Tuesday, April 23, 2024

I’m 35, Single and Terrified – What If I Never Find ‘The One’?

Auckland woman Samantha* is sick of hearing that being single is great – in this opinion piece, she asks for permission to be sad about singledom, and candidly admits that she’s scared she’ll never fall in love.

Finding love is the first thing I think about in the morning, and the last thing I think about at night. It’s all encompassing and all consuming. It’s become my defining feature and my biggest life goal.

I’m so tired. And I’m so scared.

Usually when I tell anyone that I’m terrified I won’t find love, I get a version of the same response back.

“Of course you will!” “I can’t believe you’re single, you’ll get snapped up in a heartbeat!” “It’ll happen when you least expect it!” “Just don’t worry about it, love’s just around the corner!”

WHAT CORNER because honestly at this point, I’ll bloody camp out there and wait.

All of these come from a great place I’m sure, but they all invalidate the very real, and very scary, feeling that finding my Mr Right just isn’t going to happen for me.

I’m 35-year-old woman whose life, apart from the lack of a partner, is pretty good. I have a job I love, great friends and an almost house deposit. I have a great social life and I’m pretty sure I’m normal looking.

But for some reason I’ve never been in love. It’s all I’ve ever wanted as a millennial woman raised on a diet of Disney and dreams – call me old fashioned, but I’ve always fantasised about a Prince Charming (a nice accountant?!) coming along on his horse (a Prius?!) and sweeping me off my feet (taking me to a socially acceptable bar for some cocktails and a good chat).

I’ve tried it all. Speed dating. The apps. Hanging out in bars. Sport. Charities. Trust me, I’ve been ‘putting myself out there’ constantly to no avail and Jesus Christ, I’m tired.

If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘This girl needs to CHILL’, yes, I’m well aware. But I’ve officially reached the end of my rope and I’m admitting that I don’t know where to go from here.

Lonely Season 4 GIF by Friends

This isn’t an empowering, ‘I’m single but that’s ok!’ story. This is a ‘I’m single and I’m sad – and that’s also ok’ story because we need to be able to acknowledge that not being loved is painful. And I’m sure I can’t be the only one who thinks so.

I’m sick of the single life. It’s so alienating. My Tinder app is always pulled out at the dinner parties I’m lucky enough to be invited to because it’s true, you totally get excluded from social occasions when you’re single because, I don’t know, it fucks up the symmetry of the dining table or something. I’m the sad clown that gets roped into tell the smug married couples about the perils of the dating scene – “you won’t BELIEVE what this guy was into” and the “and then I got back to his place and he had STAR WARS sheets!”

I’m tired of repeating the same thing over and over again – “Samantha, 35, no kids, no, I don’t have a cat, why do you ask?”.

I’m the last of my friends to be single and I’ve attended so many engagement parties, weddings and baby showers over the last few years, I now know the lady who works in the homewares department at Farmers by name (shout out to Linda who can always source just the right colour plate set for me at a moment’s notice). I’m so happy for them, and so sad for me, because it always leads me to the same dangerous question.

Why not me?

Am I fundamentally unlovable? How did this happen? Did I miss my chance when I turned down an invitation to the one BBQ I couldn’t bring myself to go to last year? Was my soulmate there?

Am I a control freak? Maybe. I’ve accepted in my head that I can’t control falling in love, but the message doesn’t seem to have travelled to my heart. My generation was taught that if you work hard, you’ll be rewarded for your hard work. Believe me, I have been WORKING. But here I am, reward less and just really lonely.

And now I’m faced with questions I don’t know the answers to. Do I want to be a mum? Do I want to have a baby on my own? How does that even work?

Where to from here? Am I just in the weird awkward age where I have to wait a few years for the come-around-agains, fresh off a divorce with enough emotional baggage to weigh down an Air New Zealand Airbus? Or do I plough on and hope for the best and ignore how weary my soul is?

Right now, I’m trying to focus on all that’s good in my life, and there is a lot. I have so much privilege and so much promise. But my gut is telling me that I need to acknowledge this aching sadness that I have and be ok with not being ok about being single.

Maybe then I can move on and be ready for whatever the future holds for me. Wish me luck.

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