I’m a romantic at heart. Always have been. As a young girl I always longed for true love. So far, I haven’t found it. At various points in my life I’ve felt differently about this fact. There’ve been times when I felt quite heart-broken that my dearest dream hadn’t come true for me. At other times I’ve felt quite cynical: “I’m better off alone anyway!” And at others I’ve told myself my expectations are too high.

Photo Credit: Ludwig Esser

Photo Credit: Ludwig Esser

Patience is something I’ve always struggled with and still do. One of the reasons, I’m sure, behind my headlong flight into romances that were clearly never going to work was my longing to find my soul-mate. But this of all things is the thing that can’t be rushed, forced or in any way manufactured. Someone to date, someone to spend time with - this can be found easily enough, I’ve learned. But that special connection, someone who will enrich your life rather than upset or compromise it, that’s infinitely elusive.

There are a million great things about being single at my age. I’m completely free: to travel, to see my friends, to immerse myself in work I love, to do crazy things like musical theatre courses on a whim… My life is still full of love because I have amazing friends, wonderful parents, the dog next door… But of course I know (being in a decidedly non-cynical phase at the moment) that having that one special someone brings all sorts of richness to a life which I can’t have on my own. Still, having been in so many wrong relationships over the years I know one thing with my whole heart: it’s better to be alone than with the wrong person.

Whereas a right relationship is a joy and a blessing, a wrong relationship undermines your confidence, drains your energy and blocks other good things from coming into your life. We all have our own ideas about timing; what we want to happen and when. If I’d had the choice, when I was younger, I would never have chosen still to be single at this age. But when I was younger I didn’t know what I know now. Thanks to the (very) delayed appearance of Mr Right in my life, I’ve had the chance to explore several careers on the way to finding the career of my dreams. I’ve had the chance to get used to the intense, absorbing process of writing a novel a year without guilt or distraction. I’ve experienced the satisfaction and pride of buying my own house, all on my own, with no help from anyone. And I’ve gained in strength and resources because I’ve had to. These are all gifts for which I’m grateful.

But the best thing about being single at this age? It’s all still ahead of me. I still sometimes feel like a teenager, knowing that anything’s possible. I haven’t settled. I haven’t compromised my dreams. I’m not committed to the wrong person. Nothing is closed to me. The better my life gets, the more important it feels to find someone who will enhance it, not interfere with it. I know myself better than I did when I was younger; I’ve developed in so many ways. Although I haven’t always felt like this I know now that things really do happen when they’re meant to. So instead of worrying, I’m embracing being single the way I’ll be ready to embrace real love when it comes.

Tracy Rees is celebrating the publication of her new novel Darling Blue, out now!

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