I find myself in a unique place: 35 and single. I’ve never been married; I’ve never even lived with a guy. I just got out of a relationship that didn’t even last a year. It wasn’t a bad relationship. It just wasn’t working. And so now I ask myself, “How did I get here?” Nobody starts their adult life thinking they’ll be single at 35, that they’ll be living alone with a cat in a one bedroom apartment, working a boring job they’d really like to get out of that doesn’t pay them nearly enough money. Of course not. We all think we’ll meet someone in college, get married in our mid-twenties and live happily ever after. We may all have different versions of that same fantasy, but the bare bones are all the same. So naïve.
So, how did I get here? I wish I knew. I have some ideas, like how I squandered my early 20’s dating a man who, when he proposed, I realized I could never marry. I spent several years in love with a much older man who I would have happily married or just stayed with forever, but that ended very badly and I’m still hurting over it several years (and several men) later. We all have heart break stories. I’m not the prettiest, smartest, most stable person ever but plenty of ugly, stupid and messed up people find love every day. So why doesn’t it happen to me? If I knew that, I wouldn’t be where I am.
The thing is; I’m not miserable. I’ve never been one of those girls who dream of a big white wedding. I kind of hate weddings, actually. I’d rather sign a piece of paper and spend the money travelling. Or maybe never bother getting married anyway. That wouldn’t bother me, especially as marriage success rates are so abysmal. And since I was 11, I’ve been saying (and meaning) that I never wanted to get pregnant. That if I decided to have a family, I’d want to adopt or be a foster parent. So, there has never been that urgency to reproduce that other people seem to have. Don’t get me wrong, I adore children. My nieces are highlights in my life. But I’ve never had the desire to get pregnant and have my own. I think more people have the same feelings as me than are willing to admit or realize (until it’s too late.) And it’s not like the planet needs more human beings. I’m ok that I’m not married and that I haven’t reproduced. But, I’m not completely happy that I’m alone.
What really gets me, though, is how little society acknowledges or makes space for people like me. Society is set up for the family unit. You are supposed to pair off and reproduce. Kids eat free, fun for the whole family, family game night, etc., etc., etc. TV shows, movies, ads and commercials are all geared towards busy moms or hip single 20-somethings. Singletons fall through the cracks. Society tells us there is something wrong with us. That we aren’t following the rules and they aren’t going to let us play until we do it right. But it’s not that easy. Single men in their later 30’s don’t fall into my lap on a daily basis. The older we get, the smaller the pool of eligible partners. And then so many men are now divorced, maybe have kids, and there is so much more baggage we all carry around than when we were naïve and hormone-ridden 20 year olds. And the older we get, the better we know ourselves, our wants and needs. It makes it harder to find someone who fits.
And so I find myself here: 35, single, and willing to talk about it.