Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Single Misconception

It's peculiar to me that I've never written here about my singleness. It's been part of my experience for the last six years, and has shaped me greatly. Honestly, I write about my singleness often, in private. But to bare that very broken part of myself, even in a semi-public way, is scary. 

I'm writing now because people around me have increasingly begun to assume that I don't desire a counterpart, and nothing could be further from the truth. My closest friends know my entire being longs for the right man in my life, but that I also struggle with shame over the very same desire. Which of course sends the message that I’m not interested in dating at all.  

Self-sabotage might be my middle name, but I wasn’t simply born that way. 

My 21st birthday came at the close of the seven year, darkest season of my life, including two abusive relationships. I entered a time of intentional singleness to re-center my life, and for three years, that was healing and good-- time God used to draw me close to him, and into close friendships with other women. My heart healed a lot in that time, but at 24 years old, I began to realize that I no longer had a reason to be single on purpose. 

Still, I was hesitant to date again. 

From 24 to 26 I often joked that I was "unintentionally single", and I was. The times that I was attracted to a specific person, fear of appearing too needy froze me in my tracks, causing me to close off entirely. This experience (time and time again) was like autopilot, feelings of chemistry triggering shame, fear and avoidance-- leaving me only to kick myself an hour later, wondering how I could become so paralyzed. At the core, the one thing that I did not want was to be that woman who finds her identity in romantic relationships; fear of repeating my past, really. I wanted to stand up in who God created me to be, as an individual, and I did. But in doing so, I also hid. Out of shame of being too much, and from opening myself up to rejection and hurt again.

I desire relational intimacy (platonic and non) more than anything on earth, and I always have. But somewhere along the line (including the aforementioned relationships), I was told in word and action, that this desire was silly, overbearing, or demanding. So I ran to the other end of the spectrum. My walls went up, not to keep others out, but to keep myself from desiring relationship with them-- because I'd learned that that was too much to ask.

I think the truth is this: at a young age, we openly ask for whatever it is that we most desire or need in life. As we grow, we often experience rejection, and wonder if our desire/need is too much, or not okay. This sometimes causes us to clam up. We hide that need, and we overcompensate, essentially trying to convince ourselves we don't want that thing we (really do) most want. That’s where I’m at in my desire for a counterpart. Allowing myself to feel romantic interest to the full extent that my heart really does, without feeling shame over that, because God has clearly sown it into me. What that essential need is for people varies, I'm sure, whether it's social involvement, to be heard, intellectual expression, security, intimate relationship (like me) or any number of other things.

So this is new: Talking about my current state of singleness, and the fact that, no, I'm not really fine with it. I'm actually pretty torn up over it and waste lots of notebook paper and thought on it. I've come a long way from the 18 year old who saw her value in relationships with men. Or from the 21-year old that could not even make eye contact with men she didn't know, much less speak to them coherently. My heart has healed immensely. 

I do desire to be married and have a family one of these days, and the more I acknowledge that, and step out in action, the less I feel shame associated with the desire. Dates have happened (much to the shock of my friends and family), self observation continues, and my trust is placed fully in the hands of my Creator. I may be single still for a few months, for a few years, or for the rest of my life-- but funny enough, because of my experience, I know I’ll be content as long as I can acknowledge the desire in my heart.  Yes, even if I never find him. I've found that contentment isn't about "getting what we desire", or willing ourselves to not need-- it's about being real about the struggle, and finding peace in it.

Truly, if a writer does not write about romantic relationships, there is most likely far too much to say. This is, at least, a start. ;)


  1. Thanks for posting this, it is much appreciated to hear people share their feelings about being single. It's a sensitive subject sometimes, but well worth talking about.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. So many people can draw from your experience. I think that talking about subjects like this create space for others to know that they are not alone.


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