Real Talk: On Being Forty, Happy, and Embracing Singlehood
Despite my personal and professional achievements, the first question out of (almost) everyone’s mouth when they see me is the ever-looming, “So, are you seeing anyone special?” It is said with a concerned tone, a hopeful smile, and an antiquated belief that at 40, my goods are a week from spoiling. I will undoubtedly die alone if I don’t lock someone down by next Tuesday.
I bite back my somewhat cheeky sarcasm and do not voice my clever (sadly untrue) retort, “Well actually, I am having acrobatic sex with several high-qualified men right now, but that’s more for cardio. No one I’d classify as special though.” No one would buy it anyway; I hate doing cardio.
Instead, I reply with a simple, “I’m actually really happy with my life right now. It’s nowhere near ideal, but still, I really love the space I’m in. If there’s an irresistible man who is living an equally amazing life he loves and wants to open it up for me, I will be more than happy to put aside my singleness. However, if that doesn’t happen, I’ll keep waking up every day solo in my king-size bed and playing my morning playlist while I sing and dance my way to the French press without input from anyone else, thank-you-very-much.”
The idea that a woman’s happiness doesn’t need to come from being part of a couple isn’t a new concept in the least, but it’s one that is still hardwired today. If a woman is 40 and single, she must be a tragic Miss Havisham character and not a bold and daring woman just out there living a big life and accomplishing her goals. But here’s some news, there are more and more of us are taking this route of consciously being single instead of wearing it like a death sentence. In 2009, more than half of the women in America were unmarried and out-number married women. Why? Most experts point to the fact that women are no longer economically, socially, or sexually dependent on men. Check the narrative because it’s changing; more women are embracing singlehood and doing so vocally.
I’m not single because I believe marriage is a patriarchal construct designed to keep women subservient. I’m single because that suits my goals and needs best right now. I don’t want to get into a relationship just to have one or seem valid in a society that supports this type of rubbish. I figured something out about myself after nearly three decades of boy-chasing. I love men, hate the artifice of dating, and won’t tailor my entire identity to fit anyone’s mold. I realized I didn’t need a man to witness my life for it to have meaning. I validate my own life; I don’t need someone else to do that for me.
Being single, and truly embracing it, has given me more, thus far, than any romantic relationship has. It’s given me courage and pardon my language, balls-to-the-wall doggedness, in pursuing even my loftiest goals and bringing them to fruition. It has given me the space to focus on myself and do an honest inventory of what is working and what isn’t, and then putting the time and energy into evolving into my best self. It also led me to take a period where I dated myself and found what I want in a partner (and what I need to work on) when the time comes to consider a relationship again.
People will still ask, “Aren’t you worried you’ll die alone?” (Um, we technically all die alone unless you are part of a cult suicide and that seems like too much commitment for me). But call me crazy, I figure I’ll have a few people around when that happens, even if I don’t lock down a man with my sex A-game, snuggle wars, or sandwich making abilities.
I hate to quote T-Swifty, but she said it right when she sang, “Being alone is not that same as being lonely.”