Has someone stayed single all their life?
Why the idea of being alone forever no longer scares me
It has been almost three years since my last serious relationship. I've been single ever since. Four of my cousins got engaged during that time, two of them are now married, and one is already a mother. I, on the other hand, moved into my own apartment, got my dream job and had an affair with a guy I would never have officially made my "boyfriend" in my life, but who regularly sent me a taxi to see me on his own bring him.
At the same time, however, I was dating other men. One of them stayed with me for a month, others saw nothing more than a first date - they were all different, I would never have considered any of them for anything more serious. I was logged into various websites and downloaded all the apps. In principle, I am the personification of the Vanity Fair "dating apocalypse". But until now, one aspect seems to have fallen by the wayside: love.
That always scared me. My parents are still in love today. As a child, I was regularly fed Disney films and books for young people. Growing up in a very tradition-conscious Italian-American family, we have always attached great importance to the family - to those that we already had and those that we would still found ourselves. All I ever wanted was to fall in love For as long as I can remember, I have measured my successes in love against those of other women - a habit that unfortunately I have not been able to get rid of completely. Even today, when I hear that a friend or relative is in love or in a new relationship, the first thing I ask myself is why I just haven't got that far.
Lately I've started thinking about what it would be like to live a life without love. And if I'm honest then I find the thought of never finding the one person to settle down with terrifying. Freddy-Kruger-scary. But as soon as I tell someone about my fear, people react in unison: “Oh, you're still young! Don't stress yourself, that’s yet to come. Nobody stays alone all their life! "
The thought - and this standard answer too - is terrifying and frustrating. For one, because I'll never stop thinking about it. I openly admit that I like to have EVERYTHING under control. I wanted to be a journalist, so I became a journalist, with all the night shifts and overtime and insecurities that the job brings with it. I wanted my own apartment, so I make it possible for myself, even if that means that I have to be very careful with my finances in order to have my rent safe.
The inability to control something that I would so much like to have in my hand from A to Z scares me.
But love is the one aspect that I don't seem to have any control over, no matter how hard I try. The inability to control something that I would so much like to have in my hand from A to Z scares me. So much so that I even went into therapy to find out if something was wrong with me. I believe that this fear stems from a basic idea that many of us have internalized: "If you only work hard enough, you will get something in return". This is a very millennial-specific thought that none other than our parents drummed into us. But unlike our generation, it was still very true for many of them.
We, the generation of 18- to 34-year-olds, grew up believing that we would be rewarded for commitment and work - I mean, have there ever been winners' certificates for just participating in a sports competition before? But the truth (meanwhile) looks different. After the first few years in the job, a small car is no longer inevitable. After retiring from work, you don't necessarily expect a living pension. It's entirely possible to work yourself stupid and end up getting no credit for it. This also applies to my love life for me. That doesn't mean I'll never be in a relationship again. But it means: The day after tomorrow I could fall head over heels in love, indulge myself with time and emotion, spend years togetherness and in the end sit there alone again. Somewhere it happens every damn day.
But here I would like to reassure myself - and everyone who is feeling the same way at the moment - there are numerous women who live this way and are fine with it. They are fine. In fact, a recently published study of more than 51,000 US adults showed that women who are unmarried of old age are some of the happiest people in the country. The data refer to a period of 31 years and examine levels of personal satisfaction in different groups of men and women: married, unmarried, divorced and widowed.
And although married women and men in the study tended to do happier than divorced and widowed people, unmarried women were on par with their married counterparts. "With increasing age it became increasingly irrelevant whether the women were married or unmarried," explains Prof. Gary Ralph Lee, one of the study researchers from Ohio. So while many people, myself included, have a negative image of older single women, the truth is far more rosy.
In the meantime I ask myself: What will my life look like in perspective if I just can't find great love? For example, I could divide the center of my life between New York and ... somewhere in Europe, as I've always dreamed of. I would never have to worry about leaving anyone behind. I've always wanted to have a family of my own, but in principle nothing prevents me from doing it, regardless of whether it's through my own pregnancy or through adoption. Should I choose not to have children, as my brother once envisioned me, I can still be the rich, stylish aunt who travels the world. And just because I'm not getting married doesn't mean I will miss love in life. I have my family and friends. And for the other kind of love I would have a whole world full of men with whom I could spend time alternately.
I try to throw my meticulously planned résumé overboard - because I can't force anything, that is clear to me now.
When I write this down, it doesn't sound bad anymore. However, if I find myself on a failed Tinder date again, or if a guy I've been going out with for weeks decides out of nowhere that he has to hide me from now on, I will probably quickly fall back on the black mark. So I don't know what the answer will be. I just have to put up with the fact that any answer, no matter how it turns out, will be okay. I only have one life after all.
At the moment I am learning step by step to let go of the reins. Letting go of control. Instead of getting nervous and panicking when I meet a guy, I just try to focus on the moment and what deep down I really want. If I notice that someone is distancing themselves from me, I don't try to rummage through my text messages in search of an indicator of whether I could or should have done something differently. I try to throw my meticulously planned résumé overboard - because I can't force anything, that is clear to me now.
And this thought experiment actually works. I feel a little calmer, a little more free. Instead of using dating apps and sites, I try to acquire new hobbies, such as going to yoga more often, brunch with friends or trying out new cafes. I also learned to enjoy evenings at home alone.
The best way to get rid of my old fears, however, was to dismantle them and let them sink in until I no longer felt the threat. Until, at some point, I was naturally full. A bit like a molting process: at some point the old, toxic thoughts always lie behind you. But above all - and this may not be new, but it is all the more important to really understand this for yourself - a life without a man in no way means a life without love and generally no life without fulfillment. So the next time someone gives me the well-intentioned advice, “Don't give up, someone will be found”, I'll answer, “Sure, maybe someone else will come. Maybe I'll spend my time with different people instead of just one. Anyway, I'll be fine. And now please pass me the wine. "
Whatever happens, it'll be fine.
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