How to Choose a Life Partner ‘Single-Style’

Enjoy not knowing where life is going to take you.

Apparently I said this a few years back. I have no recollection, but often when I am giving advice to others (as I imagine most of us do), I say things I would never say to myself. And only recently have I learned to value all that I want to contribute and give to those around me and the world.

I don’t expect to be famous or rich. It’s never the life I envisioned for myself, but I always imagined I would give something back even if to those I didn’t even notice. That’s already happening. We are each impacting people we hardly know, maybe even people we’ve never met. We will never know the impact we’ve had, but we should learn to value that unknown impact. There is nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with us.

Maybe we have characteristics and personalities that do not mingle with this society or its system? But that does not make us wrong. In fact, throughout most of history, that makes us visionaries. And I am not including anything that violates human rights or life itself. I am talking about those of us who maybe don’t fit in with the life society has drummed up for us. But we’re not backing down. We’re taking a different path.

As I come upon the age of 30, I realize how young I really am and how many more opportunities I have to fuck up my life before it’s too late. A colleague recently told me that I am not too old to take risks – I still have many chances to try different things. But isn’t that true for all of us? Our ancestors didn’t expect to live that long so they built this societal system that worked for them, that ensured the survival of humanity.

Is Our Definition of Marriage Realistic?

Another colleague commented on how the 9-5 work day is based upon a decades-old factory system. It doesn’t work for us anymore. Others have speculated on the 60-year commitment of marriage now expected of us twenty-somethings. Even recent college graduates still hold the delusion they would never divorce. But is it so realistic to commit ourselves eternally to someone in our early twenties?

People change and often not together. I’m certainly not the same person I was when I was 22. And the reason I ended all of my long-term relationships is because we had both changed, and if I had stayed with them and stayed the “course,” I would surely be divorced by now. I never wanted that for myself. As my friend once so eloquently put it, “You’re practical. You knew it wasn’t going to work so you got out before things got worse.”

I certainly have no regrets but I once wondered what is wrong with me? Why are so many people my age shacking up and committed to another and yet I am still single? The loneliness got to me, too. It’s easy to blame yourself. It’s easy to cite statistics and tout that this is a hard city to date in, and there are more single women than men especially at this age. It’s easy to give excuses such as I’m not looking for anything right now; I’m focusing on my career; I’m too busy for a relationship.

But in the past few months I’ve been working on myself more than I ever had before with a newfound and wonderful life coach. And although obvious to most folks who may know me, I realized there was nothing wrong with me. I was not failing. I was doing just fine. And all the choices I had made I had made for myself, and that was okay. I was happier than I thought I was. I also had a lot of opportunity in front of me. And I was young. I still am.

Do I Need a Life Partner?

Yet more than that I recognized that I no longer needed a life partner. I was no longer looking for one. Sure I am still attracted to the opposite sex, and I still have certain needs. But many women in my position are starting to realize something about themselves and the world around them.

We don’t need to be married to be happy.

I am completely fulfilled by the friendships I have sustained. These awesome single women have everything I want in a lifelong partner. And it’s true, they may not be single forever. I’ve certainly lost many friends to relationships. But together we are a power trio. We do not feel we are missing anything except for the occasional physical relationship.

A few months ago I ended a relationship I thought I would struggle to move on from. It was hard to let go but I was strong enough to recognize its end and seek the closure I deserved. And only in the last month have I started dating again. It’s exciting to put myself out there. I love meeting new people, exploring new places, and getting to know someone on a different level.

But there’s also something else I love about dating – it forces me to appreciate my single life. It allows me to acknowledge what I have. I am not alone. I have amazing friends, women who I know will be there for me no matter what, who know more about my daily life and internal struggles than any potential life partner ever did. And if I happened by accident to die tomorrow they would know exactly what to say at my eulogy. They even know about my most secret creative writing projects that I would never share with the public but just writing them brings me such joy.

The “One”

These women matter more to me than finding the “one.” That’s such an arbitrary term, by the way. Statistically, there are many “ones.” I don’t believe in soulmates. I believe we find someone we are compatible enough with and love enough to make it work. But the truth is while in the relationship I cared deeply for another because I had learned so much about them on an intimate level. I cared about them because I knew who they were. But as soon as we separated life moved on, and we became different people with different lives.

The difference is what we’re willing to give to make it work. For some people marriage makes sense. I commend them for it. I once thought I was on the same path. And who knows? Maybe 10 years from now I will be on the same path? But for now I recognize that I don’t need it to be happy. I just need people in my life who I can rely on.

One of my best friends came over to my apartment for dinner because I was too tired to make it to the party we had planned to attend on a Sunday afternoon. And while watching a movie about single women, no less, after dinner, she turned to me and said, “Remember the RVs.”

At first I was a bit confused, and then I recalled a memory of camping with my parents and hanging out with this old retired couple in an RV. They were touring the country, they said. And although married, they seemed so happy and compatible with all the simple necessities they needed to spend the rest of their lives together exploring the world.

I turned to my friend and smiled. We both acknowledged that regardless of the romantic relationships we may endure in the coming years, we both planned to grow old together and emulate that old retired couple in the RV. We would see and explore the world together. We would be happy, and we would never be alone.

I don’t think anyone could ask of anything more in a potential life partner.

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