I fear the crutch of singlehood I’ve relied on for so long has finally become a thief.
There’s something to be said about doing everything alone. Whether it’s going to movies, traveling or even dinners, rolling solo has been a prevalent part of my life and, to be honest, there’s a level of convenience in doing your own thing that you just can’t find while in a relationship.
For example, just this past New Year’s Eve, I decided to do something out of the ordinary and take a date out on the town. I had someone in mind, so I asked her in advance if I should make plans for New Year’s Eve. She said no.
However, as people do, she changed her mind, asking me on the night of the 30th what plans I had. Of course, I had none, as planning as a single person often allows for last-minute options, and I was still holding out some hope that she'd want to do something.
After a couple hours of negotiation via text, we finally settled on simply doing dinner somewhere nice. Not necessarily the party I wanted, but I decided that company would trump a blowout of any type, and I was good with it.
Eighteen hours later, while trying to reconfirm our plans, she said out of the blue that she no longer wanted to go out for New Year’s and, naturally, I was pissed. Not so much because she was bailing on me, but because I gave her a number of options to not do anything, only willing to make plans once she asked me to.
By 9 PM, I was doing the thing that I thought I would do in the first place, what I usually do: going out alone.
But as I was sitting at the bar of the nightspot I chose, impeccably dressed, I realized that maybe this was my fault after all. Not just for the blown date, but in general. After nearly 40 years of doing things on my own, could it be I’ve ruined myself for long-term dating forever by being single for too long?
The last full-blown relationship I was in was about three years ago. The girl was nice and had a great heart. Things ended because she wanted to put a label on what we had and, frankly, I didn’t want that.
It wasn’t because I wanted someone else or that I wasn’t happy. I was happy. But I was even happier knowing I had the option to do everything on my own. Living the single life became preferable, and when faced with putting that all away for a long-term relationship, I responded by giving back her house key and never seeing her again.
There are competing thoughts on whether being alone is good or bad for one’s overall health. But everyone's in agreement is that there's a clear difference between being alone and being lonely.
With the advent of social media, no one ever truly feels alone due to connections they may have via Facebook, Twitter or any other social media application or site. When sending tweets or posting photos of your last meal, people responding works as a sort of substitution for human interaction. But is it?
As I look ahead to my 40th birthday in August, I wonder whether or not it’s too late to build something lasting with someone while also fighting off the desires and benefits to being single, the largest of which includes being able to control my time and my finances, which I know sounds selfish, and to a certain extent it is. I simply prefer to make plans without all the added complications and costs.
I could certainly choose to be alone in perpetuity, with breaks for the occasional short-term affair, but where will that leave me? I don’t consider myself to be lonely, even though being a writer is, by default, a lonely profession. Much of what I do is engineered and designed to be handled alone, with minimum interaction needed to get the job done.
I still harbor a fantasy for a family, doting on a wife and kids with reverence and love. Taking family vacations and seeing the joy in their eyes as they get what they always wanted for Christmas or dancing with my wife as the clock strikes midnight, signaling another year. All those things still live in my heart, but they grow more distant as I cling on to a comfortable single life.
Whatever happens for good or ill, as long as we're honest with ourselves about being single then certainly the concept of being a "loner" should never be a negative one. I've had some amazing people in my life, and there'll always be more until there aren't.
Alone does not have to be forever but if it is, so be it. I've accomplished quite a bit up to this point, with every hope that I do even more before my story officially comes to a close.
That said, even though our futures are certainly unwritten, old habits often die hard, and my fear is that the crutch of singlehood I’ve relied on for so long has finally become a thief.