This Story Matters Too: Some Thoughts On Being A Single 34-Year-Old

woman in green plunging neckline top with right arm on her waist
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He was about 5’10, almost six feet. He had dark brown hair that hung to his shoulders and piercing, searching brown eyes. He was muscular with a “little extra” to grab on to. He was also a musician, photographer, artist, and, as my strenuous Instagram stalking would lead me to find, a former YouTube phenom in his youth. TL; DR, he was hella interesting and I was into it.

Later, I would discover that he had warm, masculine hands that knew how to hold and massage every corner of my body. The parts of me I saw as, too “fleshy” or small, he pored over and dominated with an intensity I had never experienced before. I’m not a cuddler, but I loved being wrapped inside of him, his hair over my face, our thighs intertwined into one big human pretzel. I encountered him after a fractious and cold year with regard to my romantic life, so to my bored, yearning heart, he was an intoxicating mix of physical desire and emotional intensity. A few hours with him produced more of an organic response from me than months of dealing with anyone else ever did, and I was hooked.

We had originally crossed paths online a year earlier, a wanton swipe drawing us together for a few forgettable conversations. Once, twice, three times I had decided he was just “too weird” to entertain and I unmatched him. But one summer evening, while I was on an extremely mediocre date with someone else, I looked up from my drink and saw him at the bar with his friends, talking, laughing…gorgeous. It took me a minute to recognize him, but when I did, I was smitten, and I made my move.

The rest as you say, is history. Too shy to just approach him in public and not enough of a bitch to just abandon my date, I reached out to him a few days later via a witty, overthought Instagram dm and we began an intense and fulfilling relationship where we…wait, that’s not how this ended. Nope, instead I went over to his house twice, we fucked once and then he ghosted me hours later before his scent was even gone from my skin.

Ah, romance.

So, why am I telling this story? Why, as a 34-year-old woman, do I take any solace in intimating my inability to keep a man even marginally interested in me? Well, the saying, “You’re only as sick as your secrets” comes to mind. My secret, and my truth is I’ve never been truly wanted and no matter what I try, people continuously throw me away like yesterday’s newspaper the contents of which they now read entirely online. And yet, I press on. Or rather, swipe on.

By this age, I thought the dating advice and old wives tales of my youth would have panned out. “God has someone for you,” my devoutly religious father would tell me throughout my virginal adolescence. “Your time is around the corner,” my hopeful friends and relatives would explain as I quarter-life crisi-ed through my twenties. “Make a list of the partner you want and manifest it and watch it appear,” Oprah would chime in (via her tv show, magazines and Starbucks tea of course. I have yet to speak to her in person about this). They all meant well, but they were all wrong. Years passed, birthdays passed, unrequited feelings and situations followed me again and again no matter how I tried to adjust my expectations and behavior. And yet, no change arrived. No love came.

I’ve spent most of my single 34 years trying to quantify what a person does right in order to make them “worth it.” I’ve spent every holiday season alone thinking back on the events of the year that led me to my final fate. Maybe if I’d wanted a little less there, maybe if I wore my hair differently here, maybe if I pretended to be someone else altogether in that situation, I could have avoided this end.

In truth there were probably things I could have done, but they didn’t really matter. I’ve noticed that people who are romantically loved, sincerely and unconditionally loved all have one thing in common…nothing at all. There is no formula, no right or wrong way to “be”. What this person ignores about you could be the very reason they decide to walk down the aisle with someone else. It’s a game of chance. You win, or you lose, that’s it.

And for those of us who lose, season after season. Who follow their “gut” to heartbreak after heartbreak, Who “just let it happen” and find that nothing does, Who “go after it” and find themselves ghosted a few years from forty by a husky thirty year old former YouTube star who sleeps on a futon surrounded by cobwebs (just me?) I offer this…your story is valid too. No matter how long it takes to change course, and even if it never does, it’s valid.

What does validity have to do with anything? Wellllllll, tons. I have found that the thing that really bothers me while I tumble and trundle through my romantic experiences, is that I feel like because my story isn’t a popular one, it isn’t really happening. Contrary to my very real experiences because they are not widely undertaken by the majority dating public, it must all be in my head. Surely it can’t be all that bad!

I also find it frustrating that I can’t ever be honest about my situation with a potential interest. I mean, hypothetically speaking, if I were to show up on a date and say as a response to the all too familiar “longest relationship” question, “Actually, I’ve never had a long term relationship because I’ve never met another person who shares a mutual connection with me.” I would be laughed out of the bar. Or, if I were to say during an awkward sexual hookup “I’m sorry I’m not good at that move, it’s one that requires a little practice, and since I’m normally dumped after two or three times in the sack, I don’t know how to put this thang down, flip it, or reverse it.” I would be left holding my naked ass up in the air while my “partner” goes in search of a true and worthy sexual match. I may be basing all of these hypotheticals on things that have actually happened (I am).

Basically, my story isn’t one that you see in movies, or that you see talked about in “consensus” conversations about dating. When it comes to my life, as both a black woman and a perennial failure in the love department, I’m a double minority. Therefore, people tend to do to me what they do to all minority narratives, pretend they don’t exist, because they are hard to understand.

But, just because people don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. A simple google search of “single in my thirties” or “never been in a serious relationship” or “life as a single adult” will yield hundreds of results. So to me, that means a lot more people are out there experiencing lives where the stars don’t align, and love doesn’t just happen “when you least expect it”. For a lot of people, it isn’t happening at all. No matter how much Grammy prays or how many vision boards you make. And this is ok. Not because it doesn’t suck. But because I’m not alone.

In the end, my advice to myself, and anyone else who finds this essay and is like, “dat me,” swipe, message, manifest. If love is meant to find you, and that IS still a possibility, it will. And if not, which is also a possibility, I’ll see you at Christmas, most likely alone…but I’ll be there. TC mark

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