I saw a graphic on Facebook. The text on it says:
People who have been single for too long are the hardest to love, because they have become so used to being single, independent, and self-sufficient that it takes something extraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life.
(Credit: Lessons Taught by Life)
I have a lot of problems with that. The word-choices are very condescending, and the message implies that a person can be single for “too long,” and that being single, independent, and self-sufficient are flaws. These long-term single people need convincing to enter a relationship?
Anyway, let’s break this down, and then I’m going to ramble about some things.
What is “too long?” I’ve known people who dislike being single, so to them a few weeks or a few months is too long for them. They enjoy being in romantic relationships and are happy to date. Excellent! Go for it! For others, they were single for a few years and started looking actively for someone. Whose definition of “too long” are we using, and why is your perception of someone else’s relationship status important to begin with?
“…they have become so used to being single, independent, and self-sufficient….” You know that when people are in a romantic relationship they don’t magically stop being independent and self-sufficient, right? If I date someone, I am still going to be entirely capable of grocery shopping and running errands on my own, or doing laundry, or making peanut butter sandwiches. I would expect my partner to still be an autonomous human being.
“…it takes something extraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life.” Convince me? I presume that if we’ve reached a point where dating or commitment were possibilities that you’re already in my life. I won’t need convincing. What are you trying to convince me of? That this is ~*it*~, that we can ~*go the distance*~, that we’re ~*the real deal*~? That we’re going to be the sort of couple who grows old together and sticks it out through the rough patches and doesn’t give up on each other and that ~*this is True Love*~.
Okay, sure. I’ll be honest. I’ve been single my whole life, which is uncommon for people my age. I never thought about it that way, but I guess I am waiting for something extraordinary. Over time, I got used to waiting, and as the song goes, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” What have I been waiting for? I’ve been waiting: to fall in love; to be noticed; to have the courage to tell someone I noticed them; to be in a place where I wouldn’t burden a partner with my financial mess; to be attractive enough; to deserve to be loved; to actually have something of value to bring to the table; to be someone’s “wow.” Some of these things are valid, and some are toxic thoughts I have about myself.
Waiting isn’t the only reason, though. I’m afraid. Afraid that if I went for it that it would end. I’ve seen friends and family date and break up, marry and divorce. Maybe the risk is worth it, and maybe we can never really promise anything when it comes to love. I’m afraid of intimacy and of being vulnerable, so I’m slow to let people in.
My timing is terrible. I tend to develop interest in someone right before they become unavailable. They have a tendency to start dating someone else, or move, or they’re more interested in my friend. These things happen shortly after I get feelings. Maybe it’s my brain trying to make my heart play it safe; there is less risk wanting someone who is out of reach.
Maybe I’m cursed.
Maybe one day I’ll trip, stumble, or fall in love. Maybe I’ll find myself walking along, and realize miles later that I’m already there. Maybe I’ll wander into it accidentally, wondering how I got there to begin with.
Maybe I already missed it five turns ago, or several miles back. Maybe it’s too late to backtrack or turn around and get take that exit after all. Maybe somewhere along the way I got lost and I’m just on a detour right now and I’ll eventually find my way back on the path to that person.
Maybe they’re already around and neither of us have realized it yet. Maybe it’s someone I chatted to once while we waited in line for something. Maybe we already missed our window of opportunity.
Maybe it’s not meant for me.
Sure, it would be great to have someone to hold me, and kiss my forehead, and play with my hair when I’m having a tough time. I could have really used that this morning when I got some frustrating news. But I’m used to being single, and independent, and self-sufficient, so instead I coped alone and asked myself, “Okay, where do I go from here?”
Does all that make me “hard to love?” Is that even a thing?
I’m single because I want to be, and because it just hasn’t happened yet, and maybe it never will. That’s okay. It’s not some flaw. You don’t have to tell me “Oh, don’t say that!” and feel like you need to reassure me that it will. It’s not a priority for me right now. If it happens, great. If not, great. I’m still a complete person either way, with goals and dreams. The notion that I have been single for “too long” is harmful and implies that people have an obligation to pair up.
Maybe it would be easier if I just marry a friend for the tax breaks.