As I find myself here at the end of what I can only call another "Single Person Weekend Survived," I thought I'd gather my notes in a list of what happens to those of us Singletons who have been single for just a little too long. If you think you can bear being exposed to such ridiculous and harsh realities, read on.
Please note I can of course only speak for myself here, but I use the collective “you” here because I’d like to think I’m not the only one. So without further ado, here is what really happens to the Expertly Single among us:
1. You question your kissing abilities.
Sometimes I downright wonder if I’ve forgotten how, or if the next time someone tries to kiss me I’m going to say something ridiculous like, “Can we kiss for a few minutes so I can warm up, then you forget those few minutes and we proceed?”
2. Your taste in the arts goes markedly down.
Why? Because we’ve had so much damn time to watch, listen, read and discuss, then watch, listen, read and discuss a second time all the TV, books, news, movies, music that are out there. We’ve done the serious stuff – NPR, PBS, the History Channel. We’re moving on to Dawson’s Creek, The O.C., America’s Next Top Model. Get out of our way.
3. When you don’t have plans with people on any given weekend, you brace yourself for the “what is my life” questions you will ask yourself until you go back to work Monday morning.
4. You call 8,000 people until you successfully make plans, no matter how meager.
“You didn’t really invite me to go with you to the grocery store, but you’re OK with me tagging along? Be right over!”
5. You get together with this friend, and about 30 percent of the time, laugh hysterically with him or her and love every second and think, “This isn’t so bad. Maybe being single is great.”
6. Then you drive home and do two things:
1. Think, despite all your wallowing and whining pre-hangout, that since you spent 6 hours with a friend, you have lost 6 hours that you could have spent cleaning your apartment, filing your taxes, working out, or watching 7 episodes of Dawson’s Creek (you could maybe squeeze in 8 if you fast forward through the credits each time).
2. Freak out, anticipating the dread of heading back to your lonesome apartment, wondering when you’ll see that or another hilarious friend again.
You do both – not one – of these routines every time, and you cannot be stopped. The only exception to this rule is if you get home very late, in which case you are thrilled at the sight of your bed and the annoyance/dread/freak out kicks in the next morning.
7. You have guacamole and cheap wine for dinner, wearing sweats and your bra, settle in to watch a chick flick or some terrible television, and you think, “Sometimes being single is THE BEST.”
8. (Or) You have guacamole and cheap wine for dinner, wearing sweats and your bra, settle in to watch a chick flick or some terrible television, and you think, “This again. This sucks.”
9. You are flabbergasted by anyone who manages to fall in love.
How? Just. How.
10. When anyone tries to give you dating advice, you want to claw at things.
If this unsolicited advice giver is in a relationship (the advice givers always are) and/or hasn’t dated in the last 5 years, you also want to throw things and yell really feisty words.
11. When someone expresses interest in hanging out and then doesn’t make plans, you get the ball rolling by suggesting an activity, and…crickets.
12. Your friends tell you to let that person make the next move, so you wait, and…crickets.
13. You wonder if people in your life think you are remaining single on purpose, or that there is something you’re hiding.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t wondered at some point whether my parents thought maybe I wasn’t interested in men, given my lack of getting anything off the ground with a man. This makes you occasionally self conscious, causing you to talk too much about those you are trying to attract. Meanwhile you can feel the annoyance of the People in Relationships who don’t care just how fascinated you are by the sexy lines on Matt Damon’s sexily chiseled face.
14. You feel that People in Relationships are generally annoyed any and every time you want to talk about your dating woes, current crush, romantic theories, etc.
But really, what else are we supposed to talk about? Would you rather hear about Dawson’s Creek? Matt Damon, maybe?
15. You grow too comfortable in your filth – washing a single utensil as you need it, buying underwear instead of doing laundry – because you can.
Who’s coming over to inspect our homes? That’s right. No one. Filth on.
16. You grow horrified at the thought of someone springing upon your home.
On the rare occasion that you go on a date, you overly clean both yourself and your car, then fear you’re not presenting your true self, then fear your date will fall for the clean version of you and imagine the confessional conversation you’ll have with him 10 months down the line, begging him not to leave you when he discovers your slobby ways, telling him you can wash all the dishes and not just the required-right-then utensil.
You go through all of this in your head an hour before your first date. Or before he’s even asked you out. Which he probably won't ever do, because these are men in the 2010s who we're dealing with.
17. Your married friends and family have schedules and procedures for you to follow in order to find a mate. You try to explain to them that they don’t know what they’re talking about, then get push back from them, ultimately give up, then brood at home.
Then you get together with your single friends and spend half of your time brooding together. The remainder of the time we compliment each other’s clothes and compare notes on reality television.
18. You do online dating, realize it sucks, stop, get bored, do it again, remember that it still sucks, stop. But you haven’t sworn it off completely.
19. People who love you tell you that people are intimated by you, as an explanation for why you are not being pursued. This makes you really want to claw at things.
OK. I’ll just stop being myself, because then a guy suddenly won’t be intimidated and will ask me out.
Thanks for the compliment that really offers no solution, well-meaning friends.
20. Meanwhile with all your spare Single Person time, you develop new hobbies and talents, impressive (or embarrassing – fine line, usually) trivial knowledge, athletic feats*, etc., that make you more intimidating, giving the cycle more vicious strength.
*Admit it, probably at least 75 percent of us have run that half marathon because we didn’t know what to do with ourselves.
(But as soon as we meet someone, we casually slip it into conversation and wait for that satisfying: “Wow! You ran a half marathon?!” But really. Really. The training is fueled by boredom.)
21. All the other Single People amass their own piles of talent, trivia and feats, making you feel less able to compete in the meat market.
Cue the Dawson’s Creek. My time is better spent here, analyzing Andie and Pacey’s relationship and Joey’s tomboy-to-girlie wardrobe transformation.
22. The longer you’re single, the crazier some of your perceptions become.
You start to wonder things like: Is it really OK if the next serious relationship I get into is “the” relationship? Because maybe I haven’t been through enough break-ups* in my life, and maybe I won’t really be able to be sure if this next relationship is the one for me, even if it’s totally the one for me. Maybe I need more experience with break-ups.
*Really. We think these things. At least I do.
23. Sometimes you get in a bad mood for weeks or months on end, and there’s no stopping it.
24. When you really stop and think about it, you hope that you and your best friends will all fall in love and get married at the same time, to help curb the jealousy that otherwise will be rampant whenever one of you meets his or her person before the rest of you.
25. When you really stop and think about it, you realize how awesome – talented, caring, funny, sweet and lovable – your single friends are, and feel glad that for the moment you’re all in this together.
But you’re not always that Pollyanna about it. A lot of times you’re just kind of cranky and generally bursting with many and various issues.
26. Married People make you furious when they tell you JUST HOW WOEFULLY HARD it is to be married, as if life as a Single Person is the happiest of lifestyles.
Married People, we Single People get it. We don’t get it on the level of having been there, no, but I think I can say for most of us that we do listen when you talk about marriage not being a fairytale, and we trust you on that. I just want to ask: will we ever be able to have a conversation where it is accepted that making a marriage work and being single for years and years and years each suck in their own right?
This is all I can ask for on some days, yet am afraid to say for fear of backlash.
Somehow you feel, as a Single Person, that you are not so much having a conversation with a Married Person as you are in a competition with them for who has it worse. And because the Marrieds have been through a life experience that we haven’t, sometimes, frankly, they talk down to us.
But may I argue that a Single Person in her late twenties or older has been through a life experience that a Married Person of the same or younger age, has not?
To you Marrieds who are both honest about the work that marriage requires and quick to express your gratitude about having your spouse in your life – let me just say, “Thank you.” Even if I might sometimes be salivatingly jealous of what you have, I’d rather be jealous of someone who is realistic than who makes me feel like my problems aren’t as bad as yours. They’re just different. Our Single People problems are just different than the Married People problems. Hopefully this list can give everyone an idea of what the Single Person problems look like.
27. And, finally, sometimes when you’re single and have been single for too long, you make a list about things that happen to people who have been single for too long, instead of doing something a little more proactive about your many abundant and various personal issues.
But I’ve got the time to make a list, so why not?