Dear no one,
I’ve always believed that what makes my life meaningful are the people that are in it, and that the purpose of life is to love and be loved.
On my 21st birthday I learned that I would never have a deep and abiding romantic love. That a partner with whom I could share my life wasn’t in the cards for me. It took me two years to recover from that experience, because I wasn’t just grieving the loss of a boy I’d loved (who married someone else), I was grieving the loss of a future that I knew I would never have.
Growing up, I was taught that marriage and children were both wonderful and inevitable. I watched many couples get married young, in their early twenties, and I watched intelligent, beautiful, kind women stay single until their mid-thirties and then settle for a man they didn’t want because they couldn’t bear spending their lives childless and alone.
From the age of 16, I knew I wanted neither of those things. At the age of 24, I met a man that I thought was different. He seemed deep, and thoughtful, and compassionate, and for the first time in three years, I let myself hope that I was wrong. Maybe I could have a partner, maybe I could have a meaningful romantic relationship.
I did not love him, not even close, but I cared about the person I thought he was and he let me down when he turned out to be someone different.
I don’t really care how he wants to live his life, or whether his choices are good or right. That’s his problem. I care that I was stupid enough, AGAIN, to be deceived by someone so completely. I feel like the biggest idiot on the planet for letting a charismatic, charming, flirtatious man lead me down the garden path, AGAIN.
I feel completely and utterly betrayed by my own mind, and by that stupid, lonely, weak part of myself that just wants a man to love her.
The worst part is that there is no one in my life that I can share this with, because all of them will feel sorry for me, and meet this crisis with “you’re only 24 years old, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the next 10 years! I’m sure you’re going to meet someone wonderful!”.
That is the opposite of what I need, and it makes me angry when I’m told that because how the hell do you know? What will you say to me when I’m 40 and single, huh? “Whoops, sorry, I guess you were right. You’re so lucky you’re single, John and the kids are driving me crazy!”
Last week, I went out for drinks with a friendly acquaintance from school. She reminds me of the popular girl in high school— if the popular girl in high school was actually a nice person. She told me that everyone knows who I am and everyone likes me, and admitted to admiring me. When I told her that I’d never been in a long-term relationship (in response to her question), she was shocked. “I thought all the boys were after you,” she said.
As nice as that was to hear, and despite how genuinely she meant it, it rang hollow. She doesn’t know me. She admires me for who she thinks I am, not the person I really am, and that sucks.
When she exclaimed surprise at my lack of long-term relationships, I really had to examine the reality: “the boys” are NOT after me. But why?
Maybe it’s because I’m intimidating because I’m ambitious and successful. Maybe it’s because I’m deep and thoughtful. Maybe it’s because I’m not that pretty, or witty, or experienced, despite being loyal and kind.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter because there’s a very good chance that I’m going to spend the rest of my life single. I say single, and not “alone” because I won’t be alone. I will have my sister, and her family, and excellent friends.
But it will be deeply lonely, and I don’t know how to come to terms with that. Or how I’m going to deal with it.
I’m already lonely. I’m the only single person in my friend group. I’m going to be a bridesmaid two summers in a row for two really great friends of mine— and I’m so happy for them, but I just don’t understand why no man I’ve loved has ever loved me back.
When my first love broke my heart at 21, my answer to “why” was “because I’m not good enough”. I know that’s not true and I’m so proud of myself that. I know who I am, I know what I’m worth, and I know how I deserve to be treated. But that almost makes it worse. If I’m worthy, and flawed, and amazing, and deserving, why does no man want me?
Maybe the answer is that I keep falling for men that aren’t good enough for me. I fall for men who are selfish, and arrogant, and callous. Men who would make terrible partners in the long run, because they can’t see past the blur of their own ego.
But what does that leave me with? Do I need to lower my standards? How do I consciously change the kind of man I’m attracted to? Is that even possible? How do I make peace with the fact that I might remain single my whole life? How do I deal with other people’s pity, and the constant, never-ending questions of “why don’t you have a boyfriend?” and “are you seeing anyone”?
I don’t know what to do and it’s killing me.