On Being Voluntarily Single

You’ve probably heard this one before- that one overly defensive friend who’s been asked one too many times about her stagnant love life, spieling about the joys of freedom. First of all, I will admit that I’ve been there, fuming about people’s morbid fascination with my stubborn unwillingness to move on and later, my sheer indifference to every opportunity that’s passed me by. Proclaiming that I’ve never been happier, emphasizing the importance of self-reliance, self-confidence, and discovery, pretending not to mind being alone when most of my friends have ostensibly captured that elusive creature, true love (or even that much more common, equally tempting sensation of temporary lust).

Yes, I’m even going to admit that I find myself nodding my head and shouting “preach!” as Bridget Jones reflects that the greatest long-term relationship of her life is with a bottle of wine.  I just admitted that I empathize strongly with the forever alone version of Pride and Prejudice, guys. There’s no dignity left to preserve!

I’m genuinely happy for those lovely people who have found each other, and I would absolutely love to have that security and warmth and completion they’ve found together. This is the very reason I choose to remain single. I’m just a walking, talking paradox, right? In one of the most transcendent moments of my reading experience, Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower is told that “We accept the love we think we deserve” and responds with a question: “Can we make them believe that they deserve more?” From my own experiences, I never would have known that I deserve the kind of love that celebrates affection based on respect and individuality. Left to our own devices, we seem to pick people who treat us like we’re never enough, that make us feel infinitesimally small, foolish, and easily replaceable. Like we need to be somebody else, we need to pretend in order to maintain the illusion that we can be loved. I constantly caught myself apologizing for accidentally being who I truly was, for letting a sliver of real emotion slip through the cracks of an intricate facade. It was through these friendships, through hearing and watching this new kind of love completely foreign to me blossom right under my nose, through the relentless repetition, over and over, of “YOU DESERVE MORE” or even “THERE IS MORE,” their words and actions, both among themselves and directly towards me, that convinced me.

So, as much as I would love to deny that I love the idea of love and shout very loudly that I just don’t give a damn, I must say I am not perpetually single because I don’t believe in the possibility of something more. I’m single because I do, wholeheartedly. I’m so happy with who I turned out to be, with this self-image that I had buried so long and so deep that I had believed it was irrecoverable. I’m not willing to sacrifice who I am for the sake of maintaining appearances and avoiding other people’s assumptions anymore. I’m not willing to be a stepping stone to better things, to fill the gaps left by the people who actually mattered, to be an ego boost or a convenience. So I will continue to wait, not with bated breath mind you, for the rare exception of being loved unapologetically for exactly who I am, as well as who I am not.

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