I recently went home to visit my family, and as with most visits, the topic of my relationship status came up. Actually, that’s not fair; the topic of my SINGLE relationship status (and the question as to why) was broached a minimum of, say, one hundred and forty six times. Not too shabby for a three-day visit. I don’t mind discussing this (as you’re about to very clearly see), but it’s that look of disdain, nay, pity that I get in response to me saying that yes, I’m single and yes, I do want to get married some day and of course I do want to have children and I nod and smile while they pat my shoulder and tell me that there’s someone out there for me after all. 

I agree. I think there is; there’s probably a few people out there for me. I’m just not currently dating them nor engaged to them nor trying to procreate with them, the latter which has somehow become a successful alternative to my Mom’s newest suggestion, freezing my eggs. Yes, the fact that a thirty-four year old woman is single – by choice or by chance – shows me that not much has really changed over the years and that ‘spinster’ may be muttered when I leave the room. 

But the one question that I can never succinctly answer, that also gets asked, is WHY am I single? “How is that possible?” they ask (because they’re family and they’re kind and they see the good parts of me and ignore that parts that repeatedly like to date emotionally unavailable foreigners.) I never have an answer for them, because, well, I DON’T know why I’m single. I can tell you why I’m not dating a certain person or why I broke up with someone who was nothing but kind to me. I can resolutely say that I’ve been in love approximately 1.5 times (the fraction being from high school because, yeah, that doesn’t count and it was wholly unrequited; I’ll call it infatuation disguised as love). But in thinking about it – because I do, and because marriage or companionship and children ARE something I want in my future, without doubt or question – all I’ve come to is the fact that I’ve not yet found what I’m looking for. Be it circumstances or timing or the person – and I think yes, it’s all three of those – it’s not been right. Frankly, nobody has loved the shit out of me, and I refuse to settle for less.

Ten years ago, I may have. And I look back at that person and am SO GLAD I DID NOT, even if the left side of my bed is often empty. I can’t imagine 24 year-old me having the confidence or knowledge or battle wounds that I do today, those very experiences that have put me in the situation where I know I won’t settle. I think back then, the fear of being alone – which, that’s not to say doesn’t exist – would have been too potentially paralyzing that I would have turned a blind eye to the guy that occasionally would vanish for days, whose phone he would grab whenever it rang, who had photos of a girl I didn’t know on his camera. The me back then just wanted to be in a relationship, for whatever it offered, never mind what it didn’t. Thank God that girl has grown up and had her heart broken a few times.

What I’ve found through the years is that I went from a place wanting so badly to be in a relationship, to be part of something, to cling on to that hope that this next person may be MY next person, that I’d lose sight of why I actually wanted to be part of a couple in the first place. I think part of it was insecurity, looking for that whole bullshit Jerry McGuire “You complete me” person (damn you, Tom Cruise) that I ignored what a relationship actually offered. Now? Well, I think I’d love to meet someone phenomenal so I had a partner in crime. Someone who I could support in their quest for whatever the hell they wanted to do, be it climb Mt. Kilamanjaro or fix the garbage disposal. Someone who knows that yes, I tend to overplan and know exactly what I’m going to be doing on a random day in August but I like nothing more than to have an unplanned, spontaneous weekend and play hooky from real life for a while. I’d like a partner, in the true sense of the word.

That’s not to contradict the need for chemistry; that is undeniably a must-have, and I believe it’s not something you can force. It’s either there, or it’s not. I’ve been absolutely floored by it in the past; I met someone and before he even turned around, as soon as I merely heard his voice, I realized I was a goner. But chemistry alone is not enough, though lo, I’ve tried…makes for some great stories next time you play “I’ve Never…” but eventually there needs to be more. The person I fell in love with had both; the chemistry was omnipresent but the reason I loved him was because I met someone who I could see being my husband. I watched him around children, and saw him ‘parent’ in a way that was compatible with my views. And yet, it still wasn’t enough, because of circumstances and timing and us figuratively (and literally) being in two different places. Tragic, perhaps, but I think I’m one step closer to finding what I’ve been looking for. 

So the recipe for love? I’d say it’s equal parts timing, mutual attraction, and life compatibility. Add a good story as to how you met and BAM. There ya have it. Hearts carved into tree trunks and all that jazz.

But what do I know? I’m just a single girl, bless my heart. One who is, at least for the time being, happily, unapologetically, unsettled.

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