In other words, the start of the long slide into Valentine’s Day with a pit stop at New Year’s Eve. And maybe neither of those occasions concerns you because you’ve got yourself somebody. Or you don’t and you also refuse to allow a holiday (any holiday!) to make you question where you are in your life.
Or maybe going solo to your family Thanksgiving got you thinking about your 2015 dating life and how 2016 might be different.
I understand. Years ago, while still living in New York, after a nice dinner and a couple of drinks, my sister and I got to talking about dating and relationships. She said at one point in the conversation, “I mean, I know why you’re single, but why am I single?”
It became a running joke over the years that would lead us into fits of laughter. But one year, the question began to feel relevant: Why am I single?
I have had friends who wanted to be in a relationship and weren’t and I could say to myself, Well, I know why X is single. Or I have gone out with men that after a first date of hearing them complain about not having found the right person, I thought, I know why he’s single. And then there was the year I contemplated my own relationship status, even asked a couple of exes and a guy friend: why do you think I’m single?
So, when David Justice called out his former wife Halle Berry about why she’s single once again, some people said it was “slut shaming” and “misogyny” and that even if you didn’t make it all political and start talking about patriarchy, at the very least he should mind his own damn business.
Misogyny is real and so is one of its tools of dissemination: slut shaming, but I care less about David Justice’s motive and more about whether someone else (even an ex you don’t give a damn about) can see the patterns that we can’t.
There is nothing wrong with being divorced. Sometimes, relationships just don’t work out. You could have both tried hard and still not been able to stay together.
There is also nothing wrong with being single, no shame or blame for it. I wouldn’t be a part of The Spinsters Union if I thought that. Because now if I look back on some of that singleness, I couldn’t be happier about it. Partly because that singleness was a result of my own bad relationship patterns. Partly because I had better things to do.
Being single or not isn’t something that can be controlled, who you meet and if you and that person are both in the same place with the same depth of feeling, is an alchemy not easily recreated. But, who you are as a person (single or otherwise) is well within our control.
The question “Why are you single?” is a lot less important than: Why are you in the place you are in your life?
And that question is bugging me in an entirely different way these days. Why am I in the place I am with my career? A place that feels eerily similar to another time in my life when I felt myself moving farther and farther from the life I wanted. I’m repeating a pattern and if I do now what I did then, it would mean a big change for me and also a leap of faith. It would mean getting out of my (dis)comfort zone and probably being poorer, but also a hell of a lot happier. It would mean asking myself tough questions about what I’m willing to do to live the life I want. If I’m unwilling to get real and get brutally honest with myself, then I’ll stay in my pattern.
Why Halle Berry is divorced again I have no idea, but maybe one of her girlfriends is thinking, This is why she’s single. Because she doesn’t pick her partners well or because she’s never been comfortable being alone and so she falls in love too fast before she really knows the guy. Maybe one of her girlfriends is hoping that this time Halle asks herself some tough questions.
She could get herself a “sweater” and not think about it.
I could go shopping and get a cocktail.
Or I could fight like hell to get myself out the place I’m in, to break out of my pattern. In 2016, I’ll still have to ask myself plenty of tough questions, that’s life, but I want them to be entirely different tough questions, not ones I asked and answered almost a decade ago. Are you dating the same kind of guy, taking the same kind of job, being in the same unhappy place?
Right. And this is why we’re unhappy. Sounds like a good time for some tough questions and possibly some tough answers. You ready?