A few months ago I sat down with a friend over coffee and we had a conversation. It was a good conversation that amounted to mutual feelings of friendliness and understanding. See, this friend of mine was a young man who I had grown acquainted with through my church community. We had several mutual friends and so naturally had ample opportunity to get to know each other. Over time he began to think he was interested or at least could be interested in me as more than a friend. So he talked to my dad. My dad talked to me. And then we talked with each other.
There is something amazing about sitting down with a friend and talking openly and honestly about your feelings, even if your words are not necessarily what the other person wants to hear. I know I ultimately disappointed him, but I was glad he was willing to listen to me anyway and share with me how he felt. At the start of the conversation, my friend said something to the effect of, “So, I talked to your dad and he told me you’re determined to be a single old maid for the rest of your life.”
I laughed and replied, “That’s about right.”
I have received similar phrases and questions like this from several friends and acquaintances over the last couple of years, questions like, “So I guess you have decided you want to be single for now?” As if deciding to be single forever is an unfathomable decision akin to resigning yourself to a life of agony and despair. But I can see why--to an extent--why I confuse people because my life is not void of eligible single young men, though they are rapidly becoming an extinct species, as are my single young lady friends. And if I am not overtly pursuing one of these aforementioned and soon-to-be-extinct eligible single young men, then there has to be something wrong with me, right? I’ve signed my life away to singleness.
First off, signing my life away to singleness does not sound like a fate worse than death, to me. I like being single and I'm not lying when I say that. Second, I haven’t signed my life away to being single, but I also am not dead-set on not being single and finding a husband as soon as I can. Desperation doesn't look good on anybody. Finally, I have standards and they are high standards. My standards are not superficial, materialistic standards (well, not all of them anyway). They are also not simple “check the box” standards, such as, 1) must be a Christian 2) must not live in parent's basement, etc. I guess the best way to describe my expectations is this:
The moment I meet the right man, I will simply know. It will not only be everything about him that is perfect, for me, it will be everything about the circumstances, the timing, our friendship and relationship—there will be no doubt in my mind and try as I might I won’t have any excuse to not fall in love with him instantly. My family will love him. My friends will love him. I'll love him. He'll meet every expectation I never knew I had! (I know, sounds realistic, right?) So far all the men who have come and gone in my life have been ifs and maybes. They have been nothing more than possibilities. If only he would change this about his character. If only his beliefs were different. If only he wasn’t such a loser. If only he would fight for me. And so on and so on...
I never, ever want to settle. I have said this before and I will say it again. I would sooner be single than settle because, to be honest, being single is pretty awesome. I have met unhappy singles, singles who can't stand being single, singles who walk around with a chip on their shoulder because they’re tired of “not being good enough” for anyone, singles who inevitably settle because they are desperate, singles who rebound and rebound again because they’re not comfortable in their own skin. Maybe if I was a little more desperate, I wouldn’t be so single, but I never want to be desperate. Because I know the minute I become desperate, that’s the minute I compromise my standards and expectations. And when I say compromise my standards, I am talking about the standards I have set for myself as well as the standards I have for my hypothetical future husband.
So when I pass up the chance to start dating someone and choose remaining single over the opportunity to pursue a relationship, it’s usually because of one or more of the following reasons:
1. I’m not ready to be in a relationship. Period. I still have a ways to go, dreams to achieve, my own expectations to measure up to, that kind of thing.
2. I simply don’t see us together. I don’t see me making you happy, so please trust me on this and move on.
3. I might have a crush on you, but let’s face it, we wouldn’t last in the long run, so thank you, but no thank you.
4. You don’t meet my expectations one way or another and that might be nothing against you. It might just be my necessarily principled idealistic self.
Our culture loves to make fun of chronically single people, but the fact of the matter is bullies only call names and throw stones because they’re insecure in their own skin and they can’t stand to see someone else walking alone with confidence. I would rather be the one walking alone with confidence than the person who stakes all of their happiness and self-worth on something that can’t provide any of that, something like a relationship status. So before you go crazy trying to find a significant other, learn to walk with confidence alone. Learn to measure up to your own expectations and don't sell yourself short.
What are your expectations for your relationships? What are some of your expectations for yourself? Are you/were you happy being single or do you find it difficult? Are there any ways you have been tempted to settle?