Yep, I am 25 years old, and I’ve never been in a relationship.
I knew I was romantically doomed in the first grade when my first crush, a boy named Brett with blue eyes and a strong jaw, declared before our whole class that I was the ugliest girl in the world. Nothing could prevail him to like me. My second crush, Bret (round II, but one “t”), I kicked in the face during a game of crab soccer. The objects of my affection over the years have been far-sighted things I could never lure close enough to me.
Please take a moment to enjoy my romantic mishaps:
- I once made out with a guy in a TRICKED OUT HONDA CIVIC who would later ghost me.
- A man had to reschedule a date with me because he “wasn’t sure what time he’d wake up”. Have you heard of an alarm clock, sir?
- Sophomore year of college, I was kissing a guy when his Bob Marley poster fell off of the wall and onto me. He exclaimed, “Bob fell!”– which is how I reference him in any stories about him. If you’re reading this, so sorry you had to find out this way, but also, not really sorry at all. Not one bit.
- I have tried to date multiple people in search of a Costco membership.
But my misadventures also carry darker aspects including but not limited to:
- I’ve continued pursuing people who joke about an assault, have been complicit in the violence of others, even ones who coerced me, who assaulted me– because I wanted them to like me. I remained silent because I only knew how to exist when I was wanted.
- Swallowed my “no” because it felt so good to briefly be someone’s other than my own.
- A twinge of giddiness surges everytime someone pursues me. I dread that the most– the way I can always make room for people who won’t stay. Because I get excited, they regale me with all the things I want to hear, only to disappear and make their remarks into ghost stories.
- Even in the wake of disrespect, I clung to someone who didn’t want me because I was afraid of the power of my sole company.
At an age when many of my peers are becoming engaged, formalizing their commitments to one another, I am embarrassingly novice to anything outside of casual dating. I’ve dated plenty. I’ve had experiences. I even one-sidedly fell in love with the person who is now my best friend (best thing that could have ever happened to me).
I don’t see my extended singlehood as a negative. I don’t see it as a positive. It is a data point. That doesn’t mean that my relationship status, or lack thereof, doesn’t weigh on my self-image. I do, sometimes, feel insecure about this. Am I not enough of something: pretty, smart, socially connected? Am I too much– too opinionated, too fat, too feminine? Reader, there are many days I feel like an extra puzzle piece– unpickable in my odd shape. Dating feels like bumper cars, and there’s nowhere for me to fit. So I pick myself. I fit in the space I am already occupying.
I prayed someone would love me in all the ways I was terrified to love myself. What if the worst things about me are true? What if I deserve to be loved anyway? I wanted someone else to do the emotional labor of loving me. In the absence of that, I learned to love myself. I learned to show up for myself. In the absence of a relationship, I took myself on dates alone, traveled abroad twice, assembled furniture, graduated Magna Cum Laude with two majors in four years, negotiated salaries, and moved cities. Singlehood is intensely lonely and liberating all at once. The soft solitude of our own company is where we’ve been hiding when we’re around others.
Romantic Love is not the savior. I know nothing about relationships, but I know that another person cannot complete you. The why of your life is not someone else’s name. Partnership isn’t a get out of jail free card for the work you must do yourself. This goes for your partner, too.
I’ve questioned why I am single. Perhaps it is my traumatic past. Perhaps it is all the years it took me to embrace my bisexuality. Perhaps it’s my insistence on referencing The Golden Girls on every first date. But the older I get, the more I believe I am single because I am. Not every phenomenon has a name. Some parts are meant to be wild, wordless, revealing itself in its own time.
Don’t tell me, “Your time will come”. My time is now. My time is not dependent upon the arrival of someone else. I refuse to mortgage my joy on the maybe of love. I do not root hope in question marks. In so many endeavors, others encouraged me to wait for “the one”. I am my one. I am whole. My selfhood is not the prologue to a relationship. No, my self-love is the eternal present, it endures all things even when the external cannot.
While we’re at it, “Put all the love you wish you could invest in a relationship into your friendships your families” is also canceled. Love is an infinite resource. I affirm my friends and family with boundless adoration because that’s how I love. My love is a golden retriever puppy– leaping outside of itself with excitement, too big for its own good, something not everyone is prepared to handle. I’m not loving them in the interim. I’m not loving them as a consolation prize. Platonic love, familial love– those, too, nourish us. That is not to say that I don’t want romantic love. I want all the loves, and I refuse to feel bad about that.
I don’t need you to pity my singlehood. I don’t have to share lessons or spout some faux-inspiration to demonstrate the value of being single. It is enough for me to live my life. I am enough for me to live a life without the promise of someone else to complete me. I complete me. I am the entire puzzle, unwilling to settle for someone who cannot embrace all my pieces.