Photo courtesy of the author.
I was never the girl who dreamed about her wedding day. I always assumed it would happen eventually; it was just never something I could fully picture. I saw myself pretty clearly as a mom, but not necessarily as anyone’s wife.
That may have been because I didn’t have the best examples of what romantic love should be growing up. My childhood left me with enough scars that I entered adulthood with a fair amount of work to do on myself. I don’t think I seriously considered any kind of long-term relationship until I was well into my twenties.
And then, I was hit with several years of illness and told I would probably never have kids of my own.
If my shattered childhood didn’t fully sabotage my dating life, infertility in my twenties certainly did.
But, like everything else, I decided to grow from it. I sought therapy, I pursued other dreams, I traveled, I took risks, and just before my thirtieth birthday — I adopted my daughter on my own. By that point it didn’t seem like Mr. Right was going to be turning up anytime soon; I’d always known I wanted to be a mom more than a wife anyway.
My daughter and I have an incredible life. I can’t imagine my world without her. But becoming a single mother by choice threw even more kinks into my dating life.
And now here I am, 35 years old (just a few months shy of 36) realizing that something may be wrong with me. I’ve never had a relationship last longer than six months. Sure, I’ve had a few off and on relationships linger for years, but never anything that has consistently gone the distance.
Even though I’ve never had difficulty meeting men, when I look back over my dating roster, I’m not exactly sad that none of them stuck around.
I’m pretty convinced I have yet to meet “the one.” But the older I get, the more I wonder if “the one” is even a reality for me and my future. I’ve gotten so comfortable doing life on my own, so at ease within my schedule and routine. I have a daughter I adore, a career I am insanely proud of, and a friend group I cherish. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe that’s all I get.
Maybe this is how a spinster is made.
I’ve recently attempted dating again, setting up a profile on Tinder at the encouragement of friends. It started mostly as a joke (isn’t Tinder just for hookups?) but the quality of men I was meeting surprised me.
And overwhelmed me.
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Messages remained unanswered in my inbox, first dates that went seemingly well were picked apart and discarded before a second could happen, and the one guy I started to have feelings for turned out to be a raging alcoholic who disappeared the second I called him on some of his more concerning behaviors.
I’m telling you all — dating is exhausting.
I love the idea of finding my person, of being deeply embedded in a healthy, secure relationship with someone who brings more to my life than they take away.
I’m not sure I want to put the work in to getting there. Or maybe, more importantly, I’m not sure I want to risk my heart in the process.
When you’ve been mostly single for a long time, you hit a point where you are confident and comfortable and just less interested in shaking up what you know. I think that’s where I am. I can’t seem to bring myself to take those next steps for some reason. Perhaps it’s social anxiety, or having been burned one too many times in the past. Or maybe it’s just being set in my ways.
Whatever it is, sometimes I think I’m simply more comfortable being alone.
And that’s how I imagine a spinster is made. Surely no one goes through life wanting to be alone, right? But it must happen after years and years of slowly giving up and embracing the truth. That spinsterhood is less of a risk.
When I think about it, I know that’s not what I want. I’m fun, successful, loyal, a good friend and mom. I think I’m mildly attractive and I know I’m a great communicator. I’d like to believe I’m a bit of a catch, and that my counterpart is out there just waiting to find his missing puzzle piece as well.
I always thought it would simply happen when the time was right. Only the older I get, the less likely a possibility that seems to be.