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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018
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Dear Fifi: Is it weird to be single at 35?

Dearest darling Fifi.

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I’ve always thought there was something very comforting – and I suppose somewhat terrifying – about the phrase “this too shall pass”. But look at us now. Snow mania has passed and Spring has bloody well arrived. Unthinkable but a week ago, but that’s how it goes.

Worried about something that hasn’t yet passed? Tell me about it. (Am I the only one who involuntarily adds “stud” to the end of that? Anyway.)

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I’m a single guy at 35 and I don’t really have any intention of changing that. Is it weird? Does society look upon me with suspicion, like what’s wrong with him, why does nobody want him?

I’d like to say first off that there’s nothing weird about choosing to be single, or just winding up being single by happenstance, at any age. Not everyone desperately wants to be in a couple. If it works for you, it works for you.

Unfortunately, we can’t pretend a utopia into existence where everyone else in society thinks like that. There is a reason you feel a tug about being perceived as weird despite feeling content in yourself, and that’s because of the couple-focused society we live in.

I’d be lying to you if I said people weren’t going to give you shit about this, in one way or another. You could never comment on the state of someone’s marriage, but you may live to hear lots of opinions on the fact that you’re single – that’s unfortunately how it is.

My take is that people are suspicious of other people’s lifestyles that somehow seem to inherently criticise their own choices. Many people spend their lives striving to become a unit. We’re bashed over the head from childhood about marriage and finding a partner and settling down and the rest. To swim against stream is to reject all that, and some people will find that difficult to accept – either because they simply can’t understand it, or perhaps don’t really want to.

A lot of people will genuinely choose to be in a very bad, broken couple than be happier alone, such is the power of this drive drummed into us. You seem to instinctively know what a lot of people struggle to get: you’re enough by yourself.

Society is stacked up around couples. As you are no doubt aware, friend groups and family structures splinter as we grow older and become more focused around family units. How you’ve chosen to live your life is a little outside of the norm, and that might make people a bit curious. That’s okay. They’re allowed to be curious and compassionate, but they’re not entitled to be rude or patronising. Learn to know the difference, and respond appropriately.

You say you’re content as you are, and I believe you, so the issue is not with you but with how others see you. At the moment, you’re worried about what people are thinking about you.

Firstly, one truly key thing to remember is this – never assume that other people are off thinking negative things about you without any evidence. Just don’t do it. Don’t go down that rabbit hole.

Secondly, how to deal with matters if people do say unpleasant things due to you being single. I’m afraid the most fulfilling reaction to that won’t be pithy one-line rejoinders to irritating people telling you that you’ll “find someone some day”, but instead in a sense of inner contentment with your life and your choices. Let them say what they want. Understand it as an expression of confusion or concern that you’re not like them and then try to let it go.

Some people will find your happiness in utter independence a scary or alien prospect. Let them! It’s not their life. A polite but firm word if friends or family persist is fine, but otherwise just chalk it up as being more about them than it is about you. As the kids are saying: you do you.

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Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

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