Identity / Relationships / Society

Society: Stories from Women Who Have Been Single Their Whole Lives

In a world where people are expected to pair up once they reach 18, those who never dated their whole lives may seem like an anomaly. While some avoid it on purpose, many others receive the status unwittingly. If you’re in your 20s or 30s and have never been in a relationship, you are not alone. In contrast to what people say, there is no “normal” age for this – these stories are the proof.

Here are a few stories from women who have been single all their entire lives.

Katie Heaney

“People have interesting reactions when you tell them you’ve never had a boyfriend and you’re over the age of 21. Most girls are pretty good at acting like they aren’t shocked, because most of them have at least one friend who doesn’t date as much as the others for whom they’ve learned to be uncondescendingly empathetic. When I’m having one of my “something is seriously wrong with me for being alone” phases (which are, thankfully, relatively infrequent), my friends have learned to conjure up relatives/mythical acquaintances/“Grey’s Anatomy” characters who have gone even longer than I have without having a boyfriend, so it’s totally not weird at all that I haven’t had one yet. Practically everybody, except for every last person they can think of at the moment, has been single for as long as I have. My darling, patient friends tell me that I’m still single only because I’m picky, and because I haven’t met the right person yet…”

Madeline Henshaw Greene

“The fact that I am 21 and have never had a boyfriend used to be a source of constant shame and embarrassment to me. The most frustrating part was that it wasn’t for lack of wanting one. My freshman year roommate and I used to joke, “I don’t need a boyfriend, but I want one.” And I really wanted one. But I could never understand why I never had one.”

Holly V Furman

“I tried to figure out when that transition happened, when I went from being alone to feeling lonely. It’s like one day the world thought it would be amusing to obnoxiously point out what I was missing; like I needed a violent shove from my “I’m single and content” state to an “I’m single and I really don’t want to be” state. And now, when my mind fails to distract itself, loneliness creeps in. I end up internally flouncing around in my anxieties about just how single I am. When did this happen? And when I can’t find any more shiny objects to divert my attention to, I am left talking myself into circles, frantically trying to figure out why I’m single. Am I simply craving attention? How is it possible that I so desperately want something that I have never experienced and can’t begin to understand? Why am I left sitting at the singles table? … What am I doing wrong?”

Jordan Dark

“One day, or rather, after years of feeling like I just wasn’t good enough for anyone to want me, I realized hating myself for not being able to find a boyfriend was a ridiculous thing to do. Part of that realization was the friends I had, some of whom have been and still are eternally single like myself, and part of it was just accepting that my life wasn’t always going to take the path I so desperately wanted it to take. I didn’t need a boyfriend to make my life worth living, or to prove that I am attractive and smart. In fact, the only person I needed to prove that to was myself. But through all of this, I discovered that I actually like being single.”