I’m Single, I’m 36, and I Think That’s Fine

Two and a half years ago, I sat in my therapist’s office processing my sudden divorce and all of the feelings of anxiety and fear surrounding my new life. She asked me if I, at 34 years old, felt encumbered by pressure from people around me, society, or even just myself, to be partnered by a certain age; or if, generally speaking, I assumed any cultural responsibility for being at a certain place in my life because of my age. Fortunately for me, in that moment and in general, I had not. If my mother had conversations with me as a child, where she tucked a tendril of my hair behind my ear and told me that one day my prince would come, I don’t remember it. I never understood the inclinations of my peers to pore through wedding magazines or dreamily talk about their future committed and/or married lives. As I aged and found myself interested in other people romantically/sexually, I generally approached every conversation about longer-term commitment or marriage with a certain level of discomfort and disinterest, because it felt like an overwhelming amount of pressure to change a dynamic that felt fine as it was, or to codify a relationship inflexibly. I always just wanted to feel secure. When I settled into my last significant relationship, I felt a certain degree of excitement about the idea of marriage, but it took time and a lot of self-convincing. In hindsight, I realize what that time and convincing was really about ​​— convincing myself that this relationship was right for me AT ALL, let alone right enough for marriage ​​— but it’s that hesitation I come back to every time I become involved in a dynamic with a new person that feels like it could go somewhere.

It’s a rather uncommon thing to be alone, I think, at this age. There is no mythical clock ticking inside of me, telling me to hurry up. While it is hard to divest myself of the social pressure one feels when everyone in your age group is deeply invested in coupling up, deeply invested in new love relationships, getting committed to one another/married, having or adopting children, all of my energy has gone toward finding comfort and security in being alone in all facets of my life. While I work so hard, basically every single day, to separate myself from these social pressures, which exist within the queer community as much as they do outside of it, there are fewer and fewer people like me living this kind of life. I’m in a position where my friends move through great relationship changes, including marriage and children, or exist in them from the outset; that is to say, they have, or are actively creating, roots. My roots are my own, in a sense, and every connection I have is unique and beautiful in its intentionality.

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There are times when I feel like the cool, unattached single friend; I’m pretty much always available and I don’t need to check in with anyone. There are times when I’m almost giddy about the fact that I belong only to myself, and that I don’t feel weighed down by responsibility to anyone else. There are also times when I wish I could stumble in the door after work, throw my purse on the ground and fall into my partner’s arms. Times when making a decision by myself brings me to tears. There are times when I crave physical connection in a way that could never adequately be satisfied by casual encounters or even the most sincere hug from a friend. There are times when I wish I could be sure of someone ​​— their presence, their confidence in me, their power to nurture me in challenging moments ​​​— in a way that only a partner could fulfill. It’s incredibly hard not to feel beside myself with despair about that. And then there are times when coupled people are all but patting me on the head, assuring me that my time will come, as if this life I’m living is only the interstice and I am merely railing against, or running away from, inevitability. It’s not that simple anymore, really. Every responsibility I carried in my 20s has shifted almost entirely to the other end of the spectrum; where I was once dedicated to socializing, I am now committed to getting enough sleep, paying my bills​ ​on time, and other boring forms of adulting. There are times when I’m just not really clear where​ or what​ I’m supposed to compromise.

I realized, when my marriage ended, I was terribly unrehearsed at what alone really felt like. They tell you that you should feel confident and comfortable being alone, and I was so far from that. Every aspect of my alone time was theatrical. A well-edited farce. While I was feeling terror and discomfort, I was telling the world I loved every second of it. ​”Look at me, world! I’m eating this steak and drinking this Prosecco by myself and it’s faaaaaaaaabulous!​” It usually wasn’t. I’d retreat to my bed afterwards and cry while watching Pride & Prejudice. Now? These activities are the founts from which I derive my energy, my confidence, my joie de vivre. Alone time is a treasured gift I’m almost always unwilling to surrender.

My Sunday nights are practically ritualistic at this point. I make myself a serviceable dinner. I make sure all of the dishes from the weekend are washed, dried, and put away. I probably talk to myself. I make sure that any paper mail I received that week is either paid and filed (because, let’s be real, it’s all bills) or shredded. I clean out my purse, refilling the tissues and disposing of all of the gum wrappers. I fill my purse with the requisite number of granola bars to stave off hunger/establish dominance among my fellow passengers in the event I get trapped in a tunnel going to or from work (if you live in DC, you know this is real). I make sure all of my laundry is clean, folded, and put away. I use a magnifying mirror to examine the smile wrinkles forming around my eyes. I read my weekly horoscope and whimper a little (it’s always so bad). Floss and brush. Check the morning’s alarms. Turn on a mindless television show or read until I fall asleep, sliding diagonally across my obscenely large and comfortable bed.

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At 36 years old, these relatively normal ​​​activities feel far too personal to experience with another human being in my midst, and despite being in relationships for 12 of the past 15 years since I came out, most days I can’t ever imagine being vulnerable enough again to welcome someone into my neurosis, no matter how tame those behaviors might seem. These ministrations are my own, an intimate dance I do with myself constantly to feel like a functional adult, operating with some degree of consciousness about my own feelings, needs and vulnerabilities. I’m the only person doing this for myself. ​​I’m so comfortable being alone, moving through my life hashtagging all of my ​”adventures​” with variations on #singlegal, that I often feel too protective of my own independence. Decisions, like what I’m having for dinner or how I’m going to squirrel away my recent pay increase or what color pillowcases I should buy, are easier to make alone. I can eat my salad directly out of the bowl I tossed it in, and have ​Edge of Glory​​ dance parties whenever I damn well please. But also, there is the reality that I am, quite literally, alone. A lot. The cumulative effect of this is almost palpable.

Were you to ask me in my 20s, after finding love for the first time at 22, if I could live without love, I would’ve felt strangled by anxiety. Now? My feelings are very much a mixed bag. The thing is, I don’t exactly feel desperate, but I feel far less romantic about my daily goings-on than I do about the way being in love makes me feel. My internal monologue usually sounds something like, ​”Great job, self, you did the dishes and paid all of the bills!​” There is nothing romantic about that. Nothing. I don’t really think that my daily routines would be interrupted by the presence of someone new, either, so I can’t really construct a justification for seeking out a partner on that specific level. But there is longing. There is need. What I wouldn’t give to be held by someone right now — as long as they didn’t obstruct my independence or whatever. I think that if there is any age when one can be desperate about romantic connection, it is in these sort of ​”post prime​” years. My tempered desperation also has me thinking about potentially embracing the antithesis of romantic desperation, for a while, and to just be indifferent to love and sex altogether. Frankly, I’m so certain that’s not where my feelings or needs are situated, even though it would make my life feel so much less complex. I don’t want to feel guilty for being some kind of desperate. I am queer. I am sexual. I have desire. It’s not wrong to want to engage that, even slightly desperately!

I fully own that one’s late-30s are actually very prime, biologically speaking. And yet, it also feels decidedly…post harvest? If my 40th birthday is to be filled with gravestones and eulogies and jokes about being ​”over the hill​,” then it must mean that now I am on that hill, looking out to the future before me and to the past that has ushered me to this point. Community with other single people brings a certain validity, or confidence, to my life, but there are simply not as many people with whom I can bond over my assorted realities, and even fewer people to whom I’m inclined to be attracted. So, more often than not, it just feels strange and lonely on this hill. We’re all so much more weathered and complex, like adorable, beloved, and chipped teacups. Our functionality is barely disrupted, but you still notice. There’s something askew. Perhaps we’re all tired? The particular kind of energy I expended nurturing and loving my former partners was decidedly different than the kind I have to use to care for myself. It was replenishable. Caring for myself is not. It’s hard work and always intentional, and when my energy is sapped, I have few people I can lean on to reinvigorate me (or bring me dinner in bed and kiss my forehead tenderly). The only person working their ass off to make me feel amazing right now is me, and I’m doing a better job than I’ve ever done in my entire life, but still I wouldn’t ever call it amazing (and that’s also ok, because life doesn’t always have to feel amazing).

The restorative kind of energy, for me, is derived from intimacy. Intimacy makes me feel amazing, it energizes me. Kissing, hugging, closeness, deep/meaningful talks about life, politics, food, dreams, horrible television. Waking up and seeing my partner on the other side of the bed drooling on their pillow/with amazing bedhead/curled up in a ball/snoring/naked/bathed in moonlight is amazing. You can have closeness and validation and feel completely seen with friends, family, and sometimes even colleagues, but it’s rarely amazing-grade. There is a specific kind of love, attraction-based intimacy that feels almost other-worldly; it is a magical combination of feeling both lost and found, a profound sense of groundedness and a sense of home in a situation that also feel fresh, reckless, and invigorating. I also have to acknowledge that I don’t need or want that intimacy all the time. I quite literally couldn’t handle it. But the spooning your person at 4 a.m. because you woke up and just wanted to be closer to them, the communicating without talking, your breathing syncing up, because you believe that there is this other-worldly connection between the two of you that can only be fully realized when there is as little space/fabric as possible between your hearts — that’s very specific Amazing-level validation that only a person — My Person, presumably — can make me feel.

The reality is that achieving that kind of intimacy requires so much work for me now. Gone are the days when I found myself capable of, let alone desiring, to be intimate with someone I didn’t know, barely trusted, and would likely not see again. I’m unwilling to embrace casual encounters at this point; they seem far too reckless for my old(er), (somewhat) weary soul, and they also seem more and more impossible given the ways in which I have grown more complex. So there is this void, but also there is an extreme tentativeness about filling it. Emotionally, I can do my best to tend to the gaps, and ​I ​ask my loved ones to chip in too, but the particular kind of intimacy I desire just doesn’t exist in singlehood. I don’t think I’m ever willing to give up completely on the quest to find that kind of magic, though. It will require more vulnerability and compromise than ever to get there, but I will forge ahead.

What I learned early on in adulthood is that I enjoy the work that makes me feel settled and secure in partnerships. As a nurturing person, a natural caregiver, it’s easy for me to fall in step with another person and incorporate their needs into my life. I love deeply. While I’m much more reserved and hesitant about partnership and love now, it is also relatively easy for me to fall in love with someone with all the fibers of my being. But falling in love doesn’t mean opening up every moment of my life or my living space to another human being, and I think that knowledge brings me great comfort, which it never had before. Becoming secure with being alone has relieved the frantic pressure to believe that every new person I meet might be the next person with whom I enter into a significant relationship, and instead it has provided me with the security and confidence to build a life on my own terms. There’s a cultural misunderstanding, I think, about love. As I explained to a friend, I once believed that love would bring me to 100% completeness, whereas now I realize that 100% complete is my own personal, autonomous goal. Everything else is greater than.

The past two years have been about cultivating a life for myself that looks more like my childhood dreams, wherein I was always a glamorous single woman, than anything thus far ever has, and it has been both fascinating and devastating to reconcile those dreams with reality, which is a weird amalgamation of the life I’m building for just myself and the intricate needs that almost always go unmet. In my 400 square foot studio apartment, I have infinite space and freedom to be myself and do for myself the things that I only ever really had the opportunity to dream about. A relationship would be so much more, so much more of everything. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever be ready to take that on. But damn, what I wouldn’t give to feel like I was moving towards it.

Meaghan O'Malley is a ginger queer femme currently residing in a tree-filled, revolutionary little town just outside of Washington DC. By day, she coordinates resource acquisition for a large university library, and by night she crafts and bakes compulsively, edits the renowned photoblog Butches + Babies, and loves finding opportunities to play hostess. She also really, really loves a good Old Fashioned. Follow her writing and crafty endeavors at sogingerly.com.

Meaghan has written 1 article for us.

46 Comments

  1. How does Autostraddle always know what I need. Can I marry a website?

    Anyway, I just broke up with my sweetie last night. It was my first queer relationship, first relationship with someone who wasn’t a cis dude, and it was so amazing and right in so many ways and I loved them and still love them and yet…

    something happened. Something changed. It wasn’t quite right anymore.

    Even though there’s a ten year difference between me and you, Meaghan, this resonates with me. I too have always had that vision of my future self as a glamorous single [person, now that I’m out as genderqueer]. Yet I also feel that intense desire for intimacy. I don’t know how to navigate it. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel truly settled in a relationship (and by settled I mean ‘at home,’ not ‘settling for less.’)

    And this part? “…100% complete is my own personal, autonomous goal. Everything else is greater than.”

    It took me until my mid-20s and the end of my first serious relationship (the one before this current one) to realize that I could be whole and beautiful and live fully and have so much love in my life WITHOUT a romantic relationship. I felt freer than I ever have when I realized that.

    It’s such a tricky balance. I love how this piece weaves back and forth and reflects that desire for intimacy yet protectiveness of one’s own autonomy and solitude. I don’t have any answers. But thanks for this.

    • Awww, Raye. I’m so sorry to hear about your break up. I really do hope that you’re able to take some time and space to grieve and care for your heart. That’s really important work, albeit tough. I really appreciate your kind words about my writing and I feel grateful that it resonated with you. I don’t think I have any answers, either. So, as cliche as it might seem, the journey – the volleying back and forth between settled and filled with longing – that’s the destination, it seems. Take care of you!

  2. Word so much to this! I’m 29 and have never been in a relationship…mostly by choice. It’s not that I don’t want a relationship someday…but because a lot of the time I don’t feel like I have enough emotional energy to give to someone else, without feeling completely drained. And I worry about it. I’m not sure whether I’d feel so worried if it weren’t for constant societal pressure, like you mentioned…and also, the well-intentioned people saying things like, “when you love yourself, it’ll happen”…as if the reason I don’t have a partner is because I’m broken in a way that partnered people are not, and until I “fix” the problem, it’s what I deserve.
    Thanks so much for writing. This was very needed.

    • Oh, Ollie Paige! You alone get to decide when you love yourself, and that should most certainly happen without worrying about anyone else. And truthfully, it’s no true indication of readiness for a relationship anyway. We all get inundated with cultural messaging about relationships, partnership, and love. It’s hard to sift through the bullshit. I think that it’s incredibly brave to recognize your truth, even if it’s kind of spastic (like mine sometimes feels), and live it. Thanks so much for reading. Your words mean a lot to me!

  3. Although I’m not 36, nor necessarily near it, this has great significance to me. It resonates with my decisions, even though being single is sometimes lonely, I am proud of my choice to remain single. Thank you for sharing.

    • Stevie/Jenny – I’m glad my words were significant to you, and gave credence to your decision to stay single. You alone get to decide what works for you; that process of self-discovery is certainly worthy of the pride you feel in your self-awareness. I’m really happy to hear that what I wrote resonated.

    • Sorry you read it that way, Luce. I certainly didn’t intend to convey a clear preference either way – single or partnered. This is most aptly conveyed in the part of the headline “I Think That’s Fine”, which kind of carries a double meaning/implication. For me, it’s really about being OK with the either/or and also finding and knowing myself in the process. Take care.

    • I took it as her acknowledging the things that are hard about being single, even while being ok with it. Like, you can be happy overall with your job and still bitch about how your boss expects you to work overtime every week. That kind of thing.

  4. I also appreciated your efforts to convey the balance between being deeply invested in your life as it is, and yet wanting to remain open to other humans.

    Over the past year, I have thought quite a bit about this. I like the patterns of my life, mostly/enough, probably more than most adults and don’t really want to cause major changes. It’s been quite a while, though, and I miss those Sunday mornings of lounging and the pleasant surprises on difficult days and just having someone who kind of has a little more obligation to say yes when you want to go see a stupid movie. And being the peanut gallery when you go to see their stupid moie. And casual encounters won’t do.

  5. For the first time in my life (at 31) I am living completely alone and I’m single. I also work half my life by myself. So I’m completely feeling this article.
    It’s the intimacy that I miss mostly…which you just can’t get off friends or family. Yes sex with random people can dampen those coals for a while…but soon realise that’s not what your missing.
    6 months in and I can’t say it’s exactly fun…

  6. Ok so I’m 23, but this resonates so hard with me. Since early childhood (I grew up super Christian; I had to start writing letters to my future husband starting at like age 10 in Sunday School and bible study and shit), I’ve been terrified of the idea of ending up forever alone. Two of my maternal cousins are much older than me and unmarried, only one of them has dated anybody and that was just for a few months. Other than that, neither of them have ever been on a date. My mom married the first person she ever went on a date with (my dad) and she’s been with him (unhappily) ever since. So I was scared it was genetic or something. Truly scared.
    Now that I’m 23 and relatively recently out of my first long-term relationship (2 years), that fear is back. That there’s something wrong with me and I’ll end up forever alone. That maybe an alone gene really is a thing and that it runs in my family and that I have it. So I love accounts like this, reminders that I’m just fine, that I’ll be just fine, no matter what, significant other or not. That my cousins will be just fine. That everybody’s fine. That the idea that we need a significant other at all times to feel whole is a problem. That we are enough. All by ourselves.
    That we’re enough.

  7. I really enjoyed this article and related to a lot of it. I’m glad someone has finally acknowledged that the whole world doesn’t revolve around being in a relationship. I’ve never had a proper girlfriend and I don’t think it will ever happen but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I’m glad other people are in a similar situation to me :-)

  8. I feel this.

    After I broke out of my last serious relationship, I went after new love with a desperation, grabbing at something like dozens of dates and short-lived encounters. Whenever things seemed to be going deeper for me, I sabotaged or the other person did – one of us wasn’t ready for the other, it always seemed like.

    I’m in the quiet between storms and made a deliberate decision that with everything else going on in my life, I would step out of the dating pool for at least a good 6 months.

    I live with other folks who are by now good friends, so I lean on them when I need to, and it some ways not being in a relationship has been quite nice: I work as long as I need to, I eat what I want to eat, I take all of my blankets, and I make my choices knowing that they affect me and me alone. But sometimes, when everyone else is out of the house doing things in couples, there is a bit of melancholy there. I don’t think I would enjoy living entirely on my own any time soon.

    It’s not an easy thing, being alone — it forces you to look at yourself, figure out how you got where you are, and where you want to go. When things go right, you can take on the full accomplishment, and when they go wrong, you take on the full burden. But I’m calmer and more content being alone now than ever before, and I think that’s something that comes with getting older and recognizing that I’ve become the type of person that I don’t mind spending time with.

  9. Beautifully and lovingly written. It was a long article but I was hooked the whole way through. Even though (or maybe because) I’m super duper partnered up yet an extreme introvert, I felt so much of this. This need for total autonomy also with great intimacy. The need to be my weird, wonderful, full self alone while also having a witness to that inner life. I’m only 24, I know I have to grow so much still and your writing gave me a lot of hope.

    Thank you.

  10. This resonates so much yet gives me perspective – I am heartbroken and newly single after a long, passionate, and meaningful relationship – but I am also 20 years old and I have never had to consider the possibility of being ‘past my prime’.

    I think there is something unsaid about being single in your late thirties (thanks, Meagan), and I also think there is something unsaid about being a young adult dealing with the loss of a long relationship begun as a teen (the person is almost always your best friend, sometimes your lifelong best friend, and usually you assume you had created a family together that would last forever), because they both diverge from the normative model of ‘casually date or have 1-2 year relationships until 25, then settle down seriously by your thirties’

    I have been whispering to myself as a mantra every time I feel overwhelmed with grief and despair, against every tear-drenched pillowcase, ‘even if I never find love again, my life is worth living’.

    Thank you for echoing this sentiment.

  11. Thank you for this! I had a bad break up earlier this year, which I still think about – and in part because of that, and for positive reasons too (returning to grad school!) I’m content being single. It can be the best. :)

  12. I’m 24, and recently started feeling like I should be looking for companionship. Not like I WANT to – like I SHOULD. I feel perfectly content without company, and I’ve found myself wondering if that meant something was wrong with me.

    Glad to hear there isnt.

  13. This. I’ve been single since I came out ten years ago (minus a six month relationship), and I’ve always felt there’s something wrong with me–a feeling that’s usually enhanced by friends, asking me why I don’t date more or assuring me “the one” will come. Screw that, I *am* the one. I just finally reached a point where I really don’t want to be with anyone right now–and that’s a huge deal. Granted, that may be because I’m wary of being vulnerable in front of someone yet again, but it still feels like a beautiful, sort of grown up revelation, and I’m sticking with it. Thanks for helping me feel like it’s not the wrong choice. <3

  14. Thank God. I was just starting to wonder if it was nuts to genuinely not care about finding someone. I like dating, but I know I’m not in a space to commit to anyone right now, and that’s fine. While I do long for companionship, I really, really, love my alone time.

  15. I feel this so much. I recently came out to myself (and a few close friends, my now ex-girlfriend, and lots of strangers on the internet) as asexual and the scariest part about it was realizing that I might never find someone who would want to be with me knowing that I wouldn’t find them sexually attractive or ever want to have sex with them. I had this imagined future with a partner and kids and I could see it evaporating before my eyes. So I’ve had to imagine a new future where I make enough money to support myself and adopt probably only one kid now instead of 2.5 (I would have, of course, loved my half a child just as much as their siblings, btw). I’m only 25 so the new career goals aren’t that drastic of a change but there’s a physical and emotional closeness in romantic relationships that I think I’ll always want. I know I could have that kind of closeness in a queer platonic relationship but that still sounds like a beautiful ace legend – the Atlantis of relationships – that I can’t bank on finding. I sometimes get angry at myself and blame my aceness for taking this future away from me but at the same time I know that I don’t deserve that anger and I have to believe that I am a strong enough person to build the love and support and family that I want to have. And then I don’t think I would really need a romantic relationship :)

  16. This is wonderful. There are so many articles that profess to be about how it’s okay to be single, but too often the author becomes shrill in their attempt to defend against how vulnerable they feel. Not Meaghan. She shares her vulnerability deftly and thoroughly. I’m grateful to have read this. Grateful it exists. May the goddesses of SEO reward it with always being the article that pops up when some lost soul Googles for an answer to this essential but unanswerable probability cloud of questions. <3

  17. Wow, thank you so much for this very real and intimate piece. I am 22 but every single thing you said resonated with me so much! My last (and only) real relationship completely took away all of my independence, sense of self, alone time, ect. It has been 2 years since we broke up, and I have used this time to discover how to be alone and in love with myself (a quality I had prior to said relationship). Though I know my relationship was extreme and that truly loving partners wouldn’t require their partner to give up themselves for a relationship, I have come to find that I am happier on my own. When you talked about your nightly routine’s and how it seems as though another human being could not be invited into this part of your life, I completely agree! Relationships require that you give up at least some freedom in order to accomodate to allowing for another person in your life. Where I currently stand, I have a hard time imagining my life containing a commited, long-term relationship. And that is OK!

  18. This is totally where I’m at. I’m 34, childfree by choice, and living alone with just a cat. And I’m just fine. Would I like a partner? Sure I would. However, there is no pressing need to be that way. I know good and well, though, that the older I get, the less likely it is that I’ll find someone. That’s truly okay, though. I LOVE living alone.

    Know what the most exciting thing I’m thinking about right now is? Buying a house. A house just for me, on a beach someplace. And writing. In the last 3 years, I’ve managed to make my passion– writing– into a career. Now, I write all the time. I keep a little blog/rant room for myself, and I write for three big websites, and I am about to start writing for a fourth. I also applied to write here at Autostraddle.

    Somewhere along the way, we’re told that we’re not complete without a partner. However, Meghan, I think you, I, and so many others are living proof of the falsehood of that idea.

    You keep doing you, sister. Congratulations on getting to where you are. I got there at 32, so I know where you are. You’re awesome as you are, and don’t let anyone tell you any differently.

  19. As a 40-year-old queer femme, I relate to a lot of this! I really appreciate that singlehood is presented in all its messy, awesome, hard glory. I’d love to see more posts about being intentionally single.

  20. I love being in my relationship, and I’ve loved being single. I’m a pretty independent person and the autonomy of singledom has always been deeply fulfilling. But I have an almost insatiable need for intimacy, especially physical intimacy and touch, that often maked me feel out of my mind the last time I was single for long (over a year). Nowadays I have a couple friends who could probably fill the emotional intimacy need, but I kind of actually fear ever being single again because I don’t know how to handle the physical aspect.

  21. Thank you for sharing this. I’m 35 and in similar straits. But I actually wonder whether there is even a place for (requited) romantic love in my life. As time passes, I suspect that there isn’t: I assert that not out of bitterness, not out of preemptive rejection of that which I don’t have, but because I may simply be one of those who functions better alone and ought not to approach entanglements, as much as I would like to take care of someone.

    It’s a stranger love!

    • You’re a woman after my own heart. I function VERY well alone. I love that I have only my cat to care for. I love that I make more than enough money, and that it is my own to do with as I please. If I want to order something from the Autostraddle store that I need but don’t want, I can without worrying that anyone will be pissy that I was frivolous with money. I can indulge my crazy food issues in all their messy glory. I can keep my apartment just as I like it. You get the picture– (and I am sure understand it, too!)

      If I do get involved with someone, she must be extraordinarily independent, just like I am. She has to be okay with me still being me, and she has to retain her own personality, interests, friends, space, etc as well. Other than that, I just honestly don’t really see it happening.

  22. I absolutely loved this article, and your confidence and nonchalant tone actually send a tear or two down my cheek. Most impressive to me, however, is how you handle your life. There should be life coaches and classes and worships on how to be a functional adult. I have no idea how you manage to complete all of those tasks in a single evening so consistently and thoroughly. Mad props!

  23. “So, more often than not, it just feels strange and lonely on this hill. We’re all so much more weathered and complex, like adorable, beloved, and chipped teacups. Our functionality is barely disrupted, but you still notice. There’s something askew. Perhaps we’re all tired?” This. So much. Not single but 36. Strange number with strange feelings, indeed.

  24. Thank you so much for this post! I’m 24 and have never been in a relationship but have been dating off and on for the past year or so (never getting past the first date, which is disappointing but fine). Every time I open up ‘OkCupid’ or ‘Her’ it just seems like so much WORK to me-mentally and emotionally-that I just give up and exit the app before I ever end up sending a message to someone. I too crave the emotional intimacy that I can’t get from friends, but I also really enjoy being on my own and doing whatever I want.
    It’s hard to balance the chill mentality of “if someone is right for me they will be right for me and I will figure that out” with “OH MY GOD I AM SO ALONE SOME CUDDLE ME,” but I too am working on it.

  25. While reading your article I actually realized that (unconsciously) I am never refering to myself by using the word single, rather “not in a relationship”. I guess the reason for that is that single for me implies to be in an incomplete state whereas I feel complete as a person as you explained:
    “As I explained to a friend, I once believed that love would bring me to 100% completeness, whereas now I realize that 100% complete is my own personal, autonomous goal.Everything else is greater than.”
    Also, funnily that best way to

  26. Thank you so much for this piece. I am 33 and have been unpartnered the great majority of my life and have many of the feelings you name. It’s such a gift to hear someone else articulate some of these complexities. Really, thank you.

  27. A recent friend break-up led to me articulating clearly to myself for the first time that I don’t see my primary long-term relationships being romantic/sexual ones.

    It’s a little nerve-wracking to sit with as I inhabit the age at which many folks are partnering up (whether with one or multiple romantic/sexual partners). Will I be able to find the long-term family/friendships which I depend on as my primary source of intimacy? Are there other people in the world who desire to build those relationships as primary and romantic/sexual relationships as secondary?

    Thank you for your words.

  28. Great article. I often think about/prepare myself for being alone in my late 30s maybe 40s.

    As my wife fights, but is losing her battle with cancer. It’ll be difficult to do the little things that we have done as a couple over the last 10 years.

    I’m constantly reminding myself that people are faced with the challenge of being alone daily. Whether you’re a widow, newly single or overcoming codependency. And when people have the courage to speak up about it, as you did so wonderfully. I continue to draw strength and gain hope, that everything will be okay.

  29. I’m curious to find out what blog system you’re working with?
    I’m experiencing some minor security problems with my latest site and I’d like to find something more
    safe. Do you have any recommendations?

  30. Good article. I am 34 and like being single, but wonder what will happen as I get older. I was an only child, so the thought of being completely alone when I am much older is worrisome.

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