I recently attended the wedding of my daughter, our oldest child. She was lovely in white with her blushing groom and it worked out nicely. I figured I’d escaped the worst part of weddings and kept moving to avoid conversation–but no matter how hard I tried–the conversations found me.
My former husband and his new mate, a really great lady who is helpful and attractive, attended also. Of course. I wasn’t looking to chat about it or not chat about it. We all came for our daughter’s wedding. That’s what the day is for.
But no sooner did I get my aching feet out of shoes and my tired backside on a bench when the swarm arrived. I suppose in support–which I neither needed nor requested. Concerned lipsticked lips said; “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone.” “When is it your turn?” or this one “Don’t you think you should put yourself out there? Everyone wants to be loved.” Then there’s my favorite; “Don’t you think if you tried you could meet someone?”
For Chrissake–you know I was married for like two million years right? More than half my life. I know about commitment and relationships–or at least me in them. This isn’t new stuff and it’s not my Everest. I climbed that mountain every day, rolled the rock up it and started over in the morning. I can’t find anything terribly exciting about it. I may eat those words if some magical fairy dust arrives and convinces me to roll that rock back up some new mountain but until then–I’m out–all the way out.
I think I speak on behalf of all single people who have to deal with the onslaught of relationship questions: can you please allow me to manage my own life and not make assumptions about what that means?
I’m normally happy as a single person until you pester me into questioning my own judgment. I enjoy being responsible for myself, making plans and not clearing them, putting my stuff where I want to put it and living spontaneously on my own terms. I am not a big fan of negotiating fine point detail and I feel happy by myself. My passions include reading and writing. Last time I checked those aren’t team sports. Yet my well meaning friends who are in relationships want to see me in one. Is this a misery loves company cliche or just some misguided belief that if you aren’t attached to a romantic partner you are alone?
So let’s be candid: I won’t ask you about what a drag it is to come home to the same thing every night or “check in” every time you feel like staying out late or to have sex when you’d rather read in bed. I won’t say I know you’re happy now but most people don’t stay together and I won’t assume you aren’t trying at living your life, taking risks or having adventure because you’re locked down in a relationship. In exchange you won’t tell me I’m not trying, not living or sad because I’m not wound around some guy.
This is important: when I introduce you to a friend who happens to be male you won’t throw me at him like I’m some close out special that can’t find a taker. It’s humiliating for me and for him.
The most hurtful of all is implying I am “giving up” because I don’t go fawning after every possible relationship or dress up like a runway model and hope to attract a mate. I have not yet begun to fight for my life which includes none of that. I was married my entire adult life–don’t you suppose if it was so amazing for me I would know it? Don’t imply I am unattractive because I am more concerned with how I feel than how I look (which is fine thank you very much) and that I am somehow unloved or rejected. I have so much love in my life that I have to shut it down to get my work done. I rarely lack for company and I’m never bored.
There are many ways to live a life well. For some people that means being part of a couple. If that works for you then I won’t judge. If it doesn’t work for me right now, could you just simply return the favor? This is what every single friend in your life wants to tell you.
We are trying in our lives. We are forging our own path of recognition, resilience and risk. When you see me out and about and don’t think I’m trying hard enough you have no idea how many jobs I’m juggling, how much I really do and what my latest plans are–you don’t ask because you’re so busy pushing your agenda. I’m actually out here having a fabulous, exciting and interesting life. You’d know if you talked to me about it.
Dear friends-step off my cloud and let me fly. Be attached if you must but don’t tether me to some construct of happiness which no longer works for me. Be my friend, talk with me about my life and I’ll talk about yours. Let’s enjoy each others company because like moments that’s what we really have when we are together. There is nothing missing. You are love in my life and I like it just that way.
So, you want to grab a coffee and talk about this big trip I’m planning?