This originally appeared on The Daily Life. Republished here with permission.
Of course I didn’t think that this was how things would turn out: as a little girl, reading stories in which every woman’s narrative (even the feminist ones, like Anne Shirley of Green Gables) concluded in the happiness of coupledom, I did not anticipate that I would be over 30—THIRTY—footloose, and fancy-free.
Or, to be honest, that I’d be quite all right with that—that I’d be happy to be in a relationship, but equally able to have a happy life without one.
Which is not to say, however, that I haven’t been the recipient of a great deal of advice from people troubled by my lack of everlasting love. It’s not that they don’t mean well. It’s just that the advice doesn’t always come out well. Over and over and over again.
Pushing 30 and unpartnered? Past 30 and single? Welcome! You can have a lot of fun over here. Particularly if you ignore these five pieces of stupid advice—that you are likely to hear again and again and again.
1. ‘You’ll find someone’
Reducing the quest for a life partner to something roughly equivalent to the search for a pair of shoes that will go with a designer frock. Finding someone is not the solution to the challenges in my life; finding happiness is, and that’s what I want people in my life to care that I achieve. That happiness can come in all kinds of forms. Some of them are man-shaped. Many, not.
2. ‘Don’t be so picky’
Yes, it’s likely you haven’t found someone because you’ve been surrounded by ideal partners but rejected them out of hand because you have far too much of a sense of self-worth. Whenever someone says this to me I always want to respond: “I can see that you weren’t.”
But I don’t! Because I’m a kind person. Instead, I much prefer my grandpa’s advice: “Love is like baseball,” he told me. “You can get some strikes. You only need one hit.”
3. ‘Weddings are a great place to meet single men’
I’ve been to 25 weddings in the past 10 years. At two of them I met single men who I later hooked up with. At a dozen I was seated next to men who some well-meaning person had thought I might hit it off with, smiling a tight smile while I scooted my chair as far away from them as the seating chart would permit.
At three I met men who were not single at all but who flirted outrageously with me while their wives scowled at me from beneath their fascinators. It’s not great odds.
At many of these weddings I couldn’t help but feel dispirited that only if I found someone to marry would all of my friends and family travel thousands of miles to fete me, no matter what else I did with my life. At others, I felt extremely happy that I have never made all of my friends and family travel thousands of miles to fete me. Those were weddings with terrible chicken, bad speeches, or both.
4. ‘You should try online dating’
A strong idea from anyone who has not been single since 2005; anyone who says this has not tried it.
If they had, they would know that you already have, and that it was sometimes boring, sometimes humiliating, sometimes frustrating, occasionally encouraging, and that you already know that you’ll be doing it again at some point.
5. ‘You’ll meet someone when you least expect it’
That’s very interesting. I just wish that people who tell me this would also tell me how to establish these non-expectant conditions. Spurning human company in favor of exclusively hanging out with dogs?
Feel free to send in suggestions. In the meantime, I’ll be over here, having a good life and allowing myself to hope that some lovely people cross my path throughout it.
Jean Hannah Edelstein is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Read more at her blog—jeanhannahedelstein.com—and find her on Twitter: @jhedelstein.