It happens at almost every family gathering. Sometimes it's a question or an offhand comment. But the sentiment is always the same: When are you going to get yourself a man? I've had cousins tell me I'm "overdue" on bringing someone serious home for a holiday. I've had uncles joke that I better find someone "before it's too late" — the "too late" being when I turn 30 next year. I've had aunts ask if it's "so weird" being the "single friend." I've had my grandmother tell me that "a good man will show up soon." Just last weekend, when I went home to visit my mother, she sipped her cocktail at lunch and said in a gentle voice, "Well, I'm praying that you find someone." I visibly flinched. The statement floored me. That's what my mother prays for? For me to stop being single? "Well, don't," I told her. "Pray that I'm great at my job and become financially secure — all on my own." I know that my mom was coming from a good place — she just wants me to be happy. But it's irritating and condescending that so many of my family members and friends really think I can't be happy as a single woman. Not truly happy, anyway. No, if I'm single, something is missing in my life and I'm just too naive to know it. But they know the truth: My sad single life is probably filled with Olivia Pope-sized glasses of wine, prayers to finally be worthy of a man, and singing "All By Myself" on the couch with intermittent sobs.
When people tell me that they want to see me in a relationship, I know it's a lie. What they're really saying is that they want to see me married.
When people tell me that they want to see me in a relationship, I know it's a lie. What they're really saying is that they want to see me married. If that wasn't the case, then they would see that I already have lots of relationships. I've been blessed with more friends than I can count. I'm close to so many of my cousins and to my parents. I have best friends from college that are like sisters to me. And all these relationships matter to me. They are deep and passionate and supportive and loving. They make me happy, and they require work — as all relationships do. My desire to be a single woman with rich platonic relationships seems to make some of my family members (and even dear friends) really worry. I can tell they're wondering, What's wrong with you? Why are you so weird? But am I?
In a New York Times/CBS poll released last month, women weighed in on whether or not marriage — the seemingly revered relationship — was important to them, now or in the future. The results weren't surprising: 47% of women said it was "very important" to them.
But this is what gave me hope: There was still a group of kindred spirits — 17% of the women surveyed — who said marriage didn't matter to them "at all." That means there are women in relationships who don't see a need to solidify it with a ring. But it also means there could be lots of women out there, like me, who truly don't care about whether or not they ever find someone, and therefore, aren't making the search for a partner a priority.
Maybe it makes people uncomfortable or doubtful when they hear it, but I'm very happy being single.
Maybe it makes people uncomfortable or doubtful when they hear it, but I'm very happy being single. I grew up an only child. I've always been alone — never lonely, but often alone — and I like it that way. I've had boyfriends, crushes, and flings; bothered with fuckbois, and made friends with benefits. But I've never gone looking for them. And I've never felt the need to create a lasting partnership with one of them. Not because they weren't "good" men, or because I didn't care for them, and not because I'm not "worthy" (which is the most annoying thing I've ever heard), but because I just didn't want to. Maybe I'm just 29 and I haven't "found the right guy yet," like my mom always says. Maybe I haven't experienced that "can't eat, can't sleep" love yet. Maybe the New York City dating scene has turned my heart cold. Or maybe, just maybe, I feel fulfilled already. I like spending my time taking dance classes and helping young women of color get into college, and volunteering for my alma mater's alumnae groups. I like nourishing all my friendships and familial relationships. But I also like eating alone at a restaurant on a Friday afternoon, never sharing the last bit of ice cream, and going to the movies by myself. I want my free time to be dedicated to just one person: me. That's why I don't even have a cat or a dog or a catcus. I have friends who have been in decade-long relationships that left them feeling unhappy. I have friends who are happily married and constantly adjusting to being a pair rather than a single entity. I have friends who are having babies, and friends who are worried about being alone forever. I don't think any of them are crazy and I respect their choices. I don't have those things. I also don't have any moments when I feel incomplete because it's just me. Maybe one day, I'll fall so deeply in love that I'll want a true partner (I like to think that I'll already be so happy with myself that it would make that relationship stronger). But then again, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll be single forever. And I'm okay with that. I'm not asking you to be okay with it, too, or challenging your view of what happiness means to you. I'm just asking you to get off my back about it. I'm just asking that you don't pray for me to stop being single — and pray for me to keep being happy, instead.