Relationship False Starts & Single People’s Hope

Shani Silver
8 min readJun 19, 2023

One is attacking the other.

Photo by Shani Silver

Relationships are hard work. You’ve heard this. Someone’s said it to you over dinner, maybe when you’ve expressed exasperation with your singlehood. Instead of showing you empathy, someone centers their own experience and lets you know that the very thing you’re looking for is “no picnic.” Maybe you’ve heard “relationships are hard work” so many times that it registers as little more than an eye roll for you at this point, because it’s always said as though people think they deserve a reward for maintaining a relationship when they choose every day to remain in it. I don’t know I’m just spitballin’ here.

You know what else is hard work? Hope. We don’t talk about it much, we kind of just fold it into the batter of singlehood’s job requirements. The hope of a single person is being actively eaten away by the desire for and pursuit of partnership on a daily basis and yet we’re expected to magically replenish every little nibble all by ourselves. Why don’t we acknowledge, and similarly provide empathy for, those of us who exist in a world for years — maybe decades — where all we’ve ever received in exchange for our hope is nothing?

It’s a tough concept in the abstract. I’m talking about crushes. I’m talking about the cute new guy at work. I’m talking about the barista you’re pretty sure has been flirting with you for a year or the bartender who’s been doing it for the last two hours. The friend of a friend you met at a wedding and sure, the bride can go ahead and give him your number, why not? The guy you’ve been texting with for two months that you’re sure is going to ask to hang out any day now. To say nothing of the hundreds if not thousands of human beings we swipe into our spheres via the digital dating space. A lifetime of maybes that result in absolutely nothing, over and over again for years — that’s what I’m talking about. That is unrewarded hope.

Relationships are hard work? They’re not nearly as difficult as an infinite nothing, darling, I promise you. To keep going, to keep believing, keep hoping, keep trying — in the face of nothing more than no’s? For years? Don’t fucking talk to me about hard work. Retaining the desire and energy for connecting with human beings despite what the single and dating world has done to us — is still