Chocolate candy hearts are filling grocery store shelves. Plush teddy bears smile at me while I peruse the produce section. The scent of spring attacks my allergies as I step through the automatic doors.
Single people can’t hide from the Hallmark holiday. Valentine’s Day is near.
For most of my adult life, I’ve been single on February 14. My first Valentine’s Day in college, I’d just broken up with my high school boyfriend. Actually, my first ever boyfriend.
My newly minted independence was made all too apparent come Singles Awareness Day. But my guy friends pulled me through. One male friend, who was dating my female bestie at the time, surprised me with a rose. He said he knew the day would be hard for me. I told him I would never forget that gesture and, obviously, I haven’t. He remains a dear friend a decade later.
Another male friend, who is essentially my soulmate, gave me ridiculous greeting cards that had nothing to do with Cupid’s affairs—“congratulations on your baby” and “happy birthday” with a bikini clad woman, a palm tree, and an inappropriate joke… I have those cards ten years later.
Still, I’ve had some pretty crappy Valentine’s Days while in relationships. Sure, sure, it’s a cheesy holiday where you’re reminded, just shy of forced, to show your affection. I’d much rather receive flowers on say… a Tuesday… in the middle of fall. That’s when it really, truly comes from the heart.
But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to celebrate at least a teeny bit. And in two relationships, I did cutesie little things for the boyfriends and bleck, V-Day wasn’t even acknowledged. (Okay, red flag, I should have high-tailed it out of there. More on that another time.)
I’m never too old to hand out cartoon, paper, wallet-sized cards that I’ve torn along the perforated edges and individually addressed to my co-workers and favorite humans. I’m always ready to celebrate Galentine’s Day.
But really, I’m okay with being single.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being in a relationship. It’s nice to have someone who I can rely on at the drop of a hat. It’s wonderful having someone to scratch my head whenever I ask (ughhhhhh, someonecomescratchmyhead) or sometimes without asking (ughhhhhh seriouslycomescratchmyhead). It takes a load off when someone can feed me after a 10-hour shift. Being sick is easier when I’m in a relationship. A lot of life is easier when I’m in a relationship. Even with the challenges and compromises dating brings.
But really, I’m okay with being single.
So many of the accomplishments I made in the last year, so many of the milestones in my entire life have happened—have had to happen—because I’m single. Because climbing these peaks takes incredible time, energy and sacrifice. My journey has required a great amount of focus on myself.
And really, it’s all been necessary. I’ve seen too many people who need to be in a relationship to be complete. I don’t want someone else to complete me. I want to be complete by being just me.
I believe that we should fully know ourselves before we commit to someone else, but I’ve stopped trying to instill my beliefs on others. If they want to listen, they can, but they don’t have to. It’s their life to live, their happiness to create. Yet too many people haven’t stopped trying to instill their beliefs, their insecurities, in me.
The hardest part about being single? It’s you.
Too often, in the first five minutes that I catch up with someone on the phone, I get asked, “Soooo… have you met a guy yet?” The answer I now give took me repeating it a dozen times before I finally believed it, because some days being single is hard. Some days being single sucks. Some weeks I whine about how I’m single, but then I remember all the good that being single has done for me.
And so I respond with, “Nope! I’m happily single!” I really don’t want to spend the next 30 minutes being pitied for being alone.
These are really, truly, the top responses I receive (from people I love) when I dare talk about my dating life, or lack thereof:
- You should just go to a bar and meet someone.
- Have you thought about online dating?
- But do you really want to have a baby when you’re 40?
- No one is perfect.
The hardest part about being single is you.
I love you, dear friends, but please stop suggesting that I bring home the local drunk to scratch my head and make me dinner. Please stop suggesting I use my precious free time to click on Match.com profiles. Please stop suggesting that anyone should have an opinion about my ovaries other than me. And for the love of Pete, please, please stop suggesting I settle.
I know no one is perfect. I am not perfect. But the man who I end up marrying—in two years, five years, ten—will be perfect for me. We will be the same and different. We will be beautifully flawed. We will have our own insecurities and neuroses. We will challenge, encourage and support each other. We will place equal value in alone time and togetherness. We will complement one another. We will chase our own dreams and we will chase dreams together. We will love in a way that works for us.
When I fall in love, I promise. You’ll know. And what a lucky man he’ll be, cause I got lots of love to give and Imma love him something fierce.
I value your friendship. I love you for you. I love your significant other, whether you met at a bar or online, whether or not you choose to have children, and whether or not you’re perfect.
So please. Let’s get to the point where the hardest part about being single is not having someone to scratch my head.