Self Esteem and the Single Life

Several years ago, I may have actually been married but separated at the time, a happily married colleague of mine was sharing how she met her husband. She’d waited to marry and had been single for a bit longer than her contemporaries. I remember thinking that I envied her. Oh, how I wish I’d not rushed into marriage and had lived out my 20’s and early 30’s as a single person. I may have mentioned this sentiment to her. I’ll never forget her next comment, “Being single, and remaining single for that long, really takes a significant amount of self-esteem.”

I’ve often thought of that statement. Over and over since my divorce I’ve thought about it. The more I ponder her words, the more I tend to agree. Single life is not for the faint of heart. Face it, the world is set up to sell us stuff. It uses sex and sex appeal to sell us these things, mostly. But before it can sell most of us sex, it has to sell us romance, relationships, couples. Is it no wonder that many feel inadequate in a world where being a part of a couple is touted as the ideal? It is not always easy to connect with a person with whom you are compatible in the most intimate of circumstances. It’s just as difficult to find someone whose playlist you can tolerate. It’s a wonder anyone ever gets together, but they do, leaving those of us who don’t alone on Friday and Saturday nights wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”

There’s a blogger I follow, over at Mind Full of Chatter and she recently wrote a post about the very same issue. She’s pretty no nonsense, direct, straightforward, nothing fancy, and yet I find myself looking forward to the next read from her. Her ideas about the single life are valid and interesting, though we disagree on a few key points. Well, okay, we differ on one point only: she is still looking for that special someone, and I have given up looking for that special someone. She maintains an online profile at a dating site (she’s a very courageous woman) and I have given all that up. Now, this isn’t to say that I think online dating is a worthless endeavor. Many married couples these days met through an online dating site. What I know is this: it was a complete time suck for me, with mostly just disappointment to show for it. First, you have to check the emails, then you have to hit the delete button, if your hand hasn’t cramped up from that then you have to compose a thoughtful, decent, intelligent, without being too overpowering, response to the one or two really decent men that might have contacted you. Then, once you respond, you play this email dance and you figure out pretty quickly that this is all it is ever going to be or you meet up. If you meet up, then you pretty much know that this is a go or not a go. The worst deal is when you think it is a go and he doesn’t. And this seemed to happen to me more often than not. That bites. But that’s the online dating world. It’s filled with more opportunities for outright rejection than the rest of life. Personally, my bloggy friend has a much better self-esteem than I. I don’t like signing up to deal with rejection like that. She can let it roll.

I’ve decided that finding a partner, simply cannot be my life goal. Maybe it should never have been. And, while I love the idea of being a part of a fulfilling, dynamic, safe, enriching relationship that happens to last for a long time, this just has not been my lot in life. I’m getting to the age where it is viewed as desperate to be constantly looking for someone, and, worse, it feels a bit desperate. (Disclaimer, my Mind Full of Chatter friend doesn’t strike me as the desperate sort. I’m referring to people who are far more intense about this search than she appears to be. She seems kind of take it or leave it, which is cool. It’s still not for me, but she’s okay with it and that’s perfectly fine.)

And that’s where the self esteem trip comes in. Whether you are choosing to meet people online through a dating site (requires way more self esteem, which admittedly I do not have) or you are attempting to go on about your life and do that which interests you, you are faced with the reality, at some point, that you.are.still.single. You have not been granted admission into that illustrious company of coupled people and, if you were, you didn’t make it for the long haul. And why not? Are you a loser? Don’t you play well with others? What?

Yes, it does take a great deal of self esteem to live as a single person in our society. If the outside cultural influences don’t drag you down, the inner voices of accusation are certain to provide you with a challenge in resistance. I know. I fight these battles myself. Weekly, at least. During a really bad season, daily. I always come back to the same place though, and this is how I know I’m where I should be. After all the outside accusations are silenced, and after I’ve stilled the internal insults, I am left asking, “What would I change?” My answer continues to be, “Nothing. Until something much better comes along, (and by much better, I mean the so-rare-and-amazing-it-is-likely-never-to-happen kind of much better), I would change nothing.”

I’ve been in significant relationships before. Two were nightmares, and the third was a sham. I’m not doing any of that again.

Single is so much better than unhappy.

Self esteem or not, I’ll fend off the demons of inadequacy and self doubt till I die before I settle for something that isn’t just absolutely over-the-top amazing.

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About Miz Insomniac

Usually, it's the kids who grow up and leave home, but Miz Insomniac switched it up. When her kids grew up she decided to make her dreams come true so she flew the nest. After making 12 trips across the pond and back to Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East in 2014-15, Miz Insomniac now qualifies as a world traveler. She hasn't quite mastered the fine art of traveling light, but she knows how to manipulate travel plans to avoid missed flights and jet lag. A former hopeless romantic turned realist, she's stateside now reinventing her life in a new city, with new opportunities, and all the challenges that come with leaving a career, traveling abroad for a year, and then returning to a world that's nothing like she left it. Her overseas travel is by no means over, it's just not as frequent. She's different now, but remains a night owl. She writes when she should be sleeping...and while you probably are.

Posted on February 19, 2013, in Dating and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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