[Bella's introduction: Previously, Elliott Lewis shared a post he had originally written for Open Salon. Living Single readers loved it. The post inspired dozens of comments and thousands of page views. So I was delighted when Elliott also agreed to share this post. Enjoy! And thank you, Elliott.]
It's a question confirmed bachelors face all the time: "So how come you're not married?" With me, it's quickly followed by its corollary: "Well, why don't you have a girlfriend?"
They are questions I honestly don't understand.
It's like asking me, "Why haven't you won the lottery?" Or, "How come you've never flown the space shuttle?" What am I supposed to say?
I am not one of those people for whom relationships just happen. I go out on a date about once a year, and only rarely do my first dates progress beyond that. My love life - to the extent I even have one - reminds me of a line from a Woody Allen movie: "The last time I was inside a woman was when I toured the Statue of Liberty."
I am no expert on romance, but the last time I checked, it took two people to form a relationship. Finding the right person, it seems to me, involves a combination of both luck and a willingness to make certain investments in the dating process. Naturally, some people are willing to invest more time and effort than others.
The point was underscored while I was having dinner with an old friend who I hadn't seen in years and his soon-to-be wife.
"How did the two of you meet?" I asked them.
"We met on eHarmony," they told me.
I was surprised. "Wow, you mean that actually works?" Apparently, it did for them.
My friend had been married before but had no children. Now in his late thirties, he was determined to find a long-term partner with whom he could start a family. The search for a mate wouldn't be easy, but he was in it for the long haul.
"I set out to become a master of a thousand first dates," he told me.
And therein lies the difference between my friend's approach to dating and my own. He was willing to pull out all the stops if that's what it took to find Miss Right. His investment was a substantial one: blind dates, online dating, set-ups by friends. He did it all.
He had a number of bad experiences along the way, to be sure. But he kept on going. I'm not sure how much he actually enjoyed the chase, but it didn't matter. He was hell-bent on becoming The Family Guy.
That is so not me.
I look at couplehood as a nice bonus in life, provided the relationship is a healthy one. But I am not someone determined to become partnered by any means necessary. Getting hitched is not on my Bucket List.
In fact, if you asked me for a running tally of my past accomplishments and future goals, it would probably look something like this:
Go to college. Check.
Build a successful journalism career. Check.
Travel around the world. Check.
Learn to fly a plane. Check.
Write a book. Check.
Earn a law degree. Now in progress.
Get a dog. That's next.
Join the Peace Corps. Still to come.
What's not on my list? Find a girlfriend, get married, start a family. There is no need to cue the violins over that. Living single is actually a good fit for me.
Of course, some would say I'm virtually guaranteed never to find a partner as long as I am so picky in the way I date. I say, they're right. And I'm not about to change a thing.
I have no interest in dating just for the sake of it, or for the convenience of having someone to hang out with on national holidays. My attempts at dating occur only when I sense a certain chemistry, which is not that often, and in the end I'm usually wrong.
Have I closed the door to love completely? Certainly not, and for good reason. At various points in my adult life, I have found myself doing things that I couldn't have imagined myself doing until I did them. Perhaps settling into a long-term relationship falls into that category - something that I can't imagine right now but that will nevertheless come to fruition.
Like a lot of people, I spent most of my twenties thinking my love life would unfold in storybook fashion. It was just a matter of time. But as time went on, my outlook changed.
While I used to assume I would end up coupled, now I assume I will remain single. To me, that flip of the script - that fundamental shift in my assumptions about how my love life would play out - represents the moment I became a confirmed bachelor. The change didn't happen overnight. But now, it's pretty well settled.
So to all my well-meaning friends, relatives, and acquaintances who would like to see me partnered, you can keep all of your dating advice to yourself. Seriously - and I say this with love - shut the hell up. I am not half-a-person searching for my other half to become whole. I'm whole already. And I'm doing just fine living uncoupled.
Maybe I'll win the lottery someday, and maybe I'll fly a spaceship. Maybe I'll meet the right woman. But I'm not counting on any of it. I've got a Bucket List uniquely suited to me. And the thing is, I'm enjoying life's journey. Isn't that all any of us can ask?
[This post first appeared at Open Salon.]
About our guest blogger: Elliott Lewis is a former television journalist, current law student, and the author of Fade: My Journeys in Multiracial America. The book explores biracial identity and interracial family issues. He is also single. Visit his website at www.lewisfreelance.com.