Flying Solo

You don’t have to be miserable just because you don’t have a date this weekend. Plenty of singles are doing just fine. How does one deal with being this article and find out.

“I don’t consider it a personal defeat if there’s a Friday night and I don’t have a date,” Elia Pelios says. “Sometimes the best thing I have is a Friday night sitting home alone.”

By day Pelios, 36, is a lawyer. Also by day—and by night, and for Saturday picnics and Sunday breakfasts and spur-of-the-moment meetings plus untold middle-of-the-night crises of varying degrees—Pelios is chairman of the Somerset County Democratic Committee. Which is to say that Pelios, like many of his peers, is already overbooked.

It might not be so easy for Pelios to find a woman who not only would understand the vagaries of his schedule but would be willing to put up with them. For Pelios and many of his peers, that’s just fine. “Being by yourself is not as lonely as people might expect,” says Pelios, who, let’s face it, has had some practice. “Being a Democrat in Somerset County, you’re able to walk into a roomful of people alone.”

Lady Diana Spencer proved that even if your prince has wealth, breeding, and the keys to the kingdom, there’s no guarantee you’ll live happily ever after. Many singletons on this side of the pond choose not to pair off just because their friends have done so, choose not to marry just because they’ve graduated from college and found a job and, well, isn’t marriage supposed to come next? And it’s not an act of defiance; these 30-somethings are perfectly content to be single. “If you’re comfortable with the life you’re in, you should be able to live it without apology,” Pelios says. “You should also be able to live it without sympathy.”

In other words, don’t cry for the people who aren’t in a relationship. Don’t assume that there’s been some sort of heartbreak, unrequited romance, or other dark secret. Perhaps your single friends prefer to be—don’t be shocked—alone, at least for now. “I don’t mind being single,” says Donna Kilduff. “I didn’t want to marry until I was in a good place in my life.” Kilduff, who grew up in Hazlet and went to Rutgers University, commutes from Westfield to Manhattan to her job in financial services. She wanted to work out the kinks in her own life before she shared it with someone else. “I didn’t want to be with someone and be struggling,” she says, and even her family finally got the message. “They see that I’m happy. They kind of gave up asking.”

Now, at 38, Kilduff is starting to feel as though she’s worked out some of those kinks, and, she says, she might start looking for a partner. Finding one will be the next challenge in her life—and another avenue where she takes charge. “As soon as I put my mind to it and start looking for somebody, I’ll find somebody,” she says.

Vincent Chen, 35, a personal trainer at a Garwood gym, is much more philosophical when it comes to finding the woman of his dreams. “You will always get the shot at the brass ring,” he says. But he wonders, will you recognize it when it arrives?

“I love being single—absolutely,” Chen says. “I have absolute independence. What’s not to love about that?” And independence doesn’t necessarily mean freedom to party. For Chen, as for Pelios and Kilduff, it means making no apologies for living the way he wants to—for working late, for considering a job in another part of the country, or, maybe, for eating ice cream for dinner.

Chen’s life is pretty complex right now. He’s putting in long hours on the job, trying to buy a house, and thinking about going to medical school. But he’s open to that strike of lightning. “If the right person comes along,” he says, “I’d drop everything and make it work. I’d rearrange everything.”

Teresa Politano is a regular contributor to New Jersey Monthly.

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