You’re at a party, a family get together, or some celebration where there are lots of adults who have known you since birth. One of them comes up to you and your mom and proceeds to ask your mom, — in a hushed tone, while you’re just a few feet away and totally within earshot — if you’re seeing anyone yet.
If you’re a single twenty-something, this scene is probably pretty common. But for me, what happens next isn’t a long lament from my mother about how she wishes I’d just get on with it already. Or how she’s hungry for some grand babies and she’s not getting any younger.
“She doesn’t need to be seeing anyone,” my mom always shoots back. “She’s got plenty of time for that. Right now she’s busy with her career. She freelances, she has a social life. Why don’t you ask her about that?”
Why doesn’t anyone ask about that, am I right? Or when they do, their eyes glaze over, as if your current role of “person with a career and dreams and ambitions” has a shelf life. They need to know when you’re going to morph into your true form, a “married mom with kids,” because the longer you wait the more uncomfortable it somehow makes them.
Luckily, my mom is all about the current unattached version of me, as is. If she wasn’t, my life would be considerably different. Here are a few ways that having a mom who values my single lifestyle has made my life even more awesome.
1. I don’t date for the sake of dating.
I feel no need to, and really, who has time for that? Going on dates just to say that I went on X amount of dates this week holds no value for me. Of course, if someone catches my eye I’m happy to let them take me out. But I’m not going to spend hours swiping left and right just to feel like I’m doing something that’s pushing me toward finding a husband.
2. Who I’m dating (or not dating) is never the most interesting thing happening in my life.
I like to keep busy, and I’ve always got something new to share with my friends when I see them, whether it’s plans for the weekend or a new article I’m working on. I don’t feel the need to use my dating life as a crutch for conversation.
Not to say that I won’t share the details of a date I recently went on (especially if it was a really hilarious disaster date). But I won’t bore people with details of some guy who matched with me on a dating app.
3. I don’t feel jealous or panic when my friends get engaged.
I feel really lost in conversations where a fellow single friend comments on a recent engagement saying, “We’re going to be the last ones,” as if it’s some terrible fate. Deciding to marry someone is hands down the biggest decision you’ll ever have to make in your lifetime.
I’m happy for my friends who found someone worthy of that big decision earlier on in their lives. But I’d personally love a few more years to figure it out. Or five.
4. I’m not worried if he isn’t out there.
This is another conversation among single girlfriends that I feel weird being a part of. Because while I’m pretty sure that he’s out there somewhere, I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world if he wasn’t. Plus, maybe there isn’t just one guy I’m meant to be with forever. Maybe there are a few special ones that come in and out of my life as it goes on, each important to different parts of it.
The thing is, I’ve learned how to create a life that I’m happy with, solo. If he does come around, I’d be stoked. But if not, I know that I have the power to construct a full life without him.
5. I never, EVER settle.
All the relationships I’ve found myself in have always started with a spark. A really undeniable chemistry that I couldn’t ignore and needed to follow through on. I won’t continue to date someone that I don’t feel this for. Giving my free time to someone who I just feel OK about doesn’t do it for me.
If you’re going to ask if I’m worried that I’m being too picky or potentially passing over someone who might be “the one” by doing this, please refer to #4.
6. I really value the people I surround myself with.
When you aren’t focusing all your energy on a romantic counterpart (or the finding thereof), it really makes you appreciate the people that you do have in your life. It also makes you choose them more wisely. I’ve made it a priority to surround myself with stellar human beings, and to cut loose the ones who cause my life more harm than good.
7. I don’t worry that I’m doing something wrong.
I’m not saying that I’m always the perfect date. Sometimes I talk too fast, or get too drunk and show off pictures of my cat, and occasionally I knock things over. I really try not to do these things, but sometimes they happen. But no, I don’t think that talking with my hands is what’s keeping me single. If you’re not into me enough to overlook a little bit of spilled wine, you’re not into me enough.
From where I’m sitting, the most valuable lesson a mom could pass on to her daughter is the power of enjoying her own company. Because I learned this early on, I never looked at coupledom as something I needed to put my all into actively seeking out.
I didn’t need someone to complete me, because I was already complete.
Someday, my prince might come. Until then, feel free to take your thoughts on my dating life up with my mom.