I have been single for two years and it doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel as though I am somehow deficient or invalidated without a man in my life. I’ve been encouraged to find a man online or through dating apps, but I don’t want to. I tried online dating a few years back and didn’t have much success, partially because my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to meet someone organically. That’s also why I don’t want to return to the online dating world at this point in my life: it is still possible to meet people organically and I would prefer that.
I met my first boyfriend at a dance, my second boyfriend on a blind date, my third boyfriend through friends, and my fourth boyfriend on a blind date. Last year, I met a boy whom I wanted to have a relationship with naturally through friends, though he had been actively using dating websites and apps to meet people (and still does). He and I connected naturally, but I wanted a relationship more than he did, and it never happened. It doesn’t mean that my only other option is to find someone online.
I know people who have met their significant others at parties, in university, through friends, in bookshops, at concerts, in bars, and at work. I also know people who have been very successful with online dating, partially because they invested the time and energy to meet people and they put their hearts into it rather than seeing it as a last resort or just ‘the thing to do.’
Just like I’m not definable by my impairment, I’m not definable by my relationship (or lack of one). I would rather focus on work, family, friends, yoga, and other things that I enjoy that make me who I am rather than on a relationship. I tried for years to find the right person and I spent so much energy defining myself by my singledom that I missed out on other ways to shape my identity. I missed out on other things that could have made me a lot happier. Chasing boys and wanting a boyfriend never got me anywhere, personally, professionally, literally or metaphorically.
Having someone does not equal instant or constant happiness or exempt you from loneliness, either. A relationship doesn’t magically fix or heal anything in your life that was wrong or unsatisfactory when you didn’t have one. It doesn’t automatically make life easier than it was before. I’ve stopped placing so much emphasis on my love life and started working on other things and other parts of myself that actually matter. I’ve decided to invest some time in art classes and try other forms of yoga, which I think will make me happier than endless dinner dates with different people until I happen to find the right person.
Three years ago, I accepted that I would be okay if I never married or had children. I accepted that I would be okay alone. Everyone says I’ll find someone when the time is right or when I’m not looking or when I least expect it, but that’s not likely (and that’s okay). It’s also ok not to want to have a relationship – for whatever reason – at any point. I would rather be happy and comfortable alone than date for the sake of having a boyfriend.
The truth is that I have always dated for the wrong reasons. I dated guys who were bad for me (and bad to me) and got involved with the wrong people because I needed to say that I had a boyfriend and because I needed to feel attractive to a non-disabled man (or just to feel attractive to anyone at all). Those are neither healthy nor good reasons to date, which is why I don’t do it. The best I can do is just focus on myself, without hoping that it will make the right man appear, and be healthy and happy alone.