Never be afraid to be single

The pressure to stop being single often comes from inside you. Yeah you have internalized ideas from society about how much it supposedly sucks to be single but, ultimately, you are the one who has the greatest influence on how and what you think. Being single in today’s society is such a stigma that it’s a bit like leprosy and you want to get rid of it as soon as possible.

Maybe your paired friends don’t invite you to stuff (and in my case one married friend tacitly uninvited me to her birthday after she invited me and the guy I was then going out with but I said I’d go alone so she more or less disappeared and said no more about her birthday event until like a month later. And yes the event happened just without those of us who were single). The paradoxical thing is that she used to be single when I was single and she met the guy she married because of a website I told her about (oh and we went to one of their singles events which was the most icky gross disappointing event – and I mean icky gross sticky carpets and a drinks bar with glasses that you’re too squeamish to touch because it really looked like a grubby place). That, my dears, was one of the many lowlights of being single. That yucky feeling of going to a singles event that no one there seems to want to be at except some leathered hardcore singles who are well practised at the art of singles events.

Experience has taught me that being afraid of being single is a big reason why you stay in a bad relationship, why you pick a partner who is unsuitable for you, and why you insist on being in a relationship that you are unhappy in and that feels worse (far far worse) than the lowest moments of being single.

Not being afraid of being single doesn’t mean that you give up on the hope of finding love but that you give up on the fear of never finding love. That you simply feel okay and happy as you are.

That is easier said than personally experienced. People who find “the one” often say they gave up right before they miraculously stumbled upon “the one” just as they had started not giving a sh*t about being single and just as they were actually quite enjoying it.

No one can make you happy. Only you can make you happy. Someone can introduce happiness to you but only you can actually transform it into a real experience within yourself. So, start by finding yourself by working on your non-dating life in ways that you enjoy.

It does not mean that you should be narcissistic because that’s a kind of inverse of being desperately single. Narcissism is like dating yourself — you will never really be happy that way because you will keep seeking perfection within yourself in a way that makes you miss out on happy experiences. Take the time to find other people interesting — your friends, family, writers, artists, and other people in the world. Take the time to enjoy nature and to genuinely find animals, birds, sea-life and plants intriguing. When you find the world interesting in a humble way somehow the idea of being single is less frightening and happiness comes from you and other things in your life rather than a date or a mate.

Fed up of dating?

You’re probably reading this because you searched for “fed up with dating” or even “fed up of dating” depending on whether you view dating as some sort of yucky sludge force-fed to single people through a beaker held over them by smug society. Or maybe it’s you got obsessed with dating because you feel alone and think it’s inadequate to be single. Fed up of or fed up with dating pretty much sums up how I have felt for many years.

Have you been watching “Married at First Sight” and scoffed “I know him,” not literally but figuratively. You’re thinking “I’ve seen thousands of him on Match.” He’s in his 40s, a hatchet man hacking away at dating, seething with the sense of entitlement that only Knights of the Garter should have temerity to contemplate. He claims no one is quite right but the truth is that he’s not ready to settle down with you or anybody.

You might be him, or her, and you actually don’t want a relationship so you find fault in everyone you meet. Stop and think. Don’t waste your or other people’s time.

If you’re reading this because you want to know how to find a wife or a husband, or a girlfriend or boyfriend, this blog isn’t going to help you at all. Read this if you genuinely feel fatigued, hopeless and fed up of the dating scene.

My turning point was dating a yuppie wannabe who said sexist things, wanted to talk about his stuff and his life even when I was on the other side of the world in Melbourne having some amazing epiphanies but not being able to share them. I remember his bespectacled face, white work shirts and grey hairs despite being in his 30s. He was steeped in a great sense of entitlement at work, with his friends and with me. I used to cook 3 course meals for him, thinking that’s the road to becoming a wife but when he said we should get married in a year my heart sank. I was deeply unhappy with him and marrying him was the last thing I wanted but the first thing society told me I needed (not him as such but basically anyone!)

I should have known it was a bad sign when his flat was clean but his bath tub (hidden behind a shower curtain) was disgustingly dirty. I hadn’t been looking for a boyfriend when I found him and I met him at a party. After some merry dancing he kissed me and I actually wiped my mouth. Sigh. I went on to date him and wound up unhappy.

When that ended I developed a wave of blissful happiness, like the sort of giggly cheeriness that you read about in Victorian novel about tittering ladies in the parlour. I once went out running and saw him randomly, and he looked desperate to chat. The once proud faced narcissist was now hunch-backed walking with his head hung low and his hair much greyer.

Things had unraveled after an argument fuelled by his sexist comments about me — ranging from you’re “too old for me” (I was late twenties he mid thirties), “your career will never be as great as mine because I’m a man” (I kid you not and, no, this wasn’t in 1932). Yes he paid for all my dinners when we dined out and bought me a present every time he saw me but with that transactional, paternalistic approach to dating went a lot of sexism. I realised my hypocrisy as a feminist who went along with someone paying for my dinners when we earned pretty much the same (I in a more senior job). Yes, I know and I’ve learnt my lesson!

I realised that, if you’re happy single, don’t get into a relationship because of the “why not?” philosophy you are fed by yourself and society. Don’t choose someone because they fit an idea of what a boyfriend or girlfriend should be like, their job, income, looks or anything superficial. If you don’t actually even like someone, you don’t share their values (like Mr. Sexism and me) don’t waste their or your time and stay perfectly happy being single.