And my mother reads this and thinks, “I hope he’s joking.”
When you’re single and of a certain age, you get used to people inquiring about your status. Just a couple of years ago, the whole, “oh no I’m single” was usually met with a, “good for you” or, “you’re young man, this is the time for you to have fun.” I’ve noticed that once I hit twenty five, this collective enthusiasm had started to wan. Now, more than less, I feel like I get a strangely sympathetic reaction. “You’ll find someone” or “don’t worry there’s someone out there for everyone,” I’m told, sometimes accompanied by a reassuring pat on the back. Or sometimes it’s shock and mild disapproval. More than one person has reminded me that I’m not getting any younger, which is kind because that’s not common knowledge or anything.
Before I continue on, I want to make it clear that I am not anti-relationship. I don’t have anything against the institute of marriage and even though I haven’t been actively looking for a significant other in the past few years doesn’t mean that I’m not open to a relationship if it comes along (somewhere my mother is breathing a sigh of relief).
It just hasn’t been my number one priority, and it hasn’t seemed weird because it’s not the number one priority in the social circles in which I move, however I’m beginning to think that my social circles are very much in the minority.
We’re inundated, both men and women, with advice on how to attract the perfect mate, what we’re doing wrong on the first date, how to be approachable and how to tell if someone is into you or not. Go to any lifestyle-type publication and check out how many articles are dedicated to finding and keeping a compatible mate. Check how many talk about how to be a healthy single guy. Wait. How many of those that touch upon being single are about how to be single post-breakup? Those don’t count. Count again. I bet it’s a small number.
Despite the fact that half of all marriages end in divorce these days we’re a nation of co-dependence. Our endgame is to end up in a relationship. I can’t tell you how many friends and acquaintances complain that “everyone but them on Facebook is getting engaged.” They don’t complain about how well traveled anyone is. They don’t complain about not having home ownership or career advancement or interesting hobbies, all of which are exploited on social media to equal degree. It’s the relationships they focus on, and why not? It’s often what we use to judge other’s success and stability. I’ve touched upon this in a recent post. I think getting a girlfriend would make people take me more seriously.
Some people would rather travel. Some would rather have career advancement. Some would rather finish their degree. Hell, I’m currently typing this on a Saturday night, prime time to go out and find a future Mrs. Brothwell candidate, because I’m attempting to finish up a few posts and work on my travel blog and pitch some articles and I know I won’t have time to do it after work this week. It’s simply my priority for the here and the now, which I think is just as exemplary as if I were trying to find someone to settle down with.
That’s what bothers me about the whole thing. That being single after a certain point is viewed as a failure. I’ve had people say to me, “better get a move on because you don’t want to end up like so and so.” Who says that “so and so” isn’t perfectly happy on their own? Maybe they even did it on purpose.
I also think that being single teaches us a lot of valuable stuff about ourselves. It forces us to stand on our own, without the crutch of being “Mr. so and so” or “X’s girlfriend.” It makes us forge our own identify and it makes us comfortable approaching new groups and situations on our own. How many times have you heard someone use the excuse, “well I have no one to go with.” Newsflash: you don’t always need someone to go with.
It’s also my ever so humble opinion that it’s because being in a relationship is “preferential” to being single that we have so many people getting into relationships they shouldn’t be in. I’m not trying to make myself look like the perfect future boyfriend (or am I?) but one of the number one reasons I hadn’t been pursuing anything is that I just didn’t have time. It would’ve been like my third or fourth priority. This is going to be a terrible comparison, but it’s the same reason I don’t have a dog, which I probably want more than a girlfriend at this time. I don’t feel like it’s fair to get involved in something you can’t give your all too. Yet I constantly see people doing that with relationships, engagements, and though I haven’t seen it myself, I’m sure it happens with marriages.
Then there are the people that get into unhealthy or toxic relationships because to them, it’s a better option than being “alone.” There’s a whole sect of people that don’t know how to exist by themselves because in they’d rather not be “the single friend.”
And I partially get it. I do. I am the single friend. Sometimes it’s not fun being the third wheel and sometimes it’s a little bit depressing going to movies on your own and maybe just every once in a while you think to yourself (hypothetically, of course) on a cold, lonely winter night, “it’d be great to cuddle near a roaring fire with somebody special”. But mostly, and I’m speaking solely for myself here, I’ve enjoyed being the single friend. I should add as a disclaimer that a lot of this is going to make me appear gratingly selfish but I’ve liked being able to go where I want when I want. My schedule is dictated solely by me. I can stay out as long as I want and being single is a huge money saver. So at a very base level, if you find yourself single, before you freak out think about that. You could do whatever you want, whenever you want and if we’re going to get lewd for a second, whoever you want.
This is not an argument against monogamy. It’s not a scathing indictment of the institute of marriage and it’s not bashing those who love being in relationships for the right reasons.
It’s simply an assertion that there’s no shame in being single.