I disabled my OK Cupid account this weekend.
Not because I met someone, or had a terrible experience that caused me to want to stop online dating forever.
But rather because I am at this place of contentment in my life. In February 2011, I wrote a post about being single and how lonely I was. For most of my life, I’ve been single and for most of my life, I haven’t been okay with that status. I’ve been looking at couples, swooning over love stories, and generally wondering what was so wrong with me that I was still single. What wasn’t I doing that everyone else was? Was it my looks? My body? My personality?
And I’ve been told, time and time again that I have to make an effort. I have to try. I have to put myself out there more. I can’t just depend on God to send a guy my way with no effort on my part. Which I totally understand. I get that I can’t just expect to wake up one day and my future husband is going to knock on my door. God doesn’t work that way. He wants to lead us in our lives, but there also to be forward motion on our parts.
It’s interesting the pressure we place on ourselves when it comes to finding our future partners. It becomes this all-encompassing need to have someone. If we’re not seeking out relationships, going on dates, getting our hearts broken… then what are we doing with our life? Isn’t this what this time in our lives is about? I’ve been feeling this pressure to gain more experience with dating and relationships. I have two relationships to my name, neither lasting more than a month, and so I’ve felt like I need to go out, date around, and find out what it’s like to be in a relationship. So I began to fully embrace online dating, spending more time on OK Cupid, fixing my profile, answering questions, messaging guys. And it was fun for a while. The flirting and the messaging and the dates… I felt like I was finally doing what I needed to be doing. People wouldn’t think I was weird anymore! Hey, look, I’m going on a date! And another date! WOOOOOO!
But here’s what I figured out through all of this… I’m not sure I want to be in a relationship right now. And that’s weird, right? Who doesn’t want to be in a relationship, especially if they’ve been single for years? But there’s something about the single life that is calling to me right now. I’m in a place in my life where I’m finally calling the shots. I’m beginning to unravel to mystery of who I am and what I need to live a more fulfilled life. And right now? Right now, I am perfectly content and happy as a single girl. I like being on my own. I like not having to answer to anyone. I like not having to worry about impressing anyone. I’ve never actually been this content about being single as I am right now, knowing there isn’t anything wrong with me and I need this time to just be with me.
There’s also a part of me that knows, emotionally, I’m not ready to be in a relationship. I still have my own demons I need to figure out and this was apparent with the last guy I was seeing, where I wasn’t actually sure what I wanted from that relationship and I was zinging him with mixed signals left and right. There are issues I still need to work out with myself, mental battles being waged on a daily basis that I need to figure out, and it’s just not the right time for me.
Last month, I read “If You Have to Cry, Go Outside” by Kelly Cutrone and it’s a fascinating book. It’s really more “rah, rah, girl power” than I was expecting but not in a “sunshine and cupcakes” way… more in a you can have everything you want, but you have to work your ass off for it and not expect it to be handed to you way. She makes a quick point at the beginning of the book about how our parents want us to succeed and be happy in life, but mainly that happiness lies in a successful marriage.
“So many mothers say they want their daughters to be independent, but what they really hope is that they’ll find a well-compensated banker or lawyer and settle down between the ages of 25 and 28 in Greenwich, Darien, or That Town, U.S.A. to raise babies, do the grocery shopping, and work out in relative comfort for the rest of their lives. I know that because I employ their daughters. They raise us to think they want us to have careers, and they send us off to college, but even they don’t really believe women can be autonomous and take care of themselves.”
It’s an interesting concept, and I’m not saying all mothers are this way, but there is always this natural pressure mothers can place on their daughters to get married and settle down. And maybe they don’t even mean to or know what they’re doing, and I think it comes from a good place in their hearts – for their daughters to find love. But what if I never found love? What if I never “settled down”, got married, had babies, etc.? Would my life be any less successful? Admittedly, I do want all of the above. I want to find love. I want to find a man I want to spend the rest of my life with. I want to be a mother.
Not today, not in the next year, maybe not even in the next five years. Love is not something that happens on a deadline. It’s not something that you prepare for. It just happens. And it will happen for me. I know it will. But I also know I will be okay if I never get married. There is such a negative connotation to being single and geez, how many movies, sitcoms, television shows, books, songs revolve around love and finding someone? It’s something that is always thrown in our faces, making us feel that that is what we need to be searching for, that needs to be our goal in life, that is what determines our happiness.
I threw myself into online dating because it’s the only way I knew how to meet guys and start dating. And I did it more because of societal expectations than a real, true want. And that’s not to say online dating was a bad experience for me, because it wasn’t. It also wasn’t a good experience, as I never found someone I truly connected with for more than a date or two. I thought online dating would be a good avenue for me and it was. It showed me a lot about my dating style, helped me feel more comfortable around guys, and let me see what a catch I actually am. (And I am one. We all are.) It also helped me to see that I’m just not ready to take that next step yet. And that I am perfectly okay with being single and on my own. I am enjoying this time in my life a lot and I’m going through a time of intense learning and growth and right now, my focus has to remain on me. On building a life around my passions and hobbies, learning how much I am capable of, and leaning on Christ in the midst of the crazy.
I’m learning to be content, even happy, in being single. I’ve spent so much of my life in this behavior of looking ahead to the next best thing. The “when…then” syndrome. When I find love, then I will be happy. When I graduate from college, then I will have more control over my finances. When I lose weight, then I will have confidence in myself. There’s always that nudging fear that I’m failing at life. My job is just okay. I live paycheck to paycheck. And I’m not in love. But then there’s that theory of living in the moment. Appreciating each day I’m given and learning to love this season I am in. Taking this time to focus on me, honing my abilities and strengths, and growing as a woman.
That isn’t to say I’m turned off from love or that I’ve closed myself off from opportunities to date. I haven’t and I’m learning to understand what love is in completely different ways. I’ve just decided to take a break from searching for it and just let it happen organically, if it does. To just be in this state of singleness. Stop worrying that something is wrong with me and getting upset with myself as single friend after single friend gets paired off. Nothing is wrong with me, it’s just not my time. I’m not going to date just to date. If I date, it’s going to be for the real thing: for love and romance and the whole she-bang.
So this is me, at this moment. Single. Content. Growing.