby photos crossing my stream on a daily basis, giving me such terrible loneliness, from the lack of actual relationships etc. You hit it on the head! Thank you for making me see that its not just me that feels this way.

  16. Amen sister! I’m in the exact same boat at 25. I date but it never gets past 3 at the most and then we both move on. And I, like you, was so content up until recently when the little voices in my head started to chirp up. I flit from telling everyone how much I LOOOVE being single to deciding to join Tinder! It’s a horrible feeling. But my dad said to me recently “There’s someone out there for everyone” so… fingers crossed

  17. Story of my life! I love this article.

  18. This has put into words exactly how I feel at the age of 30, never been on a date,kissed or even really flirted with… its hard to be in that space when 80% of the people in your life are in relationships, engaged,married and have kids… and trying to explain when they don’t really understand…and never will…its hard… thanks for letting me know that somewhere in this big world others DO understand. I have accepted the reality that maybe I am meant to be single… I am not actively seeking anyone anymore… sometimes its better to build your life without that hope…because if it never comes at least you have a life. But yes, your last paragraph… is what is in my head and heart!

  19. Thank you for this article! To the author and all my other soul sisters who have commented, it’s good to feel like you are not alone in feeling this way. Now the challenge is to get comfortable in our own skins, purr and the world purrs back. Stay strong, sisters! <3

  20. Thank you so much for writing this. It does wonders to realize that there are other people experiencing the same type of loneliness I find myself living. With all of my friends in relationships, I was starting to feel like the only person in the world who has been single this whole time.