Hey you. I hope you’re doing well and still finding ways to connect with others in these strange, isolating times.
I’m guessing that, like me, you’re totally single.
This is a really hard time to be single — many of the “perks” are no longer available to us. Probably you used to actually go out and do things, like eating out with friends, volunteering, playing in sports leagues, and/or meeting new people through parties, bar-hopping, and dating apps.
Maybe you feel sad that you don’t have a cuddle buddy for quarantine, that despite everything you did before lockdown arrived, you didn’t manage to build a strong emotional, romantic connection with anybody.
I can relate. I’m writing this after becoming extremely sick of hearing from well-intentioned friends that I need to work on myself more so that I will “not need a relationship”. This kind of advice comes with a sinister undertone — you haven’t found love because you’re not good enough for it yet. Besides, I’ve worked on myself for years! I’ve advanced in my career path, improved my health and fitness, volunteered regularly, nurtured my passions, and created profiles on dating apps — and actually used them to go on dates with people. If I needed a relationship, I would have one, but I knew that the men I dated ultimately weren’t right for me. How come I couldn’t find people that I aligned with? Where were they?
Another kind of response I’ve received is strange admiration that borders on the fetishization of my persona of being the “strong, independent career woman” who has an exciting sex life. In these conversations, I felt as if I couldn’t admit that I did want a relationship — that it would somehow shatter their image of me, that it would be perceived as a failure to admit that I wanted a romantic connection. But how is being in touch with what you truly desire in life a sign of weakness?
Look, don’t get me wrong, sometimes casual sex is fun and liberating. I enjoyed some of it quite a lot. That being said, a fair amount I do regret. But most of it I would categorize as something in between fantastic and awful — it wasn’t damaging per se, and it was fun, but it was a cover up for deeper needs and desires that sufficed when there weren’t any other better alternatives. To some extent, this kept me distracted from the real issues under the surface.
So, what gives?
I thought I had everything I needed – on paper. The good job, the extracurriculars, the many years of volunteering, the previous relationships that had taught me more about myself and had revealed to me what I did and didn’t want in future relationships. It was everything my dating resume was supposed to have.
If, like me, you’re tired of still being single after doing so much work to address your inner demons, after exploring your passions, discovering your personal values, and developing various aspects of your identity, I’m here to tell you there may, in fact, be more to the story.
1. You may be in the wrong place.
In my case, while I was living in a large city with many young working professionals like myself, I realized that I had stayed and continued to live there for so long just because it felt comfortable to me, even though I didn’t like living there. I’m from the west coast — I enjoy the sunshine, swimming pools, and the ocean. Although I used to have many friends from college in the same area, over time they all moved away. I was also struggling to find new people I “clicked” with intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. These weren’t signs of my failure or of not trying hard enough, which is what I had convinced myself was the case for a very long time. I believe this was the universe showing me that I was not meant to live in this city forever. In the end, I can now say that I’m relieved that things never worked out for me. How was I ever going to meet people that resonated with me, let alone build a life that would feel authentic and bring me joy, if I didn’t even like where I was living?
2. You may desire something other than a serious relationship right now.
On the flip-side of leaving behind places and things that no longer serve you, maybe the best thing you can do for yourself is to show more love to the parts of your life that do resonate with you. Now that I’m back on the west coast building a new life for myself, I realize that I’m much more interested in falling in love with my own life than I am with falling in love with anyone in particular. It’s not that I no longer desire a serious romantic relationship — but more so that I want closeness, emotional intimacy, and connection with others in general, in whatever form they present themselves.
I know, I know, this is easier said than done during a lockdown, but even now there are methods we can use to further engage with our interests and hobbies. For example, through exploring literature subreddits, I’ve now found myself in an international virtual Russian Literature book club with an accompanying Discord server.
Sometimes when we relax into our lives and allow the parts that are meant to stay with us to grow organically, things just work themselves out in ways we never could have imagined.
3. You may prefer to be in an ethically non-monogamous (ENM) relationship instead.
I’m currently questioning whether or not monogamy is what I truly want in a serious relationship. I spent a large portion of my twenties exploring my sexual desires. While I still do desire companionship and romance, I’ve always felt somewhat stifled and muted in a closed, monogamous relationship…even though I’ve been told (and previously, accepted) that is what I’m supposed to want and eventually feel ready for. Maybe someday I will commit to only one person for life, but for now, I’m realizing that one can have love and intimacy along with sexual freedom — they aren’t mutually exclusive.
There may be another reason I haven’t listed. Everyone has a unique life story and specific circumstances. If nothing else I’ve said applies to you, I hope that every single woman tired of looking for love believes me when I say you are worthy of love, acceptance, and joy. Yes, this is a really rough time to be alone, and it is more than okay to feel sad sometimes — so show yourself some extra love as best you can. Most of all, keep dreaming about all the things you will do, including the things that we all used to take for granted, once this is all over.
I promise, someday this will end, and there are brighter days ahead for you.