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Coloring Outside the Lines

Nanette Lepore

Last week, I wrote about being invited to a dinner party where I was to be the 7th wheel. On a balmy summer evening, the three couples and I sat around in the moonlight, enjoying the ambience, the food and each other’s company. At some point during dessert, the conversation came around to how 2 people there had relatives who were transgender, which led to a discussion about sexual preference, dating, marriage, and the hopes that their relatives would find partners. It was the perfect time for me to chime in. I shared my apprehension about being the only person at dinner who was single. I could tell it wasn’t something anyone had thought about. I stood up for the notion that one could go through life being single and happy. I did this, in part, because I sensed that all of you had my back. It was exhilarating.

Unmellow yellow dress by Nanette Lepore



28 comments for “Coloring Outside the Lines”

  1. Jules says:

    Most definitely have your back. I just wish you had been wearing the gorgeous dress in the photograph. I’ve just had numerous small b-day celebrations often with one couple. Interestingly, I think my friends have mostly adjusted to my single status and, at least not openly, don’t push the idea that links my happiness with finding a mate. Occasionally I still remind them but mostly we just have a great time.

    • wendy says:

      I don’t usually get into this discussion at a dinner party, but the configuration this night called out to me.

  2. Izzybell says:

    Yeah! Nice work, Wendy- so inspiring!

  3. Petra says:

    Excellent! That was gutsy (and no doubt enlightening to your friends).

    Yes, we have your back!

    • wendy says:

      I really think the conversation was enlightening. And I had a sense that the group would be open to it.

  4. Liz says:

    We love you for your courage and integrity, Wendy!

    • wendy says:

      One of the reasons I started this blog was because of my own struggle with the implications of being single, with no role models in my line of vision to let me know that I was okay. Hearing from all of you through the years keeps my spirit lifted and lets me know I’m on the right track. Having a conversation like we did at dinner this weekend feels like another way to spread the word.

      • Dee says:

        I’m thankful for your blog because you are my role model for single life! It can be challenging being in a culture that is so “traditional family” centric. I was thinking just yesterday that it would be nice to have friends that are single and thriving instead of single and sad about it. So I’m extra thankful for this community to let me know there are others out there living single and doing well.

        • wendy says:

          Right back at you, Dee.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Dee — I’m not sure where I am on the spectrum. I feel adamantly about being a complete person “despite” being single, and resent any implication to the contrary from people like Leyla’s dad in the comment below. By most outward indicia, I am thriving. And yet still, I’m profoundly sad about not being part of a couple. That grief is at the core of my life. I assume (& desperately hope) that it will fade as I age.

          • Dee says:

            Karen, I understand not knowing where you are on the spectrum. I grapple with it sometimes too. I think for me, traditional family life is not what I want. The thought of being married and raising kids with a mortgage and traditional domestic life, etc is so not my ideal life. But on the other hand I could see myself having a long term partner who I don’t live with or merge financials with. But it would be okay to have the companionship. So for me it’s all about really thinking about what I WANT vs what the larger culture is telling everyone they SHOULD want. The good news is, a companion could come at any time (or not at all). I’m not on a clock and that’s freeing.

          • wendy says:

            That’s very sage, Dee. And it’s good not to give up on reaching for our most important goals, whatever they are.

          • Jules says:

            Karen, being sad and defining your self worth are different. I hope you can be sad while appreciating yourself. I’ve found that my relationship to sadness about many core things does change and becomes increasingly fluid.

          • wendy says:

            The practice of gratitude has helped me be a lot more fluid with disappointment.

          • wendy says:

            Karen, I understand that grief. I’ve felt that grief. And I’m wondering if you would be willing to talk more about it? If so, what’s at the core of it? And by that, I mean, what do you think it says not to be part of a couple?

          • Kami says:

            Hi Karen, I can relate with what you are saying. I would love to be one of those women for whom Cosmo writes top 10 lists on why it’s so awesome to be single; something like, you can eat ice cream in bed while watching Sex and the City uninterrupted. I mean really, who cares. I want to be part of a couple because I want intimacy. For me not having a companion for living day to day and not having that close person is huge. I’m not looking for someone to complete me, I’m just looking for someone to accompany me, romantically and physically. Stagnation begat boredom, boredom begat loneliness, loneliness begat depression, and depression has been up and down. It’s wild for me to think back to how carefree I used to be about the concept of love. Now, later, whenever – I used to think. But! just reading these blogs, sharing and reaching out makes a difference. I may not find anybody but I’m starting to get comfortable with the idea. I hope that you have a lot of happy days, and I know that some are “meh”, but maybe there is solace in knowing that there is a community here 🙂

          • wendy says:

            Thanks for sharing your experiences, Kami. Community is so important, and I’m grateful for it every day.

  5. Leyla says:

    Thank YOU Wendy–you not only stood up for yourself, you stood up for all of us! Brava.

    Just a couple days ago, I was telling my dad about one of my dearest friends who is in her 60s. My dad asked if she ever married. The answer is no. His reply was, “my god, she must have suffered all her life.” I found that a bit rich considering he has always complained about my mom and they have fought every day all my life. Yet he still thinks his life is better than a woman who stayed single. The only reason my parents haven’t divorced is they fear being alone. It just goes to show there is no rational basis for this deep-seated prejudice against singles. I was also offended because he can’t see that’s the path I am on. I think you and I are lucky because we will never be at risk for committing to the wrong person just because of a fear of being alone, we’ve already learned to thrive on our own!! Others don’t have that capability.

    • wendy says:

      The deep-seated prejudice is rooted in centuries of history when being single meant being at risk. But that’s ancient history and the culture is slowing starting to catch up.

  6. Anne Roy says:

    They see you as a complete person in yourself. If you ever hook up with some fellow he will be a plus, not a finish.

    Be pleased with the fine time you had, being you with your friends.

  7. Claire says:

    You rock! I find the only thing that keeps me from being more happyily single is a lack of single friends. I’m not lonely for romantic companionship but for close friendships. I have many great friends but once there’s kids (and sometimes even just a hubs), you’re relegated to short dates that often leave me feeling worse as opposed to the calm and restored feeling being with the same friends used to give me :/

    • wendy says:

      I have a good friend who recently became a Mom, and it really has changed things. But every once in awhile, she and I schedule alone time, and I treasure that.

    • Deborah says:

      I’m a bit late to this discussion, but just like to say that maybe the only way to have such a close relationship is through a romantic/marriage type relationship. Friends are only ever part-time anyway.

      • wendy says:

        As it turns out for me, I have friendships that have lasted for decades, much longer than any of my romantic relationships.

  8. Dee says:

    Wendy, This post has me curious. Is it widely known in your social circles that you write this blog? I always wonder how bloggers handle friends/family reading their blogs (if they share them).

    • wendy says:

      When I first launched this site, many of my friends said I was “brave.” And I thought it said a lot about our culture that writing about being single is considered a courageous act.

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