I'd linked to each of the articles summarized individually, but it bears repeating: single women are whole (which does not mean that we, like anyone else, are above loneliness). Everyone--specifically, in this case, everyone writing books and columns about single women--most recently, Rebecca Traister, Laurie Penny, Maris Kreizman, and Phoebe Maltz Bovy--acknowledges that there's happiness to be had in the right relationship, and so go forth and be happy, but go ahead and be happy anyway because there's happiness to be had outside a relationship as well.
I was thinking, and maybe I mentioned to you--during the months I was dating someone--how not-different it was. I was me, except I was seeing someone. And then, when it ended, I was still me. In fact, I was more me. This was not the dude's fault (or mine); it was a matter of timing. We met when I was in the midst of a crazy-bananas work deadline and on the verge of serious burnout. I was not Looking to Get Out More, and dating someone (together with my relatively social workplace) made it easy to wallow in my lack of initiative without feeling withdrawal from human interaction. It is also not a result of the end of things that I've been getting out even more since.
Just before things ended two weeks ago, the dude and I went to see a play on Friday night and went to a museum on Saturday morning--both activities suggested by me. I was thinking about how this guy wasn't adding anything to my life: I was including him in activities I would have done anyway, possibly with friends; he wasn't including me in anything of his own. This wasn't the only issue, but it was an issue. Things ended on Saturday afternoon, and like magic, my social calendar was abuzz again.
I got dinner with a friend on Monday; flew to Boston for my dad's surgery on Wednesday; met up with a friend there on Saturday; and had tea with a friend upon returning on Sunday. That friend had brought me flowers; the guy I'd been dating wasn't the flowers-bringing type. Anyway, on Wednesday, I went to dinner and to the ballet with another friend; met different friends for coffee each morning on Thursday and Friday; went out for drinks and Star Trek last night; and went for a short hike with friends this morning. I'm having brunch with a friend tomorrow, and dinner with another friend some time next week. I'm planning two different, awesome vacations with different friends.
But only one friend really annoyed me (another--my 'well-meaning friend'--would have, had she known something was up, but I didn't give her the opportunity). Both of these friends are terrible listeners in their own way. I'd forgotten--and it's been in part the stark contrast with most of my other friends, whose response has pretty much been, "sounds like you're in a good place and you know what you want and don't want; you both showed signs of maturity and integrity; yes, that [behavior/quirk/trait] of his sounds like a very reasonable deal-breaker;" etc. So I was particularly annoyed when one of this morning's friend doubted me: was I really okay with the relationship ending, or was I just telling myself that as a defense mechanism? After I'd been emphatically stating since the matter came up that I was really more than okay with the relationship ending.
But what really bothered me was this friend's brand of Not Listening, which I'd entirely forgotten about (I've not seen much of her over the last couple of years). I'm all too aware of well-meaning friend's brand of Not Listening, which mostly manifests itself in rocking it back to her. Something we're all prone to, and something I try not to do. There's a fine line between sharing an anecdote of your own to show that you identify with the other person, and making everything about you. Well-meaning friend so adeptly makes everything about her that you wonder why you've bothered to say anything at all about your situation. This friend is not that, but she is a serial interruptor. I had to say (probably) 5-6 times in the course of ten minutes, "this will make sense if you let me finish." And this has always been the case with her. Both brands of interrupting are exhausting; adherents to those brands make the effort of trying to share information with them not worth it. And they make me grateful for my great-listener friends--more importantly, they make me aspire to be like them--who know when to just listen.