How to be Single, starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson and Leslie Mann, was released on February 12, and I finally got around to seeing it a couple weeks ago. Before I was married, I was single and after my divorce I had to wade through the difficulties of being single yet again. Luckily for me, I met an amazing man who is now my boyfriend. And even though I am in my thirties, live in the suburbs and have kids, I thought I would have some way to relate to the girls’ struggles with dating.
Just a little warning that there is some explicit content in the film. I didn’t realize the movie would involve so much swearing and sex and talk of trimming bushes (and not the kind that require the help of a gardener). If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have taken my parents with me to see it!
Anyway, I wasn’t that surprised by how different some of their experiences were from mine, yet I was little stunned that some of it also rang true.
Yes, I rebelled. A bit. I went out more than I would have otherwise. I dressed up in short skirts that were the perfect length at the time but now seem too short. I was clueless about the dating process. I was confused all the time. I seemed to go from one upset to another. I was lonely and I often wondered if I would ever find the right guy for me.
But I always had my kids to keep me on track. I always had them to inspire me to be better, stronger and more independent than I thought I could be. Little by little, just like the main character Johnson in the movie, I found my footing. I made a bucket list and set out to accomplish my goals. I made new friends, travelled, started my MFA and began writing a book, which has always been my dream.
Though sometimes I still falter, I regained some confidence and became more sure of what I wanted in life. I wasn’t willing to settle. I was also lucky to meet a special person rather early in my separation and while figuring out a new romantic relationship isn’t easy in the wake of divorce, we are doing it.
What I look for in a partner now is vastly different than what I was looking for in my twenties. There isn’t a box left unchecked this time around. Yet as I sat in a theatre watching How to be Single with my parents, I wondered how they were seeing things. Were they wondering if they were watching my experience acted out by Hollywood? Is this how they saw my transition from married mother of two to dating mom of two?
While I will not comment on the topic of bushes—I share a lot here but that seems like too much information, even for me!—I will say that I could relate to the emotional ups and downs, the highs and lows, the uncertainty, the doubt and especially the resilience of each character to keep on going even in the face of adversity and disappointment. The most important thing is to feel secure in yourself, to figure out who you are, before you can decide to re-couple.
If you’re single now, that’s the best advice I can give you: take time to be you, carve your own path and you will find your happy ending.