Maybe it’s being in your mid-twenties or just the thought process of those in the not-so-deep South, but inevitably, the question I’m always asked when I retreat back to the state I came from is: Are you seeing anyone special?
It used to really bother me and make me feel like I was perceived as less complete or less successful or less satisfied because I was flying solo instead of heading toward happily-ever-after with a great guy. Sure, in New York, everyone delays marriage and it’s totally normal (if not encouraged) to say “I do” in your 30s. But when you leave the mecca of independence, the nation’s average bride is 25 years old. So, you know, right around my age.
To combat my insecurities about getting to the marrying age, I used to put up a bold, shining smile and ward off that pesky inquiry by saying things like, “I’m married to my job!” or “No, I’m single and loving it!” or “I’m totally in no rush, everything is amazing in New York!” I thought that if I appeared unscathed by my single stature or my lack of a loving, intimate relationship, then relatives and friends would stop asking when I was going to walk down the aisle and believe that I actually am happy without a man.
Because really, I am. I am very committed to my job (even aching to get back since I’m stuck inside my Upper West Side apartment thanks to Hurricane Sandy), I do enjoy being able to do as I please without checking in with someone, and I’d rather postpone matrimony until I know that I’m totally ready — and my guy is, too. All of those things are factual and suitable answers to queries about my relationship status — but they’re not the whole truth.
There’s a difference between being fine single and still wanting to find someone. Some girls, I’m sure, may be satisfied without dating or really looking for a guy who could be a great match — but if I’m honest with myself, I just don’t fall into that category. While I’ve been single for a year and it doesn’t cause me much stress or sadness, my eyes are also wide open. And though it’s a little hesitant and scared of what it may find, my heart is too.
But somehow, replying with, “I’m happily single and ready for the next big thing!” makes me feel…well, less of a sassy, savvy professional and more like a lady in waiting. Like I’m just twiddling my thumbs and pacing my apartment, anticipating the knock on my door from some midtown, Wall Street or Brooklyn gent to come to my rescue and sweep me away. Like my life isn’t rich and full, bold and beautiful without a guy to share it with. Like I’m not sturdy enough to stand on my own two feet without someone to lift me off of them. Like I’m not a real woman until a real man shows me what it means to have a real, everlasting, forever-and-ever kinda love.
It’s my own double standard and something I’ve had to work out time-and-time again in my head to be able to speak it out loud. It’s something I’ve had to accept and know that it’s okay for others to accept about me. It’s something I’ve had to overcome and realize over the course of writing this blog, but it’s something I’m now proud to declare.
It just means that I can say it. I do want a relationship. I do want a boyfriend. And you, you can say it, too.
You can be strong, and still long for someone who lets you depend on him. You can be fulfilled with what you have, where you are and in the company you share, but still want to fulfilled by a man who absolutely adores you. You can have so much love that comes from every face of your life, and still want more — there can never be too big of an abundance of love for anyone. You can be perfectly happy, perfectly fine, perfectly you, perfectly alone, and still find yourself looking forward to the day when you’re not. You can be self-sufficient and stunning, marching along without missing a step, and still want someone to walk hand-in-hand with.
You can say it. You can own it. You can wish for and hope for and work for it. Because, it really does take work. It doesn’t make you dependent, it doesn’t make you less of the fierce , unstoppable woman you are. It doesn’t mean anything at all except that you’re human. That you want to mate. That you want to love. That you want a partner. You can admit it: you’re happy, but yes, you want to find an incredible, loving, funny, intelligent, handsome man — and that’s okay.
Really, it’s okay. You can say it. You can say that you’re single, but…you’re looking.