For the last 21 years and nine months of my life, I have been what I refer to as “hopelessly single.” I am, and may always be, the “single friend,” the third wheel, and the intended target every time someone says “I have this friend; you two would totally hit it off.”
At times, being single feels a lot like the five stages of grief. First there is denial – you’re not “single,” you’re just taking a break from the dating scene. Then, after a few months of “taking a break” you become a bit bitter, angry, even. After stomping around long enough, you begin to bargain with yourself and your standards. Are you selective or just plain picky? Who knows? Then comes depression. A substantial portion of your paycheck is now spent on ice cream, online purchases, and your Netflix subscription. This finally brings us to acceptance. You – my friend – are single, but you are not alone.
No matter how many times I say that I am perfectly okay with being single, sometimes it still gets to me. Blame it on societal norms, romantic comedies, or the prodding questions of elderly women, but I can’t help but wonder why in the hell I am still single. In no way do I believe that I am entitled to a relationship or that I am deserving of one, and I certainly do not subscribe to the belief that my self-worth is inherently tied to whether or not I have a significant other, but after the last few years of watching my NewsFeed evolve from a string of cat videos into a never-ending wedding montage, I can’t help but wonder if there is something wrong with me.
Surely I am single because of the “I haven’t eaten in a month” manner in which I devour my second lunch. Maybe it’s my feminist flair or my lack of adherence to gender roles. It must be my obnoxious laugh, or because half of what I say is artistically peppered with swear words. No, no, I’ve got it: it’s my chronic, resting bitch face. Yup, that’s it.
No it’s not. You know it. I know it. These reasons, while not the most seemly, have little to no impact on whether I am single or not. In order to get down to the bottom of my relationship status – or lack thereof – I have spent the last several days compiling some of the real reasons why I am hopelessly single.
1. I play the victim
Maybe I’ve watched too many coming-of-age films where the geeky girl is subject to ridicule by the hot guy, or maybe I’ve been that girl myself. Whatever the case, it is time to drop my bullet-proof guard. Not everyone is out to get me, and I need to get over myself.
2. I am too proud to admit that I sometimes feel alone
Nowadays, it seems as if being emotionally calloused is more acceptable than being in touch with how one really feels, so we’re often left with the “I’m a strong, independent woman, I don’t need no man” mentality, but we forget that independence and relationships are not mutually exclusive. There is nothing wrong with being bummed that you haven’t received a text, a call, or even a hug in 24 hours; still, I’d rather be alone than be vulnerable.
3. I am not generous
With my time, my emotions, or with that last slice of pizza. I often find that I make my needs and desires first priority, which is not a healthy habit in life, let alone in a relationship. From what I have gathered, relationships – be they friendships or something more – are about giving selflessly. There is no quid pro quo, no “you get yours and I get mine;” it’s about being selfless without expecting anything in return. Regardless of how generous I know I should be with my time, my emotions, and the truth, I am still enduringly selfish with all three. I would rather spend my time watching Netflix in my sweatpants than venture out to what could potentially be an unbearably awkward lunch with you. I’d rather not tell you how I am really feeling, because I honestly don’t know how I am feeling or how I should process these feelings. And I’d rather not be honest with you, because …
4. I am a coward
I’d rather not tell you that I get butterflies every damn time I see you or that being around you is all it takes to make me happy, because attaching my happiness to someone who could potentially leave is f*cking terrifying. So I’m not going to tell you that I like you, or that one half-drunk conversation we had was when I knew I might have feelings for you, or that I find your half-grin endearing, or that I panic when I see you because I can feel myself blushing. In fact, I’m not even going to acknowledge you. Rather than get to the point of having to admit that I like you, I am going to do my best not to notice you. I will try so damn hard to stifle a smile when you walk into the room. Instead, I will look over my glasses at you, raise an eyebrow, and go back to my work as if you are taking up my time, all the while my face will feel as if it is on fire and I will have to read the same sentence five times in order to get back on track. As long as I can disguise my cowardice as general disdain I can keep you at a distance so that someday I won’t have to say “Hello” and nervously await the day when I am forced to say “Goodbye,” because at the end of the day…
5. I fall hard, and I fall fast
So I’ll glance at you with eyes like daggers and try to imagine all of the terrible things about you so that one day I don’t have to change your number in my phone. I won’t sit next to you and introduce myself so that someday I don’t have to change my route home in order to avoid seeing you. And I won’t smile at you from across the room because this way you are still in my life, but on my terms.
This is why I am hopelessly single, and until I let all of it go, I am not ready for a relationship. And that is that.