The second area that I'm feeling lost and sad about lately is love and loneliness. I'm longing for a partner these days, and that's hard. I used to feel ashamed of this wistfulness, or like my sadness or my wanting meant that I was somehow "incomplete." Like wanting partnership is an admission of co-dependence or simply an unwillingness to be alone or to work on my own issues. That's crap.
It's kind of ingrained in pop psychology though: Why do you want someone else? You must not be comfortable with yourself. You should focus on self-improvement, and not wish for someone else to save you. Sorry, Oprah, or Dr. Phil. I'm not going to swallow that. I'm reflective, and I'm independent, and I like my life. And, I want to be treasured and adored, I want someone to curl up with and tell about my day, to cook dinner with. People in stable long term relationships are happier than people who aren't; this is one of the findings on happiness that's pretty clear. So I'm sick of hiding that I want this, or apologizing for it, or thinking I need to go back to working on myself, and just hope that if I make myself a better person "it'll come when you least expect it," as well-meaning friends chant incessantly. I've got plenty of work to do on myself, to be sure. But I'll always have plenty of work to do on myself. It would be nice to have someone to hold hands with as I walk the path.
I feel like my friends have all hopped on a ferry and it's leaving the dock, as they enter or proceed along with these happy intimate domestic partnerships. And every wedding I go to, sweet as it is, reminds me of my own longing, and what I don't have that I want. It's hard, sometimes, not to think that something's wrong with me. There aren't a lot of circumstances where I want something, and have for a while, and can see lots of peers and friends attaining it, and can't seem to manage it myself. I know we can't compare, and yet, geez. Can't we draw any inferences from the fact that I'm an outlier in my peer group? It's hard not to feel ashamed of this failure.
On the other hand, I have also watched acquaintances jump into relationships that seem from the outside strikingly wrong. I feel pretty clear that I'm happier alone than with the wrong person, and that I don't want to be driven by loneliness into a relationship just for the sake of having someone sitting beside me at a wedding. But I don't know what's reasonable compromise and what's "settling." I don't know what lessons to draw from the misfires -- the folks I feel excited about who don't seem to feel it back, and vice versa. I don't know what to do or change, what to adjust or open up or close down. I just don't know.