Three years on OkCupid and all I’d found were duds. I had pretty much given up hope entirely when Jeff came along. One particular line on his profile gave me pause — he’d listed his favorite bands, pointing out that he’d purposely excluded Journey. He said that everyone loved Journey, and anyone who said they didn’t was lying. I couldn’t help but laugh.
Our first date was a picnic in the park. Our second, a trip to the old penitentiary. I can’t remember our third, but I remember our first kiss was that night, while walking down a deserted Canyon Road.
I fell hard and I fell fast.
Jeff was sunshine and roses. My friends liked him, my parents loved him, and I was absolutely crazy about him. I remember at one point, standing in the middle of an aisle in the grocery store, and thinking, “I may have just met the man I’m going to marry!” But despite how perfect everything seemed to be, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
Eventually, it dawned on me that I was the problem — I wasn’t a good girlfriend.
As about an introverted an introvert can get, it had taken me years to master some of the most basic relationship skills — you know, including others in your plans, compromising, texting people once a month to let them know you’re still alive. And that was just my friendships.
In a romantic relationship your partner should have an equal share of your time…or at least a quarter of it. I just couldn’t make it happen. I wanted to sleep in my own bed — alone. I resented having to remember to include him in (any) of my plans. For 25 years, I had cultivated an independence that bordered on reclusive. I wanted Jeff when I wanted him, and I wanted him to fuck off otherwise.
Even an introvert like myself could see how truly unfair that line of thinking was. Jeff deserved better than a half-assed relationship. So I broke up with him.
Because I’m a coward.
Once it was over I felt like a weight had been lifted. Despite the fact that I still loved him (and missed him desperately), I finally had my life back. Of course, this just served to make me feel worse. Society taught me that my self-worth was conditional on someone else desiring me romantically.
But I just wanted to be alone.
I was clearly broken.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the Boston Magazine article “Single By Choice” that I realized I wasn’t alone. I was just one of many in a new generation of women who were choosing to stay single.
Why Remain Single?
The desire to remain unmarried is something that, unfortunately, would never have been possible if the benefit of marriage itself hadn’t evolved over the years. Marriage is no longer the only way for women to gain even the meanest level of security — instead it has been put forth as the ultimate measure of love, as well as a means to achieve personal fulfillment.
However, more and more women don’t consider marriage to be either of those things. Not only do they have the ability to support themselves financially, they’re also bucking traditional views on love and relationships. Love can be expressed multiple ways and on many levels — marriage is not the be all end all.
Marriage can also have some hefty downsides — mainly financial. Millennial partners often come with financial baggage in the form of student loans. The divorce rate doesn’t help either. With 53% of marriages ending the hard way, many women view tying the knot as a gamble — who’s to say that the person you love now will still be the person you love 20 years from now?
What Are the Benefits?
The benefits of remaining single are surprisingly numerous. First and foremost, being able to direct the majority of their attention inward allows women to identify what’s truly important to them, and work toward achieving their goals. Career, higher education, financial stability, travel, sexuality, charitable causes — these are all things women can focus on far easier when unencumbered by a partner.
And far from the strangely pervasive idea that being single equates to soul-shattering loneliness, single women are actually more socially connected than their married counterparts. A recent study found that never-married singles were more likely to have active social lives than married couples, as well as a greater tendency to offer help to friends, family and their communities.
Ignoring The Critics
Thanks to the overwhelming presence of society’s ridiculous standards for women, our early years are shaped by the idea that our worth is dependent on our ability to find a mate, and that our spouse is our most important adult relationship. Simply put, we’re not complete until we find our other half.
This is utter bullshit.
We perfectly beautiful, wonderful, well-rounded individuals without needing a “soulmate.” Furthermore, it’s absurd that we should ever discount the many loving, albeit platonic, relationships in our lives.
For those who receive pushback from well-meaning friends and family — or from anyone in the media — regarding your choice to remain single, remember these three things:
One, there are multi-billion dollar industries that are held up by traditional marriage — think dating sites, dresses, diamonds, etc. — so, there will always be pressure from those who profit from a “good old-fashioned” wedding.
Two, regardless of our own personal values, many of us base our self-esteem on the dominant values of our culture. Therefore, people are going to hassle you based not on what they may actually feel, but what society has made them believe to be true.
Three, your life and your body are yours to do with as you please. You answer to no one.
And neither do I.
During the six years since I met, fell in love, and broke up with Jeff, I did a little self discovery, doggedly pursued my goals, and focused a lot of time and attention on my platonic relationships. And, in what I consider to be a giant stroke of luck, I managed to maintain a deep friendship with the man of my dreams.
So, while I didn’t find a husband on a dating site, I did find myself — and a wonderful friend.