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Please Stop Telling Me I “Just Need to Meet the Right Guy”

Valentine's Day

Perfect Valentine’s Day for one (I buy myself flowers every week)

Last weekend, after walking around Broadway Market, I sat with a friend of mine in my local pub. Over a couple of pints of Guinness, we talked about a huge range of topics: journalistic integrity, the future of travel blogging, football, and where 2017 would ultimately take us. I started to talk about my current visa situation in the UK, and how, within the next year, there’s a chance that I’ll no longer be able to live in the country.

“I’m starting to feel OK about that, though,” I mused. “I mean, I’ve had four amazing years in London, but I know that there’s so much out there.”

“What do you plan on doing if you have to leave?” he asked.

“Well, to be honest, I think it’s time for me to spend some time at home. It’s been 11 years since I left Canada and 15 since I left Winnipeg. I miss my family and I miss Canada, and I’m kind of in love with Trudeau.” We both laughed.

“So that’s it? You’d just move back to Canada?” This friend and I only go back about three years, so he’s only known me as someone who travels a lot.

“No, I’m planning to spend half the year in Canada, and the other half of the year abroad. So maybe the autumn in Europe, and winter in Asia or South America. Who knows? As long as I work online, I can kind of do whatever I want. It’s the life I’ve always wanted, a balance of being settled and travelling often. I mean, I’m single and I don’t want kids, so I can go anywhere and do anything my heart desires,” I laughed again, but he just looked at me, blankly.

“You don’t want kids?” he asked, a surprised look on his face. “How can you be so sure?” I was a bit annoyed that THAT was the point he picked up on – not the fact that his friend had just declared she was on track to build her dream life and travel the world.

“Well, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and at this point in my life I do not see children in my future,” I took another sip of my beer, hoping he’d just accept my answer… you know, the answer ABOUT MY OWN LIFE. I have had this conversation so many times, and it’s getting old.

“Yeah, right,” he chuckled. “You say that, but I guarantee you’ll end up having kids. You just need to meet the right guy.”

***

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with the idea of being a teacher. I asked for a little blackboard for Christmas one year and I used to set my teddy bears up in front of it, teaching them. One of my earliest memories is asking to borrow some pens and paper from my mum so that I could “write”, even though I didn’t know how to read or write, so I just scribbled lines on the paper over and over again. By four, I had taught myself how to read (trust me, I peaked in elementary school) and by six I was tutoring some of the other kids in class (they thought it might be a good way for shy kids to feel more comfortable learning to read, and you’d be happy to know that I never did blossom into the full-on fervour of Reese Witherspoon in Election, though I was a bit of a teacher’s pet for my entire school career).

Until I was about eight, that’s all I wanted to be. I used to lie in bed and imagine my life as a teacher. And because I only had my small world to build my imagination from, I also imagined I’d get married and have kids. I never really thought of those things – never imagined myself walking down the aisle or holding a baby – but I just assumed that’s what all women did, because my teachers all did it and my mum did it and all the other mums I knew did it.

But by the time I got to junior high, things had started to shift. I was reading more advanced material, so my world had opened up a lot. I started to learn a lot more about geography. I started talking to my mum about all of her travels before she had kids. Suddenly, my dreams shifted, so I now dreamed of travelling the world. At that point I had no idea that I could actually combine my love of writing with travelling and make a living, but by high school I knew my two passions, travelling and literature, would most likely shape what I did with my life. By the time I was 16, I was reading tons of feminist literature, and proudly called myself a feminist.

And even though I still assumed I’d get married and have kids, I still couldn’t actually picture it in my mind. I could picture being in Europe, for example, but I couldn’t picture having a house full of children.

Throughout my twenties, I had a few serious relationships. In only one of them did we ever seriously discuss getting married and having children, but when I found out he was buying a ring, I panicked. I remember him saying that we could move to a small town in New Zealand, get married, raise babies, and I could find a job as a teacher (to be fair, I was teaching English at that point). So here I was – mid-twenties, on the brink of being engaged, with only a few of my travel dreams realised – and I knew I had to get out. I broke up with him for many reasons (the relationship was horribly rocky at that point anyway) but one of the biggest reasons was I just couldn’t see myself doing it: the marriage, the house, the kids.

And by my thirties, I knew my life was probably on a different course all together, one that didn’t include marriage or children. In the last 15 years of adulthood, I’ve been single for about ten of them (some of those years by choice, some not). Recently, however, when I started to think about my future – where I’m going to live, how my career is going to evolve, what I truly want out of life – I had finally, finally, acknowledged that, if I don’t get married or have children, I’m going to be OK. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. In fact, the more I thought about it over the years, the more I realised I don’t think I want to have children at all, and I could go either way when it comes to marriage. I do want the love of my family. I do want a house filled with books. I do want to continue to build a successful career. I do want to travel the world some more. I do want to surround myself with wonderful friends. I do want a dog (oh my god, I want a dog so badly). I am incredibly excited for the life I’m creating for myself. I am incredibly happy with my decisions.

But you know who isn’t happy with my decisions? Other people. I can’t tell you how many times someone – almost always men, funnily enough – tell me that I will change my mind just as soon as I meet the right guy. My friend at the pub said this,

“When you fall in love with someone, you’ll want to build a better life together.”

Better?! Too often in society, there’s an assumption that the nuclear family is the ultimate goal. Not only is that terribly one-sided and close-minded, it’s also discriminatory against single people, one-parent families, people struggling with infertility, and more. Just because you want that, doesn’t mean everyone else wants it, too.

And it’s not just kids that people get up in arms about.

“Yeah yeah, you’ll keep travelling around until you meet the right guy. Then you’ll settle down.” Um, what in the actual fuck?! Who are you to tell me that I’m going to so gleefully give up the life I’ve been working toward since I was a teenager because I meet a partner? This ain’t the 1950s where I drop out of secretary school when Bob asks to marry me. Does life as you know it halt as soon as you get hitched? I feel like these are the same kind of people who refer to their wives as “the old ball and chain”.

“But what if he says he won’t be with you unless you have kids?” they ask. Well then, he’s not the man for me.

“But what if he says he won’t be with you unless you stop travelling so much?” they spout. Well then, he’s definitely not the man for me.

And if I dare say I’m happy being single?

“Yeah, right,” I’ve had people tell me. “You’re just saying that to make yourself feel better.” What is it about being single that means I have to constantly defend myself, or that I’m constantly told that I’m wrong about my own feelings?

For too long – as in, for all of history as we know it – women have been conditioned to believe that marriage and children are the ultimate goals. I mean, look at that golden age of romantic comedies in the 90s that we all love (Pretty WomanSleepless in SeattleNotting HillYou’ve Got Mail… OK, anything with Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts in it). The story stops when they get together at the end (by the way, for a fantastic read about the state of romantic comedies today, check out this Vulture article). Even Shakespeare does this – his comedies always end with a marriage (and as soon as they’re married, the women virtually become mute).

As Rebecca Traister writes, “I always hated it when my heroines got married,” referencing Laura Ingalls, Jo March, Anne of Green Gables, and Jane Eyre. As soon as any of these women got married, their stories were over. As she says about Jane: “Oh smart, resourceful, sad Jane. Her prize, readers, after a youth of fighting for some smidgen of autonomy? Marrying him: the bad-tempered guy who kept his first wife in an attic, wooed Jane through a series of elaborate head games, and was, by the time she landed him, blind and missing a hand.” For more of Traister’s brilliance, by the way, her book All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation is already one of my favourite books ever, and I haven’t even finished it. It’s an amazing history of single women throughout America’s history and how much they have changed and shaped society as we know it today (fun fact: in colonial times, I would be too old to be a spinster. I would officially be called a thornback). It’s also a really tough read, however, because every single page leaves your mouth hanging open in horror at how women – modern women included – are treated differently if they are single, and how often a woman’s worth is only measured by the man she marries. Despite that, it also emboldens you, because it tells the stories of some pretty badass single ladies (happily single ladies).

And forget Hollywood movies and classic literature, even most of the travel memoirs I’ve read lately have concluded in romance – we all know how Eat, Pray, Love ends, don’t we? I mean, it’s written in the goddamned title.

And before you paint me as some cackling, man-hating, Hansel-and-Gretal-esque child-eating crone (correction: thornback), I’ll say this here and now: I love children. I think marriage is a beautiful thing. I am so freaking happy whenever someone I love gets married or has a baby. I am WAY too excited about becoming an auntie one day. I do not look down upon anyone who wants to get married or have kids. I just don’t think it’s for me. Why is that so difficult for some people to accept? Who am I hurting by not making those individual choices? (These are the same questions I ask myself when I think about same-sex marriage. Why on Earth does it matter if two men want to get married? Who is that hurting? Oh, it hurts the sanctity of marriage? Right, OK, because all heterosexual marriages are totally happy and nobody ever divorces. Mm-hmm.)

As Kate Bolick writes in her amazing book Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own (my other favourite recent read, it’s so damn good), “Whom to marry, and when will it happen – these two questions define every woman’s existence, regardless of where she was raised or what religion she does or doesn’t practice. She may grow up to love women instead of men, or to decide she simply doesn’t believe in marriage. No matter. These dual contingencies govern her until they’re answered, even if the answers are nobody and never.”

And while there are certainly many men who feel pressure to get married, especially if they practice religions that encourage marriage, I agree with Bolick that this is universally part of the female experience. A few days ago, out with friends, the partner of a friend of mine whom I hadn’t met before started asking me about my visa situation in the UK (seriously, everyone is so concerned about this, which is both endearing and strange).

“Oh, you’re 32?” he stated. “Time to get married anyway then. Just find a nice British man.”

First of all, I have been on Tinder and trust me, that is easier said than done. Secondly, I didn’t realise there was a ticking time bomb above my head. What happens when I turn 40? Do I just retire to the attic to sit at my loom, wistfully staring out the window, eating a can of cold beans for dinner?

Is it ever OK to tell someone they “just need to meet the right man/woman/person”? I guess so, if that person is talking about being lonely, or is sad because they’re not dating someone, or they recently broke up with someone and feel awful, or they’re lamenting the state of modern dating today (I’m not joking, if you’re ever having an exceptionally great day just go on Tinder to take yourself down a notch. The last person who messaged me on there opened by telling me about the lovely Tinder date he had just had that evening). Sure, if any of these things are happening, then it’s OK to put your arm around your friend and say, “Don’t worry, you’re going to meet a great person one day” to cheer them up.

But if that person is sitting in front of you, confidently and happily talking about their future as a singleton, do not, I repeat, do not be so condescending as to interrupt them and tell them that they’ll only be truly happy if they “just meet the right partner”. Or that they’ll change their future plans – you know, the ones they’ve been thinking about for a decade or three – as soon as they fall in love. Everyone has their own idea of true happiness. To enforce your version of it on them is not only rude, it’s close-minded. It’s also incredibly antiquated (see: 1950s, secretary school, Bob). Today, for the first time in history, there are more single women in America than married women, and only around 20% of Americans under 30 are married (stats from Traister’s book; I’d assume Canada and the UK are similar). As Traister writes (I really do love this book, ladies):

“To be clear, the vast increase in the number of single women is to be celebrated not because singleness is in and of itself a better or more desirable state than coupledom. The revolution is in the expansion of options, the lifting of the imperative that for centuries hustled nearly all (non-enslaved) women, regardless of their individual desires, ambitions, circumstances, or the quality of available matches, down a single highway toward early heterosexual marriage and motherhood. There are now an infinite number of alternative routes open; they wind around combinations of love, sex, partnership, parenthood, work, and friendship, at different speeds. Single female life is not a prescription, but its opposite: liberation.”

In my twenties, I used to desperately want to date someone, because my vision of happiness was linked to being in love. And I know it sounds so fucking cheesy, but over the past few years of being single, I finally learned to be in love with myself. And now? I love my life – and I love it so much more than I ever did when I was with a partner. I love who I am, and who I’ve grown to be (most days. Some days I am THE WORST). I love the path I’m creating for myself, and the path that has taken me this far in life. I don’t need a partner or children to “complete” me, implicating that I was never whole to begin with. I’m me, on my own, carving my own happiness. You know what I’m doing this year? I’m driving around Scotland with one of my best friends. I’m speaking at a conference about a topic I’m passionate about (writing). I’m going to Italy alone for my 33rd birthday. I’m going to Kenya and Tanzania with my mum for nearly a month. I’m going to spend some time in Canada with my family. I’m going to rewrite the book that’s been sitting on my desk for a year. I’m going to grow my business. Those things make me happy and leave me feeling fulfilled. Too often, as women, we’re told we have to “have it all”: the career, the house, the partner, the kids, the body, the clothes, the hobbies, the cooking skills, you name it. The thing is, each of us has individual and unique definitions of what exactly “having it all” really means and includes; my “all” is different from yours, just as yours is different from your neighbour’s, and so on. There are infinite definitions of what it means to be a woman. As I’ve often said, falling in love would, to me, be a very lovely addition to an already wonderful life, but I refuse to let that be the only thing that defines me.

And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll decide that I want a different life for myself, and that’s cool, too. But for now, please stop telling me that I “just need to meet the right guy.” I’m not worried about it, so why should you be? Trust me, this old thornback is going to be just fine.

Obviously had to end with the Queen

Are you single, and if so, can you relate? Regardless of your marital status, have you ever felt pressured to get married or have children?

 

By the way, it’s become a bit of a tradition for me to write a blog post relating to love, dating, or relationships on or around Valentine’s Day. In 2013, I wrote all about how to manage your sex life while travelling (the post that has forever doomed my blog to screened comments). In 2014, I wrote a story about an Austrian I met while travelling in Thailand. In 2015, I wrote about choosing between travelling and a relationship (one of my most popular posts, and the one that prompts a few emails a week asking for dating advice). Last year, I wrote about being dumped, and why, ultimately, I was glad I got dumped. And if you’d like to read about my, ahem, dry January, read my series “My Month Without Alcohol… and Men“. 

Please note that the two books I link to are affiliate links; as always, I only link to products I know and love!

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111 Responses to Please Stop Telling Me I “Just Need to Meet the Right Guy”

  1. Cate February 19, 2017 at 10:24 pm #

    Brenna, this completely defined how I feel! I am in high school and my whole family always says “Oh, just wait until your older your change your mind and want kids”, or “Don’t be ridiculous, of course your getting married” when I tell them about how I want to adopt one or two kids and maybe not get married one day. Personally, a life with a man who I chose just because I had to and not because I actually loved them sounds horrible. So proud of you Brenna for standing up for your happiness and life. I am so jealous you are going to Africa again this year!!! (Which, BTW, is not something you could do with little kids lol)

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

      Thank you so much for your comment, Cate! I’m sure you’re going to have a very happy life, no matter what you choose to do. 🙂

  2. Rachel February 19, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

    I don’t see children in my future, and haven’t done since I was about 12. I have so many things I’d like to try in this life, and places to see, and none of them involve a baby. But I’m an aunty to a wee nephew with a bundle of character and an adopted ‘stepmum’ to my boyfriend’s 11 year old daughter. I’m happy with that.

    For YEARS my mum used to go on at me, when was I going to get married and make her a grandma yah de yah (thanks for letting me off the hook little brother) but over the last year she’s accepted that settling down in that way is really not for me and is even encouraging me to travel more than I do already. I want to live my life on my terms, not have it be defined by somebody else’s.

    So yea, I completely relate!

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

      I’m glad you could relate, Rachel! And I’m glad that your mum has accepted your choices in life, it’s always so nice when you have family on your side. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Paige February 19, 2017 at 11:15 pm #

    As usual, I can definitely relate! I’m single, and while I’ve had a couple serious relationships and gone on many a date, I am very comfortable with being single right now. I feel like, as a single person, we constantly have to defend our choices, or qualify our statements. I feel like there is often an underlying concern that something is “wrong” with us, and we cry into ice cream every night. The kids thing is even more complicated–I honestly don’t know whether or not I would like kids at some point. I know I don’t want them now, but maybe ten years from now I’ll have a different attitude. That unknowing makes people uncomfortable too, because like critically considering anything makes some people nervous (ah I’m getting snarky here!) The “you’ll find someone” talk is patronizing at best, and the “you’ll change your mind” is just rude. It’s always surprising to me how many people have these very conservative views of what an acceptable life should be.

    P.S. I also did the thing with scribbling lines and saying I was “writing” as a young child. I also have an MFA manuscript shoved into a file crate, neglected and dusty, but I don’t wanna think about that right now, haha 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

      Totally agree with your comment, Paige – it can be VERY patronising! And it definitely makes some people uncomfortable, although I think that anyone confident and/or sure of their lifestyle often does. I’m so glad that you liked the post, and thank you so much for your comment! 🙂

  4. Kiara Gallop February 19, 2017 at 11:15 pm #

    This article resonates with me so much.

    Like you in my teens I just assumed that I would be married by 25, because that’s what my parents did, and all my friends’ parents. Although I remember telling my mum at aged 15 (probably around the umpteenth time she tried to have the birds and the bees talk with me) that I didn’t want kids, and her telling me I’d change my mind in 10 years. At 25 I remembered that conversation and told her once more that I didn’t want kids. She and many of my relatives once again told me that I’d change my mind in 10 years. I still haven’t.

    A long-term relationship of mine once ended because, despite my telling him that I didn’t want kids, he assumed I’d change my mind and therefore kept it from me that he did actually want kids, until a few years down the line.

    I sometimes question why I don’t have that maternal instinct that the vast majority of my friends and work colleagues do. I often ask what’s wrong with me? But then I remind myself that it’s just society’s expectations that are causing me to think like that.

    Even friends who’ve known me for years tell me what a good mum I’d make.

    So to summarise, yes I totally get where you’re coming from!

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

      Yes, it’s funny how that works – even if you’re honest in the beginning people will sometimes assume you will change once you’re in a relationship! I do feel that I have a maternal instinct… but I still don’t particularly want my own baby. Does that even make sense? Maybe I just really need to get a puppy. 😀

      Thanks so much for your comment, Kiara, so glad that you liked the article and that you could relate!

  5. Siobhan February 19, 2017 at 11:26 pm #

    Love love love this xx

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

      Thank you! 🙂

  6. Bethen February 20, 2017 at 12:02 am #

    Oh my goodness thank you for writing this!! I have been single for the majority of my life (I’m 28 and I’ve had one six month ‘serous’ relationship). I love love love being single and since moving to London last year, I’ve been shocked at how many women I’ve met who seem intent on finding ‘the one’ and settling down, as if that will be the answer to all their problems and will bring them all the happiness they desire in their world. Yes, being in love is great and relationships with the right people are wonderful, but I cannot believe how since coming here, my relationship status seems to have become such a thing for everyone else. I’m always told to go dating, to get out there and meet a man. I find myself constantly having to justify my single status and the fact that I’m really not that fussed about kids and marriage. It’s exhausting!! I am HAPPY but it always feels like people can’t see beyond the fact that I don’t have a significant other or a future planned that includes children, a mortgage and a ring on my finger. I’m open to that idea, but I’m not going to change the course of my life, which I love, to try and fit that schedule. If it happens, it happens. If not, well, I’m really fine with that too. So thank you for so eloquently putting down in words exactly how I feel about this subject and also for the book recommendations!! It’s made my week to read this!

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

      Your comment is amazing, Bethen! That’s so awesome that you are so happy, reading what you have to say put a big smile on my face. I have distanced myself from anyone who puts that kind of pressure either on me or on themselves, because I just don’t want to be friends with people so close-minded (and how boring is it to just constantly talk about men all the time?!).

      Once again, thank you for your comment, I really appreciate all of your insights! 🙂

  7. LC February 20, 2017 at 12:22 am #

    When people talk about the sanctity of marriage these days, I just roll my eyes. This is STILL used as an excuse against gay marriage in Australia (which has not yet been legalised… I’m so ashamed of my country in that regard) and we had a reality tv show start this year called “married at first sight” where people well, get married and then see how the “relationship” pans out on national television. Hrmmm.
    I’m not single, but if I were, I’d be in your position, the same one I was in two years ago – loving the life I had worked so hard to create, not thinking there was something fundamentally wrong with me because I hadn’t managed to shack up in my late twenties (just thinking there was something seriously wrong with modern dating). Did I read this recently on your blog or elsewhere..? – but an S.O. should complement you, not complete you. I’ll have to read that book – loved Spinster!

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

      Yes, I love that – to complement, not complete. And yeah, the “sanctity of marriage” includes shows like The Bachelor, but two women who love each and have been together for years can’t marry? Hmm. I’d definitely recommend the book!

  8. Beatrice February 20, 2017 at 12:29 am #

    Interesting timing as I’m about to celebrate my 35th birthday next week. I am childless and single. I love my life and I am SO proud of what I have accomplished. I actually considered not moving to Moscow because I was nearly convinced that moving to a new country at 35 would disrupt my chances of meeting a man, getting married and having children. I was told that I should stay in New York City because the chances of me meeting someone are greater here. My conclusion: Dating is hard anywhere! Dating is not my only focus and goal. As you have written, it is very challenging to combat the pressures that society places on women. I don’t know if I want children and yes I am 35. I do know that I want to continue to live my life pursuing my passions (personal and professional). I know in my heart that I can be happy almost anywhere. I also think that for me, having children is not about getting married and finding a partner but about being a mother. I can adopt. I can choose to have a child on my own. If that is what I want, I have the power to try. The world is changing. You are right. It is not 1950s anymore. There are many single women in their 30s who have successful careers, self-confidence and knowledge of self-worth. Like you, I am happy when my friends get married and have children. That is their choice and there are many ways to live life.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

      That is so, so, SO awesome, Beatrice! What an amazing life you are leading. And YES… dating is hard everywhere!! I have lived in many different cities and cultures, and it seems to be the same no matter what. I also want to continue living my life pursuing my passions and yes, if I want to be a mother one day, I can, even if I don’t have a partner in my life. I consider myself very lucky in that way.

      “There are many ways to live life”… AMEN! 🙂

  9. Anne Morgan February 20, 2017 at 12:35 am #

    I can SO relate to this. As a child I dreamt of travelling, but also assumed I’d be married with kids and the sort of travelling I’d do would be on family holidays. Then as I got older I realised you didn’t have to go on a package holiday for 2 weeks each year in order to travel and, even better, it wasn’t compulsory to get married or have kids. From then on life got better and better. I’m fortunate to have many friends who have chosen the same path as me and others who totally get my lifestyle even if there’s is more conventional. But people who don’t know me so well? That’s a whole other story.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

      Most of my friends are in relationships, but they are all so supportive of me, which is fantastic! My family is the same way. It makes a huge difference!

      Thanks for your comment, Anne 🙂

  10. Michelle February 20, 2017 at 1:12 am #

    Great post, wish you I could have read it many years ago. I never wanted kids and had many many people tell me I would change my mind (just turned 50, no kids and no regrets!!!). I am happily married but would be okay if I wasn’t. I have always been independent and a bookworm… You should do what makes you happy always!! If marriage happens great, if not that’s totally okay too. You have an amazing life that appears to make you happy and that’s all that matters!

    But you did forget one thing when you turn 40 in your attic with your loom and cold beans… you must have lots of cats…

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

      I totally agree – you must do what makes you happy! I love your attitude. 🙂

      And WHOOPS forgot about the cats, ha ha!

  11. Diane M February 20, 2017 at 1:27 am #

    I’ll turn 60 this year. Married once, for 3 years in my early 20s. I’ve had many failed, long-term relationships. I’ve always just thought I just had terrible taste in men, or have always just been with the wrong guy for me. Now, I’m so happy alone. Yes, it really is so much better to be alone than with the wrong partner. I’ve finally realized that I am the right person for me, and I’m OK with that. Never wanted kids, and am also 1000% OK with that.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

      That is fantastic, Diane. I’m really happy, too. Thank you for your comment! 😀

  12. Nikita February 20, 2017 at 1:52 am #

    I hate the idea of marriage being the end goal of any woman’s life. Like all the adventures and accomplishments that happen before are just paving the way to meet the right man and REALLY be happy (as opposed to the fake happiness independence is supposedly making me feel). I hate catching up with someone after a long trip and having their first question be “did you fall in love?”, and the inevitable disappointment that follows when the answer is no. And almost every time I mention that I’ve been single for six years, the response is a pitying “oh don’t worry, you’ll meet the right man soon enough.” I’m sorry, the past six years have been awesome (except when they’re not, but that’s just life). You’d think being happy alone is something people would want to celebrate, not cure you of!

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 12:13 pm #

      Your last sentence… TOTALLY. It’s so strange when people think that a life isn’t complete without a relationship… I have MANY relationships: with my parents, with my friends, with my siblings, with my coworkers, and so on. I hate that the romantic relationship can be heralded as the “best” or “most important” one.

      And yes, how annoying when the first question is, “Are you dating anyone?” Thankfully none of my friends are like that!

  13. Melody February 20, 2017 at 1:54 am #

    Did I write this post? I feel like I wrote this post? I don’t remember writing anything, but it seems like I did. 🙂

    I will be 36 in 6 weeks and have always been single. I am not opposed to getting married, heck, I’d love to have a husband to do life with! But I do not want kids. I have no desire to have kids. I never have had the desire. But everyone always has to tell me that I would change my mind once I got married. Very few people seem to understand me.
    I am doing just fine on my own, but I do get lonely and wish for a travel buddy. And someone awesome to just be with would be great.
    But the guy who would convince me to give up my singleness and attach myself to him permanently would have to be quite the guy. He’d have to be someone who would love to travel with me, but also be ok with me travelling on my own. Be someone I can depend on, but allow me to still be independent.

    Everyone’s answer to all my ‘issues’ is to get married and have kids. Settle down, quit being so free, you’ll be happier for it!

    I could go on all night…… grrrr….

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      Ha ha – I’m so glad that you felt like you could relate so much, Melody!

      I am the same way. I don’t want to come across as snobby or conceited, but I agree that I am holding out for quite the guy. It’s shocking how often people who have no business putting their nose in other people’s lives so often do! I wish you all the best… and again, thank you so much for your comment! 🙂

  14. Sarah February 20, 2017 at 3:20 am #

    Your (excellent) piece made me think of this commentary, from Aimee Lutkin, about how maybe she WILL be alone forever, and so what?

    http://www.whyohwhyradio.com/alone-forever

    It’s not the way I choose to think, but it’s a refreshing perspective—and, amusingly, seems to shock all the “do-gooders” who purport to know her better than she knows herself: “Oh, you’ll find SOMEONE!”

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

      Great, thank you so much for sharing! Reading it now… 🙂

      Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you enjoyed the piece!

  15. Richelle February 20, 2017 at 5:15 am #

    I can’t believe I haven’t been reading your blog up until somewhat recently (how did I not discover it till now). But I have to say I really love your writing style and personal posts! I was prepetually single until I very recently started dating another traveler, but I completely agree with everything you wrote here. I always thought I wanted kids until now that age is getting closer and I can’t imagine my lifestyle changing, but at least I’m young enough that I don’t have to worry about it for a while.

    I find it so strange that people A) judge about stuff like that B) refuse to beleive you (are there a lot of people changing their minds or something?) and C) don’t think that there are plenty of guys out there who want to travel full or part-time. There are so many remote jobs now, you can easily “settle down” without actually settling down anywhere specific.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:06 pm #

      I find it so strange, too. WHY are they so concerned?! I find most people refuse to believe me or think that I’m just saying certain things to cover up insecurity, or something? I honestly don’t know.

      And thank you for the nice comments about my blog! I’m glad you’ll be following along. 🙂

  16. Katie February 20, 2017 at 5:23 am #

    I love this! I am in a relationship with a great guy that wants the same unconventional, travel heavy lifestyle that I do and it is amazing – but I want to be with him, I don’t need him. We are both very independent people and that is important to me. Marriage and kids aren’t for me either and people do love to tell me that my life won’t be complete without kids blablabla – I just ignore it, what else can you do?

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

      That’s awesome that you met someone who is so compatible! Thanks for your comment, Katie. 🙂

  17. Mimi Rose February 20, 2017 at 6:58 am #

    Loved this post, Brenna. I’ve been in a relationship for almost 3 years now, but my boyfriend doesn’t “complete” me in any way. Complements who I am? Sure. But we both know we would be okay if we weren’t together, although we obviously prefer to be. And I think a big part of that is because we both learned how to be our own people before we jumped into a relationship with each other. We both learned how to love ourselves and grow as unique individuals when we didn’t have anyone. I still love traveling by myself, because its a passion that I’ve had for most of my life. I would love for more women (and men) to realize that they’re enough, and so are their friends who choose not to have the traditional nuclear family goals and lifestyle. I feel like its still such an automatic response for some people, because it’s a bit too ingrained in our society, to make excuses for a friend who says they don’t want kids. “Oh, you will! Don’t worry.” Wait, who said I was worried? Haha. I just wanted to say I appreciate this piece a lot, thanks for sharing your two cents and again being a great female role model. 🙂 PS – totally going to check out the books you recommended.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

      That’s sounds like such a solid relationship, Mimi! That’s what I would be looking for in a partner, too. That we don’t NEED each other… we WANT each other. There’s a big difference. I’m also glad that I’ll be a bit older whenever I decide to settle down with someone, and so I will indeed know who I am by that point (I’m still figuring it out some days).

      Thank you so much for your comment, I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post! And wow, a female role model, those are big words to live up to, but I’ll take them 😀

  18. Britt February 20, 2017 at 7:57 am #

    Ugh thank you so much for writing this! I am currently single, have been for the past 2 years (after a terrible 1 year relationship – my only one) and over these past two years, I am always blissfully happy until someone mentions they’re dating someone or suggests that I try out tinder again (um, no thank you… unfortunately have had one too many icky experiences on there). I start to think, and wallow about being single and then it sort of goes away after a couple of days. I recently started to realise that I would always feel kind of guilty for not wanting to be in a relationship – especially when people say how amazing it is and yadda yadda yadda. I mean, sure, if the right guy came along then all bets are off (he would really have to blow my socks off though… said Tinder experiences have severely affected my opinion of the male population) but I love being single, and focusing on just me, as selfish as that sounds! I have minimal responsibilities at the moment and have a bevy of options ahead of me without having to consult anyone else and it. is. amazing.

    Am absolutely loving your more personal posts and have been following along for quite a while now (about 6 or 7 years I think) so keep it up! <3

    • Brenna Holeman February 25, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

      I know, what is it with Tinder these days? It used to be great, but now everyone I know who uses it is experiencing real issues. And I agree that someone would have to blow my socks off, because I am super happy on my own (and have many, many memories of bad relationships to make me hesitant to jump into another one). You’re totally right: it is amazing to be single. 😀

      And thank you so much for all of your support over the years – wow! You’ve been reading for so long!! I can’t thank you enough 🙂

  19. Kimberly February 20, 2017 at 9:10 am #

    People are insecure, jealous, and resentful. You are doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, and how you want to do it. That makes people “green with envy” and question their own decisions. Lol. Keep it up!

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

      Yes, I think you may be right. 😉 Thanks, Kimberly!

  20. Annika February 20, 2017 at 9:55 am #

    Brilliant! What is it with people even today that it makes them so uncomfortable when you are a happy single and prefer to remain childless. Especially then when people get to know you and say things like – but you are such a nice person, you would be so good with kids. Yeah, but that is not the point… I didn’t say I don’t want kids because I prefer to have them for breakfast…

    Urgh. Anyhow, loved this post. So well said – I am right there with you and this sentiment!

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

      I know – people always tell me the same kinds of things! Oh well. Thanks for your comment, Annika! 🙂

  21. Sarah February 20, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    Welcome to my life for the past 20 years! I’m nearly 35 and have known since my early teens that I didn’t want children. The responses I receive have evolved over the years:

    – You’ll change your mind when you’re older (when I was a teenager)
    – You’re selfish (to whom?)
    – You’re obviously with the wrong person (when I was in the middle of a 7-year relationship!)
    – Are you a lesbian? (because obviously no gay person has ever wanted children…)
    – That’s very decisive of you (because women can’t make their own decisions?)
    – What about your poor mother? (my mother wants me to do whatever makes me happy and couldn’t care less about grandchildren)

    And my absolute favourite…

    – You’re abnormal – yes, someone said that right to my face!

    I do think that some people take my decision not to procreate as a criticism of their decision to have children. But if they can have children because it makes them happy, why can’t I choose not to have children in order to have the same level of happiness?

    Going to stop ranting now and add those books you mentioned to my Goodreads list!

    • Brenna Holeman February 25, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

      Oh mannnnn! What IS it with some people? To jump to those sorts of conclusions? “But if they can have children because it makes them happy, why can’t I choose not to have children in order to have the same level of happiness?” That sentence – totally.

      Thank you for your comment, Sarah! 🙂

  22. Csaba & Bea February 20, 2017 at 10:49 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Awkwardly (or not) it’s another piece we can easily relate to – as a married couple. 😀 Because so often people want to define what would be good for you and how you can achieve it regardless you’re married or not. We got married at the age of 23 that is extremely early. So many people including our families were asking whether we are sure about this – pretending they know it won’t be good for us to hurry so much before we’ve lived enough to make such a significant decision. I remember telling it to a friend happily that we’re getting married and her answer was: “Ooops… are you having a baby?”… and I was like… No. We are just getting married. Baby is not the only reason for marriage, you know.
    And then 5 years later, here we are. And what is the expectation now? Oh, come on, you got married so early, how is it you still don’t have kids…? We try to be joking a lot of times but deep inside we feel so angry. We work hard to create a life that will make us happy and we struggle so much with so many things, including the children topic. Our own thoughts are changing from time to time and we couldn’t even explain it to strangers. And why should we? Oh, yes, we don’t need to. Because it’s our choice and anyone has their own choices. And a lot of times people who did’t make or regret their choices try to control others…
    We believe that a million path could lead to happinesss and it would be so good if people could support each other and share the happiness rather than questioning choices that are unusual to them. But reading posts like yours are so reassuring!

    Sorry for being so long… Long post, many thoughts… 😀

    • Brenna Holeman February 25, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

      Oh definitely, I’m sure it exists from the other side as well! And I can totally see how that would make you feel angry and under pressure. You’re totally right – you don’t need to explain it to anyone, and I also agree with your comment that there are a million paths to happiness. I like that. 🙂

      Thank you so much for your comment! 😀

  23. Suneé February 20, 2017 at 11:19 am #

    I hear ya. In my experience, people have been so brainwashed into believing what is “normal” that they either a) are genuinely afraid for you if you don’t conform, or b) try to justify their life decisions (which are most likely making them unhappy) by critisizing yours. Either way, it’s damn annoying.

    I married young (was 24 at the time) and we were married for 12 years before a baby (unexpectedly) became part of the picture. If I had a dollar every time someone asked me when I’m going to have children or why I didn’t want any I’d be retired by now. And now that there finally is a little one, the questions about whether or not it’s time for him to have a sister is driving me insane.

    I think it will be a while before society in general catches up to the idea that we don’t all want or need the same cookie cutter life. Meanwhile, I just grit my teeth and try not to suffocate that person with a dirty diaper.

    • Brenna Holeman February 25, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

      You’re right – it IS damn annoying! And oh man, I can’t imagine all the “little sister” questions… why do people think it’s their business? I sometimes ask a GOOD friend, “So, do you think you want any more children?” or something like that, but again, only when I know the person really well and we often share personal things about their lives. I think some people just don’t really know what to say and so they say something without thinking how it might come across.

      And HAH your last line!! Thanks for your comment, Suneé. 😀

  24. Maria February 20, 2017 at 11:57 am #

    Hi, Brenna! I’ve enjoyed your post very much and decided to write my first comment on your blog.
    I’m also 32, turning 33 this year. I got married when I was 27, but I had never seen myself walking down the aisle. As it was important to him and I didn’t have a problem with being married, I said yes. We’ve been happily together for almost 11 years and none of us wants kids. We both love travelling, hanging out together and we want to keep on doing what we love for the rest of our lives.
    I have a lot of younger friends who already have 1 or 2 children and constantly ask me when I’ll have my own. The mentality in Romania is that you should get married and have children in your ’20s. That’s how we’re brought up, so I don’t blame them for choosing this path or for finding my decision weird. I usually answer that I don’t know when it will happen, if ever. Some of them understand me, some of them don’t and I’m fine with that.
    Our parents are also keen on having grandchildren, but over time they have stopped pressuring us. I know they are still waiting for us to change our minds, but I don’t think we ever shall, although it breaks my heart seeing them sort of “unfulfilled”, particularly as most of their friends already have grandchildren (I’m an only child and so is he, so if we don’t have children, they won’t have grandchildren).
    I haven’t decided that I don’t want children yet, but 99% of me wants to continue this happy life together with my husband, just the two of us, and I don’t want anything to change. Fortunately, he thinks the same way, too.
    I sometimes think that I shall end up alone when I’m old, but I guess it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
    Finally, I think that a husband/boyfriend or a child does not define us, either men or women. What we leave behind and how much we can help the ones around us are the things that should define us.

    • Brenna Holeman February 25, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

      “I think that a husband/boyfriend or a child does not define us, either men or women. What we leave behind and how much we can help the ones around us are the things that should define us.” I love that, Maria! You’re totally right. And it sounds like you are living a really happy, fulfilled life, which is fantastic.

      Thank you so much for your comment – the first one! Yay! 😀

  25. donna February 20, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

    Here, here. For me there was a point last year when I finally embraced that I am fucking awesome alone. I don’t need a boyfriend, marriage, kids, or a house to be happy. I am happy. Since then I have become my own best friend, I tolerate even less shit from others than I did before, I see situations for what they are and not what i want them to be, I throughly enjoy my own company and I have started to map out a fucking amazing future for myself which I believe will make me feel fulfilled and even more happy than I do already. Do I want to be in a loving relationship with some kids? Why not! That indeed would be a excellent addition if it was with someone who understands my ambitions and loves me unconditionally. But my life’s worth is not determined by wether or not I do this before a certain age, or if I do this at all. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll still be fucking awesome alone. This was a great read.

    • Brenna Holeman February 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

      I really don’t have anything to say here except I completely agree with your comment. “My life’s worth is not determined by whether or not I do this before a certain age, or if I do this at all. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll still be fucking awesome alone.” Here, here indeed!

      Thanks so much, Donna 😀

  26. Katie February 20, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    Wouldn’t life be so much better for everyone if we all accepted our differences and the freedom of choice that reflects those differences? Brenna. When people feel the need to say things like that to you, it’s obvious they’re dealing with their own emotional baggage. Whether it be regrets about their own decisions or a weird need for validation, that’s *their* burden to carry. Realizing this has allowed me to let comments like that (mostly) roll off. You’re immensely emotionally healthy for embracing your life as it is and being open to whatever may come. You’ve seen a lot, done a lot, loved a lot — and there’s so much more ahead! Whatever it is, I don’t doubt it will be amazing.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

      Yes, I let these comments roll off now as well. There’s just no point in arguing them! If someone is so stubborn/close-minded that they can’t accept what I want FOR MY OWN LIFE, then the conversation is over.

      Thank you so much for your comment and for all of your support, Katie! 😀

  27. Dianne February 20, 2017 at 4:37 pm #

    To all the single ladies, do what works for you! Having turned sixty last year I have heard from many sources over the years about what I should. I loved travelling and men but two never seemed to have met. Love yourself and what you love to do.

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:16 pm #

      This is a great comment! Thank you, Dianne 😀

  28. Leah February 20, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post Brenna. I am happily single, yet in a year which will be dominated with friends getting married and my younger sister having a baby (don’t get me wrong, I am SO excited for these events!), I really needed to read something like this and reaffirm in my mind that there is NOTHING wrong if marriage and babies are not your priority in life … and riding the Trans-Mongolian railway before your 30th birthday is haha!

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

      It can be hard when everyone around you is doing something else, but as long as you love your life, that’s all that matters! And I highly recommend the Trans-Mongolian 😉

  29. Valerie February 20, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

    Can so relate to this!! I am 31, single, living in a big city, and have spent the last 8 years working very hard on my career. Despite my crazy professional life, I also manage to travel pretty frequently. I’m finally hitting the point where things are getting easier, and am starting my dream job this summer. It’s so frustrating to me when people I haven’t seen in a while ask me immediately if I’m dating anyone. My relationship status is one of the least interesting aspects of my life, and it is so insulting when that is the only thing people are interested in. I have been single for the last 8 years, mostly by choice. I knew I would not be able to do everything, so my career and my travel ambitions won out. This is not something I’m sad about or should be pitied for, and hate when people do this to me!!
    I also loved All the Single Ladies-one of the best books I read in 2016!

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:13 pm #

      I love your comment, Valerie, and it’s so awesome that you are living such a happy, successful, and fulfilled life! And UGH to the people who ask about dating before anything else, I agree that it’s so insulting/boring/cliched.

      Thanks again, and so glad that you could relate!

  30. Ashley February 20, 2017 at 6:53 pm #

    LOVE this post, Brenna, and I can completely relate! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this same conversation, or felt like I’ve had to defend myself because I don’t want to get married or have kids – which is completely ridiculous! And, funny enough, falling in love with Edinburgh is what made feel open to the idea of settling down for the first time in my life (at least temporarily anyways), not falling not in love with a man..

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

      Yes, that’s how I felt about London! There’s a quote I read somewhere that said, “I’ll stop travelling when I fall in love with either a port or a woman”… or in my case, a man. I guess I fell in love with the port first. 😉 Glad you liked the post, Ashley!

  31. Geoff Dobbs February 20, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    Hi Brenna
    Even though I have grown up kids and grandkids who I love dearly I’m divorced but still single do you think people are just so envious of your
    Lifestyle they think you should be married with kids just like them with all pressure that’s comes with it ? People still ask me when you going
    To get hitched again settle down and stop going on solo trips abroad
    Keep doing what you want for as long as you can you won’t regret it !

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

      Thank you very much, Geoff! All the best to you 🙂

  32. Emma February 20, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

    I loved this post so much! I’m only 21 and I’m not really sure whether I want to have kids or not. Whenever I say this people often laugh it off, saying that I’ll change my mind. This may very well be the case but I find it incredibly irritating that others feel compelled to tell women what they will or won’t do/want in the future. It is so patronising xx

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

      Yes, even if we change our minds, I’m not sure why everyone insists on forcing their opinions on us. I’m glad you liked the post, Emma! 🙂

  33. Alisa February 20, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

    Another amazing post! It’s so frustrating, other people thinking they know what you want or what is best for you. Their choices don’t have to be your choices! I’ve been single for most of the past 6 years, and the different commentary I get about that (“Soooo are you seeing anyone? Don’t you worry about never getting to have children? What do you mean you don’t believe in marriage?”) gets so tiresome.

    I used to feel sad that I might not ever get to have those things, but the day I realised that if I never have children I will be OK was enormously freeing, just like it was for you. No rush to meet the right man by a certain time (if there even is such a thing), and the freedom to be picky–why on earth would I want to settle for a person or a life that is less than what I really want?

    Hooray for singletons and for living your own best life! I love reading this stuff, and I can’t wait to hear more (and get more book recommendations) in the future!

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:16 pm #

      “Their choices don’t have to be your choices!” Exactly! I’m so glad that you could relate to the post, Alisa, and yes, it is such a freeing feeling. Hooray for us, indeed. 😀

      p.s. more book recommendations coming soon!

  34. veena February 20, 2017 at 9:47 pm #

    How do you always manage to read my mind? All I can say in response to this is: yes, yes, a million times yes. It was worse when I lived in India, and people just could not understand that I was in my early 30s and had no plans to get married or have kids. If either of those things happen, great, but I am not going to plan my life or my happiness around them, and I also get tired of having people pass judgment on my personal life choices. Thank you so much for this post, and for the book recommendation — I’ve added it to my wish list! 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

      Thank you so much for your comment, Veena – I’m so glad that you liked the post and could relate to it! 😀

  35. Shannon February 20, 2017 at 11:02 pm #

    Hi Brenna!! This totally resonates with me. I’m also a 32 year old single writer/traveler and have also cheesily learned to love myself over the years. Like you, I’m really happy with my life and enjoy spending time alone. But for some reason, I always feel like I have to justify my life choices to other people. It’s as though people can’t imagine how I could possibly be happy on my own. While I’d love to share my life with someone, that person would need to add to my happiness and be willing to be part of my adventure…this person would not make me ‘settle down’ as I know i will never be able to be happy if I do that. I hope you have a wonderful 33rd bday in Italy!

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

      Yes – I totally agree. “That person would have to add to my happiness and be willing to be part of my adventure” – you nailed it! Thank you so much for your comment, Shannon, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  36. Rachel February 21, 2017 at 3:40 am #

    You do you girl! Your life and accomplishments are amazing. Ignore everyone and keep doing what you want. Stay true to yourself!

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

      Aw, thank you so much, Rachel! You’re great! 😀

  37. Korii February 21, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    Brenna, I tell you, this is seriously the story of my life!

    I have lost count of the number of people (mainly men) who go on about how one day I’ll find someone even though I haven’t even said anything about me wanting to meet anyone. I’m pretty happy being single so I find it frustrating when people just instantly assume that I must be unhappy because I haven’t got a partner.

    I’ve absolutely enjoyed reading your posts and following all your adventures and I have to say I’ve really come to admire just how independent, adventurous and wonderfully intelligent and brilliant you are. It sounds like you’ve really built yourself an amazing life and in a way it kind of inspires me to just keep at it and keep building myself a freaking amazing life. 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

      Yes, why is it so often men? I don’t understand that. I’m so glad that you are happy being single – it’s such a freeing feeling. 🙂

      And wow – what amazing comments to say! Your words brought tears to my eyes… I really appreciate what you’ve said and I’ve saved your comment to read for a low day. I’m so happy that you are enjoying the blog and feeling inspired, that’s all I could ever hope for through writing. 😀

  38. Beverley February 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

    This part actually made me laugh out loud (and I NEVER LOL at the internet. Who does that??):

    “What happens when I turn 40? Do I just retire to the attic to sit at my loom, wistfully staring out the window, eating a can of cold beans for dinner?”

    I relate to this whole post so much, though. Because, while I’ve never explicitly been told that it’s time to settle down, that I’d have to change my life when I meet someone, it definitely feels like it’s a viewpoint held by society in general.

    One thing that’s really starting to grate on me is how the non-single friends in my life have seemingly forgotten what it’s like to not be anyone’s number one priority. They cancel plans because they still have someone to go home to regardless. They text saying ‘Oooh [my boyfriend] is busy that night so I’m definitely free!’ (wait, you can only have a social life when the other does? Wow).

    I’m by no means sad and single, and I can’t even count the number of things I’ve learned and ways I’ve changed since my last long-term relationship ended – something I’m truly grateful for, because it gave me the opportunity to be all the things I am now: independent, strong, brave, happy with being myself – but it does feel as though other people think I’m ‘waiting’. IN waiting, perhaps, if we’re going with archaic tropes. Like, “Suuuuure, you like the life you’re living, but wait until you meet someone. That’s what it REALLY gets exciting.”

    Um, no.

    I’m spending my next birthday, my 32nd, alone in Berlin. And I can’t wait. I’ve had the pitying looks, and, like you, I’ve decided not to care anymore. Why wait around for someone to do all the things you’ve dreamed of with? Life’s too short.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

      Ha ha, thank you so much, Beverley! I’m so glad that you can relate – I feel like we’ve had these discussions before – and yes, being single does NOT equal being sad. I am so grateful for all these years of being single so that I could learn about myself and about the world… I think it’s made me a much better person.

      And UGH what is with the people who need to check with their partners first and/or only schedule time for friends if their partner is unavailable? That is SUCH a pet peeve of mine.

      Berlin sounds amazing, I’m sure you’re going to have a great time! I will raise a glass for you in Italy when I’m on my own for mine 😀

  39. Tash February 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/woman-cannot-be-arsed-to-have-a-baby-20170221122535

    Nothing wrong with prefering posh cheese and holidays

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

      Ha ha! I read that earlier… so good. Posh cheese and holidays for life 😀

  40. Jill February 21, 2017 at 6:08 pm #

    And I have another reason to love you! lol. I have been told my whole life that I would change my mind about having kids. I knew when I was 10 that I didn’t want them. My idea of hell is being a mother. Being an aunt on the other hand is THE BEST!!! I love it! I was married for awhile, I told him I didn’t want kids. HE even thought I would change my mind. Yeah didn’t happen…..I’m 47 now so too old to be asked that and I have never regretted not having kids. I think most people do it because that’s “what they’re suppose to do.” I’ve never done what I was suppose to do lol. I’m so glad society is changing it’s view. Slowly for sure but hopefully it will get there.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

      Ha ha – I’m glad I gave you another reason! 😉 I can’t wait to be an aunt, I hope that it happens soon. Thank you so much for your comment, Jill!

  41. Nicole February 21, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

    This is so spot on! My friends and I just discussed this topic last week while we were out for dinner as single ladies on Valentine’s Day (which was one of the best Valentines I’ve experienced in recent years, ha!). It’s so frustrating and often exhausting to constantly defend your own life choices because someone thinks you’ll be unfulfilled without marriage and/or children. What’s right for one person is definitely not right for everyone, and I wish more people could understand that the nuclear family doesn’t have to be the ultimate life goal for all people. I am happy to see that society is changing, and I’m proud to be among so many women in our generation who are continuing to break the norm.

    Also- I love your reading list! I’ve read a few of those titles as well. You might want to check out Flaneuse, it should be released next week. It’s on my to-read list and sounds like it has similar themes to some of the books in your photo.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

      “What’s right for one person is definitely not right for everyone”… absolutely! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post and that you had such a fabulous Valentine’s Day. Thanks for your comment, Nicole, and for the book recommendation!

  42. Nghi Dang February 21, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

    I love this post so much, And I absolutely agree with you, in every sentences you say.

    Love this quote:
    “Single female life is not a prescription, but its opposite: liberation.”

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

      Thank you so much, I’m so glad you liked it!

  43. Zalie February 22, 2017 at 1:19 am #

    WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK IS RIGHT!!!! I never can understand people who try to tell anyone what they need to do in order to be happy or live their lives! Do people not have anything better to do then meddle into other people’s private business( I do know the answer to that actually)? I am so glad you posted this Bren! xoxo

    • Brenna Holeman February 23, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

      “Just need to meet a cool cat”… right? 😉 Thanks for your comment, Zalie! xoxo

  44. Shi February 22, 2017 at 5:16 am #

    Hi Brenna! I can definitely related to how you feel. Being on the road for over a year, I had quite a few people back home ask me when I was going to come back to the “real life” (AKA… start a career, get married, and pop out babies). I actually came back from my trip and almost immediately felt the need to end a five-year relationship I was in. Traveling solo, becoming self-dependent, and learning so much more about the world changes your entire perspective and, at least for me, who I was as a person completely. Now that I have come home and tried to start life over again, it is really hard for me to find a guy who can keep up with me. This might come off as mean or cocky, but as I’ve seen the world, learned French, began grad school, and all these things – I can’t find a guy who challenges me. If I would ever get married I want my companion to challenge me intellectually, to not be afraid of exploring the world, who values memories over money. I’ve slowly began to realize, just as you have, that maybe a life of marriage and kids isn’t really what will make me happy in life. It’s just a fear of being alone and unhappy without those things that keeps us women stuck at some point in our life. For now, I’ve decided that if it happens, it happens. If I don’t find a soul mate or have children, life is still going to be OKAY. Thanks Brenna

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

      I really don’t like when people say “the real world”… then what is the rest of life…? I don’t get it. Isn’t it amazing how much travelling can change you? And yes, I completely understand what you’re saying, I feel the same way when it comes to dating. I have really high expectations for myself and, quite frankly, I’m looking for the same in a partner. I know that I’ll probably be unhappy or lonely at times, but I know that the benefits of this lifestyle make it all worth it. 🙂

      Thank you so much for your comment, Shi!

  45. Linda February 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm #

    Oh Brenna, what a joy to read! To be so sure of who you are and how you want to live in the moment is the most wonderful gift. It’s so clear, from all these intelligent and astute comments, that you have hit a very important nail on the head in this post. And I agree with everything you say, my dear thornback (I laugh every time I think of that word). Having done it all: single, then married, kids, then single again for a long time, and now in a lovely, loyal, and independent situation I call LAT – living (or lovers) apart together – I totally agree that having complete autonomy over one’s own life – even if in a romantic relationship – is the most honest way to live. One big moment of shock for me, fourteen years ago, was my divorce lawyer, as I signed the final papers, saying I must be anxious to “re-partner” again. Was she wrong! Keep doing what you’re doing, Brenna. We all applaud you!

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

      UGH – what?! I didn’t know that. What a horrible thing for a lawyer to say! I envy your situation… I want a LAT, too, preferably one in a tropical destination 😉

      Thank you so much for your comment, and for all your support… the fact that you never put pressure on me means the world xoxo

  46. Jennifer February 24, 2017 at 5:56 am #

    Praise Jesus, Hallelujah. Girl, you get it. I don’t know how you get it, but you do. It’s like you reached inside my head and wrote down everything. I am so sick and tired of my family telling me all I need is a man to make me feel complete. No, what I need is more frequent flier miles and a vacation days. If someday, I find a man who understands that I want a career and travel and that’s all I want, then great, he can join my adventures. But if that never happens and all I have in life are great friends I think I’ll be okay too.

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

      Ha ha – thank you so much, Jennifer! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post and could relate. I’m sorry you’re feeling pressure from your family… I hope you have some really supportive friends who get it, having someone to speak to/relate makes all the difference! 🙂

  47. Jack February 24, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

    This is so amazing and I just emailed it to all my friends, regardless of if they are single or not. I’ve never seen myself with children, but I have been a perpetual relationship girl. Never been fixated on marriage, I’m happy to cohabit. I’m not against marriage but I don’t make it a “goal” in my life.

    Like you say, it’s OTHERS that have the problem with it! “You’ll change your mind about kids when it’s the right guy!” Um, no, that is not for you to dictate.

    Thanks for being such a strong and amazing role model and saying so eloquently what a lot of us are thinking <3

    • Brenna Holeman February 24, 2017 at 8:22 pm #

      Aw, thank you very much, Jack! You’re right – that is not for anyone to dictate but yourself (I think about that all the time, that I live in 2017 and in a developed world… and that if I had been born at another time/in another place it might have been very different).

      Thank you so much for your comment, you are amazing! 😀

  48. Lauren February 25, 2017 at 3:57 am #

    It blows my mind that people are presumptuous enough to assume that THEY know you better than YOU know you. I had a male doctor who couldn’t understand why my husband and I are choosing not to have kids – every time I went in he asked “Still no to kids?” as if he was just waiting to be able to say “I told you so.” Fun fact, he is no longer my doctor.

    • Brenna Holeman March 11, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

      Oh god!! That sounds horrible. I would switch doctors, too!

  49. claire February 28, 2017 at 3:36 am #

    Right on girlfriend! As a 42 year old who is about to embark on a travel and blogging adventure I can soundly say that there is nothing I would like to do less than “find the right man”. Why? To do what? I can’t possibly see how anyone could add anything to my life except for tying me down – to a life of boredom and compromise. No thank you!

    • Brenna Holeman March 11, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

      I think the most important thing is to be happy with your choices! It sounds like you are 🙂

  50. karin March 2, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

    Love the post, there is power in every kind of life we choose or happen upon. Don’t understand you ending with Single ladies though. That song is not about empowerment at all. It’s about ultimately wanting a guy to propose. And dropping him in a quest to find someone who will. If you want to end it on a bang of empowerment, will, love for life and being sexy I think you should end with Tina Turners proud mary, the live at wembley one is inspiring to me.

    • Brenna Holeman March 2, 2017 at 2:57 pm #

      Ha ha, I’m very aware of the lyrics, but that song has become something of anthem for single women anyway… and I really like Beyoncé. Plus it’s a nod to the book title I keep referencing. 😉

  51. Sooshmita March 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    I can relate to this as I am 31 and single , some people may think this is sad but I was married at age 24 and being committed to someone you don’t love is much more sad than being single. Yes I am 31 but living a life of a 21 year old and that is to start following my passion and have a purpose in life. Yes I would like to get married one day and have kids but if it does not happen its fine, regardless of whether I get married I want to count my blessings and show gratitude in life. I think the difficult issue is someone like me coming from traditional Asian family so marriage and kids is a big part of life so this is another challenge us Asian women have to constantly go through.

    • Brenna Holeman March 11, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

      Yes, I can imagine the added challenge of different family values, religions, etc. I think you have a great attitude, Sooshmita!

  52. Caroline March 9, 2017 at 8:10 pm #

    Yes, yes, and all the yes.

    • Brenna Holeman March 11, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

      Thank you xx

  53. Brooke April 11, 2017 at 8:18 am #

    Wow, loved this article. Totally resonated with me. I too have been traveling, single, loving it for the last couple of years. Imagining a house full of books someday, continued adventures, a life in which I am surrounded by friends and loved ones. All of this thrills me, as it sounds like it does you too. A partner? Would be lovely but not needed. Kids? Could go either way, but I too lean towards more the “not” side of the spectrum. So much of what you said, I connected with. I hate the way our society constantly pushes getting married and “finding someone” as the end goal. The golden standard for “finally” having it all. Ridiculous and so incredibly narrow and limiting. No wonder so many people aren’t as happy as they could be. Thanks for writing this 🙂 really enjoyed it. I have written some similar types of articles on my own blog as well.

    • Brenna Holeman April 12, 2017 at 6:37 pm #

      I’m so glad that it resonated with you, Brooke! I agree – having it all?! What does that mean, exactly?? Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  54. Annie May 5, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

    Yes, yes and a thousand times yes!… Your description of the opening up of the horizons of your single life reflects my own experiences in many, many ways. Thank you for such an articulate exploration of it all, and also for giving me a wonderful feeling of solidarity. How exciting! Look forward to hearing more of your writing… Thank you, Annie ( happily single musician with a campervan! )

  55. Stephanie May 16, 2017 at 9:03 pm #

    I am glad to find articles like this one. When I was younger I always thought I wanted kids once I met ‘the right guy’. It’s always been hammered into me. However, as I grew older and started to have more of an understanding of what it takes to be a parent, it often fills me with dread because there is so much I want to do that would have to be put on the back burner. Once you have kids it’s always about what’s best for them. I am 21 but already had two very important experiences vastly shape my life.

    I foolishly got into a relationship thinking it would make me happy because that’s what happiness is, isn’t? The relationship, the kids, the house, the husband? And also it’s just what is expected of me. My parents marriage is also not the best to put it very lightly. But I don’t regret what I have been through. It just forced me to rethink what happiness is. Especially when I saw traditional things like marriage and being in a relationship did not 100% guarantee happiness. Not saying these options don’t but putting the entire weight of your happiness, worth, aspirations on them is not logical.

    Besides, whenever, I thought of having kids it would be years into the future when I was in my 30s or couldn’t imagine them at all. It just doesn’t excite me for the future. Writing, travelling, and helping others did.This is where my heart really is, where my mind wanders to whenever I have a moment to myself. When I read articles like this it gives me so much relief that I can in fact have a fulfilling life without having to fit into this box. It helps me to understand each person can live a full life as long as they are content and happy with it. We do not need to let society tell us what will make us happy and fulfilled. We can decide and discover this for ourselves. Thanks for this article.

    -Steph C.

  56. Fiona July 27, 2017 at 1:14 am #

    I loved this article! It’s so refreshing to hear your perspective, I wish there was more stuff like this circulating around! 👍🏻

  57. Annalisa July 27, 2017 at 1:33 am #

    Hello, hello!
    First time I read your blog and leave a comment, and I guess I’m going to read all the love-related posts tonight.
    I just turned 29, I’ve lived in my town most of my life with a few experiences abroad as an exchange student and intern, ending a 3-year relationship. Since then, I realised how much I love to travel. In the last two years I’ve been working on board of cruise ships around the world and my (shooort) relationships were a total disappointment, ending them quite soon. I also realised that my free spirit always wins over my relationships, although I often feel the need (eventually) of having someone on my side. I still have a bad bad crush on a colleague that apparently loves to travel as much as I do, the way I do, and we also have a great amazing chemistry. Unfortunately he preferred to have fun around instead of trying something more serious with me. So sad.
    I love my independence, but I guess I just would be happier if I could find someone with my own interests, like this boy. After all, I miss that feeling of being loved… I almost forgot how it feels like.
    Apart from this… yes, I keep feeling social pressure. All my friends are getting married or are in a serious relationship. Some have kids. And me? Around the world. My mom already pictures myself as a single woman surrounded by cats and keep asking me to stop my lifestyle. I can’t. I feel trapped if I settle down. I don’t feel ready for this… and kids? Omg it would be the worst that could happen to me at the moment. This would mean to stop everything, stop dreaming, stop travelling.
    Reading your posts make me feel less lonely and “weird”, although in my case I’m still waiting for a traveler soul mate that somehow would complete me. I don’t know then if my being single is a inconscious choice of freedom, or I’m being too picky on boys ending up then being alone…. bad luck maybe. Or boys are becoming lazy and boring and just don’t fit my type? Sometimes I think I intimidate them for being different from standard girls. I only hope to find my own “right guy”… I don’t hide that sometimes I feel extremely lonely and I wouldn’t mind some sweetness and romance.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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