If you are single, people tend to pity you. They tell you that you’ll find your prince charming or your princess and that you will live a fairy tale. They say that you just need to wait. They give you unasked for, and often poor, advice. They call out your supposed loneliness and being alone at random and unfortunate moments. They pat your hands at weddings and tell you your day is coming. They tell us singles that we will find love again and it will be different. They tell you that your broken and jaded heart will be healed miraculously by another person. They shout the lie that you are nothing unless you are in relationship with another individual.
I am here to tell you that you do not have to believe those lies. You need no pity. You do not need to just wait. You do not have to heed words from people who have not been single for decades longer than you have been alive and have no idea what it is actually like to be in your thirties – or twenties or forties or fifties or sixties, for that matter – and be single. You probably won’t get a fairy tale. You may not ever allow your heart to be healed enough to the point you can let another person in to be loved by you and to receive love in turn.
But you are not alone. And you are not nothing.
Your life will not suddenly be perfect when you are in a relationship. Dating is hard. Being engaged is tough. Marriage is difficult. If you enter into any relationship expecting to be healed, fixed, or completed, you are setting yourself up for failure. Expecting someone else to be perfect and to perfect you is an unloving and unacceptable and wholly impossible expectation. Thinking someone else will complete you in a relationship is not an act of love, it is an act of utter selfishness. AND YOU WILL FAIL.
We are all broken and hurting in some way. Not a single one of us is perfect. None. Not one. In relationships, this does not change. Ever. In relationships, we choose to give all of ourselves to one person, to open ourselves up to someone who has the power to both make us feel incredibly loved and secure…and to wound us deeply. I believe this applies to more than just marriage. Dating is serious heart stuff, too. Choose wisely when giving your all.
I have borne witness to enough bad marriages and hateful, selfish relationships to wonder sometimes why I even want to date. Or be engaged. Or be married. There are days when I wash my hands of all of it. The dream gets shattered. People are cruel when they have had to bear the brunt of cruelty. And people sometimes expect to be repaired. And people think they want a fairy tale and that you do, too.
My darlings, you cannot be fixed anyone. You cannot be changed by anyone. You cannot be healed by anyone. You cannot expect to be completed in any relationship. If this is why you are looking, look away. If you love that other person, give them the grace to not be at the spear point of your selfishness. Before you enter into any relationship, learn to love well. Go see a counselor. Talk to your friends. Seek out a mentor or trusted advisor. Pray. Read the Word. Listen to the still, small voice. See God’s hand. Learn to love. And be okay with being afraid. Love is scary. It is okay. We are all fragile and scared holders of our own human hearts. Expect moments of doubt and fear. It is okay.
People who choose to love (yes, it is a choice) choose to not create expectations, but to say, “Here’s my mess. And I see your mess, too. This will not be easy and it will certainly not always be fun. But I love you. I love myself enough to be settled in my soul and to have learned to love others more than myself. I choose you each day to be at my side, to laugh with, to cry with, to make messes with. We will fail. We will not always get it right. We will not be completed by one another as we are already whole persons who decided life was good and we wanted to share our good with one another. I am not asking you to complete me. I am asking you to struggle and learn and grow with me. Let’s be beautiful, wild messes. Together.”
Single, divorced, or widowed…you are beautiful. Your life, simply because you are trying your darnedest to suss out a decent life, is beautiful. You do not have to take pity from anyone. But you do have to choose to love yourself and choose to love others as an outpouring of that love. Skip the fairy tale. It’s a bore. Just love your own wild mess. And if you so choose, find another wild mess to be messy and afraid together. But always, always choose to love. It is the only way.