This Is Why I’m Single

You, who likely do not know me, probably have a guess as to why I’m single. Maybe I’m afraid of commitment. Maybe I’ve never been in a serious relationship. Maybe I come from too troubled of a past. Maybe I’m “just not really trying.”

Here’s why I’m single: because I just am. I’ve gone to prom with a boy. I’ve been asked to dance. I’ve been asked on dates. I’ve had a serious relationship. I’ve laughed hard and been pulled in close under a streetlight in the snow. I’ve talked about marriage with someone I thought I would marry. And I’ve been heartbroken when it didn’t happen. I’ve been surrounded by girlfriends who made me eat something and drink water and brought me out of that darkness into the light of healing.

I’m an educated, capable, passionate, creative woman who happens to be single. Not because I’m not a good enough catch. Not because I refuse to talk to boys. Not because I can’t be serious. Not because I don’t love Jesus enough. And also not because I’m not “content enough.” (Side note: We are called to be “content in all circumstances.” It’s not the magic formula to marriage. When people say “when you’re content in your singleness you’ll meet The One”—that’s the prosperity gospel, so no thanks.)

When it comes down to it, I’m single because I just am.

My friend Kelsey is married and if you ask her why, she’ll say it’s because she was reading a book that her husband also liked to read. Simple as that.

We live in a world in which everyone seems to be an expert. “You’re next,” they say at weddings. Or, while being well-meaning, “Your husband is going to be amazing.” As if they just ran into him down the street and he’s this incredible human everyone—except me—seems to be certain of. Here’s the thing: the only time you should say to someone, “You’re next!” is in, say, a waiting room or a line for ice cream when that person is most certainly about to be next.

We speak with much certainty about some things that are not guaranteed. Do I hope to get married one day? You bet. The whole being-pulled-in-close-under-a-streetlight-in-the-snow bit was fun. But do I bank my whole life plan on it? No. I’ve moved from being a Californian child to a Chicagoan college student to a Bostonian grad student to a Texan intern to a Nashvillian because it’s where I was called. I didn’t stay put just in case The One was there.

Christ makes me whole. He gives me my identity. And if one day I find myself absentmindedly playing with that well-worn ring on my ring finger as I wait for my husband to run back inside to grab the umbrella I forgot, I’ll be no more whole or found. If we really believe at our core we are more than our relationship status, we have to start giving one another the benefit of the doubt. And that goes both ways. We have to stop making marriage the highest pinnacle of holiness and put-togetherness.

We have to treat single people like equal members of society, not like the poor unfortunate souls who don’t have an elusive membership card that somehow feels like it dictates our worth.

And to my fellow singles, I say this: your married friends are just as valuable as you are, they just operate a little differently. Don’t eye-roll if they can’t get away til 8pm because the kids won’t stay in bed. Don’t assume they’re too busy having awesome sex to come to your art showing. Don’t believe they have it all together. And cut them some slack when the first response at an invitation is “let me talk to [insert spouse name here].”

A lot of what we’re doing on this side of eternity is awkwardly navigating how to care for one another well. So, let’s start with this: don’t ask me why I’m single. I don’t ask you why someone would marry you. Ask me how I’m doing. Ask me if I want to grab lunch and talk about Parks and Recreation. Join me for a walk in the woods. Pray for my heart that (honestly) feels subjected to others’ assumptions about my ability to have a relationship.

We can get through this together if we stop asking why with a made-up answer already in our heads. Life is complicated. Sometimes, we’re just single. I promise to not assume your life is perfect if you promise to not assume mine is a relational dumpster fire.

Melissa Zaldivar

Melissa Zaldivar

Melissa Zaldivar is a social in the world of academics and an academic in the world of socials. Ever the Enneagram Six, she likes to dream big, talk herself out of it and then just do the dang thing. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Bible/Theology as well as a Master’s in Theology. Her passions include Jimmy Johns sandwiches, showing people pictures of her nieces, and nerding out over Biblical languages. If you ever need to know anything about obscure Puritanical American history or NASA, she’s your girl. You can find her at www.werecampingout.com.
Melissa Zaldivar

Latest posts by Melissa Zaldivar (see all)

  • This is the best thing I’ve read about being single. You’ve helped me know the best responses to give to those living a single life and you are definitely right that married people aren’t more together, content or fulfilled just because they’re married. You speak truth beautifully, Melissa. Thank you.

  • Gina

    Love this!

  • One of my best friends is single and, as we’ve processed the why’s, it always comes down to she just is. And it’s not fair or unfair. I’m thankful that she takes the time to deeply invest in my family’s life – she brings so much value and energy that I can’t. I hope one day that she does have a family of her own and that I’ll be able to do the same for her kids. But if that doesn’t happen, our friendship is still what is most precious. Thank you for this reminder – to both singles and marrieds.

  • Karen Gonzalez

    Melissa, as a single woman I SO resonate with this! Thank you for writing it. I’ve reached an age where people have stopped saying “you’re next” but I still struggle with the way the church seems to equate worth with marriage.

  • Erin

    Water to my soul, this was. Wonderfully written and done so in love. Not to me a ‘Me Too’-er, but the words you put down have been in my heart for some time. Like Alistair Begg said, you need to bloom where you’ve been planted whether that be as a mom at Aldi, a dad changing diapers, or as a nearly 30 grad student who’s single and loves her nephew to death. It’s the Enemy who feeds us lies that stir until comparisons and judgment.

  • Andrea Prusi Wills

    Melissa you are beautiful and I love your honesty. Your perspective is dead on and I am so proud of you. If you ever feel the “calling” to be a Yooper, I know of some pretty amazing guys up here. Just sayin’. LOVE YOU MY FRIEND!

  • Christina

    Hey, I am an enneagram six! This was good. And as someone who is single I appreciate that you mentioned not assuming about married friends. Because I tend to do that.

  • Carolyn Miller

    Witty, truthful, insightful, encouraging. You have a gift!! Thank you for this.

  • Paul H Park

    If you’re living in the U.S., things start to head toward the mean. An immigrant from South Korean is more likely to get married younger here than in South Korea. I like South Korea but I learned somewhat about the limits of plurality and tolerance. It’s good to think independently but let’s not narrow our outreach by being digital ‘rogues’ when judging covers. I actually learned very little about this former alumna because this view is what most people say w/ the cues we have now, not in regards to how we’re actually are when we let our guard down. Nevertheless, thanks for the smile. 🙂

  • Joel Aubrey

    Just saw a friend share this Melissa. Excellent job. Holly and I talk about this often as we interact with our single friends: “We have to stop making marriage the highest pinnacle of holiness and put-togetherness.” Boom. Godspeed sister.