I’m coming up to nine years of being single. I haven’t been in a social situation where I’ve said “hey, this is my boyfriend” in nine years. Almost a decade. Surely I’m eligible for an award.
Over the years, I’ve marvelled at how some people have tolerated having boyfriends or girlfriends. All the compromising, checking-in, negotiating, and arguing all sounded exhausting to me. I hated all that when I had it (don’t worry, there were fun times too. I think. I can’t really remember anymore, it was a lifetime ago).
After taking a couple of years to get over “it” properly, I revelled in my singledom. I could do what I wanted, not that I always did, but I knew the option was always there. I did a bunch of travel and study – and loved every second of it. I pursued adventures, activities and passions that I believed I couldn’t really do the way I wanted to if I was in a relationship.
On the rare and fleeting occasions when I wanted a boyfriend, I immediately thought about how suffocated I felt based on my limited experience of one relationship and short-term dating. I couldn’t imagine dealing with the suffocation-on-steroids of being in a proper relationship again. The sense of relief of being on my own was immensely gratifying.
However, this sense of relief began to change. Last year was the first extended period of time when my eternal singleness bothered me. Getting dumped by someone lovely and going on a couple of shitty dates certainly contributed to it, as did the never-ending stream of friends’ weddings and engagements. Maybe it was that I was approaching the twilight years of my 20’s and I had yet to sort out New York – something I believe I can’t do with a boyfriend. I’m not sure what exactly triggered the shift, but my patheticness bothered me, and I knew people noticed. And I noticed too through my own blog posts, sarcastic throw-away lines and conversations with friends and family. It was boring and whiny to say the least.
A friend recently told me – when he was blind drunk – that at 28 years old, I really only had five or so years left to find someone because “you won’t look like this forever”. Given how many beers he had consumed at that point, I took what he said with a grain of salt, and I knew he didn’t mean it as an insult. But I also acknowledged the truth of it. While I’m fairly confident that I will still look 21 year old when I’m 35 or even at 40 (or so dozens of people have told me), that still wouldn’t diminish the fact of my age. Approaching middle age, I can only imagine meeting two types of men: losers who still live with their parents or married-for-15-years-just-divorced losers with pets, or worse, children. It’s really no different to the men I occasionally meet now, only they haven’t started breeding and aren’t divorced yet.
While I’m repulsed by the current and future prospects, I am ok with it. I completely and utterly accept that my path may be different to the 99% of my friends, family and colleagues who’ve chosen to embark on relationships (and, obviously, other super cool and impressive pursuits in and outside of those relationships).
My paternal Great Aunty Vera is the 1%. She has been single her whole life. She’s had a high-achieving career as a nurse, travelled and never had children. As far as I’m aware, she has led and continues to lead a fulfilling life. Last year, at 85 years old, she demanded she resit the full driver’s test when she was told her license would be restricted simply because of her age. She genuinely passed. What a boss.
Maybe my path will be the same as Aunty Vera’s – I’m trying to tick the high-achieving career box, I’m already ticking the travel box and I will certainly be ticking the no children box.
I don’t see this path as the road less travelled, or a path less desirable, or one that should evoke sympathy or concern. I don’t think everyone was meant to follow the same path of being in relationships or getting married (if that’s an option for you). But, if I follow the same path as Aunty Vera’s, I’ll be sure to do it my way.
As a New Year’s Resolution of sorts (I know it’s trendy to “not believe in them”, but whatever), I choose to reclaim 2016 and beyond to genuinely love being single all the time, like I used to. Of course, I’ll try to remain open to the unimaginable, but seriously, get out of my way bitches. I’m back to reclaim my comfortable, much-loved and sorely-missed title of owning my single status.