Being single over 30 means doing things alone
I’ve written before about the unique challenges of being single over the age of 30. One aspect I failed to address is that singles over 30 need to get used to doing things alone. Since most of your friends are married, making plans with them is a lot more difficult. When you’re younger, making plans with a friend simply meant picking up the phone and calling (back then we still used phones as phones), and within the hour you were doing something together. At this age, you need to send a Google Calendar meeting invitation weeks in advance.
“Hey, I see that you’re available from 6:00 to 7:00 on the 12th. Do you want to hang out?”
“Sure, but let’s make it 6:00 to 6:50. At 7:00 my wife and I are picking out new candle sets for the living room and I don’t want to be late.”
That means if you want to do something other than sit on the couch petting your dog while you binge watch House of Cards (no spoilers – I’ve only seen Season One!), you’ll have to do some things by yourself. It isn’t easy, though, since from an early age you’re taught that being alone is weird. Let’s face it, you don’t want to be the adult equivalent of the kid sitting in the corner by himself during recess squeezing Elmer’s glue on his fingers so he can peel it off when it dries.
I’ll be honest. I’m just now getting used to eating alone. Generally I’ll get food to-go even if there’s nowhere I need to be, so people don’t see me at a table by myself and wonder.
“Why is he all by himself? Doesn’t he have friends? I bet he’s a serial killer. He looks like a serial killer!”
“He looks normal to me.”
“Exactly! All serial killers look normal; that’s why no one suspects them!”
Nothing can make you feel more pathetic than the question “table for one?” Maybe sometimes you even lie and say a friend is meeting you. Then you have to kill 30 minutes or so pretending to text this imaginary friend on your phone before you tell the server, “My friend couldn’t make it. It’s just me after all.”
One the other hand, going out to eat with friends can be just as bad. I remember one time recently when I went out for trivia night at a local restaurant with six friends (3 couples). When it came time to pay, the server asked if we all wanted separate checks.
“No,” my friend said. “The two of us are together, those two are together, and those two are together. And Jeremy’s all by himself.”
“Great, I’ll bring your checks.”
“Also, can you bring me another refill,” I asked, “but laced with strychnine?”
I’ve never gone to a movie theater alone, but I imagine such a thing would get you placed on a government watch list. I went to a concert alone once because my friend canceled and I had already committed to reviewing the show for a magazine. The good news is because the music is so loud you can’t really talk to people anyway.
And what about vacations? For families, vacations are a great time to get away, enjoy time off of work, and bond with each other. If you’re over 30 and single, unless you want to be a fifth wheel on someone else’s vacation, you have to go alone. Do you really want to take that many selfies? Henry David Thoreau was so bored on his solo vacation that he wrote a 300-page essay about a pond!
If you don’t want to suffer the fate of Thoreau, you have two options: 1) get married or 2) make more single friends. Of course, making new friends as an adult is a completely different kind of awkward, which I will cover in my next post.
Your Song of the Day: “Grey Room” by Damien Rice