No Hurry, No Worry.....Notes from 2010.
I am a woman. I am thirty years old. I am single.
This does not terrify me.
We live in a world where the above truth about my life makes me sound like either a liar or in denial about my life. I would venture to guess that those close to me would know that I am simply being honest, but very few anonymous readers would accept me on my word. There is, after all, an urgency in our culture, in almost every culture, to pair off, to be mated, to marry and further populate the world so that our tiny spawns can grow up and repeat our path. I get it. It’s the bare bones of society, it’s the path we all must take.
Yet here I am. Single and thirty and not suicidal. What is wrong with me.
` Here’s the thing. I am not in any hurry. I look around at all the people I know who are in varying degrees of romantic entwinements and I see their triumphs and their failures for what they are: life on planet earth. But I look past the day to day and see deeply into the souls of my closest friends’ relationships and, well…..judging by the level of true commitment, honesty, self-awareness, and presence of love I see, I am convinced that being single ain’t so bad.
One of the biggest problems with conforming to the social “norm” of a committed relationship is that most people settle for someone (or some situation) that is actually not the right one. But even if one or both members of the couple recognize the deficiencies, so often they are ignored and a so-so relationship binds these people together strictly because of a fear of being alone. What’s so bad about being alone? There are actually lots of positive aspects of being single, aspects that lead to the individual claiming his or her space as an individual and thus when the “right” relationship comes along, there is no doubt that what that person is bringing to the table is the best offering possible.
I have theory about relationships that I have dubbed the “Same Page Theory.” With this theory, I would propose that relationships, ranging from casual acquaintances through arduous romances, only work when all of the members involved are on the figurative same page. In other words, it works when everyone is getting exactly what they want out of the situation -- things are jelled. The minute that the couple is not on the same page is when things fall apart. For example, let’s say Ali and Pete meet at a party, hit it off and start dating. Things are fun, casual, they’re lovin’ life. But then something shifts after a few weeks of dating -- Pete realizes he is starting to fall for Ali. Now, if Ali feels the same way, the same page momentum carries over even as the relationship escalates. But if Ali doesn’t feel the same way, drama ensues. What should she do? She likes Pete and they have fun, but she’s just-gotten-out-of-a-bad-relationship-not-really-looking-for-something-serious-sorta-not-sure-she-sees-herself-with-Pete-plus-there’s-this-cute-guy-at-work…. You get the idea. In this generic scenario, Ali will either choose to stay with Pete even though they don’t share the same perspective on their relationship or she will choose to end it and start from scratch on the single scene. My guess is she would opt to stay with Pete, especially if the sex is good, even if her heart’s not really in it. Better to have someone, even the wrong one, then no one, right? The Same Page Theory would advise Ali to ditch Pete and move on. Which, I suppose also means if Ali was my friend, I would tell her to ditch Pete and move on. Why does everyone just settle? It’s nothing short of depressing.
OK, OK, I can already see the, “But, Sarah…” objections here. Like, “But, Sarah, how do you know for sure you’re not on the same page?” I suppose you know when you know. It depends on how willing you are to examine your relationship openly and honestly with your own internal eye. Ask yourself -- are you happy? Is your partner? If the answer to either query is any graying degree of no… Do something about it.
Sometimes I think people are afraid to be happy -- specifically, happy with themselves. A lot of people don’t either really know themselves or like what they see in the mirror. They need that social validation, that Facebook status listing them linked to whomever, in order to feel OK about life. Facebook alone has jettisoned the public stigma on being listed as “single” into a whole new stratosphere. I always laugh when one of my friends alters his or her status from “single” to it saying nothing at all. Pop up on the newsfeed -- Jenny is no longer single! Woo hoo! Let twenty people comment on it. What dummies, nothing has changed! Jenny just doesn’t choose to identify herself as “single” anymore. She’s now “none of your goddamn business.” Right on.
In another instance, I had some friends who started dating and their Facebook pages listed them as “In a Relationship” but didn’t specify the partner. Even though they have a massive shared social network of people who knew exactly what was happening between them, when they opted to add their partner’s names to their Facebook status a few months later, each of them wound up with a dozen congratulatory comments. Um, yeah, these people have actually been together for months and you comment-posters all know it. Why are you acting like it’s big news because now it‘s on Facebook?
There is such a need to make your business public, which is great when you’re stringing up successes. But when things turn messy, you’ve now set yourself to have to explain it to your now-captive audience. Genius plan.
Case in point: I have a friend whose boyfriend cheats on her constantly. We’re talking public affairs that all of our friends know about and this girl spends her time bemoaning how much he drinks. Seriously? THAT’S your problem with your relationship? Not the fact that he can’t be faithful to you for five minutes? Apparently, a strong sense of denial can blockade even the smartest, most worthy people from seeing the truth as plain truth. And what about respect? Love and respect go hand in hand and so goes the greatest strength in a relationship. Without love and respect, there’s disregard for the humanity and social dignity associated with the convention. If someone is cheating on you, he (or she) does not respect you, so how can that person love you?
So why does this girl stay with this guy? Why do so many people cheat?
I’ve been cheated on, we all have, and it’s the worst feeling. Cries of “Why aren’t I enough for you?” fill our lungs and either crash into the cave of a snapped shut mouth or spew out into the air in a frenzy of self doubt. Either way, the response is usually a wide-eyed expression, a sense of panic far greater than anything else. The fucker’s been busted and since cheating is an act that breaks trust, it is unforgivable and unexplainable. It is never an accident. It is never without calculation. A cheater knows what he or she is doing. And that’s fucked up. If you’re unhappy in your relationship or if there is someone else who has caught your eye, dissolve your union and then pursue whoever you choose. There is, actually, no law that says you MUST be in a relationship and if you’re in a place that is begging for sexual freedom, be free. Either that or quell your animal instincts and remain true to your commitment. Cheating is cowardly and depreciates your moral worth.
I would rather be single than bound to a cheater.
There are those with a more liberal sense of what a committed relationship is, and I can respect such variances on the norm when it’s a shared ideology between the partners. Once again -- things work when everyone is on the same page.
I have been in love and there is nothing greater than the feeling of completion it instills. Love provides warmth and security and an intimate community. Love makes everything attainable. Love lifts you. Love shows you why you are here on this planet, why this place, why now, why it all exists. Love is invincible and courageous and beautiful and stunning.
Love is also fluid and dynamic and thus in a constant state of flux that cannot be controlled, that should not be controlled, that will not be controlled. Love is nature and nature lives by natural selection. Sometimes that means it ends. Sometimes that means it changes. Sometimes that means it will fade and then return. You have to be willing to listen to nature to achieve balance and happiness. You have to know that choice is the right one for you.
I am single and I am thirty and that is that. Maybe tomorrow that will change. Maybe next week or next year. Maybe it will change for me several times over the next week or year. I know myself well enough to trust that the right thing will present itself to me in a timely manner. I know that love is the greatest thing we can share with the people in our lives and I will be on the lookout for what will not only complete the innate desire to find a true romance for myself but that will also complete my lucky man. I’m not in any hurry for the stars to align. I’m not in any hurry.