Entitled to Be Single

When my parents were newlyweds, my father once made the mistake at a dinner party introducing my mother as “his wife.” While she was, and is, his partner – to my incredibly independent firecracker of a mom – this made her feel like she lost her identity.

Needless to say, she didn’t keep quiet about how she felt. On the ride home, as my dad tells the story: “She laid it out for me -I didn’t own her. If I was going to introduce her to anyone, I had to say her name first and then her wifely title. Or, I was just to say her name. Under no circumstances, was she ever to solely be my wife or was I ever to say ‘wife’ before her name.

Now – I don’t know how I would respond in the same situation because I’m not married, but I will say I think my mother demanded nothing out of her rights. Nor do I think it’d sit well with me if my husband dropped my first name just because I took his last. And really, just like my mom, I’ll never just be a “wife” or a “mother” – I’ll always be me, and there are not enough titles to represent who I am.

I’ve carried a few of them the majority of my life: female, daughter, and well, writer. Those have grown as I have, from girl to teenager to woman; from daughter to kid to adult; from writer to editor to blogger. And of course, I’ve gone from crush to girlfriend to lover, from single to attached, from hopeless romantic to love addict,  from committed to heartbroken.

But in relationships, title changes seem to carry so much more weight than the other ones. Somehow, we know that regardless of what happens we will still be people through any birthday, promotion, or change of friends, and we’ll still be able to call ourselves a woman, a person, a daughter – because those things can’t be revoked or erased.

So, maybe in terms of love it is less about title and more about entitlement.

As a lady who adores words (even when she isn’t the best grammar girl in the whole world) – when I edit articles and writers confuse “title” and “entitlement” – I always cringe at my desk. Much like I do about “they’re” and “their”, but I digress. You see, title is the name of something, say a book or a movie; and entitled means one is deserving of whatever they are getting.

By these definitions, when we approach relationships, though we think we’re seeking a title – aren’t we really seeking entitlement? To be told, to be reassured that we are in fact, worthy of being someone’s girlfriend? Or fiancée? Or wife?

Of all of the roles I’ve played and hats I’ve wore in my past, the one I wanted the very most was exclusiveness with a man. I wanted whatever dude who was stealing my attention, where it be Mr. Disappear, Mr. Fire, or even Mr. Unavailable – to view me as his dream girl. As this beautiful, irreplaceable creature who appeared from the dusty woodwork, and became as important, as vital, as necessary, as the air they breathed and the beer they drank. Maybe it was college, but I didn’t even know these men very long – probably just upwards of a few weeks – before I determined I had to do everything in my power to be that girl. That remarkable woman who caught them off guard and made them stumble in the game they seemed so good at playing. I had to be the different one, the woman who woke him up from whatever bachelor-daze he was stuck in and I had to persuade him to entitle me the title I wanted.

In pushing for a man to make me his, to be what he desired, and what I thought was attractive to him – I stopped focusing on if I actually wanted a relationship and became more intrigued by the challenge of roping in this character. Of being convincing enough by putting on a charade that I was calm, cool, collected, and aloof , when in all actuality, I’m anything but most of those things. In all of my dating experiences prior, as soon as I realized he made me nervous in the best of ways – I was ready to have the girlfriend title. In fact, it became much more important than any other title – friend, sister, daughter, student, editor, or employee – I may have had at the time.

But now, it seems the title I enjoy the most, that I feel fully entitled to – is single. Incredibly, proudly, surprisingly, happily solo.

Maybe the reason I feel a sense of entitlement to the single title is because I had to work for it. More so, because I really got to know what it meant to be single before I determined that yes, indeed, that’s what I wanted. I had to go through nights where I didn’t think I’d ever be able to fall asleep due to my heart that was pounding so hard, I was sure it would never stop hurting. I had to give someone every single bit of hope and trust inside of me, only to realize they weren’t deserving of it, nor did they really want it. I had to fall in and out of love, both with myself and with the parade of men who for a while, defined my life. I had to be willing to put myself through the very worse part of being in a relationship, take a chance on what felt like fate, and promise myself that no matter what happened, I’d still be able to stand again. I had to face some pretty harsh realities about myself, how I approach love, and the lessons I’ve learned from loving and losing, believing and grieving.

And most importantly, I had to get to a point where it didn’t matter whatsoever what title I had, as long as I stopped putting all of my energy toward becoming someone’s girlfriend. I had to turn away from searching for the love I thought would complete me, would make me a better person, would give me the confidence I wanted, and decide that that love is only possible from within.

Today, I know it isn’t about the man anymore. It’s about me. Instead of worrying about being entitled to a title, I instead try and determine if someone is up to my standards of being my partner, my man, my lover, my boyfriend, or even my man friend. They aren’t just entitled to a place in my life, my bedroom, or my heart – those are places that must be earned with something I’ve never given enough credit to…time.

So yes, I’m happy with my single title. And unlike other titles that must be given to you, this is one I decided for myself I was entitled to. But should you ever meet me, I won’t lead with “Hi, I’m single,” because though it is something that’s part of me, just like being a woman, a friend, and a writer – most importantly, I’m me. I’m Lindsay. And that’s a title that’ll never change.

PS: If you’re a fan of Confessions of a Love Addict, please take this survey for a chance to win beauty goodies!

Advertisements

Star Light, Star Bright, First Wish I Make For Me Tonight

If you visit New York City, you will find several things: buildings that reach the clouds, people from every country on the planet (and in all stages of life), hidden gems that no tourist guide should ever get a hold of, and the next big thing on every corner.

You will also find love in the simple places and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch yourself wanting to take a picture of the city you’re buzzing around with – just so you can capture that feeling, that energy in something you can take back to your own zip code.

But no matter how many pictures you take, views you see, or places you scout out –one thing you won’t find in the city of dreamers are stars. Much, anyways. And as a gal who was raised in the south and spent many-a-nights laying in her backyard watching the stars compete in quantity with the fireflies – it just may be the one thing I miss about living in North Carolina.

I’ve seen the stars twice since I’ve lived in the city. The first time, in Columbus Circle, Mr. Unavailable was quick to tell me they were probably just planes. I glared at him and matter-of-factly responded with: Maybe you’re just a jaded New Yorker, hmm?

But last night as I was walking from the train to the gym, iPod on shuffle, 3-inch stilettos on foot, I saw a star. I looked around to see if there were any other stars showing their face and waited a second to see if it moved (I guess it could be from LaGuardia). But no, it was not only an actual star and the brightest star, but it was the first star of the night. (If it wasn’t, I’m pretending it was, anyway.)

Without hesitation, I closed my eyes and made a wish, smiled, and kept walking –just like I always have. It didn’t occur to me until I was on mile two at the gym that I had made my very first wish on a star that was a desire that had nothing to do with a man. And even better, I made this wish even though Michael Buble’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” happened to come on just as I saw the star.

Sure, I’ve wished to move to New York and to be a writer, but it was always coupled with another plea: find me a man or make me fall in love! I’ve even gone as far as giving stars deadlines when they should have this perfect person to me, and while I adore stars, they wouldn’t make great freelance writers because they’ve never met this time limit.

But last night, surrounded by the buildings I see daily, I made a wish that wasn’t about falling in love. Had nothing to do with romantic notions or happily ever afters or getting hitched or having babies. No part of my wish was about kissing in the rain or walks through Central Park.

Although I can’t give it exactly away (it wouldn’t come true!), the wish was for something that came from true bliss, complete happiness, and incredible personal contentment. For the desire to have something that comes from a place of thankfulness and bloom of sincere peace.

I don’t believe my over 20 years worth of making wishes on the first star I saw were wasted on men, nor would I go back and change my words – but there is something gratifying about making a wish independently.

And really, that’s what this whole journey is about. In so many ways, single women get lost in the instability and the uncertainty that comes with being a minus-one. We stand guard by our phones and put ourselves out there and we read every self-help book imaginable to try and figure out “what we’re doing poorly” or “how to attract the man we want” or “the way to lose ten pounds and get a husband in a year”. But in reality, there isn’t anything wrong with us, nor is there anything bad about desiring a remarkable love and person to share our lives with.

It’s not about how we look or what we say at a bar or how long we wait between the first email and the response – it’s about the feelings we have towards ourselves. If we love who we are, if we believe in what we have to offer, and if we trust that we really can’t screw up what’s meant to be (because, we’ve tried, right?) – the rest of it just falls into place.

Does this mean I’ll stop making wishes? No. It just means that if I’m always wishing for the same dream (or the same man) – maybe it’s time to take a risk and wish for something that’s just about me.