Maybe it's because Disney made sure that Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Princess Jasmine from Aladdin and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog all had love interests. Maybe it's because far too many so-called singles ministries in churches seem to be more about how to get a man (or how to complain in a "godly way" about not having one) than how to buy a house or start a business. Maybe it's the daily programming of being in a relationship, period that has so many of us struggling with being single.
I mean, even our tax forms indicate that unless we are married, we are single but even if we've only been on three dates with someone, we're quick to not want to refer to ourselves as a single woman. It's like "single" is some sort of back-handed compliment on a good day, a dirty cuss word on a bad one. What's up with that?
As someone who will be 45 in June and is currently (and peacefully) single, personally, I think a lot of us struggle with singleness because, overall, it hasn't been presented to us as the immense gift and blessing that it really and truly is.
I mean, just think about it—all of us come into the world as single human beings, so even God himself finds merit in it. Yet religion, pop culture, even our own loved ones tend to act like the single status is nothing more than a placeholder until we get ourselves together and actually start living our lives…with someone.
Me? These days, whenever someone asks me why I'm still single, my answer is simple—"When a man can love me the way I know I can love a man, I'm good." I mean that too. I got to this place by asking the following questions and then getting real with myself about what my answers were vs. what they needed to be:
Question #1: Do You Think Life Begins AFTER Being with Someone?
I can't tell you how many times I've spoken to a single woman about all of things she wants to do—after she gets married. "I want to go to Italy. Maybe I'll do it for my honeymoon," or "I've always wanted a diamond pendant. Maybe my future husband will get it for me one day."
A lot of wives have given me a front seat into their marriage. And you know what they all can agree on? A lot of the things that they thought would be easier or even better after marriage, aren't. Merging lives requires a sacrifice of time and money. It also means you are in a constant state of compromise. Suppose your husband hates to fly or getting a new house is more important to him than a piece of jewelry?
Ask any healthy married individual and they will tell you that a person should come into your life to complement it, not to fill some void. And in order to be a good fit, you have to already have some things going on so that they complement you well. Is your life so full that it's like an action movie trailer for how much BIGGER a man's life would be if he became a part of it? If not, why not?
Question #2: Have You Been Told That You Idealize Marriage Too Much?
There's a married couple that I know who've pretty much been miserable ever since the day they said, "I do." As a single person, the husband was a mega casanova and the wife was controlling as all get out. He was a dreamer and she was an established entrepreneur. They didn't have the same views on gender roles or children. But somehow, they—especially she—thought that marriage was going to make everything better. However, the reality is marriage only magnifies whatever issues you already had (individually and in your relationship) already. To think that marriage is gonna make imperfect things perfect is an idealistic—which is typically code for unrealistic—point of view.
That's why, whenever a single person tells me that they want to get married because they want someone to love them, it makes me cringe the same way as when a teenager tells me they want to have a baby. First, it's too much pressure to expect an imperfect person or a baby to fill voids in your life. Second, relationships and kids will take a lot out of you; that's why you need to give out of surplus not lack.
If you want to get married because The Cosby Show and rom-coms are the bar for how you see marriage, praise the Lord right now for keeping you single. The reality check of what real marriage looks like would probably take you out. (It causes folks to file for divorce on a daily basis.)
Question #3: What Would Being in a Relationship Improve in Your World?
Some of my friends laugh at me because sometimes I'll say, "Pray for me. I really want a penis right now." Some of them will think they are correcting me and say, "You mean a husband?" but no—sometimes I mean just a penis.
I'm at a place in my life where I'd prefer to be married before having sex again, yes. BUT I'll be honest and say that I'm also at a place in my life where having a best friend in the form of a sex partner is the main reason why marriage appeals to me. Meaning, I really like my life the way that it is. I don't attend weddings wondering when it will be my turn. I'm not freaking out about being 40 with no kids; my godchildren provide plenty of responsibility. I ADORE the male friends in my life; they give me a lot of the male companionship that I need.
All in all, having a husband would be a blessing and should God bring me to one (Genesis 2:22), I'm sure it will serve a great purpose. For now, though, as far as improving the quality of my life goes? Aside from some earth-shattering orgasms (le sigh), he'd have some pretty big shoes to fill. Life, as a single woman, is pretty golden right about now. Just as the single life should be.
Question #4: Have You Thought About All of the Benefits That Come with Being Single?
Something else that I notice with a lot of the couples I work with is they didn't really want to get married; they wanted to have sex and not be alone. Marriage is A LOT more than that, though.
Sometimes, when I'm listening to the complaints that they have, what I really hear is, "I wish I was still single"—He doesn't keep the house as clean as I would like; She's always expecting me to want to go to her work events; He is too stingy with money; She's always mad that I don't turn in at the same time she does. What a lot of this boils down to is one person sees life one way while their partner sees it another. Oftentimes, there are no right or wrongs, just different. But if you don't want to find some common ground and compromise, you can always stay single.
Every time a wife calls me about having to wake up early to help her husband do something around the house or wishing they could do something that isn't currently in the budget, I hear her out, get off of the phone and do a little jig. Right now, my money is mine—ALL MINE. My time is mine—ALL MINE.
Marriage has its perks. It also has its sacrifices. Ones that don't have to be made while I'm a single woman.
Question #5: Where’s Your Single Living Bucket List?
Speaking of compromise, I share something my mother often says because it's a very profound pearl of wisdom—"Do everything you can't compromise before you get married." No matter how much you desire long-term companionship, there are going to be things that are so much easier to do while you are a single woman. (I'm not the only one who feels that way either. Check out what one of my married friends had to say to us single women about the benefits of our relational status here.)
So, instead of thinking about (or obsessing over) all of the things that you don't have because you're not married (yet), reflect instead on all of the things you can accomplish because you're single. Wanna start a business? The sacrifice of your time alone makes it easier to do while you're single. Want to take a trip around the world? There is no one you need to run that by first (or try and convince to get on board) while you're single. Wanna take a road trip with your best guy friend? There's no time like the present (plus, it's far more appropriate to do right now too!).
When you start thinking about all of the things being single frees you up to do, the list of possibilities become so long that it honestly has you too busy to pine over when you'll get hemmed up—I'm sorry, I mean get married (LOL).
Question #6: Do You Feel Like You NEED a Mate?
This right here is an article all on its own and maybe one day I'll expound on it. For now, I'll just say that the quality of my life got so much better when I got to a point and place where I WANTED a man to love me, not NEEDED him to. It wasn't a man or relationship that brought me to this conclusion, it was actually the practice of minimalism.
When you start to adapt the mindset of a minimalist, you start to learn that wants and needs are very different. A want is something I wish for or desire, which is fine, but a need? A need is something that my life requires. I need water. I need money to pay my bills. I want another car. I want to get paid more for some of the work that I do. See the difference? What I want would make life more comfortable but I'm not gonna die (or even struggle really) without it.
If you read all of that and is still looking at your screen like, "OK…but I will die without a husband," this is one more reason why it's a good thing that you are still single. Thinking that you can't live without someone is giving them (or that kind of relationship) far too much power. It's setting them up to be an idol and no human being should hold that kind of place and position in your life.
You NEED to feel loved? You've got God, your family, and friends, and you to do that.
A woman who finds peace in that is a woman who is in a healthy single state of mind.
Ironically, it's also that kind of woman who is far more equipped for marriage too. You will not die without a man. But you can't start really living your life until you realize and accept that. Love yourself and your status too much to hate being single. Then watch how much bigger and better your world becomes because of it. I'm living proof. Singleness filled with all kinds of underrated dopeness. It really is.
Love yourself and your status too much to hate being single. Then watch how much bigger and better your world becomes because of it. I'm living proof. Singleness filled with all kinds of underrated dopeness. It really is.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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