Ninety percent of the single, female population is worried they will end up alone. Maybe the other tenth is completely unconcerned about their romantic futures—and society clings to these emotionally blessed women to tell the other 90% how they are “supposed” to feel—but realistically, most women over the age of 25 want a steady, loving relationship. (I said most—not all. Don’t freak out.) And if they don’t have one, they’re concerned that something is wrong with them. One of my single friends is convinced that a troll lives in her lady parts, another thinks she’s doomed because she doesn’t like wearing bright colors (?), and I was the girl who was sure I had a chip missing—the one that makes people lovable.
I imagined the shape and size of this Love Chip. It was gold and looked exactly like those SIM cards in your smart phones. When creating me, God was supposed to insert it somewhere between my Frontal Lobe and Parietal Lobe, but He decided I could live without it. The exclusion was not a mistake. God does not make mistakes. He purposefully omitted this chip so that I would become an independent spinster who could channel all of her energy into writing books about some unidentified important subject that would inspire the masses. God knew I would learn to be okay with this, mostly because I’d have no other choice.
Every relationship I entered ended with the words, “I think you’re perfect and here are all the reasons why you’re the greatest, but I don’t know why something is missing.” Okay, not every relationship ended this way. Only, like, five. And by relationship, I just mean people I dated for two months or more. Details aside, the red flag during these conversations was the laundry list of all of the reasons these guys said they “should” want to be with me. Anyone who has seen the real me (i.e. the hangry girl listening to unsolicited career advice from my father), knows that the word “perfect” should never, ever, under any circumstance be used to describe me. Obviously, I was trying too hard to compensate for the missing chip, so bachelors never saw my bad side, and therefore could not pinpoint the reason why they were ending things. I should have known that any behavioral efforts to be more lovable would be futile, however. No amount of determination can replace a Love Chip. Since the men were so perplexed about the break ups, themselves, the only closure I ever received was self-acknowledgment of this missing chip.
When Aaron told me that he loves me only two months after meeting each other, and two weeks after he first called me his girlfriend, I thought he was confused. This was partly because it accidentally slipped out when he was telling a random story over Mexican food, and partly because of my Love Chip predicament. With Aaron, I had not behaved in a way I thought to be ideal. Since I knew things would not work out in the long run—how else would I end up alone?—I gave in to my less than perfect ways. I rudely complained that he needed to pay for more meals because I was poor, I didn’t shave my legs every day, and I openly told him that my friends and I looked at pictures of his ex-girlfriend. I also told him that sometimes his wardrobe choices come across kind of gay. These are not tactics I would suggest to anyone looking to nail down a solid relationship.
Here we are, 68 days from getting married, and I’m beginning to believe that I have the Love Chip, after all. The right person just needed to flip the “on” switch. Aaron really, really loves me (and I really, really love him). He makes me a sandwich every morning before work and always puts my keys somewhere I can easily find them. He gives me a professional-grade massage once a day, forces me to go to the gym with him when I’m too lazy to motivate myself, and keeps a bag of potato chips in the car for emergency situations of unforeseen hanger. One time when I was stressed out, he pulled into a Rite Aid parking lot and asked me questions about pageants because he knew that would distract me from my angry tirade at the cars around us. I regret to report that it worked. Last night, he selflessly let me watch Dancing with the Stars as he fed me chocolate cake. Today, he’s taking my car to get re-inspected while I’m at work…oh, and he handily fixed all of the parts that failed the original inspection so that I wouldn’t have to pay those stupidly high labor rates. Honestly, I thank God that all of those other guys bailed. Aaron is an enigma, and a gift you unwrap for life. (Yes, I just quoted Ian from Kaitlyn’s season of The Bachelorette.)
Don’t worry, I do nice things for him, too. I squeeze his biceps and encourage him in his career and ignore the fact that he has 23 squirrel carcasses in his freezer. (That is not a joke.) But this post isn’t about whether or not I’m capable of loving. It’s about the feeling so many women get when they’re single—the dread that plagues their hearts with fear of never being loved back.
I use Aaron’s love as an example of why you can never assume the worst. I can’t promise that every single woman will find a really hot guy who makes the best biscuits and gravy ever and also happens to be a gifted engineer who protects our country, but I can promise that everyone’s story is different. In a good way. Sure, it may sound more appealing to meet someone when you’re 23, therefore avoiding years of third-wheeling couple friends and escaping the dark hole that is online dating. But women who are deeply happy in their marriages all have one thing in common: they are happy to have waited as long as they did for the right person. I was 26 when I met Aaron. My sister-in-law’s sister-in-law met my sister-in-law’s brother when she was 29 (you follow?). My stepmom met my dad when she was 36. I know tons of couples who met in their 40s. Some met in their 50s. And I’ve read Chicken Soup for the Soul stories about couples that met at nursing homes in their 80s. I really hope you don’t have to wait until you’re 80, but at least we know that love feels just as magical at any age and any stage of life.
I hated when people told me “your time will come.” How do you know?? I know plenty of middle-aged women who are awesome and wanted marriage, yet never met the right person. Here’s the truth: We don’t really know if or when our time for love will come. Everyone has a Love Chip (activated or not), though, so instead of believing that God intended for you to be single forever, try believing that He is doing what is best for you. That could mean your love story doesn’t pan out as you imagined, but you can still be happy.
I’ll tell you this: Even though my “time has come,” as they say, I am not instantly without fear for my future. Now, I fear losing Aaron. What if he gets cancer when we’re 40? What if he gets hit by a car and forgets who I am? What if he stops enjoying sushi and is not the man I thought he was? Being engaged or married without trust in God is just as scary as being single without trust in God. Because—news flash—we will never know the future. We’ll never know if or when we’ll find someone, if or when we’ll lose someone, or if or when we’ll even see tomorrow. So, just as I wrestled with surrendering to a life of being single each time I was dumped or had no prospects, I wrestle with surrendering to a life without Aaron, in case that is God’s will.
The only thing that can possibly give us comfort during any stage of life and love is trusting in a greater plan. One that allows us to feel joy for eternity, not just in this blink-of-an-eye lifetime. That may sound depressing—but it’s not. We can’t do anything about the fact that the future is out of our control, so how fortunate are we that there is a consistent way to find peace? This isn’t to say that you won’t feel pain if you live your life alone, or that I wouldn’t feel despair if I lost Aaron, but at least there is always a way to find the light.
If you’re single, there is nothing inherently wrong with you. (Still keep working on yourself—it can’t hurt.) And great guys do exist. Even if you don’t believe in God, I can assure you that those two statements are true. Cling to stories like mine or my sister-in-law’s sister-in-law or the 80-year-olds at the nursing home to keep your hope alive. Hoping for love is not a bad thing. Just remember that there is a greater purpose to everyone’s story. Sometimes we’ll see that purpose clearly, and sometimes it won’t be revealed to us at all, but it’s our choice to believe that it’s for some sort of good. It may be easier for me to say these words now, when I’m on a love high, but I also aim to believe them if and when I’m at a love low.
The most important thing when it comes to love is simply to acknowledge that we are not in control—and to stop fearing the worst about ourselves (or the dating pool). Instead, embrace your story. As long as you continuously strive for a positive mindset and faith, it’ll be a good one.