Bouncing back and living forward


It is a truth universally acknowledged that we can’t always date who we want.

I’ve been both the rejector and the rejectee – and even if it’s mutual, it’s still the pits. Blame it on timing or distance or one person deciding that they’re just not that into the other; whatever the circumstance, love can knock the wind out of you.

I’ve grown really hesitant about writing about singleness online, mostly because sometimes it brings up some well-meaning but largely unhelpful responses (not from YOU, my compassionate friends. But from The Others). For example:

  • Love will find you when you’re not looking. I would wager that 95% of couples I know were “looking” when they found each other – cab light on, antenna up, and putting out the vibe.
  • Just be content with God alone – then he’ll bring you a husband. As if marriage is a reward for the very most devoted. Super lame formula.
  • Maybe you should try online dating. It’s 2015 – of course I’ve tried online dating! A bunch of times. And while I know plenty of people who have had great success with it, I hate online dating more than I hate pickles, which is a lot, which is why I don’t do it anymore. It just doesn’t jive with me. If this decreases my “odds,” so be it.
  • I can’t understand why you’re single. While I know this is usually meant as an encouragement, it insinuates that there must be a “reason” I’m single. What if there’s no reason, except that I am? I can’t give a reason.
  • You should enjoy this time. I am enjoying this time. I am traveling, spending and giving money the way I deem best, investing in friends both male and female, pursuing some passions, learning, moving where and when I want to, and reveling in the delicious silence of living alone. Silence is a gift. Someday when babies are screaming and – God forbid – Caillou is blaring, I will shoot up my veins with the stored silence of these quiet days. I am taking full advantage of this relatively uncomplicated life and living well, as best as I know how.
  • You’re just too intimidating. I can’t tell if that’s an insult or a compliment, but either way, I am drawn to men with guts.
  • Here’s a rough one: Pity.
  • And finally, my favorite flurry of contradictions: You should flirt. You should play hard to get. Stop being picky. Keep your standards high. Look for a guy at church. Look for a guy at a bar. Look for a guy on the top of a mountain. Put yourself out there. Just pray about it. Try harder. Just stop trying.

May I gently suggest some alternative things to say to a friend who happens to be single and hopes to someday not be?

  • I think you’re a catch. That is, if you really do think that. If the person is a schmuck, well, I suppose you’re allowed to say that too.
  • I’m sorry that this feels hard today. Regardless of one’s relationship status, I think we can all agree that some days are great and some days suck.
  • I am so hopeful. This one is especially good when the other person is tired of hoping. I’ve found it really nice to occasionally let someone else carry the hope for me, like a really huge backpack, until I know I can take it back.
  • You’re doing a good job. Period.

These days, I can honestly say that most of the time, being single doesn’t make me sad – because in so many ways, I love it! Even when I experience false starts. When the guy I’d been on three dates with and decided that I really liked texted me when I was at Home Depot to say he thought we should just be friends, or another guy called me before a first date to tell me that God had told him not to take me out (?), or even in the wake of a recent romantic bummer, I’m bouncing back and living forward – which is the healthiest thing to do, no matter if one is single, dating, or married.

We can’t always date who we want. We can’t engineer our lives to manipulate our futures. We can’t speed up time, and we can’t predict what’s going to happen next. We can’t control another person. We can’t “If You Build It, They Will Come” love – unless you are building a brewery.

But we can still choose to be happy. And I’m getting pretty good at the choosing.




  1. Christina on November 11, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    I think you are a catch. And I am so hopeful. I’m flying to MN in 2016, its happening – I already miss you too much.

  2. [not the] Best Blog Ever on November 11, 2015 at 9:26 AM

    Great post! And… Good call on Caillou; just… No.

  3. Lauren on November 11, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    You always know just how to put into words what is in my head. So thankful for you!

  4. Alissa on November 11, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    This is powerful and honest and lovely. Thank you for bravery in sharing your heart, so that we all can love each other better. I’m going to tuck these words into a prominent spot in my brain… So many need to hear it.

  5. Matt on November 11, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    This posts helps me better understand struggles I don’t experience, and that is valuable. Thank you.

    Also, I don’t know how you resisted backhand bitch slapping anyone who said any of those things to you. Kudos on the self control.

  6. k on November 11, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    Be grateful that the guy who called before a first date to tell you that God had told him not to take you out did call…because he saved you from what clearly would have been a disaster of his making. I mean, that is like a giant flashing road sign saying, “Turn around and drive the hell away from here because there is crazy up ahead.” Just sayin.

    And you could always throw cats at those passive aggressive naysayers. It would really confuse them.

  7. shanna mallon on November 11, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    ha! you write it so good.

  8. Angie Nikolas on November 11, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Annie! I swear it’s like some days you write directly to me. While no longer single, I still could feel the pangs of every one of those points and remember the frustration of hearing them. I can’t count the number of times I screamed at my parent’s “I’M 31 YEARS OLD, I’M ALWAYS LOOKING!”

    Your writing is beautiful and your voice is important. I know sometimes talking about being single feels like a broken record but you have no idea how comforting it is for others to be able to read this and nod along.

  9. Peg on November 11, 2015 at 11:49 AM

    Amen and amen – heard it all. One particularly snarky response that I wanted to use on the “why aren’t you married?” question is: “why aren’t you single?” I know – horrible.

  10. Kristy on November 11, 2015 at 12:26 PM

    This is great. I’ve gotten all those responses and contradicting pieces of advice during my single 30’s. I agree that some response mingling sympathy (but not pity) and hope would be most helpful.

    I don’t know you, but I am hopeful for you. You are a catch. :)

  11. Hilary on November 11, 2015 at 12:42 PM

    Caillou. I hate that little Canadian whiner. You, however, I adore, and you ARE a catch. I’m hopeful for you. Good stuff here.

  12. Leigh Kramer on November 11, 2015 at 3:01 PM

    PREACH. All of it.

  13. Kelli on November 11, 2015 at 3:55 PM

    Obviously you’re still single because you haven’t gone on The Bachelor. Everyone knows that’s where you go to find true, lasting love.

  14. kimberly on November 11, 2015 at 8:50 PM

    ohhhhhhhh man annie. hearts and more to you friend. this speaks so deeply to me!!!! I hear all of these things on the regular and it is so hard even when it is good. being single is so hard and it so often feels like nobody understands. I’m so glad you do.

  15. Marijke on November 11, 2015 at 9:21 PM

    Love. Thanks for writing words that help me feel less alone.

  16. Allison on November 12, 2015 at 8:20 PM

    i was writing a book about this for a while! no kidding. each chapter was going to be a different stupid thing that people say about being single. i struggled to not sound condescending, so i stopped writing. but anyway i read a bunch of STUPID books as research to see what was out there on the topic. the one that made me the angriest was a book called “marriable.” like right there, in the title, tells you how horrible of a book it was. like people who are married are somehow “marriable” but people who are single are so deeply flawed…ugh. UGH.

  17. LaQuetha on November 14, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    Thank you for sharing about being single. As a single woman it is hard to hear those things but as you said I can choose happiness in tnis season. I am happy but man the holidays are rough with extended family members. Thanks for sharing.

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