Mind the Gap: Embracing the Pseudo-Single Life
Category:Articles, Book Contributions
This essay appeared in the book, “Party of One: Living Single with Faith, Purpose, and Passion.” Published August 2011.
By Christina Maria Paschyn
For the past five years, I have been living in a state of “pseudo singlehood.” By that I mean that since my junior year of college, I have been in a long distance relationship. Not the kind where the beau lives a few hours or a couple of states away (although a girl can dream). I mean a very long distance relationship: my boyfriend lives in Scotland and I work in America.
There isn’t enough space in this essay to list all the issues I struggle with in my international romance: the time difference, enormous flight costs, and occasional pangs of loneliness and despair. Then there’s the overwhelming frustration I feel when I see my married and attached friends enjoying actual face-to-face communication and intimacy with their significant others. And don’t even get me started on my truly single friends and their seemingly God-given right to flirt their way through bars and clubs…
I could go on. But to be honest, despite all my moaning, I actually enjoy being a pseudo-single woman. Some would say I have the best of both worlds: a boyfriend minus the annoyance of having to see him and a single life sans the painfully awkward dates. Ok, so that may be too much of a stretch. But let me assure you, my unorthodox relationship has been a blessing in disguise.
As my sorority sisters and college roommates struggled to balance their boyfriends’ needs with their own interests and obligations, I faced no such challenge. I had the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted without having to worry about hurting the feelings of my man across the pond. Of course I never would have engaged in behavior disrespectful to our relationship. But while my girlfriends turned down social, travel and job opportunities just to stay close to their flames, I was able to follow my whims and dreams wherever they led me: from one a.m. house parties and auditions for traveling theater troupes to study programs and internships in Israel, Egypt and beyond (although I confess, I did take extended stops in Britain along the way.)
But more significantly, unlike so many of my paired-off male and female friends, I learned to be at peace with myself. Single life allows for a gratifying amount of autonomy. Unfortunately too many people fail to embrace this through no fault of their own. Our society bombards us with countless images of romantic love and sensationalist stories of ‘distraught’ men and women who held off on marriage and children until it was ‘too late.’ Simply put the pressure is constant.
I guess that’s where us pseudo singles luck out; since we are stuck in a state of limbo between marriage and casual dating, we can approach the hysteria with a detached, outsider’s perspective. So here’s my advice: don’t believe the hype. Sure, wedding bells and baby carriages are wonderful stages in a person’s life, but then again, so is singlehood. No other time allows a woman the opportunity to discover herself fully (emotionally, spiritually and academically) or to figure out what she really wants in life. Perhaps if women spent more time trying to realize their full potential than dreaming of knights in shining armor, they would have an easier time deciding whether the men pursuing them truly deserve a place in their future.
I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out if my boyfriend and I had lived in the same town during college. Would we have gotten married right after my graduation? And then, would I still have traveled around the world and experienced all the amazing things that I did? The point is I could not have asked for a better life journey. My adventures would not have been possible had I jumped into ‘wedded bliss’ right away.
Yet our separate experiences and personal growth have only strengthened our resolve to be together. So now as my boyfriend applies for his work visa to the United States, my pseudo singlehood is destined to end. Perhaps marriage and children will be in our future. If it is then I am confident we will succeed in it largely because we learned to be comfortable on our own first. Matrimony, we feel, should only enhance a couple’s already strong bond and love for each other’s unique and differing identities. Only then can two fully conscious and mature souls be united as one.
Single life has taught me that marriage is not an end in itself. A person can live an extremely fulfilling and meaningful existence without the added complication of taking care of a spouse. Indeed, while we are eager to start our lives together, there is a part of me that will miss that freedom when my love finally arrives here. But for those of you who hope to get hitched in the future, just remember to savor your single status now while you still can – otherwise, one day you may realize that you lived too little, too late.0