This post is part of a series about my own personal dating experiences before I met and married Marc. I may be a newlywed now, but just a few years ago I never thought I would be anything but single, and I hated it. When I was struggling I didn’t feel like there was anyone who could truly understand. I was single, I didn’t want to be single, but I also wanted to be happy in my present life. My hope with this series is to give people who feel the way I felt hope, no matter where their lives might take them.
Ugh, that dreaded phrase. Don’t worry, it will happen. As a single person that is pretty much the last thing you want to hear. And I had been hearing it for years.
Let me make one thing clear right away. The people you hear this from are saying it because they love and care about you. They want you to be happy, they know you are an amazing person, and they want to try to make things better. They are wonderful people!
Here’s the only problem: it doesn’t actually help the single person feel better.
I first began hearing this phrase when I was in high school. Yes, high school! I was the girl who was asked out by two boys my freshman year, wasn’t interested in either, figured it was just the beginning of my dating experience, and then was never asked out again.
My mom and every other adult would always say the same thing: I was just too mature for high school boys. I shouldn’t worry that I was boyfriend-less in my teenage years because in college it would be completely different. There I would finally find men who would appreciate me and all of my qualities and traits.
Yeah, about that… When I got to college it actually got worse (if that’s possible). My freshman year began with the guy for whom I had totally fallen (even though I hardly knew him) letting me know that he couldn’t date me because I was too tall. I am 5’11. He was 6’3.
My college dating life was bleak and before I knew it I began hearing the same thing again: These college boys are so immature, don’t worry, just wait until you are out of college. Then everything will be different. That’s when it will happen.
And I believed it. Of course I did. I had to tell myself anything to attempt to rationalize why I never had a date on Saturday night or why I still hadn’t introduced a boyfriend to my family.
Then I graduated. I went off into the real world to become a full-fledged adult, searching for that thing that would happen and… it still didn’t happen.
At that time my friends and family had run out of milestone moments to which they would be able to point. Instead I was just a single adult.
Once that singleness followed me into my thirties they really had nothing more to say. But yet, they kept trying. Because that’s what the people who love you do.
But, again, it was the last thing I wanted to hear.
I had so many friends who kept begging me to remain positive. That if I just had a great mindset then everything would fall into place. They also wrote in every birthday card, this is going to be your best year yet! I know it will happen for you!
And each year that it didn’t happen only made me feel worse. It was like in some way I was actually letting down my family and friends because I couldn’t find that perfect match. I was already upset enough myself, so taking on the weight of their disappointment was torture.
It also kept emphasizing to me that I alone wasn’t enough. Every time someone said don’t worry it will happen just made me feel like it had to happen for me to be complete. Like without a boyfriend or a husband I would never have a full life experience.
Again, this isn’t a knock on the wonderful people who tell us these things, but instead, I want you to know it’s okay to feel crappy about it. It really stinks to be given encouragement that actually feels more like a criticism, regardless of its intent.
Because let me tell you, you are always enough. A soulmate or a partner would be lovely, and there is nothing wrong with continuing to hope and search for that connection, but it won’t complete your life. You alone have the ability to make your life complete.
I always have and always will love my mom. She is amazing and wants nothing but the best for me. But by the time I hit my early thirties I just couldn’t hear don’t worry it will happen anymore.
I finally talked to her about it over the phone. This was about five years ago but I still remember exactly where I was standing and what I was wearing.
I told her how much I appreciated her support and encouragement, and how much it meant to know she would always love me no matter what. But I said that sometimes what I desperately needed was for someone to just say, yes, this situation sucks. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you to want something so badly and to have it not happen yet. But you are a good person and you are handling it in the best way you know how. I’m proud of you and the person you have become.
After that our relationship changed a bit. It was a small shift, and I’m not even sure she recognized it, but I certainly did. She was still encouraging and hopeful for me, but we also talked more about my life as it was with its little everyday victories and reasons to be happy.
More importantly, I also started to cut myself a little slack. No, I didn’t have a boyfriend. No, I hadn’t ever had a boyfriend. But yes, it was a difficult hand to be dealt and I was doing a pretty good job keeping up that poker face and finding small ways to be happy.
I’m not going to promise anyone that it will happen. Because none of us truly know. I’m also not telling you to stop hoping or wishing to no longer be single.
Just know that a relationship status doesn’t define you. Sometimes the situation just sucks. It doesn’t always make sense. But you are handling it the best way you know how. And people are proud of you.
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