Tomorrow I turn 40. In fact, unless you read this the day it is published I already have. 14 September 2020 sees me roll from my thirties into my forties, and takes me out of an entire bracket of age groups forevermore.
And I’m still single.
Don’t get me wrong or misunderstand me; I’m not unhappy. I have four incredible children who astound me and give me a sense of pride that I will never do justice with by using mere words; the crudity of language will never describe how happy they make me. I have friends who I love, family to cherish and I have my health. As much as I’m not rich I have enough money to get by, a solid professional reputation and a history of stories the envy of many.
But I’m still single.
When I became single back at the start of 2017, nearly four years ago as I write, I felt no pressure at all. I knew who I was, and the more I spoke with people I knew that I was not in the bottom 25% of single men of my age out there. I spent some time enjoying being on my own before trusting that I would find love. After all, I’m regularly asked “how are you still single?!” as if it were that simple and suitable options were plentiful.
Relationships came. Relationships went. I tried everything, from apps to events to real life – hell, I even went on tv. Nothing worked. Time passed and little changed, until at the start of 2020 I found love. I’m not talking about lust or infatuation: it was love.
Awesome! I knew it would work! Just trust time and trust the process and it’ll all come good. In fact, it’s perfect timing: a new decade starts, a new life begins, new opportunities are coming and by the time my fortieth birthday rolls around we’ll be as close as it’s possible to get. I even had dreams of standing up at my now-postponed Great Gatsby themed birthday party in front of all of my friends and family and sharing how lucky I was to have found true happiness with her when I thought it would forever elude me.
Only, it did elude me. Like all others before it, that relationship came to an end and continued my 100% streak of failed relationships. It’s hard to stay optimistic when history continues to tell you that nothing has worked and nothing is changing.
I don’t deserve love and happiness any more than anyone else. There are better people out there who have been single longer than I have, as well as worse people who found love within weeks of not even looking. There is no fairness in it all, no grand plan and no guarantee that everything will work out and you’ll find someone when you least expect it. If you believe in god, gods, karma, the universe, horoscopes or anything else and trust that your happiness is being taken care of on your behalf by some higher being(s) then I’m happy for you; I simply don’t and am as certain of that as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow morning.
The response from many people to my desire to find love, which I’m fully expecting to now hear parroted in the comments and on Twitter, is that I shouldn’t define myself by my relationship status. That I should be happy and content being single, that I should embrace it and feel complete by myself rather than relying on someone else to provide that validation. After all, if I can’t love myself then who else is going to love me?!
And that misses the point entirely and belies a lack of understanding about who I am as a person. Because I am complete. I am a perfect Lego set, with all the pieces and instructions needed to make the most amazing things with the Lego blocks I have. I am happy with myself and with my life. If I never experience love again I’ll at least have known what it feels like, twice over in fact which is more than many can say. I have those friends and that family I spoke about earlier and children I adore; all those lodgers in my house of love are there and bring me joy every day. In all these ways and more I’m truly blessed and am thankful for all I have.
But I also know what it’s like to have someone. Truly, deeply have that person in your life in a complete sense, adding the romantic love to the friendship and the sex and the companionship. Someone whose own Lego blocks can be added to mine to make even bigger, better, more glorious creations than would be possible alone. And it’s glorious.
On my own my life may be 10/10, but with the right person I know it will be 11/10. I’m not unhappy without it, but I’ll be even happier with it, and whilst 14 September 2020 is just another day and an arbitrary milestone loved and reviled in equal measure, it is an opportunity to reflect and to feel sad that I’ll be celebrating it without that special someone in my life.
As I’ve said before, I want to get it right and will take my time rather than get desperate and rush into the wrong thing. I’ve hopefully got another forty years ahead of me; better to invest even the next several finding the right person than rush and regret it. But I will look back in sadness on every day between now and finding them as a day I missed with them, even whilst knowing I took everything I could from the days I had.
Those who claim that, when they look back whilst on their deathbed, they wouldn’t give almost anything for even one more day spent with those they love are either lying or simply cut from a different cloth to me. I shan’t rush, but I can’t wait to be with my person, and had hoped it would have happened by now.
Still, I’ve already lived one hell of a life over my forty years on this planet. I’ve traveled the globe, dined with royalty, climbed mountains, canoed rivers, swum with sharks, acted and sang on stages, partied with stars, received national recognition from my peers professionally, appeared on tv, learned strange skills and had amazing experiences. And on top of that, I’ve experienced love, brought children into this world and am raising them to be a thousand times the person I am. I’m happy and content, and have so much life ahead of me that it’s exciting and intoxicating.
If I can find someone to enjoy it with I’ll really have it all.