I had a conversation with a friend today that I feel like I’ve had so many times over the last couple of years. She’s one of those friends that I haven’t seen in a while, but we keep in touch regularly through social media. Our conversation was peppered with the usual, obligatory “We really should meet up soon. It’s been too long.’’ We’ve been saying this for six months, and I doubt it will happen anytime soon. Not because I don’t love her dearly — I do — but because I am hopeless at planning one week to the next and am in a perpetual state of disorganization and my to-do lists regularly gather dust before they are ever completed.
She’s a good friend and cares a lot about me, which is why, she says, she worries about me being single. When we spoke, she applied a caveat to that concern with “’I mean, you’re fine now, obviously. But surely at some stage, you’ll want to find somebody and settle down?’’
Reader, I don’t.
As a bit of background, I have a 3-year-old daughter and was with her dad for a wonderful six years. When I decided I wanted to move on, it wasn’t into the arms of another man, but back into the rhythm of myself.
So me and the kid do our own thing. My ex and I are the best of friends. The three of us went on holiday recently, and it was brilliant. She caught lice at the mini-disco, and he managed to go temporarily deaf in one ear from getting water in it, but we laughed for a week and it was comfortable and easy and fun.
So with the memory of that in my mind, this conversation with my friend irked me a bit. Unreasonably so, because she’s a darling, and I know she’s only got the best of intentions.
A while back when people used to ask me when I was going to start looking for a relationship again, I’d tell them that I wasn’t interested in one for at least a decade. I naively thought that might put off the constant questions about it until then. But in reality, it just opened up a whole new can of worms. Because apparently — and I never knew this before — that is a ridiculous assumption to make.
Because I don’t know who I might meet. And my true love might drop down from the sky or smile at me from across a crowded train. Or Jon Hamm might turn up at my door one day and tell me I’m the one he’s been waiting for all his life.
I know plenty of couples in beautiful, nourishing, incredible partnerships. I’m happy for them and don’t doubt their love for a second. But as time goes by, I increasingly feel that that isn’t something I want for myself.
I look back on my relationships and even the very best ones have been more stressful and emotionally draining than being single. I get that love is work, and that’s the trade-off you make for sharing your life with somebody, but what if that trade-off doesn’t seem worth it?
It’s not something I even think about these days until some well-meaning friend brings it back into my consciousness with their head-tilts and confused expression.
I don’t want any more children, birthing one 9-pound, 3-ounce baby was enough, thanks. I’ve never got the time to feel lonely and have a great circle of friends. If I’m so inclined, I can date and spend time in the company of interesting men, safe in the knowledge that I don’t need to share my home with them or carry any of their emotional baggage around with me.
I totally understand the benefits of being in a relationship, for those who have found that person and want to carve out a life with them, but it’s not for me.
Statistically, the odds of me finding somebody that I could realistically anticipate spending the rest of my life with are pretty small. And I’m a bit of a nightmare at the best of times, so that reduces that likelihood even further. And what if I got it wrong? What if I introduced somebody into my daughter’s life who I grew apart from a couple of years later? And even if a relationship was something I craved, the chance of it working out long-term would be minimal.
I like my routine and the quietness of our house. That is, when my 3-year-old isn’t belting out the Trolls album at full throttle. I like the fact that I only have us two to think about. Our happiness, serenity, and general order aren’t ever affected by the moods or behavior of another person. I often hear and am told that people are scared of growing old alone. And maybe when I’m even nearly close to being old I’ll start to experience those fears too. But I’m not going to disrupt the balance of my life out of fear for the future. We’ve only really got today, after all.
I currently have about four bets going with different friends on whether I’ll stick to my “no relationships for a decade’’ pledge. In truth, I think I’ll win them easily, and I’ll probably not be in another serious relationship for the rest of my life.
Unless, of course, Jon Hamm turns up at my door, and then I might reconsider.
Until and unless that unlikely scenario materializes, I’ll carry on being an unashamed commitment-phobe. And I’ll be happy to fleece my friends out of their hard-earned cash by taking all those bets.