A few years ago, I was getting my makeup done for a wedding. It was 8 a.m. and my eyes were heavy with rehearsal dinner hangover and eyelash glue. I am never overly chatty with hairstylists or makeup artists. Not because I’m rude, but because I assume they are best friends with every single one of their clients except for me, so why try to butt in and embarrass myself?
I am, as it turns out, deeply insecure.
As a seasoned bridesmaid, I am no stranger to early hair and makeup sessions. I was, however, a stranger to the woman doing my makeup. We’d never met. And up until this point, our conversation had only covered whether I would be paying extra for lashes (yes, always) and whether I could eat in her chair (yes, as long as I didn’t care about ruining my lips).
After this chummy exchange, she asked the question that always comes next: “So, are you dating anyone?”
This question does not bother me. It’s a natural conversation starter. I ask it all the time. What bothered me is what followed. When after I replied no, I wasn’t dating anyone and, yes, I was single and, what’s that? For how long? I don’t know, a while?, she dramatically set down her tools, held my gaze in the mirror and asked, “Who broke your heart, sweetie?”
Who broke your heart, sweetie?
Like it was not 8 in the morning and we had not just met.
Like I was sad.
As Known Chauvinist Joe Gorga says, A Broken Woman.
I was taken aback. I didn’t think this sort of thing happened outside of Steel Magnolias! And yet, here we were: virtual strangers having a classic Shelby and Truvy tête-à-tête.
I wanted to respond that I’m good, I enjoy being single. That I was having fun. Or, maybe for shock value, that I simply like trolling for dick.
But because I am a people pleaser, and because this woman was, in true Dolly Parton fashion, so earnestly trying to help, I let her think I was the heartbroken mess she wanted me to be.
And then I drank my juice (a mimosa) like a good Shelby.
And totally fucked up my lips.
While I’m sure woman was an exception, I think about her every time someone asks me why I’m not interested in dating. I don’t really know the answer. And I don’t think it even matters. But because it keeps coming up – “Are you dating anyone? Why not? Is Heather? Why not? Wait, are you and Heather together?” – I started talking about it in therapy. I think I’m fine, but now everyone has me thinking, well, what if I’m not? What if there is something wrong with me? What if I am A Broken Woman?
Note: while Heather, my roommate, would make a great life partner (she makes pasta, biscuits and scones from scratch!), we aren’t together. We are both just very apathetic about dating, and my experiences last year didn’t do much to galvanize our efforts.
I know I’m not a broken woman. But I am starting to question myself. To borrow a phrase from a very rude male coworker, “I mean really sweetie what is going on here?”
(I don’t know why people keep calling me sweetie but please know it’s very patronizing and I hate it.)
It also doesn’t help that the landscape has changed. Relationship-wise, I went into lockdown on what felt like solid ground. Familiar territory. I knew where people stood, where all the pieces lay on the board. A is taking it slow with B, C *might* move in with D, E is casually dating but not looking to settle down, etc. We’re all just having fun, right?!
Overnight, casual couples got serious, singles found partners, friends became parents. I thought we were all taking a time out, but instead, everyone jumped three steps ahead. And, suddenly, I’m way the fuck behind.
It’s not a great feeling.
But I comfort myself with the knowledge that people fall in love and get divorced every day.
Clarification: I do not want my friends to get divorced. I love them, and I’ve invested far too much money in tulle and fake lashes for me to want that to happen. But it helps me sleep at night knowing my dream guy is currently in the arms of another woman—temporarily.
Again: I am, as it turns out, insecure.
Perhaps maliciously so.
Anyways, I’m sorting through some shit. And I don’t even know if or why I need to.
I love being single. But am I using it as a crutch?
It’d be cool to find love. But would it completely derail my life as I know it?
I’d love to be held by someone. But would they even fit in my bed with all my new throw pillows?
These are the questions that keep me up at night. That, and “I forgot to take my birth control for a week. Does it even matter?”
No. No it does not.