I’ve evolved as I’ve aged. I’ve come to not only be comfortable in my own skin, but to love being me. I know it’s taken each of these 40 years filled with trials and tribulations and successes to get me to this point. For all of that, I am so grateful. So I know with every pore of my being that my relationship status–being single–has nothing to do with me. And by that I mean I don’t think for a second there’s anything wrong with me. In fact, I’m quite the catch. In a modest sort of way, of course.
And I know my friends and family have thoughts on why I’m still single. Perhaps I’m too picky, perhaps I’m too immature and irreverant, perhaps I am not looking at the right kind of guy–perhaps my dates aren’t serious or old enough. Perhaps I am too busy, perhaps I don’t know what I want.
But see, I know what I want. I know when that feeling is missing when I’m sitting across the table from a perfectly respectable man. And I know when it’s not going to work for me. And I’m actually not too picky–I give all sorts of men a fair shake–various ages, occupations, ethnicities. If you’re kind and respectful and can hold a decent conversation and make me laugh, I’m willing to give it a shot. So I know it’s not me. I date. And it’s exhausting. What’s more exhausting though are the continual reminders that I have not stumbled upon someone who makes me feel that way–when yet another evening ends and I get home to text a friend, “Nope. Not this one either.”
I know people take pity on me–they think Poor Girl, one day she’ll find someone. She deserves it, she’s a great person. I don’t argue that I deserve it. I don’t argue that I’m a great person. I don’t argue that having a long-term committed relationship would add another dimension to my life. I try to be grateful for my full and good life. I try to ignore the pity, and focus on all that is positive in my life. I try to remain hopeful that one day…
But I’m starting to think perhaps it’s just not in my cards, this happily ever after. I don’t say that for reassurance or more pity. I don’t say it in a Woe-Is-Me sort of way. I say it because I just don’t think this will happen. I just don’t feel it with people I ought to. And with the few men I’ve felt it with, the relationships have ended after running their courses, and in hindsight I see for good and valid reasons. Some moments I’m sad about it. Because I don’t want the pity and stigma of being middle-aged and single. I don’t want the lack of social invites because Couples hang with Couples. I don’t want the reassurances from people that come with good intentions: “Oh don’t worry, you’ll find someone. When you least expect it.” I don’t want the opportunity of growing old with a Great Love taken off the table.
I’m grateful for the Great Loves in my life. I’ve had a couple, and one really Good Love. And many good or decent dates and relationships, with some bad ones sprinkled in between. I’m grateful I’ve gotten to know so many amazing people. It just hasn’t happened for me–this Coupling.
Most of the time it’s a non-issue and I love my life and I don’t think twice about my singleness. Some moments it’s sad. I try not to let societal expectations bother me–some days I’m more successful than others. But some other moments I just miss having a Great Love in my life. I miss the feeling. I miss the built-in person who will drive me home from my colonoscopy, who will take the other key to the safe deposit box, who will come get me when my car breaks down on the Beltway. I am fortunate that I have amazing friends and family in my life who will fill these roles for me when I ask. But there’s comfort in knowing there is someone there who is THAT person for you. It’s not the role of that person I miss–it’s that someone loves me enough to automatically do those things, that’s what I miss. And that I love him enough to do the same.
And there’s a sadness in knowing I don’t have that, and may never have that. I’m not giving up. I’m not bitter about my lot in life. But I’m understanding now that there are all sorts of different outcomes for us in life. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes they do not. And I understand now how people feel when they really wanted to become a parent, and were never afforded the opportunity to become one. I understand the longing that accompanies them through their life, as joyous and wonderful as their life might be.
So this is what being 40 and single is like for me. Being surrounded by a lot of love, a lot of amazing friends and family, a lot of neat and unusual experiences, a lot of comforting rituals. Being in the middle of a really positive, fun, full life. In the center of people and events that move around me, past me, with me. By myself, in the middle of this wonderful, beautiful, glorious life. All the while, knowing there is something to be said about having a person in your life who cares what you ate for lunch. That, I long for.