Most people take for granted that they have a traveling partner, such as a spouse. They keep each other company and have each other’s back.
I recently traveled to Israel. Alone. My trip was fantastic, except for the times when I felt quite alone and wanted to do something with someone, and that person didn’t exist. I spent a lot of time with my best friend and with my Israeli family. These times were wonderful. But there were afternoons when I was alone and wanted someone to talk to and hang out with. These were sad times, when I felt down.
Loneliness is rampant because of so many singles living alone. I’ve felt alone so many times, and the only thing that can fix it is to be with people. I would love to travel to many places, but I don’t want to travel alone. I like to share my experiences with other people. I’d like to see Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, France, Spain, etc., and many beautiful spots in the U.S.
When I got home from my trip to Israel, I had to deal with jetlag. Jetlag is horrible. You need someone who can help keep you up to conquer jetlag. But I don’t have anyone and so I fell asleep at 4 p.m. and woke at 2 a.m. for the first few nights. I needed that person who would chat with me till 9 p.m. But I live alone, so getting over jetlag was super difficult.
This got me thinking about singles, how many singles there are in the U.S., and the reasons why people are alone. By choice? By trying but not finding the right spouse?
There are 96 million people in the United States who are not married. That means 43 percent of all Americans over the age of 18 are single, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In the bureau’s America’s Families and Living Arrangements survey of 2009, “single” is defined as adults who have never been married, are divorced, or are widowed. Of the singletons, 61 percent of them have never said “I do.” Twenty-four percent are divorced and 15 percent are widowed.
An increasing number of these single Americans — more than 31 million — are living alone, according to the census. They make up 27 percent of all households, up from 17 percent in 1970.
“About 46 percent of all households nationwide are maintained by a single person. That adds up to 52 million singles.” (Linda Petty, CNN)
Some people choose to be single. Other people look and look for a partner but can’t find the right one! Some people like to live alone.
I’ve looked and have not met the right person. It’s not my choice to live alone. I’ve been in love several times but it hasn’t worked out for several reasons.
People often get together with the wrong person because they’re looking for companionship, but the love connection isn’t there. They don’t want to live alone, so they settle for less than what they really wanted.
Some men don’t want children so they don’t rush towards a relationship. The same could be said about a woman.
“Know Myself” discusses why other people are still alone. Some people stay single because they can’t find what they are looking for. Others aren’t successful in dating, and then there are the commitment-phobes.
There are many Jewish dating sites for people searching for their mates; Match.com, Jdate, MeetYenta, TheJMom, World of Jewish Singes, JretroMatch, SuperTova, TotallyJewishDating.com, SawYouAtSinai, and Jewcier.
I’ve portrayed singles as being lonely, but not every single is lonely. “There are married people who are lonely, despite having the company of their partners. Even though we often equate being alone with being lonely, the two are not the same. Aloneness always means solitary, but it does not mean you are feeling sad, bleak, or desolate. So we can be alone and not lonely, or we can be alone and lonely. Being single/alone and not lonely can be a great thing. But being single and lonely can create problems.” (Being Single: How to Handle Loneliness, Huffington Post)
I know many female Jewish singles. Most are bright, capable, fun, and available for marriage. There are single men as well, but these two sides, female and male, are in their thirties and forties and not getting it together. If someone wants to set me up, I’m almost suspicious at this point in time. If the man has children, and is divorced, why, and has he worked through his issues? It gets more difficult the older the singles get. I sometimes think I should have gotten married at 22 when I had more than one chance.
“Consumer-projects companies are taking note, catering to what they see as a lucrative market for single-person households by upending generations of family-focused product and marketing.” (Wall Street Journal, More Americans…). Instead of a dozen eggs, they might sell half a dozen, or even four eggs, catering to the single market. Instead of a whole loaf of bread, they might sell 10 slices so that food doesn’t get thrown out.
So, singles should not feel abandoned. Many people are paying attention to singles for many reasons.
I often get approached about being set up with an older male, or a man living across the country, a man who has sole custody of his children, etc. I rarely get set up with a guy in my age range, someone smart, and with whom I can have an emotional and heartfelt connection.
Have I lost hope?
Is it very hard to be single in today’s society? Of course!
Does that mean we have the right to give up? No. Hashem has a purpose for each of us, and by giving up, we are saying that we know Hashem’s purpose.
Always look out for your friends and family. Setting up a couple is a huge mitzvah. Don’t give up. Try to get people to help you. Don’t think of yourself as a singleton! You are single, and if you want to get married badly enough, it will happen. That is the way you must think.
I hope all of us who have no spouse yet will change that through prayer and desire. I wish a great berachah to all the singles.
Michele Herenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.