Christina Patterson used to be ashamed about being single, but after hearing others’ stories, that feeling has gone

For most of my adult life, I have been ashamed of being single. At weddings, I have felt my smile crack. I once walked out of a friend’s book launch when he gave a speech about finding the love of his life. I felt sick with envy, physically sick. But when I got home, what I felt most of all was shame. I didn’t understand why my friends had managed to succeed in an area where I had so spectacularly failed.

When I was a child, I thought it was easy. You fell in love, you got married in a lovely church, in a lovely dress, and then you had children. Probably three, but possibly just two. I had my parents’ example. They met on a hill in Heidelberg in Germany when my father was 21 and my mother was 18. It was, they always said, love at first sight. My father had just finished reading classics at Cambridge. My mother was just about to go and read languages at Lund University in Sweden. For the rest of their three-week German course, they wandered through the cobbled streets of the old town, quoted Goethe and talked about Kleist.

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