If you spend most of your 20s perpetually single and occasionally complaining about it, you tend to hear the following from attached friends:

1. You’ll find someone. I do not buy this. I subscribe to the Dan Savage school of thought on this matter, which essentially states that there isn’t someone out there for everyone. We know this is true because we’ve all met people who have never found a long term relationship but of course, we don’t actually want to acknowledge this because it is hardly a comforting thought.

2. You need to be more positive. This is one I’ve gotten a whole lot from others because I’m particularly prickly and sarcastic. This attitude, I’ve been told, is the reason that guys aren’t interested in me, well beyond the reason most men are into women at least for a brief spell — sex. And it’s not as though I’m relentlessly negative. I’m quite fun in a group. I just happen to be something of a realist and believe that shit happens for no rhyme or reason and I’m pretty unwilling to lie to myself or others. So that means I am not the person to run to when you need to hear that everything will be just fine (but I am the kind of person you should speak to if you want help parsing a situation and figuring out the next step).

3. Maybe this means you need to work on yourself. This perspective is taken by those who view your singleness as the result of some deep seated character flaw or some lack in your being. To them, this means you should spend more time working on yourself — find a hobby, go out and have more fun, etc. Or it means that you don’t love yourself wholly and completely. Now, I like myself very much — I think I’m cute and intelligent — but it is impossible to like everything about oneself (even for Oprah). Besides, self-love is hardly a requisite for attracting a mate. In fact, I know some guys prefer the exact opposite.  Also, I know many people in relationships who could hardly be called “together” or lead full lives, which makes this suggestion of lack easily disputed. Also, if your life gets too full, you get accused of not making a time for a relationship. You kind of can’t win.

In this week’s edition of Modern Love, Sara Eckel beautifully deconstructs all of these rationalizations (and several others) as she writes about her quest to find a lasting relationship.

And the take away from all of this — it doesn’t work until it does (or it doesn’t — remember, realist here) and all of the reasons you give yourself or your friends tell you are not answers, just a way to try to make sense out of a process that mostly defies logic and traditional narrative.

Eckel writes:

Did we find love because we grew up, got real and worked through our issues? No. We just found the right guys. We found men who love us even though we’re still cranky and neurotic, haven’t got our careers together, and sometimes talk too loudly, drink too much and swear at the television news. We have gray hairs and unfashionable clothes and bad attitudes. They love us, anyway.

What’s wrong with me? Plenty. But that was never the point.

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