I Chose To Be Single, Rather Than Settle

by Be Heard on June 12, 2012

in Sex & Relationships

“You totally have a type. You always crush on the smart, super-involved boys.”

“Guys don’t know if you like them or not because you’re so friendly to everyone.”

“Sweetie, does [Current Crush] know you don’t like football? Maybe you shouldn’t mention that.”

“Maybe you’re too picky.”

These comments, and many other variations, have been lobbed at me since I was about 16 years-old. Friends and family have offered up unsolicited advice, all from a place of genuine love and concern, but also from a total lack of understanding.

In a nutshell, everyone told me: “Change who you are, change what you want in a man, or stay single.”

Well, I took their advice. I stayed single.

I wasn’t willing to change my personality to convince one of my best guy friends to date me. Nor was I willing to date a guy not good enough to be in one of my many and varied circles of friends.

Being single was great.

I might not have had a boyfriend, but I never lacked for male companionship.

I never had a problem finding dates for my sorority functions. I was friends with all the brothers in Pi Kappa Phi, and later in Beta Theta Pi, all of whom made great dates.

During the summers, I drank with my twin brother and our shared (guy) friends from high school. Sometimes I was even privy to unfiltered guy talk. I graduated from college a few weeks shy of my twenty-second birthday, no current or past boyfriends to speak of.

I moved to France to become an au pair, and then again to teach English.

I pined after a few of those best guy friends at home, but my long-distance crushes didn’t stop me from flirting with (and sometimes kissing) every French guy I met. My plan was to fall in love with a French man, get married, and live in France the rest of my life

But life turned out even better. I made three new best friends—we have the matching tattoos to prove it. I traveled all over France, sometimes with friends, sometimes by myself. I finally made it to Norway to meet all my cousins.

I’ve vastly improved my French language skills. I’ve perfected my self-confidence. I’ve discovered the art of dining alone. I’ve learned how to win over strangers in a single conversation, in English or en français. I’ve created—and followed—a tight budget for the first time in my life.

I’ve achieved the impossible, and I’ve become a better person because of it.

Maybe I still could have done it all with a boyfriend back home, but I never could have made those dreams a reality with a husband in tow.

My life-changing experiences provided me the courage to withdraw my application (when I was one of two final candidates) for a year-long, salaried internship at my alma mater. Why? To fulfill another dream: interning with my sorority for eleven weeks in Columbus, Ohio.

As fate would have it, I fell in love with the city of Columbus. I also started dating a man who met all my picky requirements, a man who recognized all my awesomeness. I compromised neither my standards nor myself.

My current job began in New York and has taken me to Toronto. My long-distance relationship has proven that my past decisions were the right ones to make. I’m not 100% invested in my glitzy environment as I was in France. My life is split in half. For this man, the sacrifice is worth it.

But if I had only listened…

If I had dumbed myself down,

Or pretended to like sports…

If I had dated the guy with different values,

Or agreed to go out with men less intelligent than I am…

Not only would I have not lived the awesome single life I did, I never would have met the man of my dreams.

I chose to be single, rather than settle. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What about you? Do you think it’s important to stay true to yourself? Or do you think I’ve missed out?

Brita Long likes to call herself an international jet-setter. Three years out of undergrad, she is not in grad school, she is not married, and she has not lived in one place longer than ten months. (To the absolute horror of 18-year-old Brita). But she’s happy and she’s paying the bills–that’s all that matters, right? Follow Brita on Twitter.

bk June 12, 2012 at 10:33 am

I am in the same boat you were. My friends call me picky and don’t understand why I choose to be single. I always tell myself that “I just haven’t met the right one”, and I believe that. I have also always believed that when I finally meet that someone, it’s going to be so much more special and worth the wait. Thanks for posting this!

ps: I would love to have that picture painted on my wall..

Kristen @ The Chronicles of Dutch June 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

You have not missed out!!! Living a great life, the life you want, is the best thing anyone can do. You don’t need someone else to do it with, you are enough. Believe me, marriage is awesome and lovely but it’s a shit ton of work. If its the wrong guy it’s no fun at all. Don’t live for tomorrow, live for today.

Rachel June 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I love this. I did things a little backwards, but I’m at a point where I am single again. Instead of throwing myself into the first relationship that presents itself, I’m taking my time, doing what I want to do. If that doesn’t work for the current guy I’ve dated, so be it. I move on.

So proud of you for reaching for your dreams and following them!!

Marla June 12, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I was ALWAYS told by my much flirtier-than-me friends that I needed to stop being so picky, to date guys just to date even if I wasn’t interested in them, to give guys a chance because my feelings might develop. I was very hard on myself because it seemed like I couldn’t just date around like other people – I found it impossible to be with a guy unless i was crazy about him, so I had way less boyfriends than most people I knew. Fast forward a few years, and like you I am SO happy that I didn’t settle for just anyone – I am marrying the absolute man of my dreams in four months, and I knew he was the one immediately. I think we women all have to respect each other’s differences when it comes to dating and relationships – we can never really know what’s right for another person!

Sally June 13, 2012 at 7:24 am

Amen, Brita, AMEN! That is all.

Amy June 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Loved this article!!

I’m living by that motto myself. Doesn’t matter if I stay single forever, at least I won’t have settled. If I’m to be with someone then it better be with someone worth it, otherwise single life holds more charm and keeps my life stress free.

Emily June 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm

YOU ARE AWESOME. Loved this article. I did a similar thing in Italy during college. I miss those days so much. I am currently in a relationship with a man who is wonderful. He is my first serious relationship, and I am crazy about him. However, I am realizing how much I miss my single life. I never had to share food. I did whatever I wanted. Whenever I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, my guy is awesome. He takes good care of me and I love his companionship– but I will go to my grave telling my children to relish in the single life. It’s a valuable time to learn about yourself and CREATE yourself. Kudos to you for sticking to your guns.

Lincoln June 20, 2012 at 9:26 am

I’ve always said your work-ethic, determination, and “be who you want to be” attitude is admirable. You were an awesome friend and fraternity/sorority function date.

-Handsome guy friend from college. :P

Ingrid September 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

This is very heartening! I left my hometown because of a job, but also because I’d already dated/slept with/been friends with (or all three) all the decent men in town. Female friends had advised me to stop wearing glasses or start wearing makeup to “attract” a man. I didn’t listen.

I spent many lonely, dateless years, creating fruitless online dating profiles and trying to strike up conversations at book stores, concerts, and museums. But when I turned my thinking from what I didn’t have to what I did have, things always seemed much better. I’m self-reliant, independent, and have an enormous capacity for love and affection. And when the right man came into my life, I was ready to accept him.

When you are happy and love who you are, you’re beautiful.

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