“He’ll Be Worth What I’ve Been Through” Isn’t A Dating Strategy

Shani Silver
8 min readSep 25, 2022

Single women don’t have to live in service of someday.

Photo by Shani Silver

I used to live in hell. Cozy place, great amenities. For me, hell was a decade of “looking,” and if you’re currently single over the age of about 29 or so, you know full well what I mean by looking. From my late 20s to mid-30s, if I was waiting in a line or watching television, I was also swiping through hundreds of (the same) faces each day, searching for my husband. In ten years of looking, I never found him, I never even found one relationship at all. It’s not so much that I didn’t find what I was looking for, because now I’m able to reflect on this time through a lens of logic and see how dating culture was never crafted for my success — just the opposite — but rather it’s that I found so much badness instead.

There’s such comfort to me in the fact that the experience of singlehood is a great unifier. I don’t have to regale this community with “horror stories” in order for you to “get it” like we’re at dinner and I’m having marriage trouble and I need you to remind me of how shitty things are on the other side. All I have to do with you is say the word “dating” and you’ve already poured me a wine and baked me a scone. The horror stories aren’t the exception anymore. They’re the rule, and the “good” stories are often the ones you never hear, because they’re not dating stories, they’re “how we met” stories, and we don’t have those yet.

So for a decade I kept myself available to a culture that was verbally abusive, disgusting, entitled, dismissive, cruel, offensive, flakey, and more than anything, uninterested. I used to think it was just uninterested in me, that I was somehow bringing all this badness upon myself, but wouldn’t you know a little self worth will snap you the fuck out of that doldrums real quick.

I never left. For ten years I never even fathomed the concept that dating wasn’t required of me. It never registered in my brain as a possibility. I thought that since I was still single, I had to keep dating. My singlehood was the thing that locked me inside the dating world and the only way out was “finding someone.” At least that’s what it felt like in my head because that’s the way we’ve all been taught to view being single. If you’re single, you date, and you can’t stop…