I’m pretty sure I disappointed my best friend today.
She asked for a status update on my relationship. I told her I had decided I was single at heart and needed to tell him that. She asked, “What happened?” I told her honestly that nothing had happened, I had just realized I don’t like romantic relationships.
Cue radio silence.
Now this is just speculation, but I think she was staring at her phone with a complete lack of response. Lost for words, unable to think of how to respond to me. Of course, she might have been sitting there cussing me out in her head, or throwing her hands up in the air. I strongly suspect she decided today that I’m a lost cause.
My best friend is married, and happily so, for which I thank God. I adore her husband, and I adore them together. They’re approaching their 10th anniversary, if I’m doing the math right, and I am constantly grateful that he came into her life. A couple of years ago she told me that marriage is “the most amazing thing in the world”.
I’m happy that she is happy. But her brand of happiness is not my brand of happiness, and I worry that when we get together in person next, I’m going to be subjected to a long lecture (or possibly a rant) about how my standards are too high, or I need to get over this fear of relationships, or that I am going to end up an old maid. As much as I love my best friend, I don’t think she understands what it means to be single at heart.
Of course, I do test her patience from time to time. I tried that dating thing a few years ago for about three days, which was when she told me how amazing marriage is. Then I did it again this year. I’m going to promise this was the last time, unless he literally shows up with a string of thirsty camels and a nose ring, but I’m not sure even that will convince her that I’m not just holding out for something better.
I call myself a writer. I claim I can put into words what other people can’t. And yet I haven’t figured out a way to explain my lifelong singleness to someone who has known me for more than half my life.
I don’t know who I’m more disappointed in right now, me or her. She didn’t respond to my statement that I don’t want romance, which makes me think she doesn’t understand my desire to be single. But I can’t make myself understood, which makes me think I’m worse at this writing thing than I thought.
I’m a huge fan of the show Chicago Fire. A few episodes back, a character facing a possibly life-changing decision was talking to his father. This character, Severide, was thinking about leaving Rescue Squad, and he was worried about what the other people in his life would think. His father gave him a piece of advice that has been resounding in my head ever since. He told Severide to disappoint his girlfriend, to disappoint the other firefighters, even to disappoint his father–but never to disappoint himself.
I’m not saying that a single person has no responsibilities except to herself. As a single person, I have responsibilities to my friends. I have responsibilities to my coworkers. I have responsibilities to my parents. I have responsibilities to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have responsibilities to the rest of society, to a certain degree. But as a single person, I have only one person to live with–me.
Today, I think I disappointed my best friend. And her opinion means a lot to me. But in the end, it’s about living with myself.
And I can do that.