woman wearing gray dress

An Open Response To Anyone Who Has Ever Asked Why I’m Single

I don’t want to shock any of my young readers, but there comes a time in every 20-something’s life when being single stops being cute. Somewhere between 22 and 27, things get tricky. One day, you’re juggling three partners and binge-drinking, and then next, you’re showing up to your favorite karaoke partner’s baby shower. At least, that is what it felt like to me.

Being single is weird. I am almost 30. The existential dread is real. I also don’t want to shock anyone, but my current concern is that I do not feel 30.

I thought by now I would want to settle down, that somehow my biology would have taken over and forced me to reproduce. Perhaps fate would have stepped in and coerced me to marry. Instead, I collect passport stamps, books, and cats. I have become the dreaded stereotype with one exception: I love my life.

It is only when I begin to explain my choices to others that things go a little haywire. Well- intentioned people will ask some really stupid questions. However, nothing sends me into a tailspin quite like everyone’s favorite question. At this point, I can sense the question on the tips of their tongues. It rolls out right after several compliments and a long pause.

It sounds something like this: “You are so great! I’ve never really met anyone like you. You’re smart, funny, intelligent and (obviously) beautiful.” Wait for it… “ Why are you single?”

I deflect the question. “I don’t know,” I mumble. “Why are you?”

I get defensive. The list of reasons begins: I lived in Australia for two years, I spent seven years getting a Master’s degree, I moved around a lot, I was in therapy working on myself…

One time I thought I was a lesbian. It turns out I just really needed a break from men after experiencing some personal trauma. However, the explanation that of course I was single because I spent the better portion of my life overcoming internalized homophobia felt like a relief. Can you imagine?!

I don’t mean to be offensive to anyone who identifies as a lesbian. Personally, I identify as queer. Unfortunately for me, that means I have literally every individual on the planet to choose from and still, I remain single.

The truth is, I don’t want to be single. Well… I don’t want to be single when my opinions on relationships get discredited because none of my relationships have been long-lasting. I don’t want to be single when people convince me I would be happier in a committed relationship. I don’t want to be single when I get excited about a new relationship and people roll their eyes because “it won’t last.”

I used to have a deep fear that I was meant to end up alone. I am uncertain whether this idea comes from a place of inner knowing or fear. However, I think it’s a fear common for many. It’s funny how when I am actually alone, it feels like peace. It is only when others begin to express how awful it is to be alone that I start to feel afraid of it. Maybe I hang out with too many extroverts.

I am certainly not alone. My life is filled with family and friends. Too many people, in fact, for my introverted tendencies.

I enjoy being alone. I love waking up in the morning to silence. Nothing soothes my soul more than a contemplative morning with a cup of coffee and a journal. I enjoy the feeling of coming home after a long day at work to the quiet of my home. As a deeply autonomous person, nothing feels as restorative as solitude.

People like to say that the right person will come along. That scares me too. What if I don’t want them to? The truth is, I choose to be single.

Of course, there were times it did not feel like much of a choice. I left partners who cheated on me. Others I left because the connection simply faded. Some people turned out to be completely different than they originally appeared. Most of the people eventually intruded on my need to be alone. I simply could not reconcile giving up my peace and solitude for a relationship.

What I mean to say is, I am not single for lack of experience. Perhaps I collect romance like I collect passport stamps. Maybe some relationships are not meant to last. Does that make them any less meaningful? I don’t think so.

Why am I single? I refuse to settle. I see no point in clinging to a relationship that reaches its expiration date. I am not afraid to start over. Sure, most of the eligible individuals in my age range are getting married and the pickings are slim, but have you seen the divorce rate? I am waiting for the second wave of singles to hit in a couple years.

I wish I had the perfect answer. I could write a follow-up article about how I figured it out and found love right after giving up on it. Isn’t that how it works in the movies? The narrative is growing old.

The reason I hate the question is because it implies something is inherently wrong with being single. As if there must be something wrong with me that they missed. Clearly, you cannot be intelligent, funny, beautiful, and single. Should I add humble?

There is nothing wrong with me. Well, there is, but someone gave me a license to practice counseling, so clearly I’m fine, right? I don’t want to offer my solitude as an apology anymore. There is nothing wrong with choosing to be alone.

I will end with this: If you want to be in a relationship, you can be. But don’t stay in one because you’re afraid to be alone. Don’t settle for a connection that does not feel fulfilling or purposeful because it feels more secure than singularity.

The next time you meet someone who seems wonderful, tell them! If they are everything you have been dreaming about, be grateful you stayed single long enough to meet them. Instead of asking them why they are single, try this instead: “I am so glad you are single, too.”

Mental Health Counselor, Yoga Teacher & Writer

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