In the annals of conversations most single people don’t want to have, right at the top of the list is a very simple question: “Dating anyone?”
These two words immediately can put my psyche through a shredder.
When I got divorced 13 years ago, I had five years where I sort of dated on and off, meaning I met people every so often for a drink or coffee, but nothing ever came of it. Quite literally, the month I turned 40, it all just stopped. Like a crash test car hitting a steel-reinforced concrete wall. There were no survivors.
Most people harbor the notion that I’m too dedicated to my career to focus on a “silly thing” like dating. “When would you have the time, seriously?” is what I hear from well-intentioned friends who want to assuage my concerns that I’m not turning into the Crazy Dog Lady. Another well worn line of BS is, “well, you know it will happen when you stop looking.” You know who says that line? People who are IN relationships who haven’t had to be out in this swamp land of single people since the invention of Tinder.
I also hear that I have it “so much better” than they do. I never have to tell anyone to turn on the bathroom fan or put the toilet seat down. I can drop everything and go at a moment’s notice – anywhere I want. I don’t have anyone judging how much I spent on this purse or that trip. Again – these lines of fertilizer are usually only said by people who have help to take out the trash, feed the dogs, clean up the dead animals that the dogs bring in, and find a contractor to replace the fence. These people also don’t realize that it’s a major pain in the ass to drop everything at a moment’s notice when you have to find someone to help to take care of the trash, the dogs, the dead animals, and the fence.
So what do I tell people when they ask me if I’m dating anyone? “No,” and then as the wash of concern flows over their face, I follow it up with something affirming like, “I am incredibly grateful for my life. I have an amazing support network of friends to help me when the erstwhile chaos of my work drags me in an unexpected direction, a fantastic job I love, and a home I consider my sanctuary thanks to the fantastic job. My cars (yes, cars plural) are paid for, and I haven’t had one argument about finances in at least 13 years.”
This is the point at which most people cock their head to the side like a Golden Retriever looking at an unthrown tennis ball. They say incredibly unhelpful things like, “don’t worry… it’ll happen.” What’ll happen? An asteroid will hit the earth? A spaceship will rise up out of the ocean and reframe everything we know about the galaxy? Oh – wait. You’re talking about that relationship thing again. Because you think I shouldn’t be single… because “I’m a great catch.”
Here’s the deal. I know all of that. On top of the fantastic job and good credit score, I know how to install laminate flooring and power wash old paint off of concrete porches. And I know how to repaint them, too. I have power tools and I know – generally speaking – how to use them. I can move entire shelving units and beds by myself between the floors of my house because I’ve had to. I’ve mastered the art of dining and going to movies alone, which is a skill that not everyone has the courage to dare build. I pay my bills on time and my dogs have lives that most people would envy, so please stop telling me I’m a great catch.
When you hear all of this and you still look at me and think, “What’s wrong with you,” I want you to know this: Nothing is wrong with me. I’m adulting just fine. Do I worry about being the headline, “Eccentric 100 Year Old Local Woman Found Dead in Home after Six Months of Nobody Noticing?” Yes. I want someone to grow old with who appreciates that I overlook clutter in favor of doing anything else and who also thinks that wandering is the greatest form of adventure. And right now I’m single. And there ain’t a damn thing wrong with that.