Empowerment, Engagement, Healing, Independence, Loving Ourselves, Romance
Comments 12

Single or Paired-off: It’s Time to Get Engaged

By Joshunda Sanders

Graffiti helps some of us cope with the deep sadness and pressure associated with finding “The One”


This Valentine’s Day, I’m thrilled to host my first guest writer, Joshunda Sanders. Her blog regularly takes my breath away, inspiring me to delve deeper into the love and pain in my writing. She has worked as a  journalist at the Houston Chronicle, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the San Francisco Chronicle, in addition to publishing articles at Bitch Magazine, VIBE Magazine, and many others. You can currently find her teaching in the Journalism Department at the University of Texas. I dare you not to lose/find yourself in this post.


In my twenties, I lived on the West Coast.

Around the year I turned 25, I was living in California, land of the free, home of the hippies. The Bay Area Joan Didion made come alive for me was not the post-dot com environment that I slurped soup in. But what I loved about it was that I could just do whatever I wanted. I could work out with a group of other single people on steps overlooking Lake Merritt down the street from the Peacock Building where I lived in a cramped studio. Or I could run around the lake, when I got strong enough. I took a meditation class, and learned to love the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, with a cup of Peet’s Coffee afterwards.

Relationships didn’t factor heavily into my love of the place. I wanted love, and I sometimes settled for less than the real thing for the sake of companionship. But the defining aspect of my time in California was the fact that I learned to really like my own company. Without overeating, drinking too much or staying out all night long. I could stay in and read poems for hours, make myself dinner and crawl back into bed on the weekends without any guilt. I fell in love with myself.

But I didn’t stay in love. When I moved back to Texas, I suddenly entered a different realm. Socially, more of the people I was around were in couples. As I moved into my thirties, people became very interested in whether or not I was a part of a couple. Specifically, I began to feel judged for not yet being married, engaged or on my way to one of those states.Sometimes, during Valentine’s Day, I was in a relationship, but often I was not. In the years when I was single during the biggest love marketing push in the world, I sometimes succumbed to self-loathing and pity parties featuring Lindt chocolate truffles (the red wrapped ones), bottles of two-buck chuck from Trader Joes and all the pasta I was physically capable of consuming.

I self-medicated because I wanted what everyone else wanted.

After my last relationship went south a couple of years ago, I decided that I needed to love myself the way that I wanted to be loved. People often say that youth is wasted on the young, but in my case, I had actually learned something valuable during that stretch of my twenties.

Now, I am not totally sold on the Law of Attraction, but I talk to God often about what that should look like now. My intuition guides me on this front. Last Fall, I decided that I would quietly get engaged. To myself.

I purchased a rose gold ring with 12 small diamonds. I did it in part to quiet the judging stares of people who considered themselves a part of a different realm because they were in relationships and I was not. I also did it as a tribute to myself, a statement of self-love.

Reclaim the Ring: Get engaged to the powerful, beautiful, perfect person you already are

I encourage my other single friends, whether they are sad or not about pressure to celebrate in one way or another, to come up with their own rituals and gestures to celebrate themselves. I truly believe that you cannot love another person unless you are devoted to yourself. While my partnered friends are posting pictures of roses and participating in Love Fest 2012 based on the calendar day, I will likely run with my dog, make myself a decadent meal and read love poems to myself. (I’m reading the wonderful collection of poems collected by Caroline Kennedy, She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems right now.)

I used to think this kind of thing was just a defense mechanism, a default, no frills, not-as-good-as-someone-else’s-gift sort of reaction. The truth is that I would do the same thing with another person’s ring on my finger, year after year. Part of being well-loved starts with you. Don’t cheat yourself out of a good time just because you’re not in a relationship. Life is too short to waste.

Joshunda blogs at Single & Happy. She also keeps a killer tumblr.


  1. I feel better knowing this idea has occured to others. I seem to be a in a relationship that, for various reasons, isn’t going to take Engagement Road to Marriage Lane any time soon, or ever, it seems. So, I thought, why not get engaged to myself? I’m pretty wonderful, and I’m a great date. I deserve to get myself something really nice for Christmas. Thank you for this article.

  2. Pingback: Reads for the weekend: Gratitude, Love Poems & Inspiration | Single & Happy

  3. Rita Scarborough says

    Loved your article. It’s sad though, that many of us find out too late that is okay to love ourselves. we think for some outrageous reason that if we love ourselves we are being selfish. I disagree. I think had I’d figured this out long ago (I’m 46) I would have had a way better time than I did in my twentys and thirties. I wouldn’t have sweated the small stuff when it came to relationships and I would have purchased my doggie George sooner! Thank you for sharing your heart and if ever you want to eat pasta and candy call me! I’ll help you eat it and then we can go for that run! I’m just saying…..

  4. livingvoraciously says

    Wow! I am on that journey myself right now… trying to fall back in love with ME! I fell off the bike, now I’m trying to get back on it. The wisdom behind the words “you don’t need someone else to validate you” is profound … it’s a hard and painful lesson to learn. I am in my early 30’s and divorced after 11 years of marriage but this is still the best time of my life 🙂

    • Joshunda says

      Congratulations on having the best time of your life! I wish you well falling in love with you, and with whoever comes along who is deserving 🙂

      • livingvoraciously says

        🙂 thanks! I think I am a closet people pleaser so gotta work on that … get over it and believe and love myself before everything else.

      • Joshunda says

        I think that women in particular struggle with that. I believe it is a lifelong journey. All we can do is do our best. Best of luck to you!

  5. I did this a few years back. After i divorced,i was tired of the questions and the looks from people as i walked down the street with my young son and no ring on my finger. i went to india town in socal with my best friend and i bought a ‘divorce ring’. the purpose of the ring was to show others that i was non existent in their gossip radar.
    i wore that ring proudly for at least 2 years. in that time i took the energy i needed to fall in love with myself, but the writer is correct, sometimes you fall off that bike, but you have to get back on and ride that baby into the ground.
    my only downside is that it makes the men i look at pale in comparison to the greatness that is ME

    • Joshunda says

      Lavinia: I love that line, “the men I look at pale in comparison to the greatness that is ME”! I sometimes think it is going to take a really special man to get me to break-up with myself 🙂 But that’s how it should be,I suppose.

  6. If more women would follow your advice, the world would be a better place. God didn’t put us on this earth to wait around for someone else to validate us. Thanks for writing this.

    Black Woman Blogging

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