The more birthdays you collect, the shallower your pool of single friends becomes, and eventually you find yourself with two choices: hang out with your coupled up friends or find new friends. (One might argue another option is to couple up. But if you are the one making that argument, you’re obviously coupled up. Everyone else knows it’s not that simple.)
This past weekend, I found myself in an unfortunate situation for any single person: hanging out with five couples. Not that I don’t enjoy couples, I do. Hey, I’ve even been half of one myself. I’m a regular third wheel with two of my favorite couples, a wheel in which I take pride in being. 99% of my friends are part of a twosome and 99.9% of the time they are amazing company.
But when you’re a onesome hanging out with a bunch of twosomes, you become acutely aware of your 11th man party status. Who will be your beer pong partner? How will flip cup work? Will someone play Beersbee (if you don’t know what that is, you are missing out) with you? Members of the twosomes politely offer to be your partner, but even that eventually starts to feel more like a gesture of pity. The twosomes are constantly creating new roles or ways to fit the onesome into games.
And really, I feel fortunate to have such creative friends. But this weekend, things got a little weird.
At one point, I looked around, and four of the five couples were literally locked in a loving embrace, and one was actually spinning his wife around in circles. My eyes (so very wide) spanned the room in disbelief, like I was in some cheesy rom-com. I glanced back and forth between my coupled, but physically uncoupled friends and asked if this was really happening. (It’s hard to say whether or not they would have been participating in the hug & kiss-a-thon if the flip cup table hadn’t separated them, though I was still grateful.)
During flip cup?? FLIP CUP??? A totally unsexy, unromantic game, in which it’s hard (for me) not to burp every couple of minutes due to the rapid consumption of tiny beers? And this wasn’t even your standard game of flip cup! As adults, we feel the need reengineer immature college games into more mature versions, requiring advanced skill and thought, you know, to reflect our growth as humans. This game of flip cup involved more than just flipping a simple plastic cup. You had to drink the beer, then flip the smaller cup into a LARGER cup. Genius. This requires concentration and dedication. Not canoodling with your boo in between rounds.
I do not seek to destroy love and I enjoy seeing people happy, but a whole weekend of this kind of happiness can do some weird things to your mind. And I might have been okay. But then. This happened.
My sister-in-law’s sister (roughly five years younger than me, a wife with two children before 25) casually asked if I had any “man prospects” in my life.
Something inside me unleashed.
“So you just aren’t interested in anyone, orrrr…”
Uh, I thought “no” was a pretty solid answer, one in which I was not interested in elaborating.
Seriously? Is it not okay that I am single? Can I not choose to be alone? Does that make me weird? A loser? Must I have a “man prospect” or can I just wake up every day, not in constant search for a life partner? NOT EVERYONE WANTS THE SAME THING!
I can’t remember what I actually said in response, but it was something along those lines. She was just asking an honest question, which she was actually probably curious about, or just making conversation, but the weekend had obviously gotten to me.
The thing is, it’s not her. It’s not any them. My reaction to her simple question is what I struggle with. I highly doubt any of “them” were looking at me like, poor tosh, she’s all alone. She has no one to play with or make googly eyes at. No one cares. They are just happy to be there, amongst friends, definitely not wasting their time feeling sorry for me, wondering about or judging my situation at all.
But in my head? That’s exactly what they were doing. What’s wrong with her? Why is she always alone at these things? When asked about my “man prospects,” somewhere in the air between her mouth and my ears, those words transformed into “Awww, you’re alone. Are you okay? Doesn’t anyone like you? Aren’t you a bit old to be alone? Running out of time, aren’t we?”
I used to think I didn’t care what other people thought. Actually, I didn’t care what people thought. I’m not sure where that girl went, because lately, I find myself creating these elaborate stories in my head about what people think of me, shortly after we interact. It is a bit overwhelming, and sometimes it becomes difficult for me to separate the “facts” I create in my head with what actually happened. Now I realize I don’t care what people actually think of me, because I don’t even know that most of the time. Reality doesn’t bother me. But it does bother me that I wonder what people think of me, enough to create a vision of what they see in my own head.
It’s not that I want to be alone. I don’t. Of course I want to find someone to share all the wonders of life with. But I don’t want it to be with just anyone. It’s amazing to me that people find their person at all, when you think about how crazy it is that of all the people in the world, so many people end up with someone they went to high school or college with or someone they met at work. In this huge world, your soul mate just happened to live in the same town as you? Lucky. Mine didn’t.
But I’m also pretty okay with being single. As my good friend Henry David Thoreau says, “A bore is someone who takes away your solitude and doesn’t give you companionship in return.” That’s sorta where I’m at.
A few friends recently expressed how behind they feel in life. Behind who? What makes you get ahead? Having a spouse? The Children? If so, I guess I don’t feel behind. I can’t lose a race I’m not running. Maybe I am asking too much. Maybe it is weird that I’d rather be alone than be in a relationship with just anyone. Maybe that person doesn’t exist for me. Maybe that will eventually suck. Maybe there are some things you just can’t make happen.