I’m twenty-nine years old, and I’ve been single for three years. And the truth is that I’m happy about that. I just came to that epiphany today while I was doing my dishes, alone in my apartment with the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack playing on my stereo in the background. I don’t want to be single forever, but I am comfortable being single right now, and want to stop feeling anxious about my single status.
I’m comfortably in a rut, as my friends would probably describe it, going to work during the week and spending my weekend alone writing, and reading to my heart’s content. I really like the way I live. My apartment is uniquely my own, and a sanctuary to me, filled with the things I love.
Everything is in it’s place, and I know where everything is. It’s not organized to the point of obsession, and I need to learn to put things away immediately after I used them, but I’m happy. I clean when I like, and leave things a mess when I like. If I had a girlfriend, all that would change, and I admit that bothers me.
I cook for one, which means I make a side dish rather than a meal, or get something from take out. In fact, I think I’ve lost all of my cooking skills in the past few years. I grew up as the oldest girl in a family of eight, and I used to come home from school, prepare the family meal, set the table, and clean up while everyone else trooped into the living room to watch TV. I’m sure my resentment of that responsibility has contributed to my cooking patterns now. But the fact remains that I once could cook a Thanksgiving dinner, and now when face with a simple meal, I’m at a loss. And I don’t mind that at all.
My Family Background
I think the reason I value my time alone so much, that I fiercely guard it, is because I grew up in a house where I was never alone. I shared a room with my little sister and a house with four brothers. There was noise all the time, everywhere.
I learned really bad communications skills that I still need to work to undo: the sense that no one was listening to me gave me the habit of repeating myself over and over, as well as the habit of interrupting and speaking louder when trying to make a point. I’ve lost some of those habits from living in the real world, but I still fall back on them at times.
I had no privacy growing up unless I was in the bathroom, and that only lasted until someone started pounding on the door to get in. Now, I love nothing more than lighting candles all around my apartment and sitting in relative quiet with my thoughts, especially after I’ve interacted all week with people at work.
All My Coupled Friends
Up until this point, I’ve been fearing there’s something wrong with me for not pursuing a relationship strenuously, for not making it a priority in my life. And my friends have certainly reinforced my fears.
My friend P., who has known me for about six years, I think, was grilling me on this subject in the bar a few months ago. She had just broken up with her girlfriend of many years, and confessed to me that the two of them had been analyzing me in their spare time, trying to figure out why I was single. "You’re attractive, humorous and you have a decent personality…"
Of course, this analysis immediately made me self-conscious, and rather than defending my comfortable lifestyle, I immediately focused on the word "decent," questioning whether she was suggesting there was something wrong with my personality, and suddenly filling with a self-doubt that I never feel when I’m alone; only with my friends.
It doesn’t help that I made a ton of new friends this past summer, who at that time were single, but quickly paired up when winter came. I used to get phone calls to run around and do something every day. Now I’m lucky if I see my friends once a week. And when I do, the awkwardness of the triad is always the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.
I’ve become a single burden to my coupled friends, and as a result, they either avoid spending time with me, or try endlessly to set me up with someone else. In fact, the last relationship I was in three-years ago was with a woman my friend P. set me up with. And I’ve been tricked into every conceivable setup situation since, so that I’m suspicious whenever someone’s single friends are around.