8/16/2010 12:22:00 am

On Singleness

Posted by Tom French |

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I'm not sure if I'll ever post this, but I thought I might write it because sometimes I think about it. Obviously, if you're reading this, I posted it.


I'm twenty-seven years old.

I'm single.

I'm happy.

I'm worried I won't be.

I'm worried that one day I'm going to wake up, I'll be forty, single, creepy, childless and lonely. All my friends will be married and have kids and I'll have no one to hang out with on a Saturday night. The issue is, while I see this as a possibility, my current contentment with my situation gives me very little impetus to do something to change it.

Generally my life has gone like this: Be single and content, find a girl I like, like her for way too long, ask her out, get a "No", feel depressed and analyse what I did wrong, eventually I stop liking the girl, then I be single and content again. At least that's the general process, it doesn't always go like that but it's always been variations on the same theme - unrequited love and a general lack of wooing skills.

So singleness rather than being a curse I must bear, is a blessed relief from the angst and disappointment of long term attraction. And in the positive, I love being single. I love being free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I love having time to devote to whatever takes my fancy. I love not having to consider the needs of someone else a lot of the time. And most of the time, I don't feel any great need to be in a relationship.

The goodness of this is that when my friends get engaged, I get excited. When they get married, I love it. When they have babies, I think it's awesome. These significant life moments don't make me feel depressed about the lack of ladies and babies in my own life. What they do do, however, is give me this sense of being a somewhat late developer. Like somehow I'm stuck in the happy bachelorhood of an early-20s bloke, and everyone else is off being adults. It does make me feel like I'm immature. Maturity becomes not about age but life experience. And the experience of almost an entire life of singleness seems far less impressive or valuable than a couple of years of relationship, or marriage, or parenthood.

The other day someone close to me who loves me and who I love and respect a lot, challenged me on my contentedness, they told me that if I think God is calling me to be single I should be pretty darn sure God is calling me to be single. They said that by not being overly pro-active in relationship pursuing I'm depriving a girl of the chance to have a relationship that they may desperately want, and more than that, I'm missing out on all the joy, and happiness, and growth that being in a relationship brings. They implied that my love of romance and marriage and love stories, is hypocritical in the light of my lack of action on the romance front.

Of course, I'm not sure God is calling me to singleness. I'm sure that right now I have the opportunity to use my singleness to be free to do God's work. Right now, singleness is a gift from God. And I really like being single - totally free to do God's work. I'm probably selfish too and happy being selfish, independent and unchallenged.

The thing is that intellectually all this makes sense. I see the sense in putting the effort in to find a relationship so that my love of love isn't mealy theoretical. I know that I may be depriving someone of a life with me and I could be depriving myself of an excellent life with them. I understand that out-there there are probably many girls I could be very happy with. I understand that I may one day end up bald, sad, lonely and unhappy.

But what I understand in my head, and what I know in my heart are two different things. I may be in the middle of my own personal climate crisis. And while I say "Peace, peace" the oceans are rising, and soon I'll find that I'm treading water, searching for dry land, because I didn't do anything about it when the time was right. I am Al Gore's polar bear. I am Al Gore's unconcerned citizen.

But this isn't about my head, it's about my heart. I feel disinclined to pursue people just because they're single, Christian and female. I can't be bothered putting myself or anyone else through the awkwardness of date asking, coffee drinking, emotional ambiguity, engineered situations and strange relationship defining conversations if I'm not really committed to the idea of having a relationship with them. I don't want to hurt them or get hurt if I have just gone through the motions because I'm intellectually committed to the idea of relationships, or desirous of a relationship just not one with that particular girl.

That said, I know that my past experience of dates and hanging out with girls, while having had their disasters have also, at other times, been greatly beneficial and enjoyable. And I'm sure I have good friends now that I wouldn't have if it wasn't for doing a bit of awkwardness and flirting.

I guess what I'm waiting for is for a girl to come along, who I fall totally in-love with, who I really want a relationship with, and who I pursue, and who somehow, by the grace of God, is attracted to me and wants a relationship with me, maybe because of my excellent wooing skills, or maybe just because God predestined it that way. And while liking girls in the past has generally only caused me pain, I'm totally willing to do it again. I'm committed enough to love that I'll make myself vulnerable once more and I'll take the risk that my love is unrequited once again if it's for the girl. As long as I'm longing for her, I'll endure anything.

But as for anything else, as for pursing girls because I don't want to become old and lonely. Or seeking out a relationship because I have read that "it is not good for man to be alone." I don't know. It makes sense, but my heart's not in it, and I could be wrong, but it just seems to me that this is one area where you need your heart on board.

But maybe not. Maybe the times are changing, and my heart needs to catch up.

I don't know.

Singleness may be something you only really understand when it's over.



So if I stumble
And if I fall
And if I slip now
And lose it all
And if I can't be all that I could be
Will you, will you wait for me?
- Alexi Murdoch

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