So you’ve done the online dating thing with such fervor that you’ve had 365 first dates in nearly as many days.
You’ve asked—ok, begged—your friends (and everyone else you know) to set you up with someone promising—ok, anyone with a pulse and front teeth. You’ve read every dating book written in, or translated to, languages you can understand. You’ve been to counseling to work through your relationship baggage to the point where your Facebook status could be “lost luggage.” You’ve done visualization exercises and made lists of the characteristics of your ideal partner and put them out to the universe to manifest your perfect match. You’ve consulted your astrological chart and had your cards read to identify any omens related to your relationship karma.
Yet your singledom is as certifiable as the death of the Wicked Witch of the East in “The Wizard of Oz”—absolutely, positively, undeniably and reliably.
You wonder how this can be after all of the work you have done. You find your solitary status to be particularly confounding when you hear, seemingly daily, about the most unlikely people you know meeting their soul mates—or, at least, someone with whom they are more or less compatible.
You ask: “What is wrong with me? What is wrong with my strategy for meeting a life partner?”
Before you shake your head, throw up your hands, and quit reading. Please continue on, just for a minute.
I’ve been there on the dating treadmill right next to you since my divorce more than a decade ago. In fact, I, too, am still a resident of the State of Singledom.
The difference is that after all those years of first running faster and then running smarter on the dating treadmill, I’m no longer trying to change my singledom citizenry. No, I haven’t “given up.” I haven’t gotten “fed up.” I’m not trying to “justify” my “fail” at meeting the perfect partner or my refusal to “settle.” Rather, I had an “ah ha” moment. I realized, much to my initial surprise, that I am exactly where I want to be—leading a single life.
This “ah ha” moment arose when I was confronted with a very direct question and astonished by my very unexpected answer, causing me to reassess—and, ultimately, release—my “still-single angst.” Maybe the question-and-answer exercise will do the same for others, and so I am sharing it, and my results, here.
It began after my last farcical dating endeavor. After telling a good friend the tale over coffee, she asked a very frank question: “Would you be really willing to make serious changes and compromises in your life to make room for a partner?”
I opened my mouth, fully expecting the answer to be an immediate and vociferous: “Of course! Why else would I have been doing all of this ‘work’ and investing all of this time and effort?” But the actual answer that came out, quietly and slowly, was far different: “Hmmm…. Not really.” I was shocked, slapping my hand over my mouth.
I had to sit with this surprising-to-me answer on and off the meditation cushion for a couple of weeks. The answer was true, having literally escaped from the core of my being. But why had it taken me so long to recognize this personal truth? And what is so special about my singleton life?
Through meditation and rumination, I realized that I had worked very hard—especially on my inner emotional and spiritual landscapes—for a very long time to create the life I have. All the while, I did not fully envision exactly what I was doing because, perhaps, if I had, I would not have had the courage to do it. Of course, my life and I are still very much works in progress and, likely, always will be. However, great strides—actual leaps and bounds—have been made toward personal peace and inner happiness.
But what’s so sacrosanct about this continued solo-survival? My singleness allows me to follow the spiritual song that my soul hears—which has taken me to Bangladesh to teach; placed me, on occasion for two weeks at a time, on the zafu for silent meditation; and signed me up for shamanic practitioner training.
My singleness has taught me that there is a difference between solitariness and loneliness.
My singleness has given me the courage to rely on myself while being surrounded by vibrant and meaningful bonds with both family-by-blood and family-by-choice.
My singleness has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin, to trust my intuition, to be courageous in my daily life, to tap deeply into my creativity and to relish in my freedom.
My singleness has enabled me and my life to bloom in their imperfect, colorful, crooked and utterly unique way.
Is it perfect? No, and it never will be. Does it mean the answer can’t change? No. Anything can change at any time, and reassessment is constantly needed. Is it for everyone? No, but one cannot know whether it is or not until the question is asked and the answer that comes from deep within is heard.
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Assistant Ed: Daniel Garcia/Ed: Sara Crolick