Here’s my truth: I am turning 29 at the end of this year and I have yet to be in a serious, long-term relationship.
It’s painful to admit that. It’s shameful. It’s hard to stare that truth in the face and acknowledge my role in it.
I’ve always felt like there was something wrong with me, some reason behind why I don’t have the typical dating experiences that people around me have. I didn’t have a high school or college sweetheart; I didn’t date at all until I was out of college.
I started my first account with an online dating website when I was 23 because people had continued to tell me that I had to put myself out there if I ever wanted to be in a relationship. Which is factual because it wasn’t until I joined OK Cupid that I began to talk to guys and go on dates.
I am a naturally shy and quiet person. I’m not classically beautiful. I’m overweight. I’m not the girl that everyone’s eyes gravitate to when she walks into the room. I’m not trying to put myself down here, nor am I looking for compliments. It’s just that, for me, I was never the girl who was going to find a guy at a bar or a club or, hell, even a coffee shop or bookstore. I’m just not the type of girl who garners attention. And that’s okay because I don’t want attention. Ever. I am perfectly okay with being the girl who gets overlooked most of the time.
But it makes dating hard, which is why online dating was perfect for me. I am much better at conversation through screen than mouth. I can carefully curate my photos to ensure only my best ones are present. I can message with a boy for as long as I want until I’m ready to meet in person. First dates can feel less awkward and more natural.
But in the five years I’ve been online dating, I’ve only had two successful (ish) relationships. Neither of which lasted longer than a few months.
It’s weird to be at the place I am today: 28 and chronically single. The girl with no relationships.
It’s hard to admit that fact when I’m talking to someone I met online and he asks me about my longest relationship. What does my chronically single status say about me?
It could say that I’m unlovable, but anyone who has ever met me knows that’s the furthest thing from the truth. It may take me a while to warm up to people, but when I love, I love hard and I love fiercely. This future boyfriend will be loved with abandon and it’s going to rock his world.
My chronically single status could say that I have high standards, and maybe I do, but why is that constantly looked at as a bad thing? So I should lower my standards for something as important as love? Nope – sorry, but it’s my life and I get to decide what my standards are. If they are too high, that just means that the man I am meant to love is going to be one amazing person.
Or maybe being chronically single means I’m uninteresting and unable to keep a guy’s attention. But then you probably haven’t seen the way my eyes light up when I talk about books, about writing, about my dog, about my family, about football, about politics, about religion, about feminism… about any number of topics that I can’t shut up about once I get going.
Uninteresting is not a word I would ever use to describe myself.
Perhaps my reason for being chronically single is that this was just the path I was meant to take. Maybe it’s as simple as that. It doesn’t mean anything about me personally. Maybe I was only meant to have one or two serious, long-term relationships in my life and it just hasn’t happened for me yet, but it will in the future.
Because instead of wasting my time in relationships that may have been detrimental to my overall well-being, I spent it working on me. I’m an independent woman who really and truly has her shit together. I have never depended on a relationship to sustain me, but instead, have sustained myself in a myriad of ways. I have learned to appreciate my alone time, I have deepened my friendships, I have formed new hobbies.
Being single for so long means I have spent a lot of time with myself, and good god, do I like myself. I really, really like myself. I am a fucking awesome human being! It’s really rather eye-opening to say that and to know how deeply I believe it. It has taken a lot of hard work, a lot of growing up, a lot of internal discovery to get to this place. And I got here because I allowed myself the gift of singleness. I didn’t get here because some guy I dated deemed I was worthy.
I could choose to see my chronic singleness as a downfall to my character, as a negative to my life’s path. And I used to. But I won’t anymore. There is no shame in the way my path unfolded; it’s just the way my life was meant to happen.
We only get one life. I don’t want to spend mine regretting the things I haven’t done, but instead, celebrating the person I am and enjoying every single twist and turn I encounter during my time here.