on voluntary singlehood.


“When I realized I was into girls, it was scary to let go of all the things I was supposed to be and all the things I was supposed to want. It’s like you’re a character in this book that everyone around you is writing, and suddenly you have to say I’m sorry, but this role isn’t right for me.

And you have to start writing your own life and doing your own thing. That was hard enough. But that was nothing–nothing, I tell you–compared to the idea that I could let go of the desire to have a girlfriend. Maybe not forever. Maybe forever. Certainly for now. I wasn’t letting go of love or sex or the idea of companionship. I was just rejecting the package in which it was being sold to me. I was going to say it was okay to be alone, when it felt like everyone in the world was saying that it wasn’t okay to be alone, that I had to always want someone else, that the desire had to fuel me…Some people find happily ever after in being part of a couple, and to them I say, good for you. But that’s no reason we should all have to do it. That’s no reason that every goddamn song and story has to say we should.” -david levithan (writing from a queer teen girl perspective in the short story “miss lucy has a steamboat”)

recently i’ve had the revelation that dating people has never made me happy. it’s made me happy in the short-term moment, but never happy all around, the kind you can feel in yr bones. at this time two, three, four, and five years ago, i was madly in love with someone who was madly in love with me. we had good conversations, good sex, we hardly ever fought. she said so many things to me that i’d dreamed of for years. and i was fucking miserable. everything i did was laced with the undercurrent of her. why isn’t she calling me back? what if she’s dead? where is she? why won’t she ever come to new york? blah, blah, blah.

we lived far away from each other and didn’t really have anything in common besides the fact that we were both radical queers who loved each other (and i guess we both like books, bikes and booze, but to very different degrees & for very different reasons.) and i gave up my life. just threw it away for the first three years we were together. the last year and a half, i tried getting it back. i faked like i could be independent and do my own shit. and no matter how much fun i was having back in ny, it was completely ruined by this undercurrent of longing. i could never focus on anything but her.

and it’s not just with this girl. it’s with every girl. it’s with everyone. because nobody is ever enough. nobody ever can be. and perhaps this feeling could be summed up by another literary quote, this one from robert pinsky: “I woke up feeling so sad this morning/because I realized that you could not,/as much as I love you, dear heart,/cure my loneliness”

and, by letting this notion go, i feel so free. so much better than when i was trying to make something work that isn’t working. i don’t feel remarkably lonely or sexually frustrated. i feel calm, productive, fulfilled, and maybe even happy.

the main thing that makes me unhappy about this new situation is other people acting like i’m so crazy for not wanting to date anyone, like i am some kind of frigid depressing cat lady, sitting in front of the home shopping network and crying every night. when my life isn’t like that at all.
i still laugh the loudest even though i’m sober now, i ride hard, i love hard (platonically), i write my goddamn book (and i’ve written ninety usable pages–about 120 pages total, if you include stuff i’ve edited out–this year. i couldn’t have done that if my time & energy were wasted in the pursuit of someone else). i live my fucking life. & it’s mine now, all mine.


4 responses »

  1. This is a good point. I think there are real advantages to being single. However, our society tends to treat, as you say, singlehood as some state of incompleteness, even in the eyes of the law, i.e. offering tax benefits to married people. I find this rather distasteful, since when is it the state’s prerogative to mandate certain relationships? That is fucked.

  2. i relate to this a lot. wheeewww. for me i think i am learning to date people in ways that doesn’t seek a cure for loneliness, that doesn’t place them at the center of my world, that keeps a healthy lonely separate piece of my heart for me. but it’s hard, i have to fight to do it, and usually i fail. it’s a lot easier for me to be fierce and brave and happy when i’m not in a relationship. actually, the time when i am really best at being independent is when i’ve just ended a relationship i was unhappy in. hmm.

  3. Coming from the married soon to be soccer mom that I fear my children will make me into this may not seem like much but I get it Ocean. I totally understand that feeling that you have to be with someone, that we’re all supposed to be paired up and that desperate search for your “soulmate” that total fear of being the odd one out who’s not paired up and the wonderful feeling of being on your own and realizing that being single is okay and you can make it on your own. I’m happy for you.

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