A while ago, after exchanging what I deemed an acceptable amount of messages with a guy on OKCupid, I gave him my number. A few rounds of witty banter later, he hit me with a question every guy, including my dad…okay, especially my dad…loves to ask at the first chance he gets: So why are you still single?
I could get asked why I’m single every day until I’m no longer single (if and when that day ever comes), and it would still fill me with the same combination of crippling frustration and blind rage. It’s 2014. 20-somethings are constantly being criticized for our refusal to be vulnerable, settle down, or commit in any way. The age at which we get married has been inching back for years. Older generations berate us for creating a “hookup culture” that is chipping away at the foundation of monogamy as we know it.
So why is it such a surprise that I, a 22-year-old, am single? And why is being single something so shocking to people that it constantly warrants an explanation? All I said was I’m not dating anyone. It’s not like I just told you I believed in Scientology or planned to sell off all my material possessions and live on a commune. Is it really that weird?
You’re looking for a neat little answer like “I just got out of a relationship,” or “I just haven’t met the right person,” something that’s pre-packaged and coated in saccharine and easy for you to swallow. But that would be a lie. Do you really want me to tell you that I’m still single because since graduation my love life has been a revolving door of getting led on and getting fucked over—sure, I can find someone who wants to hook up with me, no problem, but that finding commitment is a whole other search that requires a specific set of skills I don’t seem to possess? Do you really want to hear that I am bruised and broken but I’m also a romantic with selective amnesia and so I step into each potential new relationship like I don’t know what it’s like to feel pieces of my heart break off, and it’s only once another piece hits the floor that it dawns on me that this is the way it plays out, every single time? Is that what you want me to say?
Do you think I even truly know why I’m single? Maybe it’s because I keep going after the emotionally unavailable, or because I myself am too closed off, or because the minute something goes wrong I will write it about it and post it on the internet with no regard to whose eyes it may catch. Who knows, maybe I’m too sarcastic, I’m too self-deprecating, maybe I need to lose three pounds. Currently working on that. But if I knew why I was really single, do you think I still would be?
I’m sure that you mean well. But it’s intrusive. It’s unfair. So stop asking.