“Why are you still single?” This is a question I hear fairly frequently. You see, I don’t date, and I’ve been unattached most of my adult life. Which makes me weird, apparently, because coupledom is how most folks roll.
I’ve never understood the conventional timelines for relationships and marriage. Seriously, what are the chances you’ll meet your lifelong partner in your early 20s? You’re not even YOU yet. At least, I wasn’t. Not that it doesn’t happen. Love can happen anytime — and not all love is meant to last forever. I just think finding a till-death-do-us-part someone at that age is wildly unlikely. Meanwhile, society starts putting the pressure on to pair up when we’re barely out of puberty. And we wonder why everyone and their stepmom is making with the multiple divorces. But I digress.
The truth is, I’ve never been in love. Not love, actually (see what I did there?).
Not that I haven’t said the word. I have. I’ve tried to convince myself I was in love. I’ve put on all kinds of appearances. I’ve gone through the motions. And I’ve certainly had lots of feels, just not THE feel.
Truth be told, most of my past relationships were fueled by insecurity, loneliness, even desperation (ouch — the truth hurts). I spent most of my earlier life searching for happiness; for a way to fill the aching hole that haunted me. I wanted to be like everyone else — I wanted to be happy and normal and coupled up. So I tried to close the void with dudes; to squeeze my square self into a round hole so I could feel ok and accepted and not alone. Spoiler: it didn’t work. In fact, it backfired like a pipe bomb, time and time again.
I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve seen a lot of folks; known a lot of couples; dated a lot of dudes. And I’ve been witness to too many relationships that exist for all the wrong reasons. I think people are lonely (understandably so), scared, pressured — so they find someone, often the wrong someone, to settle down with. Key word: settle. I was one of those, once.
Every relationship I’ve ever been in was an exercise in misery and resentment. That’s not a dig at the dudes I was with — they were all stand-up guys. Kind guys. Guys who cared and tried and suffered.
It’s a dig at me. At my internal state, which inevitably manifested itself in the relationship. I was always too afraid to walk away, so I turned my anger and frustration outward, making life horrendously unhappy for myself and the guy who was unlucky enough to be around. Many memories I’d rather forget. Living a lie turned me into a person I’ve vowed to never be again. Demon Hannah. Bad Hannah. Bannah.
I think a lot of people do a lot of nasty things because they’re afraid to do what they know they need to. Being in a relationship that’s wrong is akin to selling your soul. And the toxicity of it bleeds uncontrollably into your life. This, I know.
Leaving someone is painful and scary and heart-wrenching, even when all you want in the world is to be free. Break-ups are totally heart-breaking, no matter what the circumstances. Neil Sedaka was spot on. Change is scary, and being alone means facing yourself with no distractions.
But the truth is a funny thing. Despite me doing my damndest not to hear it, it was relentless.
Since those super sad days, I’ve learned that the whole you-have-to-be-happy-with-yourself-first thing is the gospel. I realize that for some people it’s a tired colloquialism more than an actual directive, but for me it’s the most important idea imaginable.
If I’m not happy with me, there’s nothing else. Being happy with me is what my life is all about. Anything additional is just icing on the already delicious dirt cake (MY FAVORITE).
Following that same line of reasoning, I’m also not about to settle, ever. Been there, tried that. Epic fail. If a relationship doesn’t make my life exponentially better and help me grow as a human being, why would I bother? I love being alone. Maybe it’s the only child in me. And there is nothing lonelier than being with the wrong person.
The bottom line is, right now, today, as I sit here totally and completely unattached, my life is better than it’s ever been. Has it been tough at times? Lonely? Sad to have no one to share experiences with? Of course. But it’s about a billion times better than the alternative.
Filling your life up with dudes or people or distractions because you’re lonely and lost and desperately seeking something to make you happy is not the answer. You’re the only one that can make you happy. That’s a little nugget I’m sure about. A significant other can only ADD to your happiness — they can’t create it.
I can’t predict when love will come my way. There is no timeline in my universe — no expiration date or standards dictated by society. And ’til that day, if that day ever comes, I’m happy. Actually, legitimately, genuinely happy, for probably the first time in my life. And I wouldn’t trade that for Dwayne Johnson in a speedo.