Embracing Singlehood

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There’s a lot of media attention focused on the perspectives and issues surrounding singledom. Discussion about the single life seems to be everywhere: Blogs (yes, including this one), podcasts, news articles, social media, movies, TV shows, and published essays. Google “being single” and you’ll see what I mean.

In a recent essay in the NY Times Modern Love column, Helen Rubinstein writes about her struggles to embrace singlehood. The essay sparked a lot of reader interest with over 305 comments published on the Times’ website.

Let’s chat about this while eating a modest lunch of seared tuna with shaved vegetable salad to counter the effects of Halloween candy excess.

Rubinstein recounts her struggle to be comfortable as a single woman in a couples’ world – where work settings and social functions remind her that she is navigating the world solo. She describes feeling odd, strange, shameful, and queer.

The use of the word queer struck me as off since the writer is straight. The term also offended a number of LGBT readers. That may be why the Times changed the essay’s headline from Is There Something Queer About Being Single? to Is There Something Odd About Being Single?

 Word choice aside, Rubinstein decides to drive across the country alone in celebration of freedom and singlehood. As she expects, she experiences fear and a feeling of “strangeness” along the way. During a hot-spring shower in a Nevada desert bathhouse, she longs for a partner in the beautiful setting. But then she has an epiphany. Although at that moment, Rubinstein craves companionship, she realizes that being part of a couple doesn’t always counter loneliness. “Loneliness dissipates,” she writes, “when you find comfort and pleasure in your own company.”

That’s something singles hear a lot – be comfortable and happy with yourself before seeking a partner. I tried to make that a goal after my divorce but it has taken a few years to fully experience that feeling of inner strength. It’s also taken awhile to feel less of an “extra” in many social situations. Still there are times when I intensely feel my solo status – around holidays, on date nights if I’m not with a date, out with a couple. I don’t feel odd but I do feel an aloneness that I’d rather not feel.

I do, however, remember feeling strange at the beginning of my separation. After two-thirds of my life spent as part of a couple, I felt untethered. Eventually I felt tethered to myself and grew that inner strength I mentioned.

Now I believe I may be a qualified “super single,” a phrase I first heard in an episode of Better Things. In case you haven’t seen the show, Sam, the main character, is a divorced single mom of a certain age. She becomes so good at being single that she doesn’t know how to accept the possibility of a promising relationship.

As writer Allison P. Davis writes in The Cut:

“This episode marks the first time she fully comes undone over a romantic prospect. “This guy, is the thing,” she says to a friend, anguished and lovesick (literally). Her speech is really just a few lines, but, good god, does it cut to the bone. “I don’t know how to do this. I got no place to put it, I don’t want it,” she says. She only sees one way forward: to break up with the perfect guy, naturally.

“Oh honey,” her friend says in commiseration. “We’re super singles: We’re just too good at being alone.”

How many of the 111 million singles in the US (45 percent of all residents age 18 and above) are super singles? Hard to know. We’re a mix of high functioning “supers” and newbies.

The newbies may feel strange or they may be thrilled by their newfound freedom and independence. Some of the 111 million may never want to couple up – whether they’ve been in a previous committed relationship or not. Others may yearn for a relationship daily. Whether being single is temporary or lifelong, chosen or circumstantial, I hope we can try to not feel odd. Instead, I like the sentiment in Natasha Bedingfield’s song Single:

Don’t need to be on somebody’s arm to look good
I like who I am
I’m not saying I don’t wanna fall in love ’cause I would
I’m not gonna get hooked up just ’cause you say I should
Can’t romance on demand
I’m gonna wait so I’m sorry if you misunderstood

That’s right

This is my current single status
My declaration of independence
There’s no way I’m tradin’ places
Right now a star’s in the ascendant

 Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

My Holiday Letter

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Ahh…. the holidays: an often-dreaded time for singletons. One of the offending hallmarks (no pun intended) of the season is, of course, the holiday letter. When a single person receives a family holiday letter, it can serve as a reminder of her or his not-intact family. A recent Washington Post Solo-ish article titled I love your family but I dread your joyous holiday letters captures the emotions a divorced or widowed person might feel upon reading this well meaning but accidentally hurtful correspondence.

Turnabout is fair play. So, enjoy my singles version of a holiday letter while slurping Nadia’s Cod, Coconut Milk, and Cilantro Soup (recipe below).

Play some appropriately themed music while you’re cooking.

Note that, unlike other “family” letters, you don’t have to read about the exploits of multiple related people.

December 2016

Dear Friends,

I hope this holiday season finds you well and that you and your loved ones are sheltering in place – and by the fire – after the storm of the election. We need all the love we can get during this time of national emotional upheaval.

It’s been a wild ride for me this past year as well. Oh, no, I don’t mean that literally I’ve found a wild ride…though I have been searching for one.

Let me share with you some of the highlights from 2016:

  1. Four hundred first dates! Yes, in fact, I may have reached that milestone after four years of divorce. But who’s counting?
  2. A banner year for bad breath! Why is it that so many men fail in the oral hygiene department? This year I learned to stock 10 varieties of mints and gum in my purse and car – just in case I encounter a case of Mr. Frisky with Halitosis.
  3. Athletic accomplishments: No swim team for me…but I did overcome my fear of deep water. Now I can hang out at the community pool after my laps and try to meet men.
  4. Dance competitions: Even better than a middle school dance competition, I completed a basic introductory hip-hop class without requiring orthopedic surgery or acupuncture. Then there was the tango class I took with a short, heavily accented instructor. I couldn’t hear him over the loud music so I invented my personal version of the tango, which looks more like a bull stamping its foot before charging.
  5. Academic achievements: There are no grades or tests for adult education classes at community college so I can’t humble brag about being on the Dean’s List. On the positive side, my Spanish and writing classes revealed the added benefit of making new friends and possibly meeting men. A win-win amigos.
  6. Travel highlights: Spain and Ireland. For the single woman, Spain wins. See: Tinder in España.
  7. Something new, something borrowed, something blue. No wedding for me, fellow partygoers. As a single woman, new refers to new dating photos and a revised profile. I borrowed my daughter’s jeans to wear on a date and the blue for this non-bride refers to Miles’ classic Kind of Blue album, great music for contemplating your single life.
  8. Local field trips: I expanded my repertoire of solo outings, enjoying “just me” excursions to happy hours, museums, and concerts.
  9. Breaking down barriers: I ignored any perceived age and race barriers and went out with men of various ethnicities from age 50 to 69.
  10. Benefits of non-Mindfulness: I learned to relax into the cycle of the dating life and look to the future: Dry spells are followed by false bounty but eventually you date a guy – though he might have bad breath (see #2).
  11. Plans for 2017: I bought 3 red dresses in 2016 so I’m starting my Valentine’s Day dating search now!

 

2016 Bonus: Nadia’s Cod, Coconut Milk, and Cilantro Soup

Ingredients:

2 pounds cod

Olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white parts only).

1 large red pepper, chopped

2 fresh tomatoes skinned and chopped (optional)

2 cans light coconut milk

1-cup vegetable broth

1-pound package frozen yellow corn

½ cup minced cilantro

¼ cup fresh lime juice

Cilantro and fresh sliced avocado for garnish

Heat olive oil in large pasta or soup pot. Add leeks and and sauté until translucent. Add chopped red pepper and continue sautéing a couple more minutes. Add tomato if using. Cut cod into 2” pieces (not too small because they will break up anyway) and add to mixture. Sautee a couple of minutes and then add coconut milk and vegetable broth. Cook 5 minutes and then add corn. Cook on medium (low bubbling of mixture) for another 8 minutes.  Check cod to make sure it’s cooked through (opaque not translucent). Add salt to taste. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Heat for another minute.

Serve over jasmine rice. Garnish soup with sliced avocado and minced cilantro.

Note: If you don’t have leeks, you can substitute Vidalia onions (1/2 to 1 large chopped onion depending on your preference).  Quantity of leeks or onions, peppers, and tomatoes  can be varied depending on your preference and any food allergies.

Frozen defrosted cod works well in this recipe. You can even use partially defrosted cod. Just make sure you thoroughly cook it in the broth/coconut milk mixture.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating…and happy cooking!

XXXOOO

Nadia

Meeting Men in Real Life: What Happens at a Match “Event?”

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I went to a Match.com happy hour a few nights ago. This was not an easy task for a somewhat shy 60-something singleton. I went unaccompanied and anticipated not knowing a soul. I also worried about running into a nosy single, male neighbor who is on the site or perhaps one of the men I used to date. But I put on my big girl panties, actually I put on my Spanx leggings (seriously, these are fabulous), channeled Wonder Woman and all the movie characters who said, “Let’s do this,” and I did.

I’ll tell you the story over a delicious meal of oven-roasted sea bass with ginger and lime sauce.

The event was held in a “rock and roll” themed restaurant/bar music club. Match said attendees would be able to see who had checked in to the happy hour in real time on the event’s mobile site. But I never received the promised link to view the check-ins. So when I arrived, I had no idea who would be there.

The happy hour was billed ($10) as an event for 45-65 year olds. I worried that the women attending would be on the young end of the margin putting me at an immediate disadvantage. I don’t like competitive situations so if fangs were in evidence, I was prepared to duck out.

Like so many life situations (waiting to take a test or waiting for the results of a medical test), one often anticipates the worst possible outcome. Fortunately, things often turn out well – or better than expected. I feared being a “wallflower.” Other than surviving with ego intact, my goal was to be sociable and talk to some men.

When I walked in, the place was packed. I asked a friendly-looking man if this was the Match happy hour. He smiled and pointed to the back of the main room. There, in a sectioned off area, was a Match check-in desk.

As a somewhat shy person (yes, there are somewhat shy versus totally shy people), I had wondered whether there would be any “ice-breaker” activities. Eureka! Each attendee wrote the last place they travelled to on a sticky note and wore it instead of a name badge. So with Aruba scribbled on my tag, I approached the bar to buy some liquid courage.

It was 30 minutes into the event and people were talking in groups of 2, 3, or 4. I wondered if I could easily break into a conversation. There were clearly more women than men. Sadly, none of the men made my heart stop.

As I turned from the bar, I met “Chicago.” He asked me about Aruba and when I had been there. For some reason, I totally blanked (even before the wine) but finally remembered. Chicago and I had journalism in common and we ended up chatting for about 20 minutes. No sparks but a pleasant time.

As he walked away, I smiled at “Caribbean,” a woman about my age standing at the bar. We started talking, comparing dating notes and life stories. After awhile, we both realized we had the beginnings of a possible friendship. She said, “I consider this evening a win-win,” and I agreed.

After a quick trip to the restroom, I returned to find my new friend chatting with a man, “Sydney and Australian cities.” After “Caribbean” left, I stayed a few minutes to chat with “Sydney.” Again, I felt no chemistry with this man, but we had a nice talk.

It was about 9 pm at this point and only a few attendees remained. I left with an overall positive feeling about the evening.

Summary: About 25 to 30 people showed up versus the promised 70. Most were in the middle or upper end of the predetermined age range so my fears of being the oldest woman there were unfounded. A day later, Match sent a recap showing profile snapshots and photos of all of the people who RSVP’d. You could filter the list to see who had attended – a great idea if you were too shy to approach someone or just didn’t get a chance to connect.

According to the recap, 60 people RSVP’d (not sure what happened to the other 10) and 19 checked in. My guess is a few more just bypassed the check in desk – or I need help with my counting skills.

Everyone seemed friendly. Just like with the Meetups I have attended, people are there to connect so you have a better chance of getting a welcoming reception if you approach someone than you would in a random situation.

There’s no way to know if you’ll meet the man of your dreams at an event like this…but you might have a nice social time, find someone to go out with, or meet a new gal friend. All are win-wins!

And it’s lovely to have a break from scanning the online sites and swiping left or right. I plan on going to another event – perhaps an activity-based one.

Have you been to a dating site event? Let me know what happened.

If you liked this post or any past ones, subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes of this crazy dating life.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia