I wasn’t always good at it, but now I’m good at being single. I know how to self-soothe (don’t read too much into that 😅 ). I revel in the love that I already have. I enjoy my own company. I value my independence. And I really like living alone. So when mom tells me she’s praying for my marriage, I ask her instead to pray for my joy – whether it comes with a partner or not – and when I am being particularly prickly I ask, why won’t she pray for me to have lots of money instead? She doesn’t listen. Because to her, my singleness is a problem she wants to fix. So she and her friends are faithfully praying that the “right” man will find me.

And who is the right man? I don’t know. 

Every time I’ve thought I’ve cracked the ‘Mr Right’ question, it’s turned out I was wrong. It wasn’t the college sweetheart; the religious coworker; the philandering CEO; the struggling artist or the software engineer with an astonishing mean streak. It certainly wasn’t the American who broke my heart in Switzerland or the Cabo Verdean in Paris who turned out to be married. 

Perhaps the one thing I know to be absolutely true about dating is that it is not a meritocracy. You don’t earn a good partner by being good. Neither do you earn them by losing weight and getting fit; by having a good job; by being particularly brilliant nor by being interesting or kind. Not even by going to therapy and exorcising all your demons. Sure, those things might help things along with the right person, and give you the tools to navigate the common stresses of life so you’re mostly happy. But finding a good partner is a simple matter of luck. 

Think about how many things have to align before you can begin a relationship. You must meet your person at the right time, want the same things, have shared goals, hold similar values, and fancy the pants off each other. You must be geographically compatible, agree on life’s big questions – children, money, and religion – and genuinely enjoy, not tolerate, each other’s company. Chemistry meets compatibility meets intention. Not to get mawkish but poets are not wrong when they equate it to two stars colliding. 

Good luck trying to engineer that.

Anyway, right person or not, meeting people in general is hard. 

After my last relationship ended last year, I swore off dating apps. I just did not want to participate in the soul sucking exercise of swiping late at night in bed, my arm cramping from the effort of holding the phone up. Neither did I want to participate in multiple dead end conversations with multiple lackluster men, my hope for a blissful romance dying a slow painful death with every unsolicited dick-pic and overused pick up line. I told my friends, “the next man will just show up at my door.” I’m serious.

I guess I am what you’d call a lazy single. Content-ish. Looking but not really. The kind that thinks it would be nice to fall in love again but can’t really be bothered to actively do something about it. I’m happy to let dating take a back seat as I spend energy on other things – read books, watch competitive reality shows and play music loud in the shower without worrying that I’m disturbing anyone’s sleep. I plan long solo trips to distant lands and get excited about exploring new places and new cultures. Then on Friday nights when Jason Mraz is crooning in the background and I have a rich, meaty pasta sauce bubbling slowly on the cooker, with a glass of wine in hand and fresh flowers on my table, the world feels right. 

I feel like a competitive adult with a handle on things. I’ve got this.

And yet, some days, I am reminded of how much more romance sweetens this life thing. I know I said I got it but I don’t want to always have to get it, you know? Like when the car needs to go to the garage, or when a minor inconvenience at work triggers tears, or that cursed hour at dusk on Sundays when the ache of loneliness is especially sharp, I whisper to the universe, “I’d like to get lucky. Please answer my mother’s prayers.”

Author

  • Jacqueline Kubania

    Jacqueline is an award-winning journalist and communications practitioner with a combined nine years’ experience in local and international newsrooms and the non-profit sector. She is a Chevening scholar and was the 2015 Kenyan winner of the David Astor Journalism Awards Trust. She has previously worked for Nation Media Group as a senior reporter, and has also reported for The Guardian in the UK and City Press in South Africa. She holds an MSc in Practising Sustainable Development from Royal Holloway, University of London. Jacqueline currently lives in Nairobi and works as a communications consultant and freelance journalist. Her favourite subject is people, in all their layers and complexities. She is a feminist and a supporter of social justice. She hopes to one day do a food tour of West Africa. Talk to her about books, cats, or travel.