Isn't this little pot gorgeous? My friend April made it -- pot AND plant. Very talented, that April. I love it so much.
It's been a long time since I've blogged about my singledom. I certainly used to complain about it a lot more than I do now. And yes, I used the word "complain" on purpose. I did complain. Loudly. Ad nauseam. In my younger years, I felt I was horribly incomplete. I blame Plato. My first year of college, I read The Symposium and learned about this myth about humans where they were once joined and got split in half, leaving one forever pining for the lost soulmate. My young, dreamy, imaginative self loved that idea, and I fell right down into the myth for a long time after. Now that I'm older and have read far more books, I don't think of myself as "unjoined" anymore. Not in Plato's way, that is. But it took like two decades to get here.
Last summer, I was on the phone with my sister one night, and I said something about dating or a guy or something completely random that was related to men in some way, and Dorothy said: "Oh! I thought you'd kind of given up on that. You don't really talk about it anymore." I was genuinely shocked. Does she really think I've given UP on finding love? Am I a LOVE QUITTER? Did I throw in the Love Towel and not notice??
We talked some more and went on to talk about other things, and then much later I found myself really wondering about this conversation. What does it mean about me that I've gotten so used to being alone that I'm all MEH about it? When did this happen?
To be honest, I was actually quite PROUD of myself when I stopped to think about it. It means I've stopped sounding pathetic -- yes, strong word. But it's one of those words that's hung around my mental health neck for far too long. It's really important to me that this word is no longer one with which I associate with my singledom or myself.
I recently watched a documentary called "First Comes Love." It's about having a baby on your own as a single woman. At one point, someone talks about how screwed women are reproductively. There's all this pressure to have a baby between say 20–30 -- because right around 30-ish (no, I'm not a doctor, so I don't know the EXACT time), all the eggs start going downhill, and it becomes increasingly risky to have a baby. Risky. Like for our own health or the health of said unborn baby.
Risky = Dangerous
So women have this window -- this really small, short window -- where we're supposed to date, find a good man, get engaged, get married, and hurry up and pop out out a kid or four before the window closes forever. In the documentary, someone said that there's like a 5 year period somewhere in the 20s where the panic about this sets in. I felt like standing up and screaming YES YES YES!!! Finally, someone had put into words the strange, unnerving feeling I had all throughout my 20s.
Without really understanding why, starting at about age 24, I was DESPERATE to get married and procreate. Each time a friend got engaged, I felt like it was a personal failure on my part that I was not the one sharing the big news. Every pregnancy spiked an internal jealousy-meter that skyrocketed out of control.
All throughout those 20s, I had a really interesting, fun, special boyfriend who I constantly nagged about GETTING MARRIED ALREADY. I refused to see how worthy and full my life already was. I made more money in my mid-20s than I probably ever will again, but despite the money, the city, the job, the friends, the man -- nothing was good enough. Until that ring was on my finger, nothing would ever be good enough.
Oh, young Blondie. How I wish I could pet your head and tell you it will be OK.
So then I grew older, and life changed, and I dated other men, and I became long-term single, and the baby-having-window pretty much closed. (I'm of the meh, if it happens, it happens kind of mindset now.) And like someone said in the documentary, once the pressure was off, I felt much better. Now that I'm not an oblivious cave woman disguised in black pants at important work meetings, I no longer feel the subconscious yet UNCONTROLLABLE urge to marry, mate, and nest. It's quite fascinating, really. It's like slowly yet clearly stopping being addicted to hard drugs.
I've come out on the other side. It looks different here.
- Do I still want children? I don't know. Maybe no.
- Do I still want to get married? Yes, but now marriage scares me.
- Do I want to be single? Not really.
- Is singleness the End of the F*cking World? No.
- Why? Because I have a pretty good life.
Overall, I'd like to not be single, but now I'm 38, and it's harder to find single people than it has ever been before. Now I'm in a different kind of window -- where everyone is married with children. It's entirely possible that if I just wait a few more years, a bunch of those people will get divorced. Sad, but true. So it's possible I'll have a "new wave" of single men to meet at some point in the future. For now, everywhere I look, I see shiny wedding rings.
I didn't make a conscious decision to stop talking about dating or wanting to date, it just kind of happened. When I think about it now, there were a few really specific reasons:
- I got sick of hearing myself complain about it.
- I got tired of explaining why dating web sites don't really work for me (tried them; failed multiple times; don't have the money to waste on staring at pictures of men online).
- I got tired of "trying" and "putting myself out there" by asking people if they knew any single men only to hear "No," or have a random person try to set me up with a random guy without any real reason other than "he's single."
- I got tired of my married friends sharing elaborate fictions about how wonderful singledom must be -- and what they would do if they were me (travel the world).
In the meantime, I dove into my hobbies and made new friends and hung out with my family and read books and worked and matured and learned and stuff like that. Men -- glorious, wonderful, interesting men -- faded into the background.
I miss men. I miss the magic of meeting someone new who is so fascinating and alluring all at once. I miss the chemistry and mystery of dating. I miss that part of myself that once attracted men quite easily. What was that?? Young confidence? Young fear and insecurity disguised as confidence? That's the more likely answer. Whatever it was, it's not really a part of me now. My internal cave woman has gone dormant.
So where does this leave me? I don't really know. I want to look, but I don't want to reek of desperation. I want to click with a single male, but I don't bump into any on my journey. I want to have a life partner, but I don't know if I will. And since there are so many unknowns, and I firmly believe that meeting The One is all a matter of chance, there's nothing I can really do to change my circumstances.
But just in case you're curious: I'm still hoping for love.