Being an unmarried woman in my 30s, I spend a lot of time (way more than I should) trying to figure out why I’m still single. I even took a “Why Are You Still Single” internet quiz (entirely unhelpful as the answer I got was “We don’t know either! You seem great!”) Thanks for nothing, Internet. In my 20s, being single was something to be proud of. I had plenty of time; I could play the field, enjoy being young — it seemed much more like a choice back then. As the years went by, it became more alarming. All of a sudden, I felt like I was running out of time, and I started wondering what I was doing wrong. I know I’m not the only one who’s found themselves in this position, and everyone seems to have an opinion on why single people are still single.
A few things I’ve heard over the years:
You need to put yourself out there more.
You’re too intimidating.
You should stop running away from men when they approach you.
You should move to [insert city here]
You need to get involved in more things.
But I think the most common critique single people get is the classic, “You’re too picky.”
I’m sure there are some people out there who are legitimately too picky; I know there are ridiculous people who refuse to even talk to someone if they don’t look a certain way or drive a certain car, and those people deserve to be called out. But I think most of us just have a reasonable set of standards for the people we date. The problem is that as we get older, the dating pool decreases significantly in size, and we start to wonder if our “standards” are hindering us from finding the right person. Maybe if we just relaxed a little, we’d find someone great that we’ve been overlooking.
I’ve wondered this a lot – am I being unreasonable? Am I really too picky?
I don’t think I am. I’ve been set up on so many dates that ended up being a complete waste of time for both of us because we had absolutely nothing in common except that we happened to be the only two single people our well-meaning married friends could think of. Just because we’re in the same age range and haven’t found a spouse yet doesn’t mean we’re meant for each other, and it really isn’t even enough of a reason to go on a date. It’s so easy to fall into this trap of “I should give everyone a chance just in case.” Sure, widen your net a little — maybe you don’t really need a strict 6 foot height requirement, but I think it’s important to know what it is you won’t compromise on and stick to that.
When I was in middle school, I broke up with my very first boyfriend. I remember writing in my letter (this is back when people wrote letters – I’m that old) that we needed to break up because “we couldn’t base a relationship on soccer.” Of course, at 13, I had no idea what a “relationship” was — my experience didn’t extend beyond holding hands at summer camp and few a angsty letters. I probably put a little too much thought into the whole thing, but the point is that I knew if we could only find one thing to talk about (soccer), that was going to get old pretty quickly. I wanted more, and I still do.
It can be a hard balance – trying to figure out if you’re being overly choosy or just sticking to your standards. My brother asked me the other day why I wasn’t seeing a particular guy anymore and I answered, “Because he insisted on putting steak sauce on everything.” While I want to think this is a valid reason for a break up, I realize that on its own it is a ridiculous reason. Of course I didn’t really end it over steak sauce, but that was just one of a lot of indicators that there wasn’t anything solid there, and it wasn’t going to go anywhere.
I realize that no matter who I end up with, there will be things they do that drive me crazy. But I’m going to keep holding out for the best, and if I do find it — someone who I love, who I respect and admire, it’ll be worth it. And for the record, if they insist on putting steak sauce on everything – you bet your ass we’re going to have a serious discussion about it, but I will be willing to overlook it for the right person.