Last night as I stood on my pretty great wood floors in my pretty great Cambridge apartment that I share with a pretty great woman, I started to prepare myself dinner. And then I thought about what a privilege that was. To have the time. To have the means. To not have to consult with anyone about whether or not they wanted mushroom black bean quesadillas. To not have to make enough for two. Or three. Or four. Or to make enough for two (or three or four) and then get to eat it all myself. And that I could eat it while laying on the couch while watching Breaking Bad (yes I still haven’t finished Season 5) wearing leggings, some
weird Jim Beam socks, and a tank top.
Ah. The single life. One that I’ve led for about 10+ years now. There have been some relationships here and there. None really making it past the 3 month mark. And there have of course been approximately 1,486,973 dates. Give or take. And there have been the dating websites. OkCupid. Match.com. JDate. MySingleFriend. HowAboutWe. Etc. I’ve written about a lot of it.
This past week, though, something strange happened. I had been out on a few dates with a great guy. Attractive. Nice. Lots of things in common. Stuff to talk about. Shared interests. And on top of all that, he seemed to actually like me. He communicated with me. He was polite. He did, well, everything that seems appropriate in the early stages of dating someone.
And yet I had no desire to continue to see him. I felt like the biggest jerk. What was wrong with me? All of a sudden it seemed like here was everything I had been looking for for the past, pretty much, 5 years, and I was not interested. There was just something I couldn’t put my finger on but there was just not the connection I was hoping for.
It was weird to be on this side of the coin. Over the last few years it seems I am either being dumped or in place of actually doing the dumping myself (because I know deep down the person isn’t right for me) I become the kind of person no one in their right mind would want to be with. And then they end it instead of me. Phew. No guilt.
And yet after unsuccessful dates and disappointing relationships, I put myself back out there, not always right away but eventually, in the hopes that I would find that magical something I had created in my mind. I recently posted on Facebook “there could be a whole genre made of the stories I create about the lives I will live with the men I message with on OkCupid.” And it’s true. I love a good story.
So it has been hard to differentiate what is reality and what is a fantasied hope and dream of what a partner could provide me with. And does it matter? Don’t I get to wait for special? For the last two years I have created a really wonderful community for myself. There used to be things I thought I needed a romantic partner for. And maybe that was because it felt like everyone I knew had one. But I have friends who will get drinks with me. I have friends who will go to the beach with me. I have friends who will text/talk/email about anything. I have friends who will go to interesting events and parties. And I have friends who will sit next to me in a movie theater.
But I also know how to take myself out for dinner. To take myself out for a drink. To go on vacation by myself. Or to head to a wedding alone. I mean, I lived in another country alone. And I know that this weekend I’m actually kind of excited that instead of going on yet another date, I am going to treat myself to ramen and a movie. On my own. Yes, friends may join, and that would be fantastic. But really the only person that I’m depending on is me. Maybe this sounds like avoidance but I don’t think it entirely is.
And sometimes that also feels super selfish. I am extremely close to my family. It is one of the reasons I moved back from London and have stayed in the area. I consider myself very lucky to be able to talk to my parents and sister on a regular basis and to say that they are the most supportive people in my life. And yet, as my parents age, I can’t help but think, I am 34, it is time. It feels weightier at this age to decide to be alone than with a partner. Each relationship that doesn’t work seems to carry more. It’s not the same as when I was 26, which ironically, is kind of when I would have given anything to be partnered-up and probably would have continued dating the most recent suitor.
Like many, I want my parents to see me married. Not necessarily to be taken care of but to have them know I have that support in my life. That love. That care. That partnership. I feel like I should provide them with grandchildren. Because I know it would make them so happy. I don’t say that from a place of pressure from them but a pressure I put on myself to make my parents happy. And from a place of feeling like I want that for myself as well.
But sometimes. When I get to make all the decisions about my night. And I get to do whatever I want. And go wherever I want. And with whoever I want. I remember that being alone is not as lonely as it sounds. Even if it means it’s just me on that porch looking at the ocean in York Beach when I’m 70. I’ll wait for special.