It’s a strange thing to continue to look for the “right” person while bristling against the expectation to do just that. I kept meeting people: happy hours, meetup groups, online dating. I tried new things: Salsa dancing! Scooter rides! Spelunking! I spent time on friendships, hobbies, adventures.
Mixed in with the fun stuff were sad and lonely moments, bad relationships and painful breakups, but I no longer believed that I was lacking, despite the cues I continued to receive from friends, family, society. Life felt good, fulfilling and full. I didn’t have to wait for someone else to create my happily ever after.
By my mid-30s I had moved to Austin, Texas, and my parents fretted about me long-distance. Their lives hadn’t been easy, and they had only had each other to lean on. My father worried I wouldn’t have anyone to take care of me. What if I got sick? What if I needed help?
My mother, bewildered at my inability to find someone, said, “It’s not like she has three heads!”
I dated more. Coffee dates that fizzled out faster than foam on a cappuccino. A happy hour date where I drank too much on an empty stomach and bought a round for the bar. A dinner date with someone who kept excusing himself to answer his phone. A relationship with someone who wasn’t ready to commit. A relationship with someone who pined for an ex.
And then, a relationship that worked.
There wasn’t any magic about it, no soul awakening, no personal reckoning, no neat and tidy reason as to why it worked where the others hadn’t. I met a man who is a lovely human being. We found shared interests and chemistry. We treated each other with kindness and respect. I’m pretty sure if I had met him years before, or years later, the outcome would have been the same: We got married.
I’m the same person, living in the same place, doing the same job, with the same friends and the same hobbies. There was nothing worse about me before. There is nothing better about me now. And yet, people who treated my singlehood with curiosity, pity or disregard are now warmer and more welcoming. It’s as if I have joined the club.