Remember when serial monogamy was nothing more than a cute joke between you and your friends? I do. There was usually a token person in the group who was always in a new super-serious relationship with someone who was “Definitely The One.” The serial monogamist was the butt of all jokes and the root of all bets. How long will the SM stay with this one? How many days will they be single for after the break-up? How is it that One + One + One + One + One continues to equal One for this painfully confused individual?
Over the years however, friends fall off the single bandwagon. That’s to be expected. I’m impressed — dare I say it, even happy — for those few who have found the real loves of their lives and gotten serious. My question, however, is what the hell happened to the serial singles? I’m not going crazy – there used to be a WHOLE LOT more of us. And we came in many flavors. There was the emotionally unstable partier. The career-focused powerhouse. The long-term traveler. The commitment-phobe. The ones who dipped their toes into relationships just long enough to ensure they never pruned. We didn’t have everything in common, but we all had our Friday nights free.
Entering a relationship is one thing. As a somewhat interesting, relatively average-looking person in my early/mid 20s, I have a couple relationships under my belt. What I don’t understand is when the trend suddenly shifted to relationship hopping. The ex-party girl is now using boyfriends as surrogate parents who pay living expenses. The career-obsessed mad man has a string of perky blonde girls leaving shampoo bottles in his bathroom. The long-term traveler has started booking trips for two and even the commitment-phobic comrade is knees deep into yet another volatile love affair.
We are playing the musical chairs version of intimacy and it’s leaving us all with bruised bottoms. When the music stops, who’s all alone? Who is the last Serial Single left standing?
Maybe it’s me. As the years drag on, I seem to be one of the last people left who cannot hop into a relationship directly after another one ends. I need some processing time, some grieving time, some re-organizing time, and some alone time. I keep waiting for that magical period of time to hit me where I stop caring and can move on easily. I am waiting for the plague that has hit each of my old comrades – the one where each lover is easily replaced by another, where a soulmate is as exchangeable as a damaged shirt that you bought less than 21 days ago. I just can’t get there. I don’t know what it is.
I like being in love just as much as the next person. I know how to dress cute for a first date, how to seduce and explore on a third – I even know how to sustain a semi-long term relationship in a relatively healthy way. It isn’t the process that baffles me, it is the aftermath. I don’t know how everybody else seems to be getting the energy to repeat this process again… and again… and again. And in very quick succession at that! The people who used to feel most comfortable alone are suddenly growing anxious by it. It’s like a strange game of the-single-life-is-lava and I’m losing.
Maybe someday I will feel it. Maybe someday the empty apartment after a long day at work will start to feel emptier. Maybe the photos of couples on vacation will slowly start driving me to tears. But for now I’m not pulled by that urge. I would rather be alone than with somebody I’m not satisfied with. I would certainly rather be alone than to be 10 feet-deep into a relationship with someone I met less than a month ago.
My singlehood has started feeling serial in comparison to those around me, but for now I am okay with that. The only question I have remaining is, am I the only one left?