Alone, Everafter

Last summer I went to a wedding as my friend’s “plus one” and caught the bouquet. When I carried it back to the table, he pointed out insensitively — and unnecessarily — that we were not a couple. It was a harsh reminder that I was there to fill a seat and a dance card, but that I shouldn’t get my hopes up for wearing my own white gown anytime soon. We were just friends.

For the most part, I love weddings. I’m at a point in my life where I’m going to a few of them a year. It’s fun to dress up and celebrate with my loved ones, and it’s always an honor to be part of the bridal party. But as I get older, they feel harder and harder.

I’ve been told repeatedly that good things come to those who wait. But I’ve been waiting a long time! I feel like I’m stuck in limbo: out of the world where I’m encouraged to be single but not yet a member of the married world that so many of my friends are joining. I don’t know when, or even if, I’ll be invited in. For me, that’s the hardest part of being single.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definite advantages. I’m happy to do what I want whenever I want, happy not to have anyone to compromise with when I login to Netflix, and to hang out with my male friends without the guilt I suspect might creep in if I ‘belonged’ to someone else.

I still find myself alone more often than not, wondering: is this it? Just me, forever? What have I done wrong?

I love holding my friends’ children and being called "auntie," but it’s a lonely reminder when they call out for "mama" and leave my arms. It’s a painful reality that I crawl into a cold twin bed, even if no one ever steals my blankets. I crave — and fear — the commitment of a serious relationship, of a little family of my own.

I’ve tried online dating sites, I am social, and I talk to strangers. I spent five years at the university where so many of my friends met and fell in love with their spouses. I have been on plenty of dates, and I’ve met dozens more men but so few of them come close to the kind of person I want to spend my life with. And if they do, my experience tells me they are unavailable, at least to me. I still find myself alone more often than not, wondering (perhaps melodramatically): is this it? Just me, forever? What have I done wrong?

I’m not exactly sure what it is that sets me apart from the friends who didn’t need to wait (at least not as long as I have), but I hear my heart cry on my loneliest nights that I must have failed somehow. Are they thinner? Prettier? Nicer people? Have they made consistently better choices? Or did they settle for less than they desire? Less than they deserve? Am I just too picky?

It’s not like I haven’t been in serious relationships. In all except one of them, I was the one who walked away. I was offered love and hope for a future together and I was afraid. Or I was selfish. Or I was cold. Or I might have done the right thing. It feels like I’ll never know.

I can’t help but feel like my time is running out. I often feel alone in this couples-centric world, but I have been learning a lot about myself. If you're struggling with being single, leave your contact information below. Someone from our team will connect with you shortly. You may feel lonely, but you’re not alone.

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