“I chose the single life and now I can’t go back”

Being single doesn't mean feeling alone
Being single doesn't mean feeling alone

There was a fairly long silence, and for a split second I wondered if they thought I was lying. How can one person live with all that?

My eyes shot left to the exit-sign where I'd make my quick escape and live the rest of my life hoping I’d never see them again. "Hello, Caira. Welcome""Phew! Relief!"

In your 30s, it would seem that there are two types of people: those who can never be alone, and those who can only be alone. Up until now, I could never imagine life as a single person.

I’ve always had a plus one, someone to share rent and bills with, and someone to help me combat the mundane experience of sitting at braais as the only single person among a bunch of couples.

READ MORE: Why dating over 30 is so much tougher – and what to do about it

Side note: couples should not be allowed on the same team when playing 30 seconds. And of course, society conforms to pitying those who are ‘without partner’.

Comments such as “don’t worry, the right person will come when you’re ready,” and “I can’t believe you’re still single,” are still rife in family and social environments.

 We’re the odd ones out. (When will restaurants and hotels start running deals and discounts for single people?)  

After my last failed relationship turned my world upside down, (and after the addition of 18kgs in body weight, the absence of my self-worth and esteem, and the toxic relationship I’d developed with Chenin Blanc), back then, my life had reached what was quite the opposite of its ‘peak’.

Thankfully, it was a version of myself I soon became pretty sick of, and so I found myself in the room of a support group for people who grew up with dysfunction much like mine. 

“I became so good at being alone, I couldn’t let anyone back in.” Within a year I’d managed to climb the corporate ladder and reach my career goals.

I’d eliminated all evidence of past toxic relationships, I stopped saying “yes” to everyone and everything, and setting boundaries with who I let into my life became a necessary norm.

And I was happy, fulfilled, empowered and positively reinforced. 

READ MORE: Over the dating scene? You just might be a 'super single'

If you take the pressures of society away, and the usual comments like “don’t worry, the right person will come along when the time is right,” is being single in your 30s really that much of a pandemic?

In a time where almost 80% of my friends are currently going through the devastating process of divorce, perhaps I’ve done the right thing. 

During my journey of independence, someone said to me “be careful of staying single for too long, you might not be able to let anyone in again.” 

And then it happened… 

I’d liked him for quite some time now, fantasised about the day he’d pluck up the courage to ask me out. We hung out a lot and the more we did, the more I grew to really enjoy his company.

Until the day he did finally decide to ask me out, in my own “personal space”.  “I’m coming over,” he said, “yeah sure,” (albeit forthright but okay.)

He told me to sit on the couch while he made dinner. He made fish. Did he even know me? Yuk! I went in once or twice to see if I could help and was first hit by the eye watering smell of Neptune’s anus. 

READ MORE: I dated myself for a week and this is what I learned

I was then blinded by the apocalypse that had taken place in my kitchen within the last hour. Almost every dish used, the floor – non-existent. A Hansel and Gretel crumb paradise. I needed some air. 

“You might not be able to let anyone in again,” I remembered. 

There was a lot more to my reasoning for ending that fantasy sooner than just a dirty kitchen but the point is, spending a long time being single and on your own does lend itself to wanting things the way you like them but it also means growth.

I grew the self-confidence to identify the inevitable bad ending and chose a better path (unlike my former self whose self confidence got the better of her and who let anyone interested come walking right in, ego, stinky wet fish crumbs and all.)  

Alone, but not lonely.

Back in the meeting room, I soon realised that although I was alone, I certainly wasn’t lonely. I felt comforted listening to other people’s stories, knowing how many others were exactly like me.

For many of us, having been raised in dysfunction has taught us to avoid certain scenarios and types of people, and while some of us struggle to coexist with others, for now, we’ve found a different sort of happiness.

Perhaps a kind of happiness that many others don’t. Some say that I haven’t met the right person and that when I do, things will appear differently.

That may be true, but for now, I’m looking forward to my next road trip with Freddie Mercury and some good friends.   

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Do you think it's important to get married in this day and age?
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Yes, it's important in order to create a family unit and for companionship
22% - 695 votes
Not at all. Being single is far more liberating
9% - 286 votes
There is no general answer to this, it's each to their own
50% - 1585 votes
Yes, society still frowns on unmarried people, especially women
1% - 41 votes
It depends on whether you are able to find a compatible partner
18% - 563 votes