There are 104 million unmarried Americans in this country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 2008 (see http://www.unmarried.org/statistics.html for details). One may speculate, and most likely be correct, that the reasons behind this are anything ranging from divorce to personal preference to extenuating circumstances of any variety. As the Community Survey states, 53.4% of these unmarried Americans are women. How, if at all, do the aforementioned “reasons” for singledom apply to the female population?
It is not only a common belief, but an actual fact (as shown by the statistics listed above) that there are more single women in the country than there are single men. The gals (53.4%) outnumber the guys (46.6%) by nearly 7% So… now what? Are 7% of us doomed to roam the earth alone while the rest of us pair off and live happily ever after? Given divorce statistics in the United States, IS there such thing as happily ever after to begin with?
As a 24 year-old unmarried woman recently (and involuntarily) released from a committed relationship that boasted a promising future, I am caught in the middle of a rude awakening: I am back on the market. I spent months fantasizing about my wedding to this man, the life we would have together, all the potential that our relationship had. After a very ugly and painful breakup, of which I am still suffering the reprocussions, I am forced to reconsider my options, as well as the millions of questions asked by single women everywhere, everyday. The biggest question on my mind, and therefore undoubtedly the mind of every single woman who has suffered or is currently suffering heartbreak or the never-ending search for the right man is this: “Is there such thing as soulmates? That one perfect person? And at the end of yet another failed relationship, one must wonder… what’s it all worth?”
In my experience, love is indeed blind. The cliche is true; in my relationship with this man, I convinced myself that his problems were actually my problems, that I was the one making all the mistakes, that it would get better because I would MAKE it better. The reality was (and it took a unique experience for me to put all this together), it wasn’t me at all. I did everything I could. I made mistakes, certainly… but he had issues to overcome that nobody could help him with if he wasn’t willing to help himself. Once I was released from him, albeit against my will, I was given an opportunity to see things clearly for the first time since I had met him six and a half years earlier. The biggest mistake I had made was allowing myself, even forcing myself, to believe that I simply had not tried hard enough. The reality I discovered was that no matter what my mistakes were with him, they were canceled out by one very simple, but monumentally important fact: I had loved.
As it turns out, relationships, in all forms, come and go. A single woman will weed through countless dating prospects, romantic flings, serious relationships, and even friendships throughout her lifetime, especially in the earlier years. Because this is inevitable, there is one incredibly important thing to remember: if you are capable of loving, then despite what you have lost and will probably lose in the future, the ability to love can and should be your driving force. Keep trying, keep dating, keep meeting people, keep loving. But before you focus too intensely on any one person or relationship, ask yourself this: “Do I know myself? Do I know what I’m capable of? Do I know what I want both for and from myself?” Because if you can answer these questions, then no matter how long it takes, no matter how hopeless it might seem sometimes, the right person is coming to you. Once you have established your relationship with yourself, the rest will follow. To quote Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City season six/series finale: “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”
My personal discovery, after 24 years, is this: if you can love, you can finally, really live. And if you can live for yourself, you can most certainly love. If you’re questioning your future, your chances of finding that perfect man (or woman), take a step back and analyze yourself, because once you can look in the mirror and see how beautiful and intelligent you are, and how much you have to offer not just a romantic partner but also the world, then everyone else will see it too.