What Not to Say If You’re Single

I sat at the foot of the bed with crossed arms and my mind made up while I ugly-cried: “I will never meet another guy who likes me.” I was 20 and mildly dramatic and my path — one I briefly walked with a blue-eyed, black-haired bass player — had been pulled out from under me.

By text message.

On New Year’s Day.

Single, and I didn’t want to be. Perpetually, too — I was certain. My sole shot at someday becoming a spouse had expired because a boy who smelled like smoke and wore eye liner said so. I grieved, which is natural and good. But then I threw a pity party.

The same pity party I threw when I had never dated before and worried I never would, which I also throw when I am periodically tired of how single I am, again. At the foot of the bed, I told stories to myself about my relationship status. The stories I told were a lot of things (sad, frustrating, neverending). But the stories I told weren’t true.

An Excerpt From Chapter 3 of ‘Chastity Is For Lovers’

This post is an excerpt from chapter 3 — “Providence: A Reason For Reckless Abandon” — of my forthcoming book, Chastity Is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin, (Ave Maria Press, 2014).

Chastity_is_for_Lovers_3DI am single, and I am happy, but I am not always happy to be single. It isn’t fun to feel like a third wheel, or a fifth wheel.

There are no warm and fuzzy feelings in discovering, while walking and talking with a friend and her boyfriend, that I am talking to myself because they stopped ten feet back to hug.

. . . Being single is especially difficult during holiday seasons, or at theme parks, where—nearly without fail—I am sandwiched between couples in lines for rides, uncomfortably privy for upwards of forty-five minutes to all the ways they can publicly display their affection. What they are is a reminder of what I’m not: taken.

But I have had to learn to snap out of self-pity when it hits, because feeling sorry for yourself when you’re unhappy doesn’t make you happy. Changing your perspective does. When we feel unhappy, is it because we’re single or is it because of what we say to ourselves about being single?

“Nobody wants to be with me.”

“I’m clearly not attractive.”

“I’m going to be alone forever.”

First, prove it. And second, when you can’t prove it (and I promise you can’t), consider, is it possible to feel happy while thinking thoughts like that?

“The Most Important Thing to Do While You’re Single (Live on Iowa Catholic Radio)”

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Iowa Catholic Radio
July 28, 2014

Last week, in a live radio interview with Jon Leonetti, et al, on Iowa Catholic Radio’s morning show, I discussed the most important thing to do while you’re single, based on this recent post. Press play above or below to listen (and share this post if you like what you hear). If you’re reading this in an email, click the link above to listen on my site.

The most important thing to do while you’re single.

A stack of save-the-dates and wedding invitations covers a corner of my desk at home. By March 2015, five more of my friends and their significant others will have wed, while I — now nearly 29 — will have not. That I might witness all their vows without a date doesn’t bother me at all as I write this. That doesn’t mean that how single I am has never bothered me.

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“My wedding” sounds to me like the start of something so difficult but so good. In the sacrament of matrimony, we are given to each other by God, and we are given to each other by each other. It’s a miracle, because two people turn into a unit designed to result in the destruction of self-absorption. A marriage is supposed to be a space where we can work together to become holier, and guts are safe to spill, and virtue can blossom, in which love is absolute and unfailing, just like God’s love is for us.

I want that. When I am reminded that I want it, I sometimes start to ache.

Thoughts on being alone.

I sit today in a silent church, the only one in the pew.

The only one in the building.

I think about the time I was a bridesmaid, buzzed because of a drink but sobered by my status:

Single.

The only single person in the bridal party.

Totally unattached, no prospects.

I shook it off, because so what? I can dance alone. I can eat alone. I can be alone, and be ok. I can even be alone and like it. Because, you know, freedom and me time and I’ll do what I want, and stuff.

But being alone and being ok with it isn’t a constant.

There are the ups, like flying solo (literally – I like to travel alone), and the time and space and energy to get to know God or your friends or yourself. But while you get a little bit louder now, while the DJ plays “Shout” at a wedding, you don’t really think about the downs.

You don’t really think about the frustration of always hearing from the people in whom you have no interest and hardly hearing again from the people in whom you do. About being so distracted by the desire for a significant other that you waste your time, space and energy dwelling on what you don’t have instead of enjoying or learning from what you do have. While you dance, you don’t really think about the “maybe I am supposed to be single” thought that looms a lot, or the realization that “maybe I haven’t yet used this time wisely.”

It is in these downs that we don’t think about the truth.

The truth is that while I sit in this silent church, the only one in the pew, the only one in the building, I’m ok with it. And I like it.

I like it because it reveals that I’m not actually alone.

That I – totally unattached and no prospects – am not alone.

I am not alone, because Jesus. I am not alone, because the Church. I am not alone, because every guy I meet is my brother and every girl I meet is my sister.

Because I wasn’t put on earth to find a person to love. I was put on earth to love every person I meet.

Because I meet people every day, and every time I forget it, God finds a way to remind me.