Being Single is Hard

I’m not single and I haven’t been for quite some time. I met Jake last June and I wouldn’t have called myself single past August or so. As Jake and I move closer and closer to marriage, shopping for rings and spending more and more nights together, though, I’m starting to realize how much harder it was when it was always just me.

bddf2560-2c89-0132-094e-0eae5eefacd9

I’ve shared, previously, the number of blogs, articles, and comments I’ve come across on the difficulty of marriage, which are usually followed by new parents telling me I ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I have a lot of friends who have been sharing this article on the difficulty of parenting on Facebook and I applaud the author for choosing not to discuss how easy everyone else has it… because that’s all I ever hear about being young and on your own. I don’t know if everyone is simply looking at their past through rose colored glasses or if young, single people feel pressured to insist that their lives are fulfilling in every way, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard or read a discussion on how truly difficult it can be to be alone.

Now, I’m certainly not pitying those enjoying the single life and the freedom that comes with it. I had a great time going to movies alone and enjoyed many all night Vampire Diaries marathons over the sound of a whirring sewing machine, when I was single. When Jake visits his parents or goes to Wellston for a few days, I even try to remind myself to enjoy the last chances I’m going to get to be, well… a little bit single. It’s a great time… but it’s also a tough one and no one ever gives anyone credit for the strength it can take…

… to be the sole earner.

giphy2
As a single woman with an advanced degree, my entire adult life has been something of a financial struggle. In college, I was married to a man who refused to work, so perhaps I had a skewed view, but everyone remembers those years as the Age of Ramen. After I received my bachelor’s degree, however, that stage had already ended for most of my classmates and not because they got jobs, but because they got married.

As I entered graduate school, more and more of my high school acquaintances were choosing to stay home with their babies. These women posted funny YouTube videos about how their friends without children knew nothing of responsibility as I worked 13 hour days and came home to finish a research paper while eating off brand spaghetti rings, because who am I, the Queen? I still don’t buy the name brand. I paid for everything on my own, from my rent, electric bill, and groceries, to the rare nights out with Gail. Student loan payments, car trouble, chiropractor visits, that time my phone was stolen, my $70 asthma inhaler, trips to the vet… they all fell to me, while my peers showed off their new houses and $300 highchairs and longed for my stress free life.

As a successful young woman, I can’t discuss money when sharing my desire for marriage and family, without giving people the impression that I just want a man to take care of me. The women I’ve mentioned above had their own financial hardships. I understand that, I do, but they weren’t solely their burden or responsibility either. When you’re on your own, you’re the only one available to talk yourself out of that designer purse or that second drink, because you’re the only one funding the inevitable emergency. At the end of the month, it’s just you and whatever remains in your bank account. While this is a really great learning opportunity, it’s also really scary. It’s almost as scary…

… to be the sole everything else.

multitasking
American culture has grown strangely proud of poor time management skills, with everyone from stay-at-home-moms to childless professionals competing to see who can claim the least amount of free time. Never was this more apparent than when I rushed home from a substitute teaching job to take my dog outside, before heading to the library, where I worked circulation until 9:00. When I’d get home at 9:30, it was often to an apartment that looked like an F1 tornado had hit it.

When you’re living with another person, it’s easy to take for granted the things that get done with little to no effort on your part. When Jake and I are married, whoever gets home first will start dinner. If one of us has more free time in the week, we’ll help the other out by doing the laundry, vacuuming, or mowing the lawn. If the Internet goes wonky, there will be two people who could potentially take the morning off to wait for the service call, and two people to compensate for any lack of income that might cause.

When it was just me, every day, working two jobs, I was lucky if I had the energy to microwave dinner, let alone clean up the kitchen or do the laundry. Thank God I didn’t have a lawn. Two years ago, a day off of work to wait for a service call could ultimately have been the difference between being able to afford that Internet or not. Even something as simple as company has become a given, now that I’m in a relationship. It’s easy to forget all those times I ran to the drug store sick or went home after a bad day to an empty and lonely house, now that someone’s available to pick up the prescriptions and cuddle up to during bad Netflix movies. It’s almost as easy to forget how hard it is…

… to have to face the unknown solo, with a smile on your face.
Zetus lapetus, dating sucks. If there is one aspect of being a single twenty-something that none of us feel compelled to talk up, it’s dating and that’s because no one looks back on it fondly… unless they just didn’t do it for very long. I remember getting ready for what was unsurprisingly another dead end date, with Gail’s help, a few years ago. She told me how, although she loves Terry, she sometimes misses that feeling of anticipation and excitement. In hindsight, I’ll admit, there were times when it really was exciting. Toward the end, however, it was just… emotionally exhausting.

The entire time I dated, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to admit that the one thing I wanted more than anything was a loving husband and children. I didn’t want them immediately or solely, but it was a goal of mine to be well on my way by the time I was 30. For some reason, I was supposed to leave something so important up to “fate” or “timing,” while being told my career goals were only subject to effort… even though the former was dependent on how one random person felt about me and the latter hung on how several very specific people felt about me. As a result, not only was I terrified that I may never attain what mattered so much to me, but I felt like I wasn’t even allowed to discuss it, for the sake of all womankind.

Not every woman shares my priorities. Some focus more on career or travel or general life experiences, but most people want to eventually find someone to love and care for and with whom to make all the big life decisions. There was a time when making all of those decisions by myself was freeing. Eventually, however, what I yearned for was a little less uncertainty in the world, some assurance that I would eventually put down the roots I wanted with someone I wanted. In your twenties, there are a thousand unknowns in your existence and when finding someone is no longer one of them, you feel a little more grounded, because you’re not facing the other 999 alone.

giphy3

I look fondly on the time I spent single, because I made a genuine effort to enjoy it while I could. I had a great time thinking only about me and bettering myself and my career. My Gramma once commented on how exciting it must be to have my whole life ahead of me with all that freedom and all those decisions yet to be made. She was right. It was and still is very exciting. It’s also a lot to take on alone, because no matter how many amazing friends and family members you have, it’s not the same as being in a committed relationship. I don’t doubt that being newly married, having young children, or raising teenagers is stressful. I imagine every stage has its battles and tears. I just get really tired of hearing about how the post college, pre-marriage stage isn’t one of them… because going it alone is, quite often, really very hard. I hope I never forget that.

Advertisements

Divorciversary

My American vagina says I was supposed to be super psyched for Valentine’s Day and desperately wish I had a beau. The gun under my pillow disagrees. Two years. Happy divorciversary to me.

dead bouquet

Stupid Crap I Tried Really Hard to Believe When I Was Married

“Your wedding ring is real.”

“I didn’t start that house fire.”

“I have a job. They just aren’t paying me… like the last job I had. ”

“I don’t know where your iPod/guitar/grandma’s bracelet/video camera is! Stop calling me a liar!”

“I wasn’t the one who wrote all of those bad checks.”

“You can’t call me at work or I’ll get in trouble.”

“I got fired, because you called me at work.”

“I paid the rent. They evicted us because we have a cat.”

“I don’t know where that $400 went.”

“I’m sorry your lost the hundred-dollar bill from your wallet, but it wasn’t me.”

“I had the rent money, but I got mugged… again.”

“I don’t know why they issued an arrest warrant.”

“I’m no longer welcome at family events, because they think I stole from them and I didn’t.”

“I have to work out-of-town… over night… for the job that’s not paying me… and I’ll need your car.”

“I’m enrolled in college again.”

“I don’t know why the dog dug a hole in the floor and is bleeding. I didn’t keep him chained up the entire time you were in Alaska with your mother.”

“I changed the oil. I don’t know why the engine exploded.”

“I fed the dog. I took him out. That dried urine he’s laying in must be fresh.”

“While you were working two jobs, I spent the whole day applying for work. That’s why I couldn’t clean anything.”

“My friend you’ve never met bought me those frozen pizzas from 7 Eleven. I didn’t steal your money.”

“My mother moved everything that survived the fire into storage for us. She didn’t throw it out.”

“I won $400 on a scratcher!” I later found out that this was his one and only paycheck from the gas station that ‘never paid’ him. He even tried to argue against the W2.

– Roses are red.
So is the dog’s blood.
You’re fucking crazy.
I hope you die soon. –

I’m not one for poetry.

12 Things I Didn’t Have To Do This Christmas

1. Lie to my family about whether or not he was working.

2. Buy my gifts on a college book voucher.

3. Be snowed in with a man I hate.

4. Buy gifts for a man I hate.

5. Accept a gift while wondering if it was stolen.

6. Use my Christmas money to keep from getting evicted.

7. Lock myself in the bedroom with piles of fiction to escape my life.

8. Lock myself in the bedroom with bottles of liquor to escape my life.

9. Return my gifts so I can buy food.

10. Borrow money from my grandpa to pay my bills until I get my financial aid.

11. Throw out all of his belongings.

12. Convince my friends that the divorce isn’t breaking me.

It’s the little things that remind you how far you’ve come.

All I Want For Christmas Is Me: A Single Girl’s Christmas Ramble

At Least 12 Things I Shouldn’t Have Said This Christmas

Discussing my cousin’s bracelet made of her horse’s hair:
Me: “Well, I’m glad you like it, but it’s weird.”
Other Cousin: “It’s not weird. It’d be like if you made something out of your dog’s hair.”
Me: “Or maybe I’ll just cut off his foot and make it into a necklace… or a keychain for good luck!”

Discussing same bracelet later:
“I once donated my hair to Locks of Love. That’s sort of the same.”

Me: “So where’s your gal?”
Cousin: “Oh, we’re not together.”
Me: “What?”
Cousin: “S and I aren’t together.”
Me: “What did that mean? Like today or anymore?”
The answer was anymore and I. Am. Smooth.

“Come on. The gifts we get at the big family Dirty Santa always suck and everyone knows it.”

“Oh, no. The library carries all kinds of books. If it’s in demand and the public wants to read about his throbbing member, then that’s what we have.”

“Next year, when you play the game with us for the first time, just know that it’s tradition for the youngest member to get an adult gift, preferably from a sex shop.”

“Taste this and tell me if I’m just not a wine person or if it really does taste like vinegar… and salt… and urine.”

Discussing my four and a half year old niece:
“You know… I think she’s old enough now, that she’s gotten to the age where I really don’t like her anymore.”

“Icy Hot in the lube.”

Brother: “Why’s she crying?”
Me: “She’s being a brat.”

Aunt: “Now why didn’t L and L come?”
Me: “Because they’re selfish and self-absorbed.”

Discussing Uggs:
“I know they’re covered in sheep blood, but they’re so freaking comfortable, I don’t even care.”

Christmas Confessions

I took the batteries out of my vibrator and put them in the Furby my Gramma got me.

I danced to Michael Bluble’s Christmas CD wearing nothing but a pink sparkly Santa hat.

My dog has a Christmas stocking and I played Santa.

The gift I made for you that seemed so thoughtful? I forgot about you this year and found that in my yarn bin, leftover from last year.

It’s possible that I worked on your Christmas present on the toilet.

My Homemade Themed Dirty Santa contribution was a hat I’d made for myself and messed up.

I only gave you that peanut brittle, because it was the batch I botched.

I Made Your Christmas Present Because I’m Cheap and Didn’t Want to Buy You Anything

lily's hat

britt's hatIt’s a baseball.

cross

Proof That My Gramma Knows Me

ove gloveI burn myself every time I cook… usually while talking on the phone with her.

furby
Hellz yeah, nostalgia!

shoes

Proof That My Grandpa Doesn’t

sparkly spongeIt’s a blinging pink sponge. To be fair, I do like pink… and clean stuff.

A Single Girls’ Christmas in Photos

storm air quotesIn the Midwest, we threaten to cancel Christmas for this “winter storm.”

dog stocking My stocking… and the dog’s.

hair dryerI don’t need a boy to clear the ice off my car! VAGINA POWER!

pina colada

pink santa hat

redmecl wine glass Redneck wine glass I won in Dirty Santa. Don’t worry. There are two, so they’ll match.

Fantastical Failures…

… or why I’m too high-strung for my own sexual fantasies.

woman_alone_bed_m-425x282

Okay. So maybe we meet at a bar over drinks. Wait. If we’re drinking, who’s driving? I’m not doing it with him in a bar bathroom. I mean, even the cleanest bar bathroom… That’s illegal, isn’t it? Okay. So he doesn’t drink much and we take his car to his place. I met the guy in a bar. I don’t want him to know where I live. But wait. Do I want to go to his place with him and leave my car? It would be super awkward to ask for a ride in the morning. I can’t exactly sneak out and call one of the guys to pick me up. Ugh. Fine. We take separate cars. So no one drinks? I don’t want to sleep with someone who drinks irresponsibly and I don’t want to get a DUI. They don’t let you be a librarian if you have a record. Who am I kidding? I couldn’t have a one night stand sober. I’d be halfway to his place and just decide to get McDonald’s and go home. Ugh. Fuck it.

Okay. It’s an established relationship. We’re parked where no one can see, in the bed of a pickup. Wow that sounds uncomfortable, unless there’s a blanket. It would have to be a pretty thick blanket, too. What guy just keeps a super thick blanket in his truck? It would probably be dirty if it were just in there, anyway. Fine. I brought it along. But wait. It would be cold. Or it would be warm and there would be bugs. Maybe we were out earlier in the evening and put on bug spray? But that would be greasy and kind of gross. Maybe there’s a camper? But that would limit movement. Ugh. Fuck it.

Same relationship, we’re in the cab. That wouldn’t really allow for a lot of space, either, though. If I’m 170 and 5′ 5.5″, he’d have to be at least 6′ tall and over 200 pounds. I mean, this is a fantasy. No reason he should be dainty. Would there even be room if we did it in the driver’s seat? I mean, of course he’d be driving. I don’t want to drive. If he had a nice truck, he probably wouldn’t let me drive. I’m a terrible driver. Fine. It’s a ridiculously extended cab and he can move the whole bench seat back so I don’t have to worry about the discomfort of a bucket seat. I mean, I would so get my leg stuck and hurt myself and that would totally ruin the moment. Wait. If it’s that extended of a cab, why not do it in the back seat? Ugh. Fuck it.

Okay. Established relationship. We’re at home. Kitchen table? My kitchen table is way too small for that and it’s held by a central support post in the middle. The table would tip. Fine. It’s a different table. But the wood would be awfully cold. Maybe I keep some of my clothes on? Is this really even that sanitary of a fantasy? We eat there, presumably. I guess I can’t remember the last time I ate at my table. But I live alone. I wouldn’t want to be the couple that sits on the couch to eat dinner every night. That’s not sexy. Ugh. Fuck it.

Okay. We’re on the couch. I straddle him. Wait. I’d have to get up in the middle to take my pants off. Fine. I’m in a dress… commando. I would never do that. Whatever. I was trying to be sexy or something and I’ve failed like nine fantasies already, so I need to just fucking go with this one. Wait. I don’t like to be on top. How the hell do I even know that? I haven’t had sex for like 12 years. God, I exaggerate everything. Maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about God while I’m doing this. May as well think about my dad. Great. Now I’m thinking about my dad. Ugh. Fuck it. I’ll just go read.

Beginning Dating… At Age 25

Many a romantic comedy centers around a sarcastic, humorously judgemental, male character who finds something trivial wrong with every single woman he dates and breaks up with her in the shittiest way. In fact, that was the sole basis of the character Chandler for the first six seasons of Friends. Eventually, however, someone (usually a hot chick) shows them the error of their ways and wins their heart. I can only hope that, as the female embodiment of this male stereotype, that is indeed the case (not a hot chick).


Me. I’ve done a little something with my hair since then.

In an attempt to analyze this behavior, 2012 is the year I’ve recapped, because 2012 is the only year in which I’ve dated. Married at 19, to the first boy I kissed, I am exceptionally inexperienced for a 25 year old. I can, literally, count the number of people I have kissed on one hand. I don’t know how to do this. It’s not like there’s a guide that I’m not too embarrassed to read. So I just have to go with my instincts… which suck. I wasn’t kidding when I advised my best friend to break the news of her rape to her out-of-state boyfriend via snail-mail.


The barber-shop quartet was mostly a joke.

At this very moment, I should be on a date at IHOP with Engineer. (All dates are called by their job titles, perhaps because my ex-husband never had one.) Obviously, I am instead writing a blog. Sooo… what happened to Engineer? I think to understand my dating present, I must explain my dating past, (post 4.5 year marriage.)

The dates of 2012 have gone, in order, from Combat Brian to Air Traffic Controller to Bartender to Landman to Law Enforcement to Analyst to Engineer. The following are my initial sarcastic claims to what was wrong with those whom I rejected.

Combat Brian: wore silver board shorts and flip-flops (are you fucking kidding me?) and had a comb-over at age 30.

Air Traffic Controller: had oddly placed ears and texted too damned often for anyone without a vagina

Law Enforcement: was 4 foot 9 inches tall (5’6″ in actuality)

Analyst: introduced himself as ‘Doc’, because someone called him that seven years ago and nicknames are neat-o.

Each of these things truly bothered me and were my original reasons for denying a second date. Gail couldn’t believe I’d actually turn a man down because of his shorts (I could see my reflection in them, I swear) and a comb over. The entire discussions were near identical to the aforementioned Chandler’s frustration with a woman who’s head was “like a satellite dish”. Are these real and legitimate reasons for not being with someone? Am I actually a person who would refuse to see a man again because of his ears? Is that even a thing?

Thank God, himself, the answer to the above questions is no. I’m not shallow enough to stop talking to a man because he’s only a half inch taller than me if he’s a great guy. I’m not going to shoot someone down over a silly nickname. I, however, am going to only notice the annoying surface things until I’ve ranted enough, while defending myself to Gail, to get to the deeper core of what was wrong with these guys. The superficial crap was funny and I can’t deal with adult emotions, as I’ve expressed in previous blogs. Thankfully (I guess?), each man had some true flaw.

Combat Brian – told me my marriage was a bouncy castle (the actual wording was “There is no way your marriage was worse than mine.”)

Air Traffic Controller – told me I was an idiot if I bought a bicycle under $2,000 and tried to convince me there was no God… also told a story about being pissed off when he ran over a cat and it messed up his bike wheel

Bartender – was leading me on as some sort of validation of self and claimed he didn’t mean it that way

Landman – wasn’t interested, but didn’t say so until after texting me for three days after the initial date (eye roll)

Law Enforcement – had completely lost faith in people due to his title and thought there was no improvement for anyone… used my phone number to solicit some kind of workout plan several weeks later

Analyst – expressed controversial political and parenting beliefs that were the exact opposite of mine… on the first date

Engineer – keep reading

I’ve included those who’ve rejected me, as it’s only fair.

So, I’ve had rational reasons for ending all communications. They weren’t for me. I wasn’t for them. That’s okay.  The issue I’m still working on, however, really is not with the men. Every first and only date has a deal breaker by definition, even if that’s just the famous “he’s just not that into you” and that’s fine. I’ve gotten fairly good at taking rejection in the last year. In fact, I’ve come to the point where a large percentage of a man’s appeal for me, lies in my appeal for him. If he’s not interested anymore, then I’m not either, because what’s more of a waste of every one’s time and emotions? I’m good at taking rejection. The issue lies in my ability to reject. These are how the following men were rejected by me.

Combat Brian – I talked myself out of a disappearing bathroom break, but randomly said “We should probably free up her table” and more or less bolted from the restaurant. He stopped at his car, clearly wanting to have that moment where you linger and chat. I hugged him and said “I’ll text you.” He never heard from me again. He may think I’m dead. In my defense, this was my first date since my divorce.

Air Traffic Controller – I talked to him for a couple of days before the incessant texting got on my nerves and I ceased responding, even after “You wanna get together again” and “Did you die?” I received a text a few weeks later when I went into Chick-fil-a that said “Want to sit with me?” He was screwing with me and was just amused to see the girl who blew him off and I awkwardly said I’d been busy with school when he asked what happened to me. He got the point.

Law Enforcement – At the time, it was the best Nah date ever. We talked. We laughed. Neither of us ever mentioned seeing each other again. I didn’t text him and he didn’t text me.. until three weeks later, explaining that he just wasn’t feeling it. Most people seem to think that was him saving face when I didn’t contact him. I think it may have been so I would be more receptive to whatever he was selling. Who knows? I thought I did okay in this one.

Analyst – I’d shaken his plush claw without cringing and we sat in Starbuck’s and talked. I grew increasingly uncomfortable and unattracted to him as the date progressed. He explained his terrible parenting ideas and told me I was doing my job wrong. I heard about his idiotic political beliefs and I was just done. Finally, breath of fresh air, I felt enough time must have passed to explain that I had to go to Saturday Mass at 5:00. As he checked his watch, I realized… it was 4:06 and the church was just down the street. I have this problem where I pretty much decide that if I can’t make something better, I may as well make it worse. So, I said “Yeah, I’ve got to go to confession, too. It was nice meeting you” and fled. It’s not an exaggeration. He wasn’t even out of his chair yet. I just wanted to be not there so badly, I didn’t even consider etiquette. Etiquette, however, would’ve involved another fluffy handshake and I’m okay with having missed that. I am not exaggerating here. The man had to have had fur on the pads of his fingers. He must have been some kind of shapeshifter. It’s much hotter in paranormal romance.*

*I am totally exaggerating, though he had very hairy hands.

I honestly hope that my skills at rejecting will improve over time. I express this not from an IHOP with Engineer however, so here is the most recent dating sample I am able to break apart and analyze most accurately.

Engineer was 25, kind of cute, had ADHD and liked to say so… a lot. He talked about how he hated bars…  and music… and television… and movies… and how this made him more sophisticated than the average guy. He told about how after college, he couldn’t find an engineering job and worked as a janitor. I admire that. I work hard to support myself and believe everyone should. Then he explained that it was frustrating to do so, because he was smarter than everyone working there. (Really? He was a recent college graduate with no engineering experience of which to speak and he was smarter than all of the engineers in his home state?) Then he paused to exclaim that the bottom of the light bulb above us was shiny and he had to touch it, in case I forgot he had ADHD and liked to say so. At that point, I asked how he was able to get through school if it was such an issue and he explained that his professors allowed him to sleep through class, because if they woke him up, he’d correct all of their work and embarrass them.

I am dead fucking serious.

At the time, despite the above charm, I thought he was alright. He was upbeat, had a big boy job, saved his money, and expressed similar political values to mine. He was mostly polite. Then he shot himself in the foot… with a torpedo. I explained that my sister was interested in engineering, not because she wanted to be an engineer, but because my dad was pushing her toward it. I said my dad loved bragging rights and constantly tells people I’m 25 with a Masters degree. I was going to finish with “I don’t even have it yet”, when he interrupted me to joke “But he doesn’t say what in, right?”

In hindsight: FUCK. OFF. I have worked my ass off for my degree and he is not better than I am because his bachelor’s is in engineering and I am not spending an entire relationship arguing that. No fucking way.

The date ended soon thereafter, because I actually did have homework to do. My frustration, however, did not set in for a few days. There just weren’t many trivial complaints from Engineer, save for his annoying neck cracking and his intentional quirkiness (which Gail and I refer to as “Hamburger Phone” in a Juno reference). However, judgementally analyzing meaningless crap seems to be a pivotal part of discovering the whoppers.

Gail: imitating me “He clearly hasn’t clipped his fingernails in weeks. P.S. There was blood under them.”

That is DEAD ON from someone who knows me just that well.

Gail constantly tells me I have to give guys more of a chance if I don’t want to die alone, so I left Engineer thinking “Well, we don’t really have anything in common and he’s kind of annoying, but… eh. I’d go out with him again.”

Then I spent a few days thinking him over.

On Wednesday (first date was Sunday) I received a text message asking what I was doing. I responded and asked the same. “Hot dogs. Enough said?” was his response. That is text message word salad as far as I’m concerned, but whatever, I’d conceded to a bit of Hamburger Phone. He then began to brag about how little T.V. he watches. Originally, I’d admired that. People watch too much T.V. and I think that’s a waste. Sometimes, though, T.V. is fun and there is nothing wrong with that. Not watching it does not put you on any pedestal. The television conversation led to him asking if I’d like to watch Arrow with him every week when he does slum it with all of us mindless drones. I avoided an answer, since I’d already agreed to a second date tonight and didn’t want any further commitment yet. Then, yesterday morning, he asked if we could spend the whole day together instead. Upon receiving this message, all I could think is BACK OFF. I just fucking met you. Calm the hell down.

I explained that I was working during the day, so just the date would have to do. We were going to go see Wreck It Ralph and I’d dreaded it from the time I said yes, but couldn’t pinpoint why. Everything seemed too small. Then I began the over-analysis I am so known for and I realized the true issues. We have nothing in common. At all. He hates everything and I don’t. The fact that I like the occasional comic book movie is NOT foundation enough for a relationship. It’d be like Leonard and Penny, only he’s not nice and I’m not hot and this isn’t prime time, so it doesn’t work AT ALL. That’s reason enough to end it here without taking into account his whopping superiority complex and the fact that he is annoying as fuck. Best case scenario, I date him for a few weeks before flipping out one night and yelling “You hate EVERYTHING but yourself” or declare “For someone with ADHD, you are ironically singularly focused on telling me about it 37 times a day.” So I’m going to skip that.

As I’ve explained, I have plenty of grounds for cutting ties with Engineer. But I’ve yet to master how to do it. Last night he texted and asked if I still wanted to see the movie since it was so short. I responded saying I’d prefer to do it another night, because of my homework. I haven’t heard from him since. A part of me hopes that I get the chance to say “I’m sorry. I just don’t think we have anything in common. I’d rather not.” Another part of me hopes to avoid that opportunity in case I don’t take it and just stop responding to him as I have every other man I’ve turned down and desperately clings to the fantasy that this is just the end of it. I am quickly learning, however, that no one can EVER end things smoothly. I’m really quite comfortable with the stereotypical male Not Calling that women hate. If he doesn’t call, I know he’s not interested. What’s wrong with that? It’s far better than receiving an “I’m just not feeling it” speech and absolutely better than giving one. I imagine, on some level, I will always date like a sitcom man. In fact, I dread the day I actually have to break up with someone. I’m a little afraid it’ll be on a cake.

The 10 Best Things About Not Being in a Bad Relationship

Married: 19
Hypothesized that he had no soul: 20
Divorced: 23

Yup. I’m just that stubborn.

The hot pink Christmas tree outranks everything else.

Sometimes you find yourself alone and bleeding a lot, because you decided that you should hold the onion while slicing it to save the time you’d have spent getting the cutting board. Other times you have to call maintenance to change a danged light bulb because you can’t get the fixture down. Rarely, you bolt from a Starbuck’s explaining that you’re late for 5:00 Mass, ignoring the fact that it’s 4:06 and you’re a half mile from the church, because that date would’ve gone so much better had he just not spoken. Despite these cliché chick flick opening scenes, though, being single is really fucking awesome in a way that can only be understood when you’ve been really fucking miserably attached. I don’t mean in a free-to-get-VD way, as we’ve all seen from Carrie Bradshaw and company, but rather the little things no one ever mentions, such as…

1. Your money isn’t just your money, rather your everything is your everything.
If you want to blow your next paycheck on a crossbow or a Fossil purse, you can. There’s no missing $20 from your wallet or unexplained charges on your card. No one ate all of your corndogs or pawned your video camera. You’re not being recommended Star Trek XXXII on Netflix because someone’s been five-starring shit you hate. If you don’t have any clean dishes, it’s because you haven’t done them. You get to go to whomever’s house you want on Christmas Eve, because it’s your family. The bathroom is pink and brown because you fucking like it.

2. You entertain yourself however you like.
When I was 12 years old, I watched Roswell on repeat and I can do that all over again today. If I want to have a Vampire Diaries marathon, I can. I don’t even have to go to bed at a specific time or turn down the volume. If I want to listen to an audio book, I don’t need headphones because I’m the only one who likes it. I don’t have to listen to a video game when I’m trying to read. If I want complete silence while I crochet for seven hours… done.

3. Bad dates are sometimes really funny.
Dating is often the scariest part for the divorcees I’ve spoken to, particularly those who married young and never really tried it in the first place. Here in the Midwest, that’s a LOT of divorcees and I was no different. I’m not going to lie, here. Dating can be disastrous and that’s really the only assessment I have since my divorce was finalized. Frankly though, and with no exaggeration, short of date-rape (maybe even not) any bad date would be preferable to some of the harder days of my marriage. Attitude is really key here. At first, I found bad dates disheartening and called my best friend in a panic each time because “I’m going to die alone!” Now I just call giggling because the guy introduced himself as “Doc”, told me I was wrong about my job, and immediately stated his controversial political beliefs. Even the most awkward situation is a reminder that I am here, not two years ago and this is guaranteed to be a funny story later. If the bad dates are that good, the good ones are going to be even better.

4. You know it got done.
Sure, I have to have my best guy pal change my oil, but I know, without a doubt, that the oil got changed. I’m referring to the oil in the car that once had it’s engine replaced because my ex-husband insisted he’d changed it, even after the mechanic produced the original Suzuki filter that was on when the vehicle was purchased over nine months earlier. I have internetaccess to write this, because I paid my cable bill. If someone knocked on my door tomorrow morning, no part of me would fear eviction, because I paid the rent. There is a freezer full of food, because I went grocery shopping. Doing things yourself is another of the scariest parts of a divorce, especially the things you’ve never done, like filing your taxes. However, even if you do it wrong and burn the Hamburger Helper because you got yelled at whenever you cooked before, you’re taking care of yourself and your life all on your own. Never again will I feel like the only reason I’m with someone is because I’m afraid I can’t be without them. Never again will I wonder when the dog ate last, because I’ve been working two jobs all week. I will rely on me.

5. Compromise isn’t a thing.
I understand that even a healthy relationship may one day involve me sitting through a baseball game without complaint, though this is preferable only to counting sand. My point, though, is that being single rocks. If I want to watch Santa Clause Conquers the Martians, The Worst Witch, and Logan’s Run, while eating Tootie Frooties and sweet potato fries for dinner, no one gets veto rights. The movie on the big screen sucks and your significant other is sitting beside you. You’re not sure if he’s enjoying it or not, but you don’t complain just in case. You either a) finish the movie and find he loved it and now you have to listen to the recap or b) he hated it too and neither of you will ever get those two hours back. The movie sucks and your purse is the only thing sitting beside you? You leave, grab dinner and a drink on the way home, and then later do your nails in your underwear. If you hate comic book movies, you never watch them. If you want to stay out all night, you do. There’s no checking in or making two trips when getting take-out because he hates sushi. You take the job despite the distance, have your friends over at 2:00 a.m., and you paint the kitchen table red because you fucking feel like it. No one gets any say.

6. You don’t have to defend anyone.
Anyone who’s ever been in a dark relationship knows what it feels like to assure family that he’s really trying to get a job, he’ll pay them back soon, or he didn’t start that fire. Eventually the reassurances turn to lies and half-truths and then to avoidance altogether. You don’t want to share the truth, because then they’ll hate your partner, when there are still hopes of fixing the festering wound that is your relationship or you wouldn’t be there. But now that awkward one-on-one with the judge is over and you neverhave to speak another kind word toward the bastard again. You can refuse to discuss him or you can share all the details. Hell, you can exaggerate if you want. Who cares? They’re your family and have (hopefully) been on your side the whole time. There are no more excuses to be made. You can finally be completely honest with the people you love and no longer feel like you have to hide from them. If you’re in the city and realize you’re driving past Aunt Kay’s house, you can stop by without cringing at the dreaded job question, because you only have to answer for you.

7. Masturbation
Not once have I ever rolled over before finishing because I “have a headache” and gone to sleep. I’ve never turned myself down despite the fact that it’s my birthday. It’s not offensive that I’m the only one who ever does any of the work. Enough said.

8. You’re not faking it.
This isn’t a sex comment, but a life generalization. From the smile on my face at Wal-Mart, to my Facebook statuses, to Christmas dinner, I don’t have to pretend I’m happy. I don’t have to force myself to spend time with someone I hate, because doing otherwise would be admitting that it’s long over. I don’t have to lie to myself and say it’ll get better when I haven’t been able to picture that future in years. I don’t have to reassure myself that he’ll get a job and I must’ve just lost my grandma’s bracelet. I am exactlyas ecstatic about life as I appear in social media and I don’t have to pretend otherwise to anyone ever.

9. You learn what you like to do.
Now that you’re on your own and you’ve rid yourself of that pesky compromise crap, you get to spend your time trying new things. You may like them and you may hate them, but you get to do whateveryou want. Nothing rids a girl of that victim feeling quite like shooting a gun. It truly is the closest you will ever come to having a penis without surgery. Now there’s no one to say you can’t learn. If you want to see a show, they will sell you a single ticket. Not one person will look your way and think “Why is she alone?” They’re just as self-absorbed as all humans and when they do notice, they do not care. So now’s the time to take that free fencing lesson, try out for community theater, or sign up for a pottery class. There’s no one to disapprove or complain about the expense of time or money and you’re not busy sitting through a movie the person next to you may or may not also hate.

10. There’s a future… and it doesn’t suck.
There was a time in my life where I would turn to my best friend and defend my marriage with “You get different things from different people. I trust and love you and my grandma. I just need him to work.” That was the bright version of my future. He would work and keep the job and I wouldn’t trust, love, or rely on him ever. I would stay, because I made a commitment, but that was it. Now I see a blur of accomplishment, trust, love, and fun. I see a family if I’m not too broken to give it another try. I actually have hope for the future. More importantly, though, I know that if this is it, if this is the most happiness I’ll ever find, it is infinitely more spectacular than anything I ever felt in my four years of marriage, so I’m okay with that.

As I’ve said, these things seem negligible to anyone who hasn’t had them taken away. The joy of getting them back and the gratitude you have when you wake up and know you can take care of yourself, though… it almost makes all the pain and suffering worth it. Almost.