Art by Gica Tam
Culture Spotlight

Everything but the ring: Why I choose to be single

I was once so in love with a Paul Newman lookalike I actually skipped when I was walking. Then one afternoon in my flat, he rearranged my coffee table.
Celine Lopez | Dec 13 2018

There are times, mostly during family events, where I feel like I’m living in a horror movie, a little version of Rosemary’s Baby.

 “When are you getting married?”

“You need to hurry, you know”

“You’re getting old…”

I’m advised and questioned by well-meaning aunts, friends of my parents or anyone post-menopause to chop-chop. It amazes me how they don’t think this is such a rude question. I mean what if I asked them, “When are you dying?”

When I was a kid I would draw my dream house and fantasize about it. My grandfather bought me a small nipa hut in Iloilo and I decorated it with stuff I found in storage and “borrowed” a few things I could find in the house. I never had wedding fantasies. It simply just did not cross my mind. What I wanted was a home of my own.

I still remember my grandfather telling me as a child that I was not a good candidate for marriage. He noted that I was hard to understand. I was born a weirdo.

I don’t know if this planted a seed in my head or if I was just born this way. Either way, a couple of failed engagements later, I have accepted I may not be the marrying type. It took me a while to get to this realization.

I was frantic in my 20s and 30s. I sought the counsel of psychics all over the world. I had psychics in Manila, New York, Ibiza, Australia and London on speed dial.  They all assured me that I was going to get married in six months. It’s been 18 years and yet here I am. The thing is it’s not because I’ve been traumatized by men that I have become an avowed singleton. I’ve had the most beautiful relationships. I have alternately received and given absolute and pure love. It says something though that I’m better at breakups than at being in a relationship. I always tell these about-to-be-exes they have been promoted in my life to friend. And it’s true that if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being a friend.

Early on, there were signs I wasn’t the marrying type. When I was living in London, I was crazy about one boyfriend who looked like a young Paul Newman. I was so in love I actually skipped when I was walking. Then one afternoon in my flat, while we were visiting my mom in Manila, he rearranged my coffee table. I felt pure rage. I almost choked on a ball of anger rising in my throat. I actually exclaimed, “Leave my coffee table alone!” Things got weird after that.

Another doomed relationship was when my boyfriend of one year confessed to me that he was allergic to dogs and that he was secretly looking for treatments to stop being allergic to them. He never did. I suddenly became allergic to him.

It’s not the guys. They’re all lovely. It’s me.

I have space issues, sharing issues—basically I’m a selfish cunt. It was easy to go in and out of relationships in my 20s. However, as I got older and earned my stripes in life, it got harder to keep things casual. There was the eternal war between love and career. Let me tell you, you can’t have it all. Even Sheryl Sandberg realized this. Relationships require long and hard work. Marriage is a career in itself. Leaning in is a myth. At least in my case.

I’ve found that at this period before mid-life you’re given two choices when it comes to love: settle down or risk being alone. I choose the latter. I didn’t fight for the life I have now just to cohabitate with steady Eddie.

Women who can live with or without men are women who have their own voice. Our lives are full with friends, wonderful careers, philanthropic efforts and seeing the world. It’s a crime to compromise. We owe it to ourselves to fill the spaces in our lives with the best things possible. We have a green light too.

Having said all that, I won’t lie. It does get lonely. My best friends have kids, family trips and are genuinely happy. No dog can beat that. Then I shake it off and look at my life: I can go anywhere without asking for anyone’s consent, I can paint my walls bright pink if I want and I can have dogs running after each other on my bed without anyone complaining. I know these all sound so shallow, but these are the little things that make me treasure my independence and freedom. When you get this far in life, it’s just impossible to compromise on one of the most important things in life: your partner.

I’d really rather be alone.

I read somewhere that a person who learns to be alone can rule the world. I have a Masters degree on being alone. I am so good at it that it’s scary. I’ve had some false positives lately on relationships that I thought would work out. However, I’m at that tricky age where I and any potential mate are set in our ways. I’ve already had the love of my life (ok, fine there are two of them) so I’m not missing out. My mom once said to me that you don’t marry the love of your life, they exist for you to see how big your heart can be.

With all former flames and the loves of my life, my heart knows what will fill it. It’s when I’m living my authentic life and knowing exactly who I am that I may be able to find that twin flame. If I don’t, that’s ok too.