OK technically, I'm not quite single. But the relationship I'm in is very complicated and I'm not sure we're going to make it through the obstacle course we've been presented with. I am, however, 35, unmarried, and at that delicate point where my fertility is apparently starting to nosedive. Can I just say, and I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm stating the obvious: it's really difficult being in this position. It's properly, existentially, painful.
Despite this, I enjoy my freedom. I like my life, even though I feel the lack of a significant other keenly. But the hardest thing about being 35 and single? Feeling like (and being treated like) you're abnormal.
Most of my friends are happily married with several mini-me's occupying their spare bedrooms. This is fine - great, even, if you like kids (and I do) - but there are times when it's impossible to avoid feeling like a complete freak of nature (behold, The Last Single Girl On Earth!) - an object of pity and/or a problem to be solved (usually by pairing me off with various other stragglers in the game of bonk/marry/procreate).
Here are some of my coping strategies for the other single thirty-something-never-married-no-kids peeps out there. If anyone else has advice, please feel free to share!
- Make the most of your friends kids. I may or may not have kids of my own - I know that it's out of my hands - but I get to have relationships with my friends kids, and that makes me feel slightly better about it. Plus, I can't wait for my future nieces and nephews to make an appearance.
- Observe your friends relationships and take notes. One couple I know are great at treating their kids like people (not cute playthings); another have conversations where they look at and listen to each other - surprisingly rare in a lot of long-term relationships. Spending this much time on your own, you've got more time to figure out what you want and don't want from a long-term partner.
- Cultivate friends outside your age bracket. It will give you a different perspective having friends who are older and wiser, as well as younger and more wide-eyed. Easier said than done, but I'm lucky to have come across a few good ones that I treasure.
- Male friends help. Thank goodness for the single blokes out there - ex-boyfriends and old school mates who are still footloose & fancy-free. I find blokes in my age bracket are more likely to be single/unmarried and a whole lot less likely to angst about it.
- Don't feel obliged to attend every engagement party/baby shower/first birthday/christening you are invited to. There are a shed-load of these things, and it can get tiring being the only single person surrounded by families. Your friends won't mind if you skip a few, or just show your face briefly, especially if you're feeling vulnerable.
- Enjoy this time. I can't help feeling like I will look back on this time and envy the boundless freedom I currently enjoy.
- Don't lose heart. Yuh, it's hard. If you find yourself in that terrible dark place where all seems bleak and hopeless and just too damn hard - wait it out. One day the spark will reappear and you'll be on the roller-coaster again.