Just because I’m single, doesn’t mean I’m desperate

As a single person, there are a lot of things you’re not supposed to say when people ask you about your love life. Acceptable answers to those well meaning questions include:  “Oh, I’m just dating around, having fun, meeting people,” or “I’m just so busy killing it at work right now, haven’t had time to worry about dating,” or “Well, actually, I just started seeing someone and it’s still really early, but I’m pretty excited,”  or “Ha, well let me tell you this hilarious anecdote from my date with the guy who turned out to be an anarchist!”

What you cannot say is: “To be perfectly honest, I haven’t been on a promising date in months, and please don’t tell me to try online/at work/get a hobby because I have done all of those things already, and frankly am just exhausted, and I would really just like to meet someone who’s funny and not completely hideous and wants to go on weekend trips to charming B&Bs with me, but I just don’t see when or how that’s going to happen.” Nope. Absolutely cannot say this because we don’t want to sound sad, pathetic or lonely.

Sometimes, I’m even tempted to pull a Bridget Jones and declare, “Why can’t Smug Marrieds understand this is no longer a polite question to ask? We wouldn’t rush up to them and roar ‘How’s your marriage going? Still having sex?’”

Unfortunately, I am not Bridget Jones. I’m just a woman who is tired of being treated like I’m desperate, or defunct.

The thing is, being single isn’t sad, pathetic, or lonely. It is in fact the default human condition. We don’t emerge from the womb holding someone’s hand, right? People aren’t actually single because there’s something wrong with them, contrary to popular belief.  An infinite number of internet articles and dating books would have us believe that we’re single because we have a bad attitude or we’re too picky or we’re trying too hard or we’re not trying hard enough or we’re not looking for love or we’re looking for it in all the wrong places or we don’t have enough of a life or we have too much of a life, or any number of other reasons.  And those reasons stick because they make us think we have something about ourselves which we can fix. But the fact of the matter is that love is a random, chancy process, and there’s nothing that anyone can do to guarantee success.  And that’s fine, but sometimes it kind of sucks.  So why can’t it be okay to admit that?

I went on vacation recently with some college friends, all of whom brought their significant others.  At one point I mentioned to one of them that it was a little awkward being the only single person on the trip.  “No, it’s not,” she told me. While I know what she meant was that the rest of them didn’t think I was being awkward, it came across as completely dismissive of my feelings.

While catching up with someone I’d considered a friend, my admittance that I was kind of frustrated with dating was met with a “Well, you have a bad attitude. Your negativity used to be sarcastic and flirty, but now it’s just a drag.” And that response sucked. I wanted to be able to complain about being single without the complete, utter dismissal of my feelings. I wanted to openly discuss my love life without having my personality criticized. When people complain about their spouse or their boss, I listen sympathetically. I don’t suggest that they get a divorce or change careers — why can’t we singles be extended the same courtesy?

To all you marrieds out there, cut us singletons some slack.  At least try and remember back to a time when you, too, were single and not sure if it was ever going to work out with someone.  If you can’t muster up the sympathy, at least don’t be dismissive.  Above all, please, please stop trying to fix us. When we say that being single sucks, we’re not crying out for help. We’re simply issuing a statement of catharsis. Unless I’ve actually asked you if you know anyone to set me up with, I don’t actually want to hear a run down of how every formerly single person you know is in a relationship. And I am not, in fact, so desperate to meet a man, any man, that I’ll take whatever you can maybe, possibly throw my way.

Because yes, being single can suck. That’s the truth. After a long day of killing it at work and having cool hobbies and living my awesome social life, sometimes I would just like to go home to someone who has dinner and a glass of wine waiting for me, rather than a cat who just shoots judge-y glances at me. Most of the time, though, I like coming and going as I please, hanging out with myself, and relishing that feeling of exciting uncertainty — that at any minute, I could meet someone amazing. And you know what? It’s a good feeling.

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