May I be frank? … I’ll take that as a yes. If you are muttering ‘no’ at the computer right now, knowing what’s coming you’d better turn away now. You’re probably right.
Dating as your approach your thirties is a hazardous experience. Let’s be honest, dating as a fresh-faced, dewy-eyed youngster was no bundle of joy either – akin to swimming with ravenous sharks wih a sign around your neck saying ‘My heart’s fair game’. As you get that bit older, you find that suddenly, while you were out of the dating game, the universe subtly altered the rules and forgot to tell you. (Can you see God sitting up there having a right old laugh at your expense? Can you??)
Life as a single woman – well Bridget Jones has that well and truly wrapped up. Almost every one of my friends and family is in a long term relationship and you up for one of the twice yearly visits and conversation invariably turns, if not to your appearance and career, to your relationship status (just a quick aside: WHEN did it become acceptable to pry into somebody’s very personal life like this?) …
“So, have you found the right chap yet?”
“Still single eh, old girl? Not to worry, he’ll turn up” (and variations of)
“Well my dear, looking like that it’s little surprise you haven’t hooked yourself a fella.”
and the universal favourite, “tick, tock eh? Mustn’t forget the old biological clock”
All infused with eau-de-smug. You can almost see it oozing out of their pores, that air of I-have-a-lovely-fella-look-how-perfect-my-life-is-I-feel-so-sorry-for-you-being-unwanted. The ever-so-subtle hints that if you are still single as the big 30 approches you are either an emotionally stunted freak or so unlucky in life and love that you might as well weigh your coat down with stones and hurl yourself into the river.
Personally, I like being single. I find it easier to know myself and, to be unashamedly selfish, I enjoy being able to indulge my own tastes without constantly taking into account the likes and dislikes of another person. I find that my actions and choices are my own. I have grown to appreciate my views, choices and tastes and I enjoy the lack of compromise. I find relationships a LOT of work, the compromise, the understanding, the working to try and maintaince your independence and individuality and not just become X&Y. Perhaps that is a little selfish, but I don’t see it as something to apologise for. If we don’t understand, love and appreciate ourselves and be true to that, how can anyone else?
Those of us who have escaped the shackles of spectacularly unsuccessful relationships, or if you’d rather, suffered the indignity of spectacularly successful breakups as an adult in our late twenties and early thirties perhaps begin to contemplate dipping a toe into the water. Just to see if it’s anything like we remember.
Naturally, it’s not.
If we thought dating in our rose tinted youth was a hair raising experience, doing it as an adult is a whole new ball game. The youthful idealism and hopeful looks to the future that seemed to make much of the conversation when we were younger seem to be replaced by more cynical observations on life, we seem slightly more defeated, slightly less willing to hold up our lofty ideals and say ‘to hell with reality, this is what I want’. There is less of a sense of the moment and the air seems more dense with unasked questions about previous loves, children and emotional baggage. People seem more desperate, to grab hold of anyone just to avoid being left on the cart. Personally, I don’t get it. Entering your thirties (I have a few months yet) it seems to me that you’re finally hitting your stride (or so it seems to me). You know yourself, you know what you want out of life and are in a perfect place to make it happen. Hang loose, let it happen.
Guys you would have crossed the road to avoid are now the men that you find yourself being sent on blind dates with. Oh yes.
I found myself on one such blind date a few months ago. He wasn’t much of a talker, but I’m counting that as a point in his favour, because when he decided to have a go, it made me want to stick forks in my ears to try and perforate my eardrums. An example of a funny story he told me, was how one of his colleagues taunted a Muslim colleague with food during Ramadan and then pranced round the office saying ‘nar-ne-nar-ne-nar-nar you can’t have any, you’re fasting’ and he thought this was FUNNY??!! It was tempting to castrate him then and there and save the gene pool yet another idiot, but being the class act that I am, I shot him a withering look, gathered my things and left before things could take a grimmer turn.
There was the landscape gardner who threw me in the sea fully clothed for a laugh and then left me to walk 5 miles home at 12.30 in the morning on my own, because apparently asking for a lift made me high maintenance and not the sort of girl he could date.
There was the serial boyfriend, who was morbidly phobic about being single and charted the ratio of time he had spent being single vs being in a relationship since he was 18. The results weren’t good.
There was the Moroccan tour guide who recited poetry to me all the way up a mountain and when I resisted his advances and suggestion that we live up the mountain, have a million kids and a few goats, abandoned me at the top of the mountain to find my own way down. What a lucky escape THAT was.
There are definitely worse things in life and love than being single. I’m cool with that.