Being single doesn’t mean you have to be without love in your life
I’m 35 and I’m single. You’re already forming an opinion. It’s OK. It’s natural. We form judgments without thinking.
It’s amazing how everyone wants to share their unsolicited opinion in the strangest of places. These are all things I hear on a fairly regular basis — and so do all of my other single friends:
- You’re still so young!
- But you’re so great.
- He’s out there somewhere.
- Poor thing. It must be something you’re doing.
- You’re too picky. You should get out more.
- You’re lucky you can do whatever you want.
- I know a great guy.
- You don’t need a man to have kids.
- Have you thought about a sperm donor?
- Have you frozen your eggs yet?
Oh, and I can’t leave out my favorite response when starting to date someone new: “He’s so great — I wonder what is wrong with him that he’s still single.” Ummmmm is that what you think about me?
Magazines, movies, TV shows and online articles put it into much more black and white terms. We single straight women are placed into one of two categories: 1) the poor woman who can’t find the right man and is unbelievably lonely searching for their other half, OR 2) the woman who doesn’t need a man, who has completely self-actualized and is never lonely because she loves her own company so much. I’m sure that these gender stereotypes are not isolated, but rather extend in their biases in one form or another to all genders and sexualities.
I’m here to tell you that neither category accurately describes being single in the mid-30s, at least not for me. I am a confident, successful, independent woman who loves my life and my time alone. I also desire a partner to share my day with, say good morning and good night to, to be my date at a wedding, to slow dance with under the stars. I’ve always wanted a husband and children. I was never a woman who was ambivalent about it. I imagined being a young mother and having at least two kids by 30. I had a timeline and a plan. Life had other plans. Along the way, not only did I find myself, but I also discovered a lot of great love. And I’ve learned three major lessons.
Lesson One: Let go of the notion of ‘the one’
I needed to let go of this mystical man who was my one-and-only, my prince charming. Some people are lucky enough to find that one person who they fall in love with and it’s everything until death do them part. They experience joy and pain, good times and bad, and they grow together. Others, like myself, are lucky enough to fall in love with a right person at the right time, but not for a lifetime. I needed more than one relationship to show me that I am enough: strong enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, safe enough, and loveable enough. I have learned from each man who showed me adventures and excitement, and heartaches and pain.
Lesson Two: All of those feelings a romantic partner could teach me were already inside of me
I am the source of my own happiness, my own worthiness, and my own sadness. I can adventure alone. I can get through hard times alone. I can experience joy alone. I am whole and I am enough. There’s not another person that can determine that worthiness for me. I needed to find it within and heal the broken parts that led me searching for others to tell me.
Lesson Three: Loneliness exists and it won’t kill me
The pendulum constantly swung back and forth from man-dependence to independence. Could I have both? If I was lonely did that mean I hadn’t healed, that I hadn’t found peace within? Nope. Turns out that loneliness is just a feeling. I can be in a relationship and feel unbelievably lonely because the partner isn’t the right partner. Or I can be alone and feel unbearably lonely. I can also be with a partner and feel connected, and I can be alone and feel connected. Loneliness is one of many feelings, and feelings always pass once they have the space to be felt. The world isn’t so black and white. There’s grey — and color — everywhere.
At the end of the day, we’re all just learning and doing the best that we can. There is nothing wrong with us singles at any age; we’re just living life on the path we’ve been given. Don’t be afraid of us or feel pity or jealousy towards us. We ask ourselves all the same questions you ask, and we find our own answers in our own time.
Whether in a relationship or not, know you are worthy of love, and that source of love can be found within.
>You may also enjoy reading The New Relationship Blueprint: It’s About Finding Yourself, by Nancy Levin