I have been single my entire life. Sure, there was my eight-hour relationship in middle school and an extended dalliance in college, but nothing serious and nothing lasting.
Singles tend to fall into two camps: They either love it, or they hate it. And I love it. I sometimes worry I offend couples with my passion for single life. Why share your life and time when you can have yourself all to yourself all the time? Single life is the best.
Of course, thinking this may be a defense mechanism. But I pride myself on my levelheadedness and keep this in mind. I have very rational reasons for protecting my singlehood, and most of it has to do with wanting to stay me. To be in love is to be a better person, or so they say, but it is also to change. A college friend once joked that I needed to fall in love so that I would be less high strung. Well, I like being very high strung. Stay away from me, love!
One of the first posts I ever wrote for this blog, actually before it was called As Told Over Brunch, was about what I wish I could tell someone before a first (read: Tinder) date. At the end of a list of insecurities and disclosures, I concluded that I did not know where I wanted “this” to go (“this” being a Tinder date, eye roll please). I had a life plan (I actually wrote that I would graduate with a PhD in two years…and LOL, it’s been two years; here I am!) and I did not want to deviate from my life plan because of a person.
To this day, I remember a specific comment left on the piece: a woman who I didn't know wrote that one day I would meet someone and all wouldn’t matter and I would “come undone.”
The whole of that comment is lost to memory, but the specific phrasing “come undone” has stuck with me. What a poetic transformation to dream of! Honestly! I want to come undone in some small island of my brain. I want to meet the love of my life, perhaps unbeknownst to me, or perhaps it will be the mythical love at first sight, and suddenly I will be an unlaced sneaker tripping down the stairs. All things will be irrelevant except for her—my PhD, my world travel ambitions, all stressors, even early morning rain that ruins my plans to go for a run before work!! None of it will matter because I’m in love! How glorious!
And, also, how absurd. I am happy with who I am as a person. I am content with my goals. I am pleased with my ambitions. I want to be high strung. That is how I accomplish my work. Why should I want to come undone? I don’t want to surrender my temperament and ambitions because I meet someone and fall in love. I don’t want to lose myself.
Yes, I may be taking this to most the dramatic edge—love does not mean a total loss of self. But love is compromise. I wholly believe that, and I support that, and that is what makes for a healthy relationship. But there are some things I don’t want to compromise for. Many couples tolerate things I would never—pettiness, jealousy, where they want to settle, if they want kids, what color to paint a bathroom! Okay, that’s a trivial one. But no two people, as in love as they may be, envision the same exact future. Confrontation is in the cards. I mean, compromise.
Last week a friend interviewed me. She had to profile someone for a class project, and she chose me. During the “interview,” she asked if I was with anyone.
Okay, Aunt Bertha.
“I’m not,” I said.
“Are you looking?”
I paused. “Because I don’t want to come undone.” I tried to expand as I’ve done above. Of course, she recorded this conversation and played it for our mutual friend later who’s been in a relationship for three years. (Where was my friend’s journalistic integrity?)
Hours later, our friend texted me: “Do you think I’m undone????”
“No, of course not,” I said.
I don’t think any of my coupled off friends are undone. I’d stage an intervention if they were. But they all have to consider this second person when making decisions—when choosing new jobs, when choosing where to rent or whether to buy, and when deciding what type of floors they want.
“So you never want to date?” my friend concluded in an our interview.
“I didn’t say that.”
“But you’re not looking.”
“I’m not looking for a relationship, but I’m open to one. There’s a difference.”
And writing this now, I realize there’s another a difference. I don’t want to change—but I am open to it.