“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
I love Jane Austen as much as the next girl, but really? This is the the problem. A problem found in every romance novel, every romantic comedy, every T.V sitcom, every pitying look you’ve ever received from a friend, your grandmother or a stranger. They are all a bit like a not-very-subtle form of torture – perpetuating and subscribing to the idea that everyone who isn’t in a relationship is lonely and miserable and waiting for someone to come and save them. Unfortunately, they do a really good job of convincing people that this is the case; that every single girl wishes that she wasn’t, that every thirty-something man wants a wife, that no one ever wants to be alone. Even more unfortunately, they do a reasonably good job of convincing you, the single girl, that there’s something missing from your life if someone doesn’t pursue you, like you, want you.
I want to challenge this. I’ve been happy in relationships before, but I’ve also been more miserable than I could imagine. The relationships don’t change that. Being single gives me space to be whatever I want to be, do whatever I want to do and – here’s the key part – be comfortable with that, never having to compromise what I want for someone else. That’s not to say that that kind of compromise isn’t valuable, but you know what’s equally valuable? Learning the things that you don’t compromise on. Learning how to be alone, how to cherish your own company, how to fill your life with people that make you feel happy and loved without wanting to sleep with you and, most importantly, how to feel happy and loved without needing anyone else’s validation.
Discovering all of these things, as I have done over my last three years of undisturbed single-ness, has given me an opportunity to be happy without a man telling me the things that are so lovely to hear. It’s freeing. What is less freeing is the assumption that, after three years of single-ness, I must be miserable and desperate for a man. I’m not. I don’t like to be labeled as lonely just because I am alone. I am alone, and sometimes I’m lonely, but I’m not naive enough to believe that being in a relationship would make that go away. Sometimes people feel lonely, irrespective of their relationship status. It’s part of the human condition, and, like so many other parts of the human condition, should be felt fully and deeply, even when it hurts. I want to feel all of the parts of my life, the good, the bad, happy, lonely, content, broken, fulfilled. None of these things are intrinsically linked to my single status, none of them will be eliminated or multiplied by a relationship.
Because I know this, I won’t fall for every guy who shows an interest. I won’t compromise on things that are too important to me. I won’t feel less valuable when no one wants me, or base my self-worth in the opinions of men. I would, however, like it if people stopped shooting me pitying looks, trying to set me up with their single friends (“He’s such a great guy, girls just never give him a chance. You should meet him!”) and expressing their sympathy. I will be in a relationship when I am good and ready. When I find someone that I want to be in a relationship with – and when he wants to be in a relationship with me.
Until then, I’m in a relationship. With me. And this relationship is great 😉