Single in the Glass City: Some Toledoans are #singleandlovingit.

. July 30, 2019.
Single_Splash_073119

Explore what it means to fall in love with yourself.

Would you rather be single or in a relationship you hate? For most, the question is a no brainer— it’s always better to be happy, even if you’re “alone”— but not everyone has the guts to forego the comfort of having a significant other and face the stigma often associated with being single.

However, these four Toledoans are comfortable admitting that not every relationship is worth it. Instead, these happily single locals embrace their untethered lifestyle and, instead, focus on what’s most important— the relationship they have with themselves.

Photos by Kelli Miller and Courtney Probert

Veralucía Mendoza, 26

veralucia

Pronouns: they/she. Both work and people often use them interchangeably for me.
Occupation: Secretary, The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at The University of Toledo; Community Organizer & Activist.
Dating preference: Queer/Pansexual
Three words to describe you: Bold. Dynamic. Vocal.
One song lyric to describe your love life: “I’ve been dancing/ In the garden of truth/ All the flowers/ Are dancing with me” – Parisalexa, “Gardens ft. MistaDC”

What’s your definition of “single”?
Single can be so many things, but to me it means freedom. Freedom from trying to impress anyone, be a caretaker, and freedom to fall apart and remake myself as I please. I also believe it’s a spectrum. Technically I’m single, but I’m not available, which is by choice. Other times, I have been in a relationship, but available to still connect with others, keeping open and honest communication with my primary partner.

How long have you been single? How much of that time have you enjoyed being single?
A few months, I’ve lost track. It hasn’t always been joyful, but it gave me time to sit with me and learn to become my own favorite person. I also have been cultivating deeper friendships. It’s been a really transformative time.
Describe your thoughts on the phrase “looking for love.” Are you “looking for love”?
I am always looking for love – I look for love in everything I do, in everyone I meet, in all the animals I encounter, in all the spaces I enter, and any book I pick up. Occasionally, and much to my surprise each time, I fall in love with someone. I’m always caught off guard by the way I fall for people because I’m never looking to fall.

Are there social situations in which not having a partner along with you is challenging? If so, do you have advice for other single folks on how to deal with those things?
Not really, I love being alone and taking myself on dates, but not everyone is naturally that way. My advice would be to become your own muse. Learn your quirks, personality, and body better than anyone else in the world. You get the gift of enjoying you.

How do you like to spend your free time?
I read a lot. I love libraries, book stores, coffee shops, museums, creating art (mostly digital these days), writing, and taking road trips. I love spontaneously getting in my car and ending up in another city for a few days. I like how anonymous I become and the fact that only three people know where I am at any given time.

How does your free time as a single person compare to your free time during past relationships?
I have so much more time for what feeds and grows me. I have a tendency to play caretaker in my relationships, which is a pattern that I have worked hard to undo. I have to tend to me now. Audre Lorde said it best, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Have you ever been in love? If so, how many times?
I have been infatuated many times. I have confused separation anxiety for love. I have fallen in love only twice, and I knew it was real because it felt peaceful.

What does “love” mean to you?
Love is messy, tender, but always warm. Like bell hooks said, the practice of love is risky because we are vulnerable to circumstances outside of our control. Love is an action, love is a commitment, love is labor. To love well is the ultimate human task.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Yes, I do. I still remember the first time I saw the person I’m in love with now. I just knew that I loved them somehow.

Do your friends try to set you up on dates? Are you receptive to this?
No, they don’t. They know I won’t show up.

Do you think that there is a stigma associated with being single?
Absolutely, which is so wild to me. It’s so much fun to have complete autonomy. It’s so much fun to bring your whole self to everything, and eventually meeting someone who is also whole and you can just dance through the mess together. Why NOT stop and enjoy yourself?

Would you date yourself?
I already am! But if you mean if I met me as another person, probably not. I think I need someone that balances me out, and two of me would be unbalanced.

Do you ever take yourself out on a date? What are your favorite “self-dates”?
Always, everything is a self-date. I dress up and treat myself well, and do things that bring me joy and help expand me spiritually and intellectually.

When does “dating” become something serious?
I think all dating is serious, investing time in any person whether romantically or not is serious. Those are the moments of our lives we’ll never get back. I think, once, two (or more!) people decide to commit to each other in a very serious way, that’s beautiful.

When it comes to relationships, what’s one thing everyone should ask themselves?
This may be my chronic illnesses and my own mortality being in the forefront of my mind, but if you were to transition from this earth today, would you be glad that you spent it with the people you did in the ways that you did? I always think of that. I don’t have time to waste so every connection is very intentional for me.

Describe the strangest date you’ve ever been on.
I was once tricked/kidnapped into a date. A “friend” texted me to get ready and (being the caretaker that I am) I jumped up and got in his car. Next thing you know I’m on a date I never consented to. I ordered scallops because if I was going to be here, I was going to enjoy my dinner. He took it really hard when I said we shouldn’t hang out anymore.

Name the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself while being single.
I’ve learned my real values. I’ve learned to trust my intuition. I’ve learned to become a better friend and relative.

Do you ever watch other couples and think, “Yep. Still glad to be single”? Give an example of such a moment.
I sometimes watch people argue and just be cruel to each other. I used to be in relationships like that and now it gives me goosebumps to think about. I want to hug everyone I’ve hurt and let them know they are not the things I called them in my anger. I also had to learn to let go of others’ insults and remember they came from a place of pain. Being angry doesn’t give us the right to be so heartless. I never want to be in that type of situation again.

Do your parents ever ask you when you’re going to “settle down”? If so, how do you handle that?
Haha, no. I think my parents like me single better. I have more time to love me and also love them. I used to get so wrapped up in others. It’s been great to make decisions for me, all on my own. They’re my biggest cheerleaders.

Chris M. Sackmann, 31

Chris

Pronouns: He/him/his
Occupation: Buyer at Whole Foods
Dating preference: Anyone who is fun, open and energetic
Three words to describe you: Rebellious. Enthusiastic. Entrepreneurial
Instagram: @WILDCA7
Snapchat: AfterUltimate
A song lyric to describe your love life: “I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain” – Prince, “Purple Rain”

What’s your definition of “single”?
The freedom to live from one mind.

How long have you been single?
Years.

How much of that time have you enjoyed being single?
Most of it.

Describe your thoughts on the phrase “looking for love.”
I’m taking some strong time away from the obnoxious pursuit of happily ever after.

What’s your favorite thing about being single?
The joy of being able to meet new people without causing scrutiny, jealousy, fear or guilt. It is a whole new vehicle to go anywhere and do anything.

How do you spend your free time?
I like to cook and eat good food, travel to strange and exotic places, go dancing for hours, delve deep into the heart of board games, kick the enraged ass of over-competitive strangers in polite sport, delight for hours over the possibility of entrepreneurial projects, hustle billiards games, bask in the sunshine, risk incredible gambles on fortuitous outcomes, coach ultimate frisbee and listen to loud music. All in all, there are lots of things I really enjoy doing, but when I get bored I tend to sit around for hours plotting deep revenge against the men and women who have done me wrong; it is all completely satisfying. There is a strong urge to extend invitations to friends, strangers and neighbors to further build and cultivate new relationships.

Have you ever been in love? If so, how many times?
Five distinct and fabulous times. I consider myself lucky to have met and grown together with such passionate and remarkable people.

Are there social situations in which not having a partner along with you is challenging? If so, do you have advice for other single folks on how to deal with those things?
It can be challenging, but you need to just brave it and ask someone new to dance.

How does your free time as a single person compare to your free time during past relationships?
There is a strong urge to extend invitations to friends, strangers and neighbors to further build and cultivate new relationships.

What does “love” mean to you?
It is an indistinguishable force of desire to be near another.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Absolutely, that is why one grows a mustache from time to time.

Do your friends try to set you up on dates? Are you receptive to this?
They do not. I am abrasive against the thought of it.

Do you think that there is a stigma associated with being single?
Of course. The stigma is that we are wild, full of lust, energy, and a dedication to have more fun. I would say it’s reasonably correct. We are free to pursue the world as we see it.

Would you date yourself?
I do and we have a remarkable time together.

When did your last relationship end, and why?
A while ago. Every elegant beginning results in lavish heartbreak.

Do you ever take yourself out on a date? What are your favorite “self-dates”?
Mimosas, fresh produce with no cook book, spot that with two joints, a hike to watch the glimmering sunrise and finally wash all of it down with 14 texts to my favorite friends in far off places…. Sometime around there I am fully recharged and ready to hit the town.

When does “dating” become something serious?
When another person begins to inform you what you can and cannot do.

When it comes to relationships, what’s one thing everyone should ask themselves?
“Is this how I really want life to be?”

Describe the strangest date you’ve ever been on.
Five guys, eight girls, acid, a gay pride float and lots of glitter.

Name the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself while being single.
True Love was a teenage construct.

Do you ever watch other couples and think, “Yep. Still glad to be single”? Give an example of such a moment.
The bickering, the lackadaisical comforts of normality, the unwillingness for social risks, or anytime I watch a human cleaning out cat litter.

Do your parents ever ask you when you’re going to “settle down”? If so, how do you handle that?
My parents are obsessed with their current nieces and nephews. I am in the free and clear. Our lineage rolls on safely.

Maya Mineoi, 26

Maya

Pronouns: They/them
Occupation: Graduate student
Dating preference: fun and kind
Three words to describe you: Earnest. Silly. Astute.
One song lyric to describe your love life: “everybody’s moving through the wave”- Lion Babe, “The wave ft Leikeli47”

How long have you been single?
2 1/2 years. I usually enjoy being single, unless I come home after a long day and I want someone to bring me food.

What’s your favorite thing about being single?
Having time and energy to build intimacy with friends.

How do you spend your free time?
Learning guitar, dancing, and watching the sunset at the metroparks.

Have you ever been in love?
Yes, so many times in so many ways.

What does “love” mean to you?
An expansive, generous desire to care for others, get to know them and enjoy their company.

Do your friends try to set you up on dates?
YES! Since Toledo has such a small out QTPOC population, I ask my crew to approach potential dates for me when
they go out. If nothing else, it’s fun to hear about their experiences talking with strangers.

Is there a stigma associated with being single?
Absolutely, when someone is single it’s assumed that they are unable to compromise or to please another person.

What are your favorite “self-dates”?
Taking a mini-picnic to the movie theater.

What’s one thing everyone should ask themselves about relationships?
Are our expectations based in reality or nah? In other words, are we motivated by fear or love when setting boundaries with our partners.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself while being single?
I don’t have to guess at who another person wants me to be. I can just do me. No more. No less.

Cara Eve Swain, 36

SingleInTheGlassCity_Cara3_KMIller

Pronouns: She/her/hers and They/Them/Theirs
Occupation: Social Work Graduate (Zepf Center), Single Mom
Dating preference: Nonbinary/Pansexual
Three words to describe you: Driven. Opinionated. Independent.

What’s your definition of “single”?
Not in a mutually agreed upon exclusive sexual partnership.

How long have you been single, and how much of that time have you enjoyed being single?
As of July 23, 2019, it will have been one year that I have been single. It is the longest stint in the last 11 years that I have been without an exclusive sexual partner. I have been ENJOYING being single since December 2018.

Describe your thoughts on the phrase “looking for love.” Are you “looking for love”?
My thoughts on looking for love is that people, myself included, are looking for one person to fulfill every emotional need that they have and that is impossible. I have found a lot of love in my life and am always looking for more.

What’s your favorite thing about being single?
I can come and go as I please and do whatever I feel like.

Are there social situations in which not having a partner with you is challenging? If so, do you have advice for other single folks on how to deal with those things?
Rather than social situations, it is more my home life that is challenging without a partner. Particularly when my child is at his father’s. For other single parents who experience this, I recommend surrounding yourself with friends who love you.

How do you like to spend your free time?
I haven’t had much free time as the last two years I was in graduate school full-time. If I am home with my son, video games and cartoons, teaching him to ride his bike, playing with the dogs, you know… Home life. If he isn’t home… same. Hey, maybe this summer I will read a book!

How does your free time as a single person compare to your free time during past relationships?
This is an interesting question for me, as my child takes up a lot of my time. The time that I have to myself, though, is definitely spent differently! I do what I want, when I want, as opposed to having scheduled events. My life used to revolve around the other person. For example, I can watch The Golden Girls all day in bed with the dogs and still decide I want to go out at 11pm, rather than having set plans. I like that type of freedom.

Have you ever been in love? If so, how many times?
I have been in love— with many people for many different reasons. I am in love with people right now. I can’t count how many times… Currently, I am in love with at LEAST ten people. All for different reasons and in different ways.

What does “love” mean to you?
I feel like this question should have been before the last one. I think we limit ourselves when we think of love strictly in romantic or sexually exclusive terms. Love means a lot of things, but most of all, giving someone the support and room they need to grow.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Love at first sight is definitely possible.

Do your friends try to set you up on dates? Are you receptive to this?
My friends know better than to do this. Right y’all?

Do you think that there is a stigma associated with being single?
Oh for sure. General societal norms are still very much rooted in Judeo Christian beliefs with regards to sex and marriage. People are thought to be “unworthy” or “less than” others if they are single. Especially if they have children.

Would you date yourself?
Hell, yeah! It’d be the perfect match!

When did your last relationship end, and why?
It ended on July 23, 2018 after a year of on and off. Ended because he finally admitted he didn’t love me and was doing all of the right things for the wrong reasons.

Do you ever take yourself out on a date? What are your favorite “self-dates”?
I have not taken myself out on a date in a long time. (Try YEARS because of graduate school) but when I do it is a steak dinner and drinks afterwards.

When does “dating” become something serious?
When you spend time with my child and I in our home or yours.

When it comes to relationships, what’s one thing everyone should ask themselves?
What is your “why”? Why this person?

Describe the strangest date you’ve ever been on.
I guess the strangest date was a lunch date I went on with a guy who tried to drug me. LUNCH DATE!

Name the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself while being single.
How I feel about people (if I am in love with them or not) is how I feel and it is ok if they don’t return the feeling. I can still feel how I want.

Do you ever watch other couples and think, “Yep. Still glad to be single”? Give an example of such a moment.
Not really. I try not to compare anyone else’s reality to mine.

Do your parents ever ask you when you’re going to “settle down”? If so, how do you handle that?
My mother asked me that once earlier this year. I was a little frustrated by it because she just doesn’t want me to be a single parent anymore. She thinks my son should have a live-in-male role model, but he has a dad. I don’t need to give him another one. If I am in a relationship, it’ll be for me. Not for my child.

Morgan Michelle Mitchell: (Once) Single in the Glass City

morgan-mitchell

Morgan was featured in our 2014 Single in the Glass City issue, but a passionate jazz musician named Phillip Gabrielson reached out to her shortly after the issue hit stands.

“We had met years prior through mutual friends,” Morgan said, admitting that, “I always thought I really liked him and that one day we might be together.”

A few years, and many dates later, Phillip proposed. “He popped the ring out and asked, ‘You trying to do this, or what?’” recalled a giggling Morgan. “It was perfect.”