Both of my sisters are pregnant.
That’s when the title of “The Single Sister” really solidified in my head. We had joked about my single-ness at my oldest sister’s rehearsal dinner, but it didn’t seem as damning then. It wasn’t until after both of my sisters announced their pregnancies that it fully clicked; both of my sister’s are having babies, and I’ve been single for nearly 3 years.
I’ve always been okay with my solitude.
I’ve never been the kind of person to jump from one relationship to another one. Between partners I’m generally a single “casual dater” for several months, to a year at a time. As a demiromantic (a part of the romantic spectrum) I do not fall in love easily or often. It generally takes 6 or more months for me to even start having feelings for the person I am seeing. To clarify, I don’t mean 6 or more months to fall in love with them, I mean 6 or more months to develop any romantic feelings for them at all. While I can be sexually attracted to a potential candidate, and platonically interested in them as a person, that romantic spark often refuses to light. Add my romantic alignment to my natural introversion, and you can see how being single appears to be my natural state.
Being Single has a lot of up sides.
As a single woman I have more time and money to do whatever I want. I can hang out with my nieces and nephews without having to worry about taking time away from my partner, and I can take them to do fun things. I get to be the “cool aunt” by not having the restrictions that having my own children would entail. As a single person, I am less of a burden when I visit family on vacation, and can enjoy doing what I want to (without compromise) on those visits. I can drop whatever I need to in order to help a sibling in need, and stay as long as I’m needed. My Single-ness has a lot of benefits in that area, but there are also a lot of drawbacks.
I’m the last on every list.
Anyone who comes from a big family knows how easy it is to be overlooked. When you are the only single adult in the family, you’re that person. I’m often the last person to learn the family news, and the last person to relieve invitations or aide. When family gatherings occur, I’m usually invited last minute. I’m generally left to drive myself or tag along with whoever has an open seat in their car. Once we arrive, I’m usually seated at the kids table to play impromptu babysitter. When theirs a big announcement, I’m usually the last to know unless I happen to call first. I’m also always the last priority when it comes to family aide. With the economy as unstable as it has been in the last decade, we’ve all needed help at some point or another. I am lucky to have have a place to go to, but I way always expected to do my part in doing chores and paying rent to my grandparents when I stayed there. I always figured that was fair until I found out I was the only one expected to pay for my aide. My mother confirmed last month that I’ve gotten the least amount of aide from the family because I “the responsible one” and “didn’t need it”, since I only have to take care of myself. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit bitter about that point.
The weird Dichotomy of reliability and pity
Somehow, somewhere along the line, I became both the responsible sibling and the tragic one. When there is a rift in the family, I am the go-between to repair the damage. When someone needs aide with chores, errands, or babysitting; I’m on call. I’m reliable enough to be the pageboy, and ask for minimal help for myself, yet– I’m also pitied for being single. That pity not an exaggeration, but a fact. In fact, it’s been brought up my literally every member of my family. Both of my sister’s have asked if I’m “okay” being alone. My older brother asked “when I’m going to find someone”. My younger brother’s joke about me being a”forever player”. My mother is resigned to the fact that I won’t give her grandkids, and my father apologized for my singleness as if it’s somehow his fault (he also asked if I was gay, but that’s a whole other post). I am 26, but already treated like a spinster by my family. I should resign myself to my fate as the “weird wine aunt” or maybe I should aim to be the “Cool, rich aunt” with a house in Europe and many lovers. For now, I’ll just sit on the fringes and accept my assigned role. Maybe while I decide what kind of maiden aunt I’m going to be, I can somehow use this weird dichotomy to my advantage. For example, maybe I could guilt my father into leaving his poor. spinster daughter his house in Florida? As I’ll probably be the one to take care of aging family memebers in the coming decades, I might as well turn my spinsterhood into something worthwhile.
I don’t hate being the Single Sister.
I know I just spent two paragraphs complaining about the downsides of being the single sibling, but I don’t hate what I am. I don’t hate my siblings for finding love, and I understand my family’s concerns about my love life. The fact of the matter is, I can’t change the way I am. I don’t want to fake happiness with someone in order to put a ring on my finger. I don’t want to pretend to be someone I want to make everyone around me more comfortable. I don’t want to force myself to fix something that isn’t broken. Maybe one day I will fall in love again. Maybe one day I will be in a loving relationship that makes me want to settle down. For now, I don’t mind calling myself what I am: I am the single sister.