They say that men are like waffles and women are like spaghetti – meaning that men compartmentalize their thoughts/emotions whereas women let everything get entangled together.
But I’ve been thinking lately that the older you get – if you are single – whether you’re a man or a woman – the more we all get waffley. Our lives are more compartmentalized by virtue of our age and experiences.
Being single at 40 is an entirely different beast than being single at 20. When you’re 20, you’re just getting READY to start your life – to start a family, grow a career, figure out where you stand in the world… do I want a family? Am I a ‘pet’ person? What do I like to read? Eat? Listen to? Will I be a scrapbooker or a salsa dancer or a candle-stick-maker? When you’re 40, it’s likely (dare I say ‘probable?’) that you’ve figured some stuff out. You might even HAVE a family (thinking of folks who have kids from previous relationships), you probably have a job, you likely have hobbies and interests that you’ve cultivated over the years, you’ve gone in and out of being a vegetarian or a hipster or whatever ‘thing’ you wanted to explore – and you’re just more ‘set’ in your life and in what you believe about the world, people, and the universe.
What’s my point in this? Well – if we have more of the puzzle pieces of our lives figured out.. I maintain that we look for partners in a different way.
We no longer (necessarily) need someone to START a family with or to be our cheerleaders as we define ourselves in the working world, or experiment with different hobbies/activities. No… now we just need someone to come ALONGSIDE us in our existing lives. And that looks different.
We have friends, hobbies, routines, favorite shows, activities, clubs, etc.
Now we’re looking for someone to fit into our world, not help co-create it.
And this matters….why? Well… I think that this opens us up (at least for me, I’ve found this to be a danger)… to lowering our standards.
Instead of searching for someone who will be the BEST partner for all facets of our lives, we tend to look for someone who will make one or a few of our ‘categories’ a little better. Someone who’ll make a great ‘add-on’ to our social life, let’s say. Or someone who’s a great sounding board for our job life. Someone to go listen to jazz with, someone to eat out with, someone to simply provide adult conversation, watch shows with or go dancing with. But there’s a tendency to settle for someone who only ‘fits’ in SOME of our life and not all. Because…well – it’s better than nothin’. Better than doing everything alone.
I’ve been in a surreal place recently where I feel like one of the only single people left in my age bracket who is still waiting for her ‘person’ – the whole enchilada. Someone who won’t just be icing on the cake of my social life, but who will be my lover and friend through my WHOLE life. That means – my church life, my life as a mom, my veg on the couch days as well as my get dolled up for 2-stepping nights. Someone who – as my online profile says – will throw me around the dance floor and kiss me passionately on Saturday night and then hold my hand in church on Sunday morning.
I want it all. So do most 20-year old singles I know. But creeping up in the late 30’s/40’s… so many people seem to just want SOMEthing.
Because we’re lonely.
And SOMEthing is infinitely better than no ONE.
Someone we can insert into part of our lives… who may not truly know us to our core and GET us in our most vulnerable places, but who makes us feel attractive and is fun to have around… is far better than being alone for one more pitiful weekend.
So, I’m writing today’s post as an encouragement and a reminder to myself mostly – but also to anyone else out there who has started to rationalize dating people for the sake of soothing PART of your/our loneliness… rather than holding out for the one who will be the BEST partner/teammate/lover/friend/soulmate in EVERY part of our lives.
Being waffle-ish is ok. Having our lives compartmentalized and more figured out than the fresh-out-of-college folks – is great! But I say we hold out to find syrup that reaches every little square. Doesn’t that sound more tasty to you?