All the Single Ladies….

Put your hands up !… Then walk away and don’t reply, don’t answer back, stop justifying your status to someone who thinks you should be something else. Why is it people feel the need to comment on other people’s status? When you are single, they want to know when are you going to settle down?  When you do that, when are you getting engaged?  It’s endless, one friend while celebrating with fellow staff members the week before her wedding, was asked was she going to get pregnant straight away?  I’m surprised at people’s forthrightness! The answer to all of the above, none of your business.

I met my last boyfriend mid November (4 years ago) and we met each other’s families at Christmas, probably because it was Christmas and it was family time and we were both close to ours.  People said it was going too fast, it couldn’t last, others said how they were glad we had finally met someone (in both our cases having been single for a while), and the finally was subtly underlined.  When we moved in together a year later, people said it was too fast, it wouldn’t last, and others started asking him when he was going to put a ring on it!  We moved in together partly because it was just practical but also what we wanted to do.  We were both adults, not giddy 22 year olds.  But it seemed we needed to justify every move we made.  In the end it didn’t work out, but nothing to do with timing and any of those decisions but more to do with long term plans and different priorities.

Assumptions, they are what annoy me, people assuming things.  Assuming because I’m single, I choose to be.  Sometimes, these things just happen, and it’s no one’s fault, or intention.  Yes, I agree there are people who don’t want to be in a relationship and make that clear to others and that’s perfectly fine, each to their own.  But you can’t tar everyone with the same brush.  I’m self employed and I have been for a number of years, this seems to make other people think I’m focused on myself and my career.  Yes I set up a school/business in another country and yes it was successful, but it didn’t make me rich and famous and that wasn’t my aim when I started it.  But people say “Oh you’re single because you’re ambitious” or “Don’t tell a guy you’ve just met that you run your own company!”….  Why not? that’s what I do and if that scares him, well we’re hardly going to get very far, are we?

At some stage before Christmas after being single for almost 6 months I ventured into the world of online dating.  I’d been there years ago without much success, the worst being one night having to make a parachute call to a friend from the bathroom, to ring with an emergency, any emergency!, in 5 minutes time.  I’m a terrible liar, so I mumbled something that sounded dramatic and I hightailed it out of the pub so fast,  marching down the  boulevard Montparnasse at the speed of light in case he followed me.  I deleted my profile after that one.  It’s a murky world and while there are some sane people, after all I’m on there!, there are also a lot of tyre-kickers!   Instead of entertaining the idea of Mr Right, I started to settle for Mr-Write-Back! That would be progress.   Other dating apps are even more daunting, where you get excited about little blue bubbles popping up on your screen, where chatting to someone doesn’t involve face-to-face meetings or even hearing their voice!….And the slip of a finger to the left as you lie on the couch means you could accidentally send the love of your life into oblivion never to be found again…  I can’t cope! Oh I’m So old!!! 😉

So it looks like my Prince Charming is the basic model.  You know when you trade up your car for a new sleeker model and you think I’m going to get all these fancy features.  Well, a bit like the car where all I got was bluetooth, it turns out my Prince Charming doesn’t come with built-in GPS or that (rather irritating) alarm that goes off when he starts to reverse too quickly!

After a year of being single I decided to be more pro-active, it was moment of madness coupled with a desire to be part of that world again. I joined a dating agency!   I went for the interview, emphasised I had no particular type, no pet hates apart from smoking, just wanted to meet a positive and genuine person… not too much to ask for you’d think.  The 1st date, having been told by the agency that I was currently self employed but originally a teacher, asked me about my job, interrupted me mid-sentence and said “So have you ever been a real teacher then?” Mmm…how does one answer that? Where would I start?  But somehow I’m sure the dozens of children I have taught in the last 15 years, whether in a school setting, or a less formal one, thought I was a real teacher.  Needless to say it went downhill from there, and 45 minutes later he announced he was finished his meal, therefore we were finished, and there wasn’t even a chance to ask for coffee to keep me awake for the drive home.  It’s a good thing I could drive home, call into my sister and have a laugh about it.  Modern dating is not for the faint-hearted!  The next date is in a week’s time, fingers crossed it’s better 🙂

There was much furore recently when Jennifer Aniston wrote about the media’s obsession with her possible pregnancy, just as they had been obsessed with her ring finger before she was engaged, and then married.  Somehow in order to be happy we need to be attached.

Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married (or mothers) to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.

She has a point, society is constantly pushing us to believe you have to be “à deux”, to be “heureux”.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some sort of staunch OTT feminist who thinks we can survive without men at all in the world.  I like being part of a couple, I like the company, the contact, the free hugs and having someone to share things with.  But equally I like to be able to eat my dinner on the couch some nights, just because I feel like it, and not have to answer to anyone else.  A previous partner once said that while he liked being in a relationship and was happy in it, he also felt it was stressful sometimes, he felt under pressure, thinking he was responsible for my happiness.  I tried to explain that I was quite happy on my own, that having him in my life was a bonus, an extra, but I wasn’t dependent on him.  I really believe that to have a healthy relationship you need to be able to do things without your partner, yes you should have common interests but equally if he wants to lie in bed on a Saturday morning when you’d rather go running around the park, that’s ok, for both of you.  If his thing is sitting quietly in a boat fishing all day Saturday when you’d rather watch paint dry than sit quietly in the middle of a lake for hours on end, that’s ok.  Hopefully he’ll catch some fish and you can enjoy a romantic dinner for two that evening, and that’s ok too. 

The most important thing is be happy with yourself, they say you need to learn to love yourself before expecting someone else to love you, really love you.  Not pity you or want to change you, or tell you you can be someone else, but love you as you.  Love you just the way you are, as Mr Darcy said.  That’s important.  In the meantime, while I’m waiting for my Mr D’Arcy to go buy a Sat Nav and get his act together, I’m going to try and enjoy being single and the freedom that comes with it.




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