Be­ing Su­per Sin­gle, fiercely in­de­pen­dent

Mak­ing space in your life for love can be a chal­lenge for those who value free­dom

Toronto Star - - LIFE - KERRY QUINN THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Every once in a while, I watch or read some­thing that makes me feel un­der­stood and also makes me re­al­ize how I’ve been de­lud­ing my­self. Re­cently, the FX dram­edy Bet­ter Things had this ef­fect. It gave me a term for my chronic sin­gle­dom: Su­per Sin­gle.

Bet­ter Things cen­tres on Sam Fox, an ac­tress and di­vorced mom of three daugh­ters. Her ex-hus­band is mostly ab­sent and her el­derly mother is a hand­ful. Sam is cyn­i­cal when it comes to love and re­fuses to let any­one get too close. When she meets a great guy, one who checks all the boxes, Sam freaks out. She says to her friend over a drink, “I don’t know how to do this . . . I don’t know where this goes. I got no place to put it and I don’t want it.”

Her friend replies: “You’ve been alone too long. We’re Su­per Sin­gles.”

As I heard Sam say she doesn’t have space in her life for love, I re­al­ized that my line about how “I just haven’t found The One yet” is a lie. The truth is: I’m pet­ri­fied of love and refuse to make space for it.

I’m fiercely in­de­pen­dent. My best friend is my dog, Lin­coln. Last year, we did a 21,000-kilo­me­tre road trip through 33 states. I didn’t have to dis­cuss routes, stops or ac­tiv­i­ties. I liked be­ing the driver and sole de­ci­sion-maker.

Sure, I fan­ta­size about hav­ing a part­ner. I imag­ine laugh­ing and flirt­ing over a can­dle­light din­ner. I can pic­ture how won­der­ful it would be to share ev­ery­day and ex­cep­tional ex­pe­ri­ences. I want love, but I also don’t want it. My past re­la­tion­ships have been emo­tional roller-coast­ers that have brought lit­tle love and a lot of drama and pain.

I met my first love in Grade 8, which is also when he hit me in the face with his el­bow and broke my nose. He said it was an ac­ci­dent. My next love had a girl­friend, but I didn’t know that. When I con­fronted him about it, he said I was “way more in­ter­est­ing to talk to on the phone.”

I spent my 20s with a guy who had a per­fect pedi­gree and re­sumé, but a raging drink­ing prob­lem. The past few years were spent with a man who even­tu­ally spurred me to change my life in every way that mat­tered, leav­ing lit­tle room for my own habits, my own life. Next came Lin­coln, a sweet, needy puppy who re­quired me to make space for him in my life. For Lin­coln, that ad­just­ment has been worth it.

The ra­tio­nal part of my brain knows that an emo­tion­ally avail­able man will add to my life and help me be my best self. But my heart doubts that I’ll pick the right one. I trust in the work I’ve done to heal my wounds and make me a more emo­tion­ally present woman. But there’s that part of me who dated every loser un­der the sun and who is afraid it will hap­pen again.

I also fear los­ing my abil­ity to live the life I like. Now, I can go to Las Ve­gas for 27 hours for a lantern fes­ti­val, eat at the Denny’s with a wed­ding chapel, ride on a wa­ter­slide through a shark tank, go to the Neon mu­seum and em­bark on an elu­sive hunt for a rain­bow star­burst latte. What­ever I want, I find a way to make it hap­pen. No con­sult­ing. No de­bat­ing. No com- promis­ing. No stop at the mob mu­seum, the craps ta­ble, or God for­bid, a visit to a pool where peo­ple wear thongs.

This Su­per Sin­gle part of me knows I’m miss­ing out on emo­tional sup­port, hugs and af­fec­tion, con­sis­tent sex, in­ti­macy, free handy­man ac­tiv­i­ties, heavy lift­ing, an ex­tra dog walker and some­one who will no­tice if I don’t make it home.

I know a good part­ner is much more than an as­sis­tant, but I’ve never had a true part­ner. So I don’t re­ally know what I’m miss­ing. Un­til I watch char­ac­ters like me talk about their Su­per Sin­gle lives that re­sem- ble mine. That scene made me re­al­ize that my fears about my past re­la­tion­ships — and about los­ing my in­de­pen­dence — are hold­ing me back. The past doesn’t dic­tate the fu­ture. I have con­trol over my choices. But first, I have to open up and try.

The fi­nal scene of this Bet­ter Things episode shows Sam walk­ing into a restau­rant and kiss­ing her dream guy. See­ing her de­ci­sion to go for it, I smiled. If she had run away, I would’ve been dis­ap­pointed.

I know I need to do the same. I’m fi­nally ready to let go of be­ing a Su­per Sin­gle so that I can make space for a Su­per Duo.

JES­SICA BROOKS/FX

Sin­gle mom Sam Fox (Pamela Ad­lon), on the se­ries Bet­ter Things, is a Su­per Sin­gle, some­one who doesn’t have room in her life for ro­man­tic love.

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