I was sitting with my sister the other day eating hot cross buns and talking about our friends and their relationships. Who’s single, who’s dating, new relationships, break ups, marriages and everything else in between, as fishwives often do.
I haven’t given it much thought recently as I’ve been moving house and it’s occupied most of my tiny mind, but when she labelled me as ‘single’ it felt wrong. I guess that, as I’m not in a relationship and I haven’t been for some time now, technically I belong in this box…but I don’t like it here. It implies that I’m ‘available’, and I don’t feel like I am.
Being single usually means that you’re ‘ready to mingle’, but I’m up to my eyeballs in Pinterest and celebs go dating, I don’t have time for mingling. I almost prefer ‘spinster’ as it has a nice weathered edge to it that suits me better at thirty three than the fresh-faced ‘single’ does. But then again I’m not fifty and I don’t have any cats, so that’s not quite right either.
In an effort to find a relationship status I could work with, I tried delving into the term ‘single’ a bit deeper. There are a variety of options that fall under this umbrella, and although not included in the Facebook dropdown, they are well-known and widely accepted. Some possibilities include ‘heartbroken’, where open-mouthed crying, puffiness and weight gain are the order of the day. There’s also ‘rebounding’, which involves a lot of bad decisions with anything that moves. And then there’s good old-fashioned ‘Fury’, where all men are arseholes who can go and f*ck themselves.
It would be a lot more interesting if I could claim that one of these labels fit me better than ‘single’, but sadly none of them do. I’m not divorced, widowed or separated so they came straight off the list, it was ‘complicated’ for a while but it’s not anymore, and I’m way past being heartbroken (thank goodness, as that was just a buzzkill for everyone). So where does that leave me? What do I put on application forms? I’m boxless…
It occurred to me that maybe I quite like being between boxes. I’m loving how the spaces in my life are filled with people who I can love without question. I’m not ready to rock the boat by inviting someone else into the fold just yet because I’m enjoying this phase with no name. I want to package it up and label it so that I can keep it forever because I know that for me it’s significant, and I may never come back here again.
I used to hate being alone. I jumped from relationship to relationship because I needed to pour all of my love into someone else in the hopes that I’d get some back. I used relationships to fill the gaps in my self-esteem and distract me from the emptiness I felt when I didn’t have someone else to focus on. It wasn’t a healthy way to be, and being insecure and needy led me like a lamb to the slaughter.
I never thought I’d be able to change so much for the better. I’ve kept my old romantic heart and I look forward to falling properly in love one day, but for once I’m in no rush. I’m no longer desperately trying to fill the voids in my life, because there’s nothing missing. I have worries and stresses the same as I always have, but I have everything (and everyone) I could ever need to get through whatever comes along. All the counselling, books, videos, conversations, meditations and affirmations have slowly taken hold and I’m becoming one of those women I was always so jealous of. One who isn’t afraid to be alone.
Reaching this point is more meaningful to me than any of the more easily-defined stages of my life, and I felt for a while like it should be recognised with a label of its very own. But I’ve decided that maybe just recognising it for myself is enough. It took a gossip and a hot cross bun for me to notice that without quite meaning to, I seem to have reached my destination.
Relationship status: undefined.
And I’ve never been happier.