If you wake up and don't want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You'll see things in a different way
-Don’t Stop, Fleetwood Mac, 1977
There’s an old summer camp quote they’d tell me while I was tearfully hugging friends and boarding the bus back to normality at the end of July: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” It’s as cheesy as dessert in Paris but I’m going to need you to take it literally right now. This is the final installment of Every Single Day. It has been my joy and privilege to write for you, to broaden what we talk about when we talk about being single. It wasn’t just that I saw content missing, it was that I saw too much content telling us what we were missing, and I set out to try and change that. If I’ve done anything since October of 2018, I hope I’ve made single people smile.
I believe all breakups that have ever happened, or will ever happen, needed to. For endlessly different reasons and in countless circumstances, I don’t see the end of things as a negative. I see them as the valid conclusion of one thing making room for who knows what’s next. I’m excited to see what’s next for me, and I will always be excited to hear what’s next for you, so I hope you’ll keep in touch. I also hope you’ll start to appreciate the room we have in our lives as single people. Room for freedom, exploration, the complete customizing of our lives to our own tastes. There is a freedom to the time we spend single that I worry we don’t appreciate enough, because the world has told us that we should end our single status at any cost. We then laser-focus on “finding someone,” and ignore what we’ve already got.
The way the world frames being single as sad, pathetic, and wrong can also lead to us believing that any relationship is better than being single. It’s not. Only the relationships that make you feel good, and respected, and valued, and loved the way you want to be loved are better than being single. If you learn to love this single life, you’ll come to a place where only the right relationships can ever make you give it up. The thought of my future partner really brings me joy, because I imagine how wonderful our relationship will be — would have to be — in order for me to share this life with another. I think he’ll be amazing, don’t you? He’ll have to be.
Being happy being single does not communicate to the relationship gods that you don’t want a boyfriend. That needs to be made clear right fucking now. It’s a false narrative, the notion that if you lean into singlehood, and see it for all its good parts, that you’re somehow signalling to the universe that you don’t want partnership. You’re not. And in my opinion, you’re doing quite the opposite. When we live a life of joy, validity, and calm confidence, I think we draw into our world more of the same. Be happy, be happy now — you won’t scare anyone away. And if you do, they’re the ones you want to scare away. What is meant for you will be with you; it won’t be frightened off by a text or an email or by asking to hold hands in public.
Whatever it is that you want, you deserve it. I need you to know that. Our deservingness and value as human beings does not decrease with age, or decrease with the number of years we’ve been single. Our value and validity is eternal. Our capability to fall in love lasts for our lifetimes. The world is going to tell you something different, which is why trying to put a different narrative into the world has been the most important work of my life.
I love you. I respect you. I hate the memes they post about you, about us. About the struggles of singlehood that we’ve somehow turned into jokes. Ghosting isn’t funny, dick pics aren’t funny, being led on by someone who has no desire for a relationship with you isn’t fucking funny. But we meme them into “the way things are now.” If this is the way things are, I want nothing to do with these goddamned things. You don’t have to participate in parts of dating and single culture that make you feel bad or small. You can choose to remove yourself from that space. And if you’re asking yourself, “Then how will I meet someone?”, what you really need to ask yourself is why you’re prioritizing meeting someone over your own feelings and self-worth. If the modern dating world isn’t enjoyable for you, leave it. You’re not “lowering your chances” so much as you are claiming agency over your self worth. You can say no to things that aren’t serving you. You can fill that space with things that bring you joy instead. I hope one of the things that brings you joy also brings you love. I hope the same for myself.
You won’t see me on the expertly illustrated pages of my alma mater Refinery29 anymore, but that doesn’t mean that this work is fizzling out like a bath bomb. I will still be working to change the way we view and experience singlehood on my podcast, with new episodes every Monday, through customized content for singles on my website, and with longer rants — I mean, essays — on Medium. I send newsletters very irregularly, but they’re charming.
Before I go, I want to point out that this series wouldn’t have happened without Christene Barberich, who has supported my writing for the last ten years, and Sade Strehlke, the best editor I’ve had the privilege of working with. Thank you both for seeing value in the single story in a way I’ve never experienced before.
And to you, the single person reading this, you are not wrong. You are not broken, defective, failing, lacking, or sad. You are nothing that the world tells you that you are. You don’t have to “fix” a damn thing about yourself before you can be worthy of love. You are worthy of it right this second, and in the hardest moments of singlehood, I hope you remember that.
I also need you to know, before I leave you, that no one will ever, ever be able to tell you the answer to the only question single people really have: How do I meet my partner? Where are they? Where do I find them? That answer isn’t ours to know, but what I think we’re also asking is: How can I stop being so unhappy? Because we’ve been groomed to believe that the only way to end the single struggle is to find a partner. It’s not. You can also reframe the word “single,” and all its charms, in your mind — and decide to stop treating what we are as a problem to be fixed. You can start reframing right now, at your pace, and no one can stop you. You can choose how you feel about your own single life, and I hope you choose to enjoy it, to live it fully and in validation, rather than let it pass you by in an endless search for someone else. I know it’s not easy, because I’ve done it. But I also know that if you’re reading this, you’re off to a good start. Don’t stop.
All my love,