There’s a lot to unpack here
When my older sister got married, I was just as scared about the occasion as I was happy about it. Or maybe scared isn’t the right word––vexed, maybe? Or apprehensive might be a more accurate description. I was thrilled about her getting married to her boyfriend, definitely. How could I not be, when after only a year or so of dating, they were sure enough of each other to marry each other halfway across the world? There was a sense of uneasiness looming, though, even months before when my sister was hinting she knew her boyfriend was going to propose. I braced myself for the tidal wave of questions and unwanted attention that was to come.
I don’t believe in birth order having anything to do with the order in which siblings get married. In fact, my little sister will probably date and marry before I do, but I guess in the minds of adults and nosy relatives it makes sense to turn their surveilling eyes towards the second-born and ask, “So when are you getting married?” once the eldest has left the nest and built a home of her own. True enough, after my sister’s wedding last year, I was on the receiving end of the next-in-line-for-marriage questionnaire at every family event. Even when we’d bump into my parents’ friends at the mall, even when I’d be meeting uncles and aunts I’d never met before. There was no doubt that the question hung over everyone’s heads: when is this single-as-hell second one going to find a guy to shack up with?
I don’t know what to tell you, relatives. Trying to get the scoop on my dating life isn’t any more interesting than watching paint dry. You’re asking about my relationship history? Question is, what relationship history?
Is it uncommon for a 23-year-old girl to have absolutely zero dating experience? Most seem to think so. With dating apps to lubricate modern-day romance, I guess I can attest to the fact that most friends of mine have had a relationship (or something like it, at least). So, why haven’t I?
I certainly know my own reasons for my singularity, but after standing my ground against interrogators for years, I recognize that I could be hiding behind a shield of habit. What if I’m just running from relationships? What if I actually want a relationship but don’t realize it? So many questions––best answered by some of the people who know me best. I asked my friends, why do they think I’m still single? No nonsense, no sugar coating, I asked them to get real. Here’s what they told me.
“Your standards are too high.”
A classic, the most common answer. Supplementary readings here.
Despite my larger-than-life attraction to men with the impeccable smile-personality-drive trifecta, I don’t actually expect the people I encounter in real life to master this equation. It’s just nobody in my immediate circles has been both close and dateable (read: my last real crush was gay and was therefore, never into me). But I mean, I’m not a settler, and it’s about time we stop shaming people for being proud that they aren’t.
“It doesn’t bother you that you intimidate people.”
“Don’t get me wrong, you’re cute,” says one of my college friends when asked about the topic, “but you aren’t exactly approachable.” I’d joke that maybe it’s time I invest in a glowing LED sign that reads “I don’t bite!” to wear over my head 24/7, but then again I find that I don’t hate the fact that I turn people who are too scared to even say hello or start a conversation. There are plenty of steps to be taken after the first move, so we won’t make it very far if we can’t get past square one.
“You’re too invested in other things.”
In my pursuit of blunt, to-the-point answers, I turned to one of my best friends. An astrology buff, he simply tells me, you’re a Capricorn––light and easy, as if that explains everything. Capricorns are infamous for being career-focused and a little (this is me putting it gently) too driven when it comes to chasing after their ambitions. “You pour everything into work, so you don’t make the effort to meet new people.”
I’m not going to deny that there’s definitely truth there. There are only two things that really consume my time, and those are work and fangirling over singing, dancing groups of men who don’t know I exist. Outside of that, my hobbies include watching cat videos, working out at home and walking to the Tim Hortons branch near my office for coffee whenever I feel like it. I could definitely make the time to put myself out there as the world so often tells me to do, but I make the conscious choice not to––not to go to clubs to meet people, not to make a Tinder profile, not to entertain the occasional person who slides into my Instagram DMs––every single time. When I try to pin down the reason I do so, all arrows point to me thinking relationships being too much work to maintain. I’m just not cut out for that. Not yet, at least.
“You’re looking for a particular kind of romance for yourself.”
There are moments when I look at couples or watch shows and think that, okay, it would definitely be nice to have a relationship. Occasionally, the thought goes somewhere: to a particular person, to a shared apartment, to mornings spent dancing with our dogs. It’s a cute thought I let myself have from time to time. It’s comfortable and maybe even a little domestic, but maybe that’s kind of love I’m looking for.
“That’s the kind of romance you want, and the problem is that you’ve built that ideal for yourself,” explains a friend of mine. “You aren’t the type to settle for anything less either, so you don’t want to commit to anything that won’t give you that ideal.”
Talk about a callout––but if that slight sting in my ego is anything to go by, there’s definitely some truth to that statement. I’ve seen so many relationships go awry, burn to flames or completely fizzle out in a matter of months. There’s orbiting and ghosting and tons of other relationship-centric buzzwords that I don’t bother keeping up with. Romance in our time just seems to equate to so much drama, and it doesn’t take much introspection to know that I prefer living life without unnecessary theatrics.
What, then, becomes of these reasons? There’s definitely some merit in hearing them out and opening myself up more. Maybe if I sidestep my daydreams a little, download Tinder or even just stay a little longer when my friends and I go out instead of trying to catch the last shuttle home like I do every time.
But then again, who’s rushing?
Art Alexandra Lara