“Got any men in your life?” is a question that reverberates for many of us, like a mallet beating a bass drum: It’s expected, hits hard and leaves a jaded echo.
It’s against our better judgment to identify explicitly as single and proud of it, to metaphorically shout to the world, “Here I am, lonely as I’ve ever been, no hope for a potential suitor in sight, pretending to be thriving in the world of single 20-somethings after years of solitude.”
It somehow felt easier to meet someone, and plant the seed for what would soon be a fruitful relationship, before the dawn of dating apps and the “swipe right for sex” trend became normal.
Outside of lamenting how difficult it is to meet someone organically, how new approaches to dating and the onset of this generation’s hook-up culture have ruined what once was traditional love, we might find deep-seated concerns that resonate among the single female population to explain why we are not yet one of two -- a half to a whole, a pea to a pod.
It's possible it’s not the result of one glaring social issue, one’s own personal scarring or the simple truth that, yeah, it’s damn hard to catch a good one in today’s dating pool.
Women are nurturers by nature; we like to give, maybe without any take. We find pleasure in pleasuring. We’re keen on the little things. We prefer to dig deep and find meaning, rather than to settle for surface-level expectations and reasoning.
We’re emotionally tough. Suffice it to say, we have a greater capacity for pain and hurt than the average Joe.
Women are deep thinkers. We have such a self-awareness and cognitive ability to so brutality self-criticize, to deconstruct every aspect of ourselves, to indulge our egos, to stroke the fur of our self-confidence and to analyze the many reasons we, single ladies of the 21st century, are still alone.
We’ve given ourselves time for self-discovery, to “learn to love ourselves before we can love another.” We wonder, how many times will that be served to us on a silver platter as the answer to our romantic problems? How often have you had to say, “I’m full, actually — full of self-love and perfectly capable of being good to myself”?
Many of us have been fighting the good fight for so long, it’s now accompanied by a sense of comfort. We look for potential love; we’re open to love, sure, but by no means do we feel a sense of need. Rather, we feel happy; we’re perfectly content living this life with little regard for anyone but ourselves.
We’d prefer not to have to look out for someone else; to make sure we’re presenting ourselves as the perfect mix of sexy and cute; to ensure our sex lives aren’t falling stale; to concern ourselves with the fear of infidelity, no matter how juvenile the relationship.
We’ve found such complacency in solitude, becoming someone’s other half is, quite frankly, terrifying: Where do we even begin? How quickly will this progress? Is he going to be a good partner? Am I good enough for him?
If we’re being honest, there are fears that plague us when we contemplate the topic of relationships, monogamy, friends-with-benefits situations turning into more than such and throwing our vulnerable selves out there to the wolves.
Here are three of those fears, which distract us from free-falling into potential loves abound:
Am I a good partner?
When it comes to settling down into a pair, going through the motions of the initial stages of a relationship and becoming comfortable with someone, unveiling 100 percent of ourselves does not happen without reluctance.
The potential for not being a good partner scares us enough to avoid the matter altogether. Our personal woes parallel our concern for how good of a partner we may be: Will he mind that I’m not settled in my career? Am I too aloof and immature for this? Is he judging my indecisiveness?
After spending sufficient time alone, we've become the perfect amount of selfish; we live in such a way that independence comes with a sense of pride. We wonder how selfless we could be as part of a pair; if we have it in us to nurture a bond to the point of fruition and keeping it alive thereafter.
We've found bliss in our uncertainties; our flaws are ours to treasure. If another person accepts us, great. If not, will that lead us to question our happiness with ourselves?
No matter how happy we are with who we are, making someone else happy simply by being seems too effortless to be enough.
Can I trust him... Can I trust myself?
All men and women crave intimacy — that much is clear.
We make excuses for our raging libidos; we choose to forgive and forget, or to walk away and never look back. Cheating has become a standard, a glaringly obvious sign one of two is not happy in this union.
If you’re not getting it at home, well, cheating must be the answer, right? If you’re not attracted to your partner anymore, cheating is the better option versus being honest and ending this thing now. If you’re under the influence, and temptation gets the best of you, you just can’t remember why you chose to do it.
But, you did it. We do it. It’s human error; it’s revenge; it’s addiction; it’s I-want-what-I-can’t-have syndrome; it’s there for the taking.
Regardless of your stance on the issue, cheating is etched in stone as one of the biggest culprits to a relationship’s end, the climax of a pitiful plot, leading up to an expectedly disappointing finale.
Maybe you’ve been a cheater; maybe you’ve been cheated on; it’s possible you’ve even been in both scenarios. Despite history, we all fear the sting of a cheater.
Entering a relationship, we’re perplexed by the possibility: How can I trust him without letting my guard down and becoming vulnerable? Is he like my unfaithful ex? Can I trust myself not to fall into a mess of my own, to inhibit myself from connecting with someone else?
We know the pain first-hand; we’ve seen the pain envelop others. Trust is, possibly, the greatest element to building the foundation of a relationship, and we’re swallowed up by uncertainty.
Will I lose myself?
Will we become like so many others and lose track of our personal endeavors, and of ourselves, amidst paying all our love, mind and time to him?
We’ve seen friends fall into months-long “honeymoon” stages. We’ve watched others fall into the grips of a man whose jealousy puts an end to the once-celebrated tradition of girls' nights.
Our closest friends have disappeared from our lives, only to revolve theirs around significant others and their ways of living. We say it won’t happen, but how can we be sure?
When you’re caught in the web of love, it wraps you up, consumes you by its allure; it’s nearly impossible to be unwound.
We worry about losing ourselves in a significant other, about losing track of who we were as a party of one. New people come into our lives; we become fascinated by new experiences and, suddenly, we’re new versions of ourselves.
The thought of losing this person we’ve become so comfortable with, shedding a layer of an old life, brings apprehension. It is not necessarily a bad change — maybe she’ll be more refined, know more of what she wants, have stronger ideals and ambitions.
Still, we’re unapologetic in who we are now; we’ve been comfortably wearing the pants in this relationship with ourselves — do we have to relinquish that?
When we were young, saying yes to the question of, “Wanna be my girlfriend?” was answered with little to no hesitation. We had no foresight; there was no predicting what could happen in the future. We could not fathom the idea of there being anyone better in the world than the very boy who stood before us.
It’s not to say we’ve become jaded with age, that we’re bitter, or dwelling on past heartbreak. We’re women who are smarter, better-equipped, more experienced.
We know what we want — why should we offer ourselves up for anything less?
The thought of weaving someone new into every area of your life brings about anxieties before putting a stamp on it: signed, sealed, delivered.
We want to be his, but we must stay true to ourselves, first and foremost — to be our truest selves for not only our benefit, but also for our partner’s.
We make the most informed decisions when we’re looking out for us; when we’re feeling confident in ourselves and our state of mind. If we carry such certainty into a relationship, we might at least be able to say, “Hey, I did my best.”
We should be honest with ourselves. We should confirm our desires and needs, translate those to our relationships. We should inform our partners of what we require to stay happy, while also understanding their wants and needs must be supported to stay afloat.
We should listen honestly. Just as we're open to evolving and molding in life and within ourselves, we should not fear change in our relationships, but rather, encourage ours partners through it without resentment; we should welcome change with acceptance and adaptation.
We are all deserving of love and capable of being loved. It’s fear that has us stutter-stepping to the jumping point, but it’s courage to take the plunge and land on our own two feet that will send us flying into love with reckless abandon.