From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

The Single-for-Life Syndrome

The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.


As my best friend so eloquently put it, we were “Rated PG,” or platonically gifted. Always the shoulders for guys to cry on, we were the founders and co-presidents of the Never Been Kissed Club (in our area anyway; I’m sure there are other NBKCs out there), and were both still “proud” members at the ripe old age of nineteen. Both of us were intelligent, enthusiastic and active in clubs and sports. We had great senses of humor and were just as comfortable yelling at the refs from the stands as getting all primped to go out on the town.

Yet there existed a difference in our singleness. Melissa was single by choice. Granted, some of the guys who had pursued her were not exactly desirable, but the fact remains that they had pursued her. She had enjoyed a few minor almost-flings, but still claimed to be perpetually single. Now, when I say I hadn’t ever had a boyfriend or even been pursued, this is not a “that-fling-with-the-guy-in-Ohio-last-summer-doesn’t-count-because-we-won’t-ever-see-each-other-again” statement. I didn’t even have a kindergarten boyfriend. I had never been on a date, save for junior prom, which was an arranged thing—neither of us asked the other; someone just decided we should go together because our best friends were going together. It’s not that I was antisocial or deathly afraid of boys; by the end of high school I hung out with about three times as many guys on a regular basis as girls. I was the eternal good friend whom any guy knew he could come to for advice on dating and how to snag the girl he wanted—it was just never me.

This was a source of longing, sadness, irritation, questioning and occasional misery for me. In most areas of my life I was quite stable, but for a few years every couple of months would yield a night of crying, generally catalyzed by a sappy movie or even just a song on the radio.

I came up with personal mottos such as, “If even the losers get lucky, then what does that make me?” and, “If nobody’s going to be interested in you, you might as well be picky.” While I constantly joked about my singleness, my insides were stinging. The sight of a happy couple on the street or in the mall would bring with it the knowledge that both of those people had found someone to hold, so why couldn’t I? People I had graduated with were getting engaged, even married, but I couldn’t get a date if my life depended on it. Testimonials from attached people who claimed to remember the deep despair I was experiencing did not make me feel better; rather they sent tidal waves crashing through the ocean of resentment building inside me.

After a few months at college, though, a funny thing happened. Even though my confidence in the relationship field did not improve, I began caring less and less. My roommates, eerily similar to me in personality, were both in serious relationships, but instead of depressing me further, it helped me to think that maybe there was someone out there for me. My sophomore year I chose to live with the same two girls and another, also in a serious relationship, and everyone said it was my year—that Bec was gonna get some action on the dating scene. I wasn’t so sure, but I didn’t focus on it too much. College put enough on my mind without having to worry about being single for life. Besides, everyone told me love would find me when I wasn’t looking for it.

So here I am, well into my sophomore year, my year, and here’s where you’re expecting me to start gushing about Mr. Right, the boyfriend I never thought I’d have—how he is the best thing that has ever happened to me and how I was silly to think I’d never get one because there really is someone out there for everyone. But no, this is not one of those “I got a significant other so you can, too!” musings that will just end up making someone more bitter. This is purely about a sorely needed attitude adjustment. I still have sporadic lonely nights, but I now know that I don’t have to be alone to be lonely. I still love to torment my roommates and lay on the heavy guilt trips when they have date nights, or when I’m what I like to refer to as the “seventh wheel” on an outing with three couples and me, but this is mostly to see that look of amused frustration on their faces. I still make gagging noises when someone’s being all lovey-dovey on the phone or talking about what her boyfriend did for her birthday. I still joke about being the first “gold plus” member of the NBKC. I still refuse to settle for less than what I want and deserve; perhaps I, too, am single by choice in that sense. I still haven’t been kissed, but I’m okay with that. I live in hope.

Rebecca Ayres

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