You don’t see people express much about being single in public spaces.

There’s a fear, I think. Expressing that kind of vulnerability carries unattractive connotations. Nobody wants to look desperate or needy.

Yet the overwhelming ubiquity of tinder and okcupid speaks to a desire we all share. Nobody wants to be alone. But the game, it seems, is to pretend it doesn’t bother you. Grin and bear it until you strike gold. Suddenly people who previously never post a damn thing are┬áspamming kissing booth collages and tagging each other in dumpster-tier memes about babies and wedding planning.

But this isn’t a rant about romantic exhibitionism in the age of social media.

Ever since the first time I woke up in the morning next to a wonderful person I was excited to spend the day with, I knew I never wanted to go back. Genuine, loving romantic companionship is one of the handful of experiences that make our time on this mortal coil worth it.

The word “loneliness” doesn’t really capture the absence of this, for me. I am a pretty solitary creature for the most part; I need a lot of space in my day-to-day, and I don’t mind being by myself or being left alone with my thoughts.

The frustration of being single is in not having outlets for a huge fraction of my identity. Sexuality is a big part of it, of course, but it’s far more than just that. For me, one feature of a good relationship is a constant flow of affection, interest, and support. It feels great to be there for someone, to be trusted enough to share in their darkness and vulnerability. It’s exciting to have unmitigated permission to dole out compliments and smiles and appreciation. The filters are turned off. The inhibitions are unnecessary. Be as you are.

Yeah, these things are sorta possible outside of romantic relationships. But it’s not the same. I have some orthogonal thoughts on polyamory I want to explore related to this at some point, but I’m still chewing on that concept. Another time.

Point being: I see a lot of unhelpful advice for coping with being single. A lot of it is predicated on the idea that there is something wrong with the single person that is making them unattractive to others. Or that the primary goal should be to accept the status and learn to be okay with it. That seems to work for some people. But for some of us, no amount of self-love or fulfilling hobbies or interesting lifestyles will ever change that. Being single is just a lesser plane of existence.

It is what it is.