Single girl, who would want to be a single girl

I have now been single for one month. It’s gone by in a flash, and even though it was the right decision it still feels surreal, as if it’s not really sunken in. As if I’ve just pressed ‘pause’ somehow, and am spending the frozen time doing something else until I get back to my life.

It’s not that I’ve been sitting around staring at the wall, or moping. I’ve got right back to doing things I do when I’ve been single before – paying slightly more attention to my single friends, volunteer work, cycling the long way around to things just because, going to the cinema on my own (holy crap you guys Guardians of the Galaxy! It’s really good, right?) I am filling my days with activities I enjoy, trying new things, saying ‘yes’ to adventures even if I am a little nervous. People ask me how I am doing with that sympathetic head tilt and it feels kind of wrong to say that, actually, I am pretty good. I am really enjoying having my own space, my own time and not having to compromise or share things. I grew up an only child of single mum who is basically me but older so never really got very good at having to negotiate, where negotiate means not doing exactly what I want and other people  going along with it.

I’ve always enjoyed being single and have never seriously looked for relationships – I’ve usually just ended up in them by accident after a drunken night. The Dinosaur formerly known as Mr RDP was one of the exceptions where we actually went on dates before we started a relationship after a drunken night. Not to say I don’t like being in a relationship too – I do; but it doesn’t come as naturally to me as doing my own thing.

This weekend I was honoured to be part of my friends S and P’s 10 year anniversary celebration, where they renewed their vows at a big old fun party. It was pure joy to see how happy they still are together, and how if anything they are stronger now after 10 years than at their ‘real’ wedding. I haven’t stuck at anything for longer than 10 years. Not a home. Or a school. Not even a hair colour. My longest relationship remains 4 years – less time than I have been at my current workplace. My relationships have ended for all different reasons, including, but not limited to,

  • Falling out of love
  • Realising we love each other but not in that way and actually can be we be just best friends and that way we can stop pretending we want to have sex
  • Living too far away from each other
  • The relationship just fizzling out until we were essentially just flatmates

Not long after The Former Mr RDP and I broke up I read a wonderful article about how sometimes ‘love’ in of itself isn’t enough to make a relationship work. This was certainly true in the  case of Mr RDP. As much as we cared about each other, and as much as we wanted it to work, that simply wasn’t enough to compensate for the other problems we had. In a relationship like that you have to either accept that you’ve tried your best and set each other free or get married to try and fix it. And I have seen the latter fail too many times to want to try it myself.

And yet, even knowing all of that, and knowing that all of my relationships in the past have ended for very good and sensible reasons, and knowing that I like being on my own, and knowing that my life is full of things I enjoy doing and is pretty full and well lived; EVEN WITH ALL THAT, I still have moments when I look at myself in the mirror, and say look at you. Thirty*mumble* and single. What are you doing with your life? Where are you going wrong?

But am I going wrong? Really? Why do I, a relatively successful and relatively happy young(ish) woman with a place to live and a job and lots of fulfilling hobbies and fabulous friends, feel like in some way I have ‘failed’, simply because I haven’t coupled up with someone and ‘settled down’ and got cats and dogs and babies and one of those steamer things that cleans ovens? Especially when I am really not entirely sure that’s even what I want out of life? Although apparently those steam cleaners are really good.

It’s a powerful message – that there is ‘someone’ out there for you. That when you find ‘the right’ person you will be complete. And that completeness should last for always. And that the older you get, if you don’t have this, you are failing. That you MUST want to be with someone. That *the entire point of your existence* is to find one other person and that’s it, well done.  You win. The rest is epilogue.

I am not saying I don’t want that ever. Just that right now I am struggling to separate what I really want from what I think is expected I should be wanting. Am I pottering around with my life on ‘pause’ until I am ready to carry on, or is the pottering around what I really want to do?

Facing this at my age, after having so many changes and emotional lessons this year, and alcohol free to boot, feels both terrifying and exciting. Like going on a new roller coaster for the first time – you don’t know what it will be like, where the twists and turns are, where the drops and shocks are, whether you’ll love it or hate it or both at the same time. It’s almost so nerve wracking that the temptation to not ride at all, stick to familiar ground, is incredibly strong. But you have to ride, or you’ll never know.

I don’t know were the next few months will take me. I don’t know what I really want out of my life. But maybe, as long as I am honest with myself over the coming months, maybe I can unpick the societal expectations of what drives a thirty*mumble* years woman from  what actually drives me, and what really makes me feel content and complete.

And I really really like roller coasters.

RDPP

5 comments

  1. Just finally got round to reading( i shall be working backwards)
    I feel strongly about this – as would dish out ‘being single’ as national service to most. Its good to be single to find yourself – work out who you are, feel a bit lonely at times, work on your confidence, work on who your friends are, follow your interests…etc etc etc.
    I didn’t fall in love until i was 24… quite old really.
    Since then i’ve been in love 3 other times.
    But between falling in love for the first time and the 2nd time there was a 5 year gap.
    I too am an only child – with no other family really. But actually i was never lonely – i learnt to live with myself – be peaceful in my own mind, go make friends and be socialble. It wasn’t always easy – but thats all there was so there was no other option.

    My longest relationship was 4 years. It ended it an eastenders style car crash of an him cheating with my best friend for 2.5 years.

    Urgh. Its fallout still remains today – but since the pain – and despite everything i did move on and since have had 2 more relationships. There must have been something about relationships i liked enough to go back there!

    Both i met on OK Cupid. As i too before now just got drunk, slept with people and then just ended up with them.
    I much prefer the getting to know someone first.

    The first guy we are still very good friends
    The second one i am completely in love with right now.
    I know i am in that very enviable position. I am in that position i used to dream about sometimes when i was young/lonely/single.

    But on my OK Cupid – i said and its so true, i am so lucky – i have a great live, lifestyle, friends – i just needed someone to share it with.

    When i was young i expected love to last forever, like my parents and my grandparents, But then my mum died and my dad moved on and now been in a relationship for 12 years.

    After i split up with my cheating ex my Dad something which i now to be true.
    ‘You might not find someone else until your 40’s’ WHAT???!!! i panicked, i though what a miserable bastard..

    But what my dad means is, in this day an age – when we are all living longer you can have many long meaningful relationships. Perhaps love isn’t mean forever with just one person

    The thing to do is enjoy your life – the times when you are single – and those when you are in love. Its all a roller coaster!

    That said, my dad still wears his wedding ring…..

    1. I totally agree with you – I wonder how many relationships fail because the people in the relationship are looking to the relationship itself to make them happy or fix things, when the best relationships are actually when the two individuals are exactly that – two happy individuals.

      I know that’s true for some of my earlier relationships when so much of my sense of confidence and validation came from being loved by someone else because I didn’t, or couldn’t, love myself.

      As I age and develop my own internal confidence I don’t need that validation. It’s a good feeling!

      Or as RuPaul puts it “if you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”

  2. It’s a mental adjustment, to be sure, but it makes sense to live your life for you, not for anyone else. Those ideas about having to be in a relationship are other’s people’s issues. It sounds to me like you are finding your own stride and that is a wonderful thing indeed!

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