A few weeks ago, I abandoned my practice of ruthlessly hunting down a husband like a poacher on the hunt for ivory tusks in favor of focusing on my own personal growth and being the happiest single woman I can be. Since then, I met and have gone on a few dates with a very sweet guy named Andrew, who approached me in a bar one night after having recognized me from OKCupid. When I wrote about my first date with Andrew, feeling triumphant about being able to dismiss one of my dating “dealbreakers,” I was disheartened to see various commenters suggesting that I’m not following through with my declaration of singlehood. Maybe, though, I just need to be more clear about my own, personal definition for “happily single.”
As I previously stated, I made a vow to re-focus my energy on me, instead of pouring it all into finding a man. I wrote:
If I want to be happy in the future, I have to focus on being happy right now. While I’ve technically been single, with a few short relationships here and there, for over three years, I’ve never just been single— I’ve always been single and looking. Instead of trying to find the right man for me, maybe it’s better to enjoy my life and let him find me. For now, I need to work on being the happiest single woman I can be. I will conquer more of my personal goals to better myself. I will laugh more, be kind to strangers, offer kind words, drink more wine, visit friends and family, eat well, get organized, take more bubble baths and do more yoga. And maybe in the process of doing all of these things that make me smile, someone will notice me and smile back.
I still firmly believe that I need to be doing all of the aforementioned things — and I have been. OKCupid has no longer been consuming my evenings, and instead I’ve been getting together with friends, reading more books, organizing my apartment, meeting up with family members on a whim and making the most of time that would have otherwise been spent in front of a computer screen. In fact, the night Andrew came and introduced himself to me, I was breaking it down with friends in the middle of a local bar’s dance floor, eating, drinking and being merry; exactly the kind of happiness I’ve been craving. I’ve been living more, and thoroughly enjoying myself in the process— and that includes the “single” part of me. But maybe the word “single” means something different to everyone.
One commenter wrote:
I can’t help but feel like you’re not quite firm in any of the revelations you make one week to the next. Not but 2 weeks ago, you were going to stop actively pursuing OKcupid dates, and just exist. Do you. See what stems from that, but without *looking* for anything to stem. The following week you’re going out on a date from OKcupid to see where things lead. I suppose the fact that this guy approached you at a bar could be seen as ‘Being open in the world, and having an experience stem from that,’ but it still seems a bit of a non-hiatus from OKCupid dates that you were resolved in a minute ago.
To be clear, I did stop actively pursuing OKCupid dates, and it was during my time of “simply existing” and “doing me” when I was approached by a nice man at a bar. I firmly believe that casually dating can be part of being happily single. I don’t have a significant other and I’m not actively looking for one, but turning down a date with a seemingly nice guy just because I’ve labeled myself “single” seems foolish. Being single does not necessarily mean being alone, on a dating hiatus or on a sex sabbatical. In my opinion, dating and sex are both commonplace for single folks, and they happen to be two activities I enjoy very much. While I’m not initiating a bloodhound search party to try and find Mr. Right, I’m also not going to let good opportunities pass me by if they happen to float my way.
My “happily single” revelation was less about taking a firm hiatus from online dating, and more about shifting my priorities to become a healthier kind of single. I wanted to stop stressing out over feeling the need to scan the online dating profiles of every male in the tri-state area, and learn to let things happen naturally by enjoying my “me time” and doing things I love. And hey, it seems to have worked. One of the first things Andrew said to me was that “he noticed my smile from across the room,” and knew he had to come say hello, even if I was mid-dance circle. A few weeks ago, that smile he noticed would have been a disappointing frown in the glow of my laptop screen.
Part of the reason I enjoy writing Dater X is because it reminds me how different we all view the world. I love reading all of your comments, opinions, advice, words of encouragement and constructive criticism— it keeps me grounded. And the best part about being grounded is that I can then stand firmly on my own two feet and let you all know who the real me really is. I am Dater X, and I am, indeed, happily single.