Hump Day Crush: Ten Years ‘Alone’

As of just a few days ago, I have been officially single for an even decade.

When I mention that in passing, many people look at me incredulously and ask how I can be alone for that long.

The simple answer (which leaves many just confused) is that I’m not alone and haven’t been alone. Just single.

In that time I’ve been on a grand total of two or three dates (depending on how generous you want to be with the definition of “date”), most of them just a few months ago. Other than the kiss at the end of the second recent date, there’s been nothing. No canoodling, no cuddling, no make out sessions and most certainly no sex.

When this all comes up, people get even more suspicious. “Surely there must have been something!” they say.

Nope. When I’m single, I’m single all the way. Just like when I actually date, I go all in with that, too.

Everything else is Friendship and Crushes.

So how have I managed it?

That’s pretty simple: I haven’t bothered to ask people out. It’s not that amazing to realize that if you don’t ask people out, they won’t be going out with you.

The real question that should be asked is: Why?

That answer is nowhere near as simple.

It started out as just a matter of circumstance. Back in my home town, especially when I first returned to single status shortly after I moved back after five years of college, there were two factors. The first was that I wasn’t planning on staying there all that long. No need or desire to get attached only to have to deal with long distance, heart breaking or attempting to drag her with me wherever I ended up going.

The second factor was a distinct lack of interest. My dating “luck” growing up was, at best, mediocre. At worst, the stuff of farcical comedy. I had no interest in re-living the worst of those moments. I also had no real romantic interest in anyone I knew who was still in town. Most of the people I had been interested in had long ago moved away… those who hadn’t, I found I had (generally) had little in common with.

Over the first five years, things would get a little rough every now and then. It was during those times that I would have told you just how alone I was. My social life was generally non-existant without an hour and a half of driving each way. I had no privacy. And, even if I had been making decent money, there was nowhere to spend it except the local bars–and I don’t drink.

Near the end of that time, thanks to reconnecting with some genuine old friends (yes, at one point or another I did, indeed, have a crush on the female ones), things got better.

That was when the difference between wants and needs became clear to me.

While what I may have wanted was to indulge my inner hopeless romantic, it wasn’t what I needed. If it had been, I would have been trolling the local bars looking for women to woo.

What I needed was relationships. Not necessarily romantic ones, just people I could relate to.

I found them in spades during the second half of the decade.

I’ve been very lucky that I get everything I need and most of what I want out of normal platonic relationships. My friendships run deep and solid. Those who are just acquaintences fill in gaps in the social mesh I’m wrapped in–exposing me to new things, teaching me, learning from me, growing into Friends.

But still, there is the call of Romance.

It’s just not strong enough, usually, to make me bother.

And so, I crush.

For a decade, that’s pretty much all I’ve been doing.

I’m really OK with that. (No matter how much other believe that’s impossible.)

However, I’m also open to change.

My sense of self is strong enough and stable enough that I know full well I can be content, if not outright happy, no matter what my romantic statu is. Attached, dating, single–it doesn’t change who I am… just how I express who I am.

As much as I’ve been single, I’ve rarely been alone. Even at the worst, I’ve always had myself and the world around me.

That relationship with oneself is something I don’t think everyone gets. That is the root of every other relationship in our lives.

After all, we’re the only common factor in all those flings and friendships, right?

  • Lissa

    I came across this blog through your link on facebook. Very fascinating! Your advice and observations seem very sound, and certainly remind me of many things which I have a tendency to forget.

    I am not personally a connoisseur of dating advice, but one site with some curious contrast to your own is http://www.aish.com/dating/advice/, which is essentially dating advice from the Orthodox Jewish perspective (I am neither Jewish nor Orthodox, it’s a long story!). There are certain parts of the advice here which I disagree with, but for the most part, I find it very common-sense and down to earth (not to mention tactful and respectful, which is not often the case for newspaper advice columns).

    Remarkably (or perhaps not so remarkably), many of the core premises, though dressed somewhat differently, are not always so different from your own:
    (1) Being confident in yourself and able to function independently is a prerequisite for having a successful relationship
    (2) Committed “love” is different from crushing or butterflies
    (3) It is important to have a clear idea of what you need from another person–What is essential, not the window dressing
    …etc.

    Though, of course, their basic premise is very different from yours–And that is, that it is part of the purpose of life to have a family and procreate. This is of course ostensibly biblically mandated, but also biologically. Biology isn’t exactly a good argument, but I think it becomes harder to be single as you get older, and your friends become more focused on their families and less able to spend time with single friends. This varies, of course, by the sorts of people you spend time with–Obviously it would be more painful in an orthodox community, where the percentage of married couples is so much larger, but not completely irrelevant in society at large.

    There’s also a men-versus-women issue in the timing; women have to have kids (if they want biological kids) much earlier than men, for whom it is possible to father children much more easily much later on in life.

    • That is an interesting site… and it doesn’t surprise me at all that their advice follows some of the same basic tenets that I espouse. They are, really, quite simple and straight forward ideas that we all often forget in the hubbub of day to day life.

      I have no problem with people wanting to get married and have kids.

      What I do have a problem with is people–some who barely know me, others who I’ve explained this all to before–telling me that I can’t possibly actually be really happy unless I’m with someone and on my way to marriage and kids.

      It’s the unreasonable cultural pressure to conform to that one ideal that I’m regularly railing against.

      Mostly I just want people to honestly believe me when I tell them I’m happy being single. (And I want them to be just as understanding when I’m just as happy when I’m dating–no “I told you you’d be happier!” or any of that crap. It’s two distinctly different situations, but the same kind of satisfaction, in the long run.)

  • Lissa

    I came across this blog through your link on facebook. Very fascinating! Your advice and observations seem very sound, and certainly remind me of many things which I have a tendency to forget.

    I am not personally a connoisseur of dating advice, but one site with some curious contrast to your own is http://www.aish.com/dating/advice/, which is essentially dating advice from the Orthodox Jewish perspective (I am neither Jewish nor Orthodox, it’s a long story!). There are certain parts of the advice here which I disagree with, but for the most part, I find it very common-sense and down to earth (not to mention tactful and respectful, which is not often the case for newspaper advice columns).

    Remarkably (or perhaps not so remarkably), many of the core premises, though dressed somewhat differently, are not always so different from your own:
    (1) Being confident in yourself and able to function independently is a prerequisite for having a successful relationship
    (2) Committed “love” is different from crushing or butterflies
    (3) It is important to have a clear idea of what you need from another person–What is essential, not the window dressing
    …etc.

    Though, of course, their basic premise is very different from yours–And that is, that it is part of the purpose of life to have a family and procreate. This is of course ostensibly biblically mandated, but also biologically. Biology isn’t exactly a good argument, but I think it becomes harder to be single as you get older, and your friends become more focused on their families and less able to spend time with single friends. This varies, of course, by the sorts of people you spend time with–Obviously it would be more painful in an orthodox community, where the percentage of married couples is so much larger, but not completely irrelevant in society at large.

    There’s also a men-versus-women issue in the timing; women have to have kids (if they want biological kids) much earlier than men, for whom it is possible to father children much more easily much later on in life.

    • That is an interesting site… and it doesn’t surprise me at all that their advice follows some of the same basic tenets that I espouse. They are, really, quite simple and straight forward ideas that we all often forget in the hubbub of day to day life.

      I have no problem with people wanting to get married and have kids.

      What I do have a problem with is people–some who barely know me, others who I’ve explained this all to before–telling me that I can’t possibly actually be really happy unless I’m with someone and on my way to marriage and kids.

      It’s the unreasonable cultural pressure to conform to that one ideal that I’m regularly railing against.

      Mostly I just want people to honestly believe me when I tell them I’m happy being single. (And I want them to be just as understanding when I’m just as happy when I’m dating–no “I told you you’d be happier!” or any of that crap. It’s two distinctly different situations, but the same kind of satisfaction, in the long run.)

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