This week, I got into a conversation with a college-aged acquaintance of mine about how much it sucks to be single. Not just your standard, run-of-the-mill, “my Tinder dates aren’t going so well” single. No, I’m talking about that kind of single when you’re well into your college years, everyone you know is happily paired off or at least getting laid regularly, and in the meantime you can’t get another person to so much as look at you romantically. You know, THAT kind of singledom.
It’s been a minute since I was that single, but I pride myself on giving people good life advice. I never want to be the kind of person that dispenses wisdom from an ivory tower, you know? So I took a moment to think back on what it was like to be alone, taking yet another hit to the ol’ self-esteem every day that nobody wanted to be with me. I took a deep breath and stepped back into myself at age 19, which is the last year of my life that I was still a hopeless virgin- and not for lack of trying, thank you for asking.
I emotionally time-traveled back to that period of my life to remember what it felt like to be chronically single. Honestly, I was lowkey expecting to shrug it off as “not that bad”. But you know what?
It was. It sucked. It suuuucked. It was soul-crushing. Soul. Crushing. I felt terrible about myself and I felt terrible about the future. No matter what anyone told me about how I just had to hang on until I met someone, or how I’d find love when I wasn’t looking, or how I was a great catch but not everyone is fishing for trout, or whatever platitude, it never instilled hope. There’s no reason why it should’ve. No one wanted to be with me before now, and no one wants to be with me currently- what kind of idiot would I have to be to believe that someone was going to want to be with me in the future?
It was hell to step back into that headspace for all of three minutes, let alone to still be living in it. I wanted so desperately to say something helpful.
But you know what I realized? I can’t.
No one can. If you’re a coupled person, there’s literally no piece of advice that you can give to a chronically single person that doesn’t make you sound like an asshole. I’m sorry, but there’s just not. Did some good advice that you think you recently gave a single friend just pop into your head? Yeah, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but that advice didn’t help them and probably also made them feel like shit. That’s just the nature of the beast. You, as a person that has made it to the other side, are now trying to tell someone else about life on the other side when they still have no ability to get across the chasm. It’s insulting at best, and quickly verges on cruelty at worst.
And I especially couldn’t try telling them the truth. It sounds like bullshit to a single person, but all of us coupled people know it to be true. The problem will just fix itself on its own. You never know when, you never know where, and you never know how- just that, one day, you’ll meet someone and you’ll like them and they’ll like you and everything will be okay. Everything sucks, and then it doesn’t. That’s what the transition from chronically single to happily coupled is like.
So obviously, I didn’t say any of that. Instead I said, “Have you thought about using a funny pickup line?”
I guess there’s more than one way to give someone useless advice.