Recently, I’ve seen too many single friends get upset because they’re single. And it baffles and frustrates the crap out of me because they are fabulous and fun and clever and beautiful, all of them (and no, I’m not just saying that because they’re my friends). I also know some brilliant single guy friends who complain about never meeting the right woman. This comment on my post on the Free Decade summed up the panic you can feel when you’re single and it makes me really sad to see people I love feeling like that.
It’s not just the fact of not having a partner or not having had a shag for a while, it is the effect it seems to have on self-esteem and confidence. It is easy to become cynical. I’m not single right now, but I was for a long time when I first moved to London. I ended up enjoying it, but I did go through a long period of miserable Saturday nights in; sitting on the single table at weddings next to a gay guy and the bride’s 15 year old cousin and getting far too drunk to cover the fact that I was gutted that my friend was getting married and I was so far behind; and getting irritated by and envious of my smug married friends. So I have been thinking a lot recently about my single friends who I adore, and I had some thoughts which I wanted to share. This is for you *raises wine glass*.
1. DO NOT PANIC. The man for you is at this very moment in shiny armour astride a white horse, scratching his head and saying “so where the fuck IS she then?!”. Its just a case of meeting really.
2. YOU HAVE TIME. There are many inspirational 40-something women who are having their first babies now. The way I see it, as long as you don’t break the world record for the oldest mother alive (currentlyOmkari Panwar, age 70), then you should be OK. I’m being glib but life isn’t a 100 metre sprint, its about longevity, finding the right person for you.
3. YOU HAVE TO LOOK. Ladies, you will not find your ideal man at ballroom dancing class or pilates. Men, your ideal woman will not appear on your sofa while you’re watching Top Gear.
4. BUT IN THE RIGHT PLACES. Tiger Tiger, the Crazy Kangaroo and Infernos are inappropriate pulling venues in your thirties and above (although Lady B is an exception to this rule). I’m also cynical about singles nights as I hear again and again that there is a distinct lack of men (Ms Marmite Lover’s single Valentine’s night was a classic example and it was no surprise that Time Out advertised for more men on twitter the night before their recent singles event). So if I was a single bloke it would be a pretty good bet. But ladies, I’d spend your cash in the pub instead. It is also, in my humble opinion, utter bullshit that you will meet a man through starting a class or a course – I’ve done a few in London and they are pretty much all filled with women. Now I think about it men don’t actually do much do they? Which means that the ideal place to meet is the pub, no matter what age you are.
5. CONSIDER INTERNET DATING. In 1990, 40% of couples met their partner through their friends. Between 2007 and 2010, 17% of couples who married met through internet dating and 20% of couples were introduced through the internet (tis true – read here). Yes, it can feel unromantic and shallow in its selection process, but it’s efficient and I know more and more people who have met their partners this way. And I have to be honest and say I met The Chef on Guardian Soulmates (he was my first ever internet date) and I’m bloody glad I did – I’m not sure if our paths would have crossed otherwise. I’m still reconciling myself with the fact that we met there, and I do get embarrassed when people ask where we met, but I would definitely recommend trying it. My advice would be to arrange to meet up after a few emails – you won’t know what they are really like until you meet them and the image you are building up in your head may be wrong. Also, there is nothing more depressing than a terrible date and you will know how you feel about the other person in about 30 seconds, so arrange a quick coffee and say you have plans shortly after so you can make your escape easily if you need to. Sudden US conference calls that require your urgent attention can also be useful.
6. A BAD RELATIONSHIP IS WORSE THAN BEING ON YOUR OWN. Being in a “relationship” with someone who won’t commit, or treats you badly, or is married to someone else, or is only interested in sex, will not make you happy (if you are a woman at least). The great stuff about relationships – the trust and the love and the Sunday walks holding hands – are typically missing and it will bite into your self-esteem. I see it again and again with friends but it can be hard to walk away when it is a choice of having someone rather than no-one. I just think it is very rare that these relationships don’t end it tears. Remember how fabulous you are and walk away. Yes your Saturday nights might be lonely again and you may miss the sex, but you will soon be walking with your head held high again.
7. YOU’RE SINGLE, SO WHAT? Don’t let it affect your self-esteem or your confidence. You aren’t a failure – life is often won and lost through timing, being in the right place at the right time. Do all you can to boost your confidence. And it is dangerous to tie your self esteem too closely to finding a mate – the ideal is to be happy on your own, just happier when he or she is around.
8. THE ART OF THE PULL. If you are in a same-sex group of friends of more than 3 people, you are unlikely to start chatting to the opposite sex. And it is a great idea to go on the pull with your coupled-up friends – they are much more likely to walk up and chat to new people because they don’t really care what happens, although you may find yourself cringing at obvious match-making. Be open-minded and talk to people you might not fancy the pants off – attraction can develop…or they may have fit friends. And don’t be too cynical about the whole thing – yes it feels a little naff when you are a bit older but it can be a hell of a lot of fun too.
9. RELY ON YOUR FRIENDS. Often Londoners are so busy they won’t pick up on the fact that you always suggest Saturday night to meet, and are always told everyone has plans already. Saturday nights alone can be miserable, but if you don’t tell your friends how you feel, they won’t understand how important it is to invite you out. And don’t avoid your couple friends, they are still fun to hang out with…or they may have fit friends. Girls’ and boys’ nights out are brilliant – but remember the 3+ person pulling rule.
10. FORGET ABAAAHT IT. Don’t let your quest for a partner and your desire to get married take over your life. The grass isn’t always greener, there is more to life than just being in a couple. Think about your career, your friends, your holidays and concentrate on that for a bit. Take off the rose-tinted glasses – your married and coupled-up friends have the same sorts of problems that you have – life’s worries don’t fade away just because you’re shacked up.
11. ENJOY IT. Being single can be brilliant. You can do what the hell you like, you can be selfish. You can spend all your time socialising. Or sitting in your flat eating cheese and onion sandwiches and picking your toenails. You can snog random and/or inappropriate strangers. You pick where you go on holiday and how tidy or untidy your flat is. You can spend your money on ridiculous things, eat, drink and smoke what you like. Enjoy it while it lasts!