I appreciate your interest, your concern, and your take — I really do.
I have been told this with sincerity by people who love me, who genuinely want what’s best for me. I’m not angry with them, because they mean well.
I’m an almost-typical member of the demographic that gets written about most often — late 20-something, solitary urban-dwelling, single female with a job that keeps me happy but not totally fulfilled and 20-something, urban-dwelling happy hour companions whom I love a lot. Almost-typical — I’m single now, and I have always been. I’m not sure I’ve been within reaching distance of coupled. I’m generally [always] the woman who experiences the “slow fade” — guy expresses interest, we go out a couple of times, we engage in the battle of “he who cares less wins,” I usually lose, and I spend the next year or two getting text messages every four months. I’ve taken the bait before, and the cycle has repeated itself.
I’ve gotten comfortable with my singleness in that it’s always been a part of who I am. I think I’d feel like a different person without it. I’ve been in a lot of great relationships, but I haven’t the faintest idea what it means to be in a romantic one. I don’t know what it is to text a guy without feeling like I’m being clingy. I don’t know what it means to say goodnight after a date and know for certain that I’ll get a phone call tomorrow. My life is full, anyway. I’m extraordinarily lucky to have wonderful parents, a ton of siblings, and a handful of close friends who keep me social, sane, and laughing.
But sometimes we get talking about my “situation,” and they lean on some derivative of the response dreaded by single people everywhere: “Oh, but you’ll meet someone someday.”
The most obvious retort may seem pessimistic to most: “You don’t know that.” You cannot tell me with any degree of certainty that I will, in fact, meet a man who will like me enough to stick around for more than two dates, 10 to 12 text messages, and maybe a phone call. I appreciate that you sincerely believe that I won’t be single forever. But I could be, and this meant-to-be-reassuring assessment of my love life will seem emptier and emptier as I get older and older. We don’t have to dwell on this pretty bleak possibility. But we do have to recognize it. I may never land my dream job. I may never be in a financial position to eat my way through Italy. And hey, I may never get married.
And this brings me to my second, somewhat more nuanced point. You — my friends who generously allow me to be your third wheel but would prefer, for my sake, that I no longer have to — need to appreciate that I want that now, too. Of course I do. It’d be wonderful to fill that extra half of the booth on Saturday nights. But, again, this scenario is only a possible future outcome, not an assured one. “You’ll meet someone someday” really just serves to get my hopes up about something I want — something that may happen, but might not.
Long-term single-dom isn’t for the faint of heart, friends. It’s tough, and I work hard to get to a mental place where I can be whole and comfortable and functionally okay if this is how things are for the rest of my life. It’s not that I’m not open to the possibility (Sequel: An Open Letter to Everyone Who’s Told Me I Need to Put Myself Out There). This is just where I am now. I have no way of knowing where I’ll be tomorrow, or 10 years from now. I need to be happy here, because I’m not sure when or if I’ll leave. Assuring me that things will change in this respect tells me that:
1) I’ll become exponentially less happy here.
2) There is a better state of being than this one, and instead of dwelling on things as they are, you’d like me to take solace in knowing that things will get better.
I’ll grant you, the probability of a romantic relationship is likely less remote than I think it is. But it’s still by no means a guaranteed outcome. When you treat it as such, you mess, albeit inadvertently, with my endeavor to be fulfilled right where I am, regardless of how long I’m here.
I know so very well that you’re trying to be helpful. The problem is that “you’ll meet someone someday” isn’t helpful. In fact, it gets me thinking, unnecessarily, about having to face you and myself if one day it turns out not to be true.
Being loved by you right now is enough, and it has to be. Some days I dwell on my singleness. I get discouraged. I’ll inevitably talk to you about it. So, maybe the best way to deal with me during my lower, less rational moments isn’t to tell me that this guy will be here someday — but that you’re here now.