March 5, 2016

Skipping the Cat Lady Cliché: An Open Letter to All the Single Ladies.

Esra Erben/Flickr

Over the years, I have surrounded myself over the years with a collective of fierce female friends.

We’re all in our 30s, live in different states, and have a variety of careers. We provide support to each other online, by phone, with visits, and in every way that we can. Right now, many of them are going through the heartache of break-ups and divorce because our generation of men seems to just walk away when the going gets tough. Oftentimes, the ladies in my life will make comments about being alone and becoming a cat lady following the pain of a separation.

Let me just say to all of the single ladies out there: Honey, we will never be cat ladies unless we choose to be cat ladies.

Break-ups are tough. It’s difficult to find someone we’re attracted to and connect with and who feels the same about us. It’s a challenge to find a man who will stay in a relationship with all of its ups and downs because it’s uncomfortable to handle conflict. It’s tough to find honesty in the dating world, and it can be painful to experience loneliness outside of a committed relationship. I acknowledge these challenges, and I can state clearly and emphatically that I have been there. I’ve come through a divorce, I’ve experienced dating challenges and I’m here to tell you that being a “cat lady” is far from your only option.

It’s time for some raw truth: I would love to think that I can be a woman who post-divorce meets the love of her life and actually grows old with him. I would like to think that I could have that option. However, if that option isn’t on the table because the right person isn’t out there and I’m unwilling to settle for the wrong person, then I refuse to be a cat lady.

First of all, I am more of a dog person if it comes to that. Dogs are loyal. Can the same always be said of men? Dogs will love you unconditionally. Again, how many men have loved you that way? Certainly not the ones who gave up and walked away! Dogs will cuddle you, spend time with you when you’re not feeling your best, and think you’re great even when you have bed head and spend all day in your yoga pants.

So if I have to have a pet for companionship, I am personally going to go the dog route and skip the cat lady label.

Secondly, there are more options in this life than just being lonely because one relationship didn’t work out. If one person lets me down, it could be because that wasn’t the right relationship for me or the timing was bad. It doesn’t mean that I’ll never love again or that the right person isn’t out there. So we have to learn to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get back out there.

We can meet some new people, have a good time and stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to find “the one” that we don’t enjoy the process.

Also, don’t feel like relationships are the end-all and be-all of our lives. Go “do you” for a while and see what happens. Maybe while we’re out there doing our own thing we’ll find a new hobby or interest, and maybe we’ll meet someone who we find interesting along the way. If not, we’ll still have had an adventure or learned something new. Let’s not burn up all the hours of our lives pining for someone who’s gone or who we’ve yet to meet. I know it gets lonely. I know we all just want to be loved.

Hold on. Sometimes life is all about timing. We can’t stop living our lives in the meantime.

Travel. Get creative. Take walks in the woods. Sing out loud.

We can do whatever makes our beautiful hearts happy.

I know that relationships can be discouraging, and I understand the impulse to just be alone because it can seem easier than facing disappointment after disappointment. I’m here to tell you that we’re going to be hurt when we put ourselves out there, but we also have the chance to find what we truly want. I hope you’ve considered some of these options as possibilities to make your life feel full and worthwhile.

I hope this gives you some encouragement when you’re lonely. Or at least I hope I made the case for having a dog as a companion. I’m sure there’s a great companion just waiting for you at your local animal shelter.

Author: Crystal Jackson

Apprentice Editor: Kari Miller; Editors: Emily Bartran/Renée Picard

Photo: Esra Erben/Flickr

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