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13 March 2020

single, and ready to... stay that way

i was recently featured in issue 14 of zabby allen's procrastination paper - the love and relationships edition. when i saw zabby looking for contributors from all sides of the love and relationships debate, i knew i had something to add. being happily single for such a long time now (by choice) been something akin to the making of me and my happiness, and i wanted to be able to give that side of the "being single by choice" story in my own words. now that it's published, i'd love to share it here with you as well.

"You'll find him when you least expect it!" errr—no, thanks.

I am a 35 year old woman, with my own flat, a stable career, lots of a great friends, a stuuuupid addiction to 90s medical dramas, and absolutely no desire to be in a relationship. And that conclusion was reached only after trying desperately hard to be in one, because I thought I should be. Because of my age. And because of some silly societal expectation of me, and how I should live my life. And because I am a woman.

Well, I’ve already lived that life. From ages 16 to 28 I was in long-term, monogamous relationships. With various people, mind, but each of them lasted a good two or three years, two included moves across countries and borders, and one definitely included that “this could be forever” feeling – which, in hindsight, I’m quite glad did not.

Being in a relationship for that long of a time, during so many of those pivotal years, stunted me in ways I’ve only recently learned. Emotionally, it left me with an anxiety disorder that is now heavily medicated, because of various levels of co-dependency during my formative years. Physically, it left me with a body I only felt good in when a partner told me it looked good, and that I felt ashamed of when it changed and grew, and became something different to what was previously considered “lovable”. And finally, it also left me loveless – not just from others, but from me too.

To borrow a phrase from the Supermodel of the World, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” It took being single at 28 for the first time since being a teenager, to learn what real love was. And it certainly did not happen overnight, unlike many of those past loves. This love – this self-love, took years to find. While on that particular journey, I certainly tried my hand at filling the void left by love; drinking was fun, but the hangovers were not. Tinder was fun, until the guys turned out either too clingy, or too creepy. Dating was fun, until it wasn’t anymore, and when that happened, I was alone once more.

Then, and only then – when I’d truly had a gutful of trying, did I find the time to spend some time with me. Instead of waiting for someone to take me to dinner, I took myself. Same goes for solo cinema dates, and even fun lady-dates with my closest friends – rather that sit around and wait for someone to love me, I tried out loving myself. And for the first time in years, I found that I actually reaaaaally enjoyed being by myself.

I do sometimes worry – come 7pm on a Saturday when I’m still in my pyjamas and ordering in Pad Thai for one, that this might just be how it is from here on out, but... that’s okay with me, I’ve made my peace with that. I’m in no rush to disrupt the life that I’ve built for myself, that I’ve paid for myself, that I’ve constructed in a way that suits me, by bringing someone else into it. I’m not sure I’d have room to, anyway.

For the first time in such a long time, I am living MY life, for me.

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