Happy Valentine’s Day! A day that people embrace wholeheartedly with romantic dinners, flowers, and jewellery; that people boycott completely in protest at the commercialism of it all; or, as in my case, a day that has never really been a big deal…
For that one day each year, though, I allow myself to consider – for the briefest of moments – that wonderful question: “Why are you *still* single?” If you don’t think of it yourself, then, as in Bridget Jones, there are bound to be lovely people around you offering up possible explanations. Too picky? Too focused on your career? Entire body covered in scales?
But let’s dig a little deeper. Why might you *still* be single at the fine old age of 30-something? What are these terrible sins that you might be guilty of? Here’s my take on the seven deadly sins of a 30-something singleton…
It’s a classic line that men are intimidated by strong women. “Be softer,” goes the advice, “let him take care of you”. Okay, so being single means that I’m used to carrying my own bags, driving the car, fixing a blocked drain. And yes, I’m smart and successful in my career. Isn’t that supposed to be attractive? Should I plait my hair, dangle it out the window and hope that a prince comes riding along to rescue me? That hardly seems practical.
That’s not to say that I don’t want a man; I’d love to be in love. I’d love to be with someone who’s strong and confident in himself, who could stand up to me and challenge me, and, sure, look after me when I needed it. But in the meantime, while I haven’t ‘found’ that someone, I’m happy to reassure you that, like Gloria Gaynor, I’ve got all my life to live and I’ll survive, I will survive! (Hey hey…)
I was incredibly shy around boys in my teens and early twenties. That’s something I blame at least partly on having gone to an all girls’ school during my most hormonal years. Boys were for giggling at over the fence, not for being good friends or boyfriends. I was never quite myself, instead maintaining an air of disinterestedness, with great taste in music and perfectly shaved legs.
It’s hard to show your vulnerable side to people, to open yourself up and potentially get hurt. A few drinks can do wonders for your confidence, but I’m not sure alcoholism is the solution.
Over time, I’ve realised that life is too short not to be yourself. And, of course, the only way to find someone who appreciates the real you is to show who that is. So these days, I say and do what I like. I still get giggly over cute boys, though…
3. FEAR – AND PRIDE
Ah, the risk of appearing foolish, that greatest of all fears. What if I’m flirtatious and show him I’m interested, only to be snubbed or to find out he has a girlfriend? Better to ignore him altogether! For a long time, this was my approach: avoid eye contact with anyone I was interested in. What a genius, fool-proof plan for avoiding relationships with attractive men! Well done, Einstein.
Then there have been situations where there’s been a gaggle of beautiful women after a guy. I’m sorry but I’m not going to wrestle my way to the front, kicking and scratching the other competitors for that elusive prize of an eligible bachelor; I’m a lady, don’t you know. And, naturally, I’d like to think that he would choose me above all the others, without my having to take them out first.
4. HABIT AND A PACKED AGENDA
If I’m completely honest, I’m so used to being single that the possibility of meeting someone barely crosses my mind. I’m busy living my life, my week full of going to the gym or working on my blog, meeting friends or doing some course. I plan solo trips and I’m happy in my own company.
Trying to find the time for dating is tough, especially when you know that you’re not going to meet The One right away and you’ll have all sorts of awkward encounters and rejections in the meantime. Of course, this all changes if you meet someone who you really want to make time for.
But even when I do meet someone I like, I don’t expect it to turn into anything meaningful. So any prospective suitor will need to physically shake me out of my routine and shout his feelings from the rooftops. (Though if he’s too interested, there must be something wrong with him, right? *SIGH*)
5. OLD AGE AND AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
I don’t mean that I’m old and wrinkly, I happen to think that I look better now than ever before 😉 But there is one thing that happens between your early twenties and your thirties: the pool of available men, as well as the number of opportunities to meet them, greatly dwindles. Ten years ago, I was out in bars and clubs, at house parties and at work events, where most of my friends met their husbands. There I was rejecting potential suitors willy nilly, thinking there’d be a steady stream of them forever. I was wrong. Now suddenly I look around and the men who used to be here are nowhere to be seen (and there must be something wrong with those who are still available, right? Like me…).
Was this some rare plague or zombie attack that took out our young and virile men? Nope, apparently they’ve settled down and started families while I was busy elsewhere. And so the likelihood of meeting someone I’m attracted to and have a connection with gets smaller and smaller. Unless, of course, I want to go for the ‘second wave’ of handsome divorcees with baggage from failed marriages. *Taps foot and waits patiently for any one of Ryan Gosling, Hugh Jackman or George Clooney to realise their mistake and come looking for me…*
6. GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Having grown up on a diet of Disney films and musicals, yes, I imagine love at first sight, romance, and happy ever after. I fall for the leads in unlikely movie rom coms; I believe there are good-looking men who are also nice. And the expectations only get bigger with age… My imaginary singles ad now reads that I’m looking for a life partner, for someone who’s kind and affectionate, someone with integrity and who I can respect, someone who makes me laugh and doesn’t take himself too seriously, bla bla bla. Compare that to when you’re 18 when you only wanted a hotty, and you begin to see the problem.
On top, witnessing the everyday ‘reality’ of romance, seeing couples argue over the TV remote or doing the dishes, hearing them make snide comments, and, more and more often these days, seeing them go through divorce, puts me off.
So, yes, I’m picky. I want real love, great love, or nothing at all. (So there!)
7. HAVING FUN
Because I’m happy… So here it is: I love my life. I love my family, I love my friends; I love my work, I love my travels. I’m very rarely angry, and I don’t really argue with people. For someone to come along and become a part of that life, he would have to be pretty damn special. And based on everything I’ve seen, I know that I’m happier ‘alone’ than with the wrong man, who’d bring more negative than positive into my life.
There are moments when I get a glimpse of what it might be like to be with that Someone. Eyes meeting across the room, a moment shared, a possible future together imagined. But I’m not sitting around like some Jane Austen heroine waiting for that future to materialise. And I’m also not getting into online dating (mainly because I’m too shy) or delving into my past to find someone who might not have been so bad after all (anyway they’re all married now). I’m going to continue to have fun and enjoy a life without loud snoring, smelly socks, or a constant drone of footie on the telly – while keeping my eyes open for Mr McDreamy.
So that’s it for another year of romantic self-examination. And there you have them, the seven deadly sins of the 30-something singleton. Guilty as charged? Have I nailed my failures? Have I got it all wrong?
In the end, of course, the simple answer is: I just haven’t met Him yet.