Never a bride, currently a thornback

I just turned 26 and am still single. In Victorian times, I would have officially made the transition from spinster to thornback. Quite frankly, thornback sounds like an incredibly dope dinosaur or maybe raptor. 90% of the time I am okay with my unpartnered status and lack of experience with long-term relationships. The other 10% is partially due to internal insecurities and maybe a natural internal longing for romance (ew), but I often feel like everyone overlooks the way that our society is set up for partnership. Being upset over your singleness is not always a self-love issue, sometimes it’s a matter of feeling entirely at odds with the world around you.

For anyone 30+ who is single, please know that I know that I am young and there’s still time. But the facts remain: I am 26 and have never been in a serious relationship. I am incredibly stubborn, prone to oversharing, and at least a little mean to every single man I meet. I am loud, chubby, and Brown. I have unreasonably high standards. A friend recently asked me (lovingly), “do you think men just don’t like your personality?” A valid question, bestie.

It’s not that I view myself as undesirable or ugly (most of the time). And it’s not that I am choosing or committing to being single. I just think it’s an extremely likely possibility. I’ve never really identified or felt at home with the idea of being a wife or mother. I see myself more in the cool, fun aunt that never married and buys you outrageous gifts and hosts incredible slumber parties for the children in her life.

If I’m going to be a spinster, I don’t want to a bitter one. I don’t want to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the realm of perpetual singledom. I want to go bravely and peacefully, knowing that I will still be happy and have a full life.

Part of achieving this is definitely internal work, but as I mentioned before, part of it is definitely coming to terms with things outside of yourself that may impede your peace with being single. First of all, being in a long-term partnership/being married has incredible financial benefits. Dual income household, sharing rent/mortgage costs, taxes (if you’re legally married), etc. Even buying groceries is easier because a lot of things just aren’t packaged for one person.

But the biggest thing for me is that if all of your friends end up partnered, there will be no one left in your life that prioritizes you. You will have to be your own “person.” Of course, there will always be people to love you and care about you, but you will be behind their partners and children. And this is NOT a criticism, this is human nature and arguably, how it should be. We all prioritize our families first. I would never be hurt by this or feel like I have been slighted – it’s just how things are.

As people enter relationships, your friendships with them change. I’m not referring to people who become shitty friends once they start dating someone – disappearing into the haze of a new relationship only to re-emerge seeking solace from those they have abandoned once it goes awry (those people deserve to see the error of their ways). I’m referring to the natural way that relationships shift and stretch when a new important person enters their lives. I don’t believe that love is finite but time and space in your life is.

I’m young and most of my friends are either single or dating but unmarried – we still have much of ourselves to give to our friendships. But I know that won’t last forever. How will I sustain myself when people have less and less of their selves to put into our friendships?

I don’t really have any role models of older single women. I know one, but not well enough to know if she is happy. Most of the other older single women I’ve heard of are obviously bitter, or leading lives that are made out of worst nightmares (don’t worry none of them will read this).

I don’t have a vision of what happiness looks like if my life is ultimately unpartnered and childless. There’s no blueprint for how to a construct a singular life, the only option we are offered is plural.

To be clear, I am not desperate for love unless [redacted], [redacted], or Tom Hiddleston is reading this. In that case – please call me. I have degrees to finish, professional hierarchies to climb, places to visit, friends to giggle with, and most importantly still have some internal work (and probably some therapy) to do. This is not longing for romance, it is a fear of a life that will be eventually be utterly devoid of romantic love.

Part of me just wants to know the ending. If singleness is my destiny, I’d rather know now and start preparing for that life instead of going on terrible dates. And part of me is afraid because I don’t know what the alternative looks like. If I am never a wife, never a mother, never a partner, if I am only ever loved platonically and familialy – who will I be?

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