Of course, I thought. She knows me. I would never marry for money.
But what my 89-year-old grandma meant was never marry because of pressure. Never marry because it seems like “next thing to do” when you’ve been dating for a while. Never marry because your younger sister is already married. Never marry because you’re 30-something and everyone’s asking why you’re still single.
Nana got divorced when she had three kids. When it wasn’t common, or acceptable even. But she also got married when she wasn’t ready.
That was the ’50s, but are things really that different now? Sure, divorce is more common and accepted these days but what about marriage expectations? I’ve seen couples get married because they want to. But I’ve also seen people tie the knot because they’ve been dating for years and come on, where is that ring already?!, because of ultimatums, because they’re going through the motions.
Nana constantly tells me I have all the time in the world. And even as I see friends, who are ready for it, get engaged, I don’t really feel rushed. I’m genuinely happy for them. This is right for them in their lives right now, not mine.
Sometimes as I go on dates, I think I’m being too picky or not giving people a chance. But I don’t want to date just to date. I’m all for meeting new people, but this isn’t like I’m unemployed, on the job hunt and going to latch onto the first company that likes my resume. If I’m going to be in a relationship it’s because of the person.
And as I sit across from Nana while we wait for our gnocchi, I remember there’s nothing worse than being in the relationship that doesn’t feel right. Feeling suffocated. Feeling like you’re wasting your time. Feeling like you’re on different pages. Feeling stuck.
It’s National Singles Week (or if you feel like using the longer name, “Unmarried and Single Americans Week”), and I’ll be celebrating all week long. My singlehood is something I’ve grown to cherish. It’s taught me how to relax, be less afraid, be spontaneous, embrace change and even start to enjoy stepping outside my comfort zone. It’s taught me about what and who I really care about. And I’m not saying you can’t learn these things while you’re in a relationship, of course you can. For me, it took becoming single to find them.
I’m 27. When you’re single and over 25 — maybe even younger some places — people start to assume you’re unhappy, unstable. There’s something missing. I’ve had people tell me out of the blue, “Don’t worry you’ll find someone.” What?! I just said I thought that guy was cute. Did I seem upset? Being single doesn’t mean you’re always looking. It doesn’t mean you’re unhappy either.
It’s not relationships in general that make you happy — it’s the healthy ones. Including the one you have with yourself.
To me, Nana’s the best kind of single lady there is. She’s youthful (yes, at 89), always having fun and so full of love. She works as a hostess at a restaurant because she wants to, cooks her famous pasta and roasted potatoes in her brutally hot apartment in the middle of summer because she knows her her guests love her signature dishes, laughs hysterically after she realizes the reason the TV hasn’t been working is because she’s using the wrong remote, walks everywhere, and after a few sips of wine will shamelessly tell the waiter or stranger passing by how handsome they are. Nana’s the type of person who, before she even fully gets out of the passenger seat when you’re dropping her off at the mall, has already made a friend.
For the first time ever, singles outnumber married people in the US. The U.S. census reported 105 million unmarried people in America 18 and older in 2013. That’s a whole lot of singles. Some are trying to find themselves before they can date again, plenty are out there looking, tons are miserable and others may be a combination of all of these. Me, I’m just single and trying to live like my 89-year-old grandma.