11/21/2014 08:44 am ET Updated Jan 21, 2015

My Own Plus One

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By: Sharon Pare

I was inspired to write this while catching up with a dear friend who happens to be the culprit behind my recent veganism and resembles a Victoria's Secret model, but I digress. She also happens to hold the same views I do on relationships and supports me as I navigate the tricky waters of dating.

The difference between us, however, is that she is in an uber-happy marriage, while I am uber-happily single. Regardless of her "married" title, she still understands my desire to find the right man instead of settling for someone who isn't good for me. Even if that means being my own plus one for awhile and having to defend that "single" status to others.

For example, last Thanksgiving I walked into an intimate family dinner and was asked, "Who are you here with?" I replied politely with "Myself!" and kept it moving. Before I was able to place my dish and bottle of wine down, they asked "No boyfriend?" And ah, the quintessential holiday season question is asked. I replied, "Nope, just me!" with a huge smile on my face.

Dinner was a quasi-lecture on why it's never too late to start. Why is it that society pushes singles into thinking it's not okay to be alone? At least in the meantime until you find your core shaker? We all understand love is a gamble, and yes, everyone should take risks for love every chance they get, but is there a certain timeframe in which to accomplish kids, house, marriage in no particular order? I don't think so.

We all establish our careers in different parts of our lives, so how is this any different? I am, what they call, "of age." In my 30s, living comfortably (still working on changing that "comfortable" to thriving) as a single gal in Washington D.C. I don't show up to weddings with a date just because, or bring dates to events just because, because, well, why bring sand to the beach? Ha! But seriously, why show up with someone just because you don't want to be caught alone?

And these days I find I attend these weddings, dinners and events with open eyes and "couple watch." I pick out the happy couples from the sour and wonder what brought two people together. Are they happy? Are they friends? Do they like the same things? Is the sex good? Or are they just comfortable knowing they will never die alone?

You might be thinking, well, what does this girl know about relationships? And why does she have so many damn questions running through her head? Mostly because I've been there and constantly think through these things to learn from my mistakes. From being married to the wrong guy in my mid-20s, to dating a few mediocre ones since then and even questioning my own "so-called dating life" as we speak.

But, I can't say it has been a bad Spring, Summer, Fall, either... I've become that once serial monogamist turned commitment-phobe, because the last thing I want to do is settle just so I can have a plus one or be someone else's plus one. I would rather thrive and live the one I've been given, making the small sacrifices necessary on this journey.

So what if I may be one of the only single girls left in my bicoastal circles? I prefer to shuffle the stack until the right card is dealt, and then make the gamble. I don't want to settle for the next best thing. I want to strive for THE best thing. Why depend on anyone else's happiness but your own? Being pushed into some relationship just because society deems it necessary isn't exactly good business practice. So for now, I'll be more than elated, in my own utopia, being my own plus one.