Singles get a lot of unsolicited advice. We’re like the pregnant women of relationship statuses. You might as well come rub my belly and decry the virtues of the latest parenting/sleeping/feeding system like it’s gospel truth. (Let me be clear – I’m speaking in metaphor. Do not, for ANY reason, come rub my belly. That would be indescribably awkward.)
By being unmarried or not in a dating relationship, I guess I must be communicating to the world that I need them to weigh in on WHY I’m single and HOW to go about living my life in light of my pitiful partner-less situation. So, for your further voyeuristic enjoyment, I’m going to share some of the most common suggestions I hear concerning my un-romantically-tethered state and why I think they’re stupid – and in some cases, even theologically incorrect.
1. You need to be ok being single first, if you’re ever going to be happy with someone.
Really? Do you mean that I have to be happy with my singleness, or just generically content with my life? I am happy with my life!
But I also know that something’s missing. And I think a lot of people don’t think it’s ok to say so.
I think most people who say this really do believe that the first step toward a fulfilling life is not only coming to terms with (accepting) your singleness, but being just dandy with it.
And if my non-believing friends will oblige me for a moment, I’ll even make a doctrinal case for this.
I believe that I was created to love. I think God designed all humans to yearn for and exist in relationship. We’re built that way. It is a good thing to want to be one with another… I dare say it’s even a microcosm/foretaste of worship/communion with God. And yet… We live in a broken, screwed up world that doesn’t work the way it should…and so many people don’t have the opportunity to be in a romantic relationship. But, I think (and there are certainly exceptions) that’s a result of brokenness, not something we should be happy about. (Theology rant over)
There’s a nuanced difference between being generally unhappy, and knowing that there’s a missing piece to my ultimate happiness. I’m a happy person – I think those around me would agree. But I am also searching for something that I think… rather, I know will bring me more complete pleasure.
Should a homeless person have to just learn to be content without having shelter?
Should a terminally sick person exult in their physical fragility?
I’m not wallowing in some kind of depressing resignation, but I will be the first to say that I know I’m at my best when I have the opportunity to love and be loved by someone.
So, no – I don’t need to go journal the hours away on how I’m “good enough, smart enough and pretty enough withOUT a man.”
I don’t need your cheesy inspirational posters on my worth and identity as a single woman.
I don’t need you to condescendingly put your hands on my shoulders, tilt your head, eyes dripping with self-righteousness and pity, and tell me I’m perfect just the way I am. Gag.
I’m good. And I’ll be even better with a hunky guy at my side.
2. You need to know yourself if anyone’s ever going to find you attractive/love you.
Look, I’m in my 30s. I have a background in, and fascination with relationships and counseling – to the tune of a Masters degree and, as it turns out – a blog. I was married for almost a decade. I am (almost to a fault sometimes) a self-aware and self-reflective person. I know myself! I know my flaws and my struggles. I know my strengths. I know my areas of woundedness and I know my personal preferences and limits with potential partners. You can rest assured that my not having found “the one” is, by no means, a product of me not knowing me. I’ve got this.
I think what people mean when they say this, is that, if you’re single THIS late in the game, you must NOT know who you are or what you want.
Isn’t it possible that there are still a few of us out there who are single AND emotionally intelligent? Geez! My singleness is not proof of me being personally unaware.
3. You shouldn’t be so picky.
Oh, this is one of my favorites. If “favorites” means I hate it almost as much as I hate “I could care less.” *Shudder*
DON’T be picky, you say?
So… just settle?
Nice. I think, the very fact that I AM still single is evidence that I would rather have no one than have the wrong one.
You wouldn’t tell a 20-year old single girl not to be too picky. You’d tell her to take her time; to be circumspect and find someone who was everything she wanted. So, why don’t I get the same luxury? Am I that far into pathetic-land that I should start aiming for 5’s and 6’s now? I’m assuming there’s a direct correlation between age and caliber of attainable men. Is there some kind of a graph I can refer to, to know just how low in the pool I need to grab from? Once I turn 40, I suppose I should just be satisfied with a guy who throws me a “hey babe!” between Coors Light belches…
Man – I’ve got a LOT of work to do between now and October (my birthday…another year older shaves off another level of quality character I’m allowed to search for and expect in a partner, it seems)
Additionally – I think the general populous must think that single people are only looking for perfect partners. Come on. I’m an intelligent woman. I know that there is no such thing. But there IS someone who will be a perfect fit for me, and I’m holding out for that guy. Well… at LEAST ’til October.
4. Read XYZ book.
Ok, I acknowledge that there are always new things to glean from good books, but I have had at least a dozen recommendations for self-help dating articles or books. And those that I’ve read have all said the SAME things… know who you are, know how/where to look, don’t be a goober on your first date(s), and be ok with imperfection. Wow. I think I just wrote a best-seller.
(p.s. Stay tuned for a post where I react to some of the tenets of “Become Your Own Matchmaker.”)
5. Take a break from dating. When people stop looking for things is when they inevitably find them.
Really? Is that how it works? Have you personally crunched the numbers on that?
I know that we hear stories all the time about people who, after they stop actively searching/trying for something, have it fall right in their laps.
But I’d contend that for each of those inspiring sagas, there are at least 100 cases where people found what they were looking for… by looking for it!!
The implication here is that I am obsessed with finding the perfect guy. Rest easy, friends. I don’t have an unhealthy fixation with dating. I enjoy it! I like searching for love. I believe I still have a great love story ahead of me and I’m going to pursue that to the best of my abilities – not settling, not being desperate or bitter in the meantime – just actively and optimistically exploring.
There are so many others – but who has the time to respond to all of them?: “Date lots of men,” “Go on longer dates,” “Go on shorter dates,” “Only go on lunch/coffee dates,” “Look for men at church,” “Don’t look for men online,” “Use XYZ site,” “Take up XYZ hobby to meet guys,” “Grow out your bangs,”… on and on the advice continues. It’s exhausting…
If all the same people who were proffering up these nuggets of wisdom on singleness would put that energy toward thinking of a friend/acquaintance/co-worker to set me up with – I’d be a lot more appreciative. A little less talk, a lot more action, friends.