Note: This is seventh in a series of imaginary conversations with my next girlfriend.
Dear Next Girlfriend,
You’ve been on my mind again. Over the Labor Day weekend and the following work week, I took my annual staycation. It’s time off of work during my favorite time of year. Those summer days right before fall and the beginning of the school year. I plan coffee dates or brunch with friends, wander in an art museum and linger in a library, check off things from my “to do only if I want to list,” see a movie matinee or two, write, nap, cook, and practice spontaneity. It is a time for reflection and restoration, and it’s a reminder I’m single.
: not having or including another : only one
: not married or not having a serious romantic relationship with someone
When I spent Labor Day with my friend Leanne, she commented that at the beginning of the weekend she noticed all the couples who packed up their cars and took off on trips over the Labor Day holiday, families who went camping or visited water parks, before the temperature dropped and school started, enjoying summer’s last hurrah. As I spent my staycation at home, I wondered where everybody went. All my neighbors seemed to disappear, except the occasional single person walking their dog, or riding their bike past my windows.
As a recovering person, one of the things I learned early on that has served me well over the years is to not compare my insides to everybody’s outsides. It’s easy to assume at first glance that others are happier, more content, satisfied or fulfilled than I am, especially on those days when I’m feeling lonely. I know, just admitting that makes me sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself. I might be, but only for a moment.
I’ve learned not to assign a negative connotation to loneliness. It’s an emotion that reminds me that I’m a social being and to not spend too much time alone.
Next girlfriend, I think it’s ironic that at the beginning of spring and continuing through summer when I’m single, the world looks coupled wherever I go. Then as the seasons change and people move indoors to nest and cuddle during the cold nights, I imagine those same couples snuggled up on the couch together.
With same sex marriage so much in the news, and friends celebrating engagements and marriages, as a lesbian I’m feeling even more single and more alone in addition to how I feel at my workplace and other heterosexual spheres shared with married or cohabitating couples.
As an older woman, I’ve been single longer than I’ve ever been before. I’m not quite sure if it means that I’m enjoying my single life more than in the past, that the dating pool is smaller for an older lesbian living in a mid-size city, or perhaps I’ve grown pickier as I’ve aged and gained relationship wisdom. These are all rhetorical questions without answers.
What I’ve discovered next girlfriend, like many other demographics and categories, we are members of a trending group —singles.
From a blog by Nora Daly, The Rundown, this past Thursday she writes, “Bloomberg reported Tuesday that singles now make up the majority of the adult population in the United States. Economist Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research Inc., first noticed the change when looking over the BLS’s (Bureau of Labor Statistics) jobs report for the month of August. In that month there were 124.6 million unmarried Americans over the age of 16, meaning 50.2 percent of the nation’s adult population identifies as single.”
Daly continues, “In contrast, only 37.4 percent of the population was unmarried in 1976, when the U.S. government first started keeping track. That percentage has been creeping upwards ever since, lingering just below 50 percent since 2013.”
“Those tempted to blame millennials, and their tendency to drag their feet when it comes to walking down the aisle, should note that these numbers also include individuals who are divorced, separated and widowed. Over the past 38 years, there has been an increase in all four of these demographics.”
Yikes, what does this all mean? Though I often resist looking at things in black and white, or good and bad, sometimes it’s effective shorthand to establish the outlying benchmarks, so here goes:
Good News: There are more singles out there then in the past.
Bad News: I’m still one of them.
Next girlfriend at the end of this day, my single life is still good. Tonight, I have a date with a friend to see a play by our local queer theatre company, StageQ. Tomorrow, I’ll join the throngs of singletons, couples, families and all the iterations in between at a favorite annual neighborhood street festival, The Willy Street Fair. Next girlfriend, maybe you’ll be there too. I’ll be that older, flirty lesbian femme with a sense of humor and a gift to gab. Perhaps you read my blog and you’ll mention in conversation how you learned that singles are a growing trend and how difficult it is as an older lesbian to meet and date. When I wink back at you, you’ll recognize me as that woman who has conversations with her imaginary next girlfriend.
Hope to see you soon!
To read more statistics, click here.
To read more in this series:
Note: This is Episode 7 of the series Conversations with My Next Girlfriend, imaginary conversations with the new girlfriend I haven’t met yet, replacing the one-sided talks that I was having with my ex in my head. For Episodes 1 – 6, click on the links below: