I realize I am writing this on Valentine’s Day, this subject that has been buzzing around my mind for a while now. I guess it’s fate, or karma, that this blog falls upon February 14th. Here’s the thing, I keep getting this question from people as if I’m in the middle of some 1950s TV series about a 21 year old girl who has yet to “find a man.” Only I’m 59. I mean, really. I can be telling a story about tennis or protests or cured ham, but if a male figure enters the narrative then my friends and family inevitably jump in to ask if the male is married. I am so used to it by now, that I begin generating my response as soon as I realize I’ve said the m-word.
My responses have certainly changed throughout the years, but they all tend to include some kind of explanation as to why the aforementioned man and I aren’t already in the throes of love. He’s married (most always); he’s gay, he’s boring, I don’t actually know him… Yet, my responses are sometimes met with skepticism in the form of a follow-up questions such as, “happily?”; or “are you sure?”; or “you only played tennis with him once, right?”; or “did you even try to talk to him?”
It has slowly dawned on me that folks are worried about me, worried that I’ll be “alone” (which means I don’t have a romantic partner, so even though I don’t feel particularly alone, apparently I am). Now, I’m not mad at these people and their concerns, they all love me. And they mostly think I’m fabulous and that a man would be lucky to have me. They are correct about that. But I do feel like some of these folks are not considering just how swimmingly I’ve been getting along for some time now — with and without men.
I really like men. Some of my best friends are men, dare I say. I tend to talk to them more when I find myself in large groups. You know, when large groups were a thing. And I’ve dated some great guys these last decades, all on my own! By that I mean, I spoke to them, expressed interest, allowed them “in” — all that stuff my inner circle is concerned I don’t quite know how to do. I have been coupled and non-coupled, and I like both states of being depending upon the company. There are benefits to both.
I’d like to be in a partnership worthy of my time. And I am assuming that I will be, down the road. But it’s not exactly up to me, not according to my particular faith tradition anyway. Certainly I must be open to God’s directions, open to possibilities, but it’s not up to me to twitch my nose like Samantha on Bewitched and generate a boyfriend. Nor is it my particular manner to plow into every human’s life story to see if I’d like to be friends/lovers with them. I just don’t work that way. This is partly because I really like myself, my self, my company, my thoughts, my ideas. Yes, I am more aware of alone-ness (not exactly loneliness) these days, and the hours do sometimes draw on once the “work-day” has ended.
And sometimes I get so caught up in the hype that I start to believe I need a guy. You know the hype, like, oh, say, on Valentine’s Day? The other day I blurted out to my daughter (who probably didn’t need to hear this) that these times were so constricting I couldn’t even have a one-night stand. She promptly replied that I could have one with myself (so wise). And then I promptly responded back, ewwww. Well, I was horrified by my own reaction. My daughter said I better read bell hooks’ All About Love stat.
I am a little tired of myself, it’s true. Not sure that too many people aren’t right about now. And folks are probably a little tired of their partners, too, because quality time is pretty much through the roof these days. But I think my self-devaluing response was a reflection of society seeping in, the “agreement” that alone is bad. I have been re-reading The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom and am really finding the framework of agreement so useful. According to Don Miguel Ruiz, basically we agree to certain opinions early in life, mostly those expressed by our parents: You’re pretty, you’re fat, you’re smart, you’re too sensitive, and so on. Then later we start agreeing to other sentiments, such as being busy is good, having material things brings happiness, not having a partners is sad. The idea is to realize these agreements that we don’t even know we have made, and then cancel the poisonous ones. I guess I still have some work to do in that area.
This is not a new topic for women of a certain age. There are a lot of really nice pieces written, podcasts aired, and art created on the subject matter. It tends to be a subject unique to women because men either die early or get married pronto. So I am just sharing my own little thoughts on the topic, from a birds eye view. Or perhaps more like from the center of the storm. I’m not asking my people to change their behavior; I am just asking myself to pay attention to my responses.
Here’s what I do know, I’m making myself a nice dinner tonight, after getting a pedicure this afternoon. I’m treating myself because that’s what I would do for someone else if they were here. I’m still practicing this whole love-yourself thing, and probably won’t ever participate in one of those wedding ceremonies women are doing when they marry themselves. (Why)?! But if I am going to enjoy a partner again one day then I damn well better enjoy this time I have with me right now, while I have it.
So, Happy Valentines Day (I won’t mention the part about this holiday really celebrating a massacre and all), to me and to you, to all my friends and acquaintances, single and not — and especially to that cute guy out there who will some day be my Valentine.