Since the age of 15, I hadn’t been single for more than a total of 6 months. This is probably part of the reason that I found myself approaching a 4 year anniversary at the age of 21, while simultaneously having a quarter-life crisis. To make a long, painful story short, I now find myself 21 and single. Doesn’t sound so bleak, right? I’m young and have a bright future ahead…right?
This may sound strange, but when you’ve only known relationships, you find yourself not quite sure how to really BE single. I feel positive that in-a-relationship-Katie would laugh in the face of single-Katie at this revelation. “What do you mean, you don’t know how to be single,” she’d scoff, “just do the same thing you always do, minus another person.” Turns out, this is much easier said than done.
After googling “how to be single,” I realized that there is far from any useful information about what being single actually consists of. All of the suggestions include how to be happy and single. Being happy isn’t my issue, understanding how single life works is. The following are things that I weren’t prepared for upon becoming a singleton:
1. Not-relationship relationships
With singularity (just roll with it), comes other prospective dating candidates. Fun in theory, except, you will learn about the various versions of not-relationship relationships that exist. I use the term “learn” loosely because you won’t actually know what is going on. There is the not-relationship that is general boring conversation on a daily basis because you have nothing better to do. There is a version of the not-relationship that consists of legitimate emotions and thoroughly enjoyable hangouts. Which is great, except that it never ends or moves forward, just stays what it is, and ends up becoming more confusing than anything. My absolute favorite is the not-relationship that never remotely resembles a relationship and consists of someone creepy being, well, really creepy. Regardless, when each case of a not-relationship is over, you’ll be left wondering what just happened.
2. Dating Myth
Apparently, an actual date is a very rare thing among singles in their early 20s. Dates, for the purpose of getting to know someone, are only things we read about and see in movies. They are myth. I have yet to figure out why this is the case. I’d like to think that it’s because we are all in college and broke, but that’s not very realistic. Dates seem to be reserved for after a relationship has been officially established. They are no longer a way to lure someone into putting up with you. They are a tool to sustain someone putting up with you. The actual getting to know each other happens through texts and casual hang outs. You may be thinking that I’m just a loser who no one wants to take on a date, but this has been confirmed by singles that are gorgeous and perfectly desirable. So, don’t doubt me. (Author’s note: It is perfectly possible that this is only the case in the area that I am from. Rumor has it that residents of metropolitan areas go on real dates. More power to them.)
3. Unhappy Assumptions
Something I find especially frustrating, and a tad bit shocking, is the fact that 80% of the people I come across assume I am unhappy because I’m single. Granted, they don’t get to witness my all night book binges complemented with my favorite carry out, so they can’t actually know that I’m the most satisfied person on the planet. But, I digress. My point is, if you’re newly single, be prepared to reassure everyone that you don’t hate yourself or your life. Also, get used to shocked facial expressions when you explain that you aren’t looking to be in another relationship-relationship. I know this is mind boggling, but not-relationship relationships are good for now, thanks.
Probably the best part of being single for the first time in your adult life is the fact that every waking moment can be spent getting to know yourself. You find things out about yourself that may surprise you. You may realize you kind of like the freedom associated with not-relationship relationships — they teach you to simply appreciate the here and now, instead of overthinking every little thing. You could end up coming to the conclusion that getting dolled up and wearing uncomfortable clothes to meet a semi-stranger isn’t how you want to spend your Saturday nights. It dawns on you that getting gussied up is only fun when you do it for someone you truly care about, anyway. One of my favorite personal discoveries has been that there is no shame in spending nights by yourself, snuggling a bottle of wine, while savoring your splurge of old DVDs from the $5 bin. There is even less shame in absolutely loving it. Learning that you can have fun by your lonesome is a beautiful thing. There is nothing more gratifying than recognizing that you can be two halves of a whole, right by yourself.