I got “The Look” last week. Not “The Look” from the person trying to get around you in traffic. Not “The Look” from a server who’s irritated with you or their job. Not “The Look” that airport security always has on their face or “The Look” that people get when they have to listen to a baby crying or someone talking in a movie theater. It wasn’t the Stink-Eve or the Side-Eye or even the Fuck-Eve. No, this look is the one reserved for when someone finds out you are single.
Have you ever seen “The Look”? Isn’t it great? Sometimes there’s an added bonus, like when they say: “Don’t worry! He’s out there somewhere!” or “Someday you’ll fall in love; I just know it!” or “Really, Matt? You are so handsome and muscular and smart!
I can’t believe you’re single!” Okay, that last one is only partially fabricated, but I was just trying to make myself feel better because I had to see “The Look”.
To add fuel to the fire, there are also the myriad facial expressions that can slightly alter “The Look”. Sometimes there’s artificial hopefulness. Sometimes there’s brief sadness because “The Look’s” owner is so goddamn happy in their current relationship. And sometimes — and this one is the worst — there’s pity. So my question is this: Is there something wrong with being single?
The whole world seems to be based on the notion that we all need to be in pairs. Everywhere around you, whether it’s the next song on the radio or a jewelry commercial, there are touchstones of romantic relationships. So why do most people believe it’s not OK to be single? What exactly is wrong with being unattached?
Not only are you free to date and flirt and fuck to your hearts content, but you can watch porn any time you want, throw your clothes on the floor and drink orange juice right out of the carton. It’s awesome. If you want to jump up and fly to Vegas for a weekend full of whiskey and Wet, have at it. If you want to strip down and eat lo mein in nothing but your Nikes, knock yourself out. Freedom reigns, baby.
But, there is also the flip side. You do sleep alone and that can be a blessing or a curse, I guess and there’s no one waiting for you when you get home. You have no one special to share life’s amazing moments and no one to hold you close when you’re feeling down. When you’re alone, you are alone with your empty bedroom and uninhabited living room seemingly closing in on you. But is it really as bad as everyone says it is?
We are all single at some point. None of us came out of the womb holding hands with a significant other and it’s rare that people are still with the person they met in high school. The problem is that people in relationships don’t think that way. They are so overjoyed that they have finally found “The One”, that they have forgotten about two Christmases ago when they were crying on your shoulder full of Chardonnay and sadness. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not knocking relationships by any means. It’s when the people in them find out you’re a free agent and they look at you like they’re looking at the dogs in that ASPCA commercial.
Oh, and here’s a bit of advice to people who are not single: don’t tell someone how amazing they are or how good-looking and smart they are, and then add how you just can’t believe they are single. That doesn’t help, believe me. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty terrible. No one wants to be reminded that they are a great catch and whatnot because it makes them wonder why they are single in the first place. No one wants to hear that tiny voice inside saying: “Yeah, I am awesome! Why am I alone again?”
We all understand that there is a certain thrill to being single; meeting new people and wondering where it will go or what will happen next. In a relationship that thrill is gone. Granted, you get a partner in exchange, but that tiny electrical charge of meeting someone in passing or catching someone’s eye and smiling while wondering: “Is this him?” is no more.
For some people that’s a blessing. When they meet their partner it means no more deciding what to wear on a first date or making small talk at dinner or dealing with someone incompatible or completely ignorant or in dire need of kissing lessons. Even that first-meeting thrill can’t help with those things. But for the singletons out there, every day is an opportunity. And everyone who is single is single for a reason.
Some people choose to be single because they want to collect as many notches on their bedposts as they can while having as much fun as humanly possible. Some people choose to be single because they are afraid they will get hurt like they have in the past. Some people are single because they are just born to run wild and hunt. Some people are single because the one they thought would be by their side forever found someone else. And there are some people out there who are single because they are just generally unlikable.
So, the debate rages on. Is it better to be single or in a relationship? It all hinges on who you ask and what’s occurring in their life at that moment. It’s similar to that feeling you had when you were a kid and couldn’t wait to be grown up, but when you are grown up, sometimes you just want to be a kid again. People who are committed sometimes long to be free and unfettered while single people will occasionally cast a longing eye on the warm confines of coupledom — especially around this time of year.
So if you are out there and you are single, don’t worry your pretty little head about it. It won’t last forever. And if for some strange reason, it does, make the most of it. Don’t let all of these people locked inside their relationships make you feel bad about all the late nights and forgotten names. Even though Dr. Suess ended up marrying the woman he was having an affair with, he does have some advice you can use: “If you have brains in your head, and feet in your shoes you can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. You are the one who’ll decide where to go.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. My lo mein is getting cold.