You know you have been single too long when...
Is you mam telling you to get back in the saddle? or do you dread the thought of 'getting to know' a new partner? Could be that you've been out of the relationship game too long.
Perhaps when you get used to doing whatever you want, whenever you want, you've been single for too long. The sign of a super-long-term relationship is twitchy little ears and large, darting eyes, constantly seeking approval and permission from their mate.
Take a cinema trip, for example. Do you want to go and see 'Django Unchained'? This afternoon?
First of all, no. It is a disgrace to go to the cinema in the afternoon. You could be doing so many other bits and pieces: cleaning the bathroom, applying for jobs, getting your back waxed.
Second of all, no way. I don't want to see 'Django Unchained' – too violent. Remember when I tried to watch his last one? I nearly got sick. And, the cost of it! The tickets would be €13 each, let alone the popcorn. No. Just an extortionate price altogether.
Aren't we saving for a house? Sometimes I worry that you're just not committed to finding the perfect three-bedroom semi in Drogheda. What we will do is get a DVD this evening instead. Maybe 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn'. It's very well made, apparently; we can both enjoy that.
There's a chance you've been single for too long if you don't see your whole life playing out ahead of you. Maybe you'll still get to live the dream – get married, have children, watch 'The Late Late Show' in a chair until you die.
Or maybe, you'll figure something else out. You'll fall in love a few times. There won't be The One; there'll be The Ones. All Different Ones. Every Single One.
Now, I'm not advocating promiscuity here – more a giddy feeling of potential excitement around every corner. Well, maybe a tiny bit of promiscuity, just a healthy level. I'm not sure what that level is – I will check with the STD clinic and get back to you.
It's handy having a boyfriend or a girlfriend with a great record collection and an even better selection of cool and funny anecdotes. Listen to their favourite songs and make them listen to your favourite songs.
If they wear skinny jeans and check shirts, you can do the same and everyone will think that's just your thing. Insert yourself into their memories and opinions and pass them off as yours. Simply borrow the best parts of their personalities and adopt them as your very own.
You've been single for too long when you begin to develop your own sense of curiosity about the world and strive to experience life on your own terms, so be careful. Latch on to someone, quick, or you won't know who you are.
You know you've been single too long when you make a show called 'Singlehood'. The truth is, I've been in and out of relationships for so long that the notion of being single was really scary, so I think the idea was my way of trying to embrace it.
I'm a person of extremes, though, and have gone from being really anxious about being in a relationship to really anxious about giving up being single.
I need to find a happy medium, so maybe a long-distance relationship would work.
You know you've been single too long when your own mother tells you to get back on the saddle.
I've a 'friend' in her mid-30s, let's call her Fiona. She's a single parent and her mother is dying for her to meet someone, settle down and have more kids. She'd quite like that, too – a househusband would suit her nicely, but house-husband material is fairly thin on the ground, unless she goes for someone who can't leave the house for legal reasons.
Anyway, recently she was out there dating and there was one guy she'd made the mistake of telling her mother about. He had texted to ask her out again and she was ignoring the text, which got her mother into a flap – she couldn't understand why Fiona was letting this potential husband slip out of her grasp.
Exasperated, my friend eventually said, "Listen, Mam, there's no point; he's only after one thing and even that he's not much good at."
To which her mother replied, "Fiona, you'll never meet anyone with that attitude."
You know you've been single too long when you'd rather share your bed with an animal. Of the furry variety.
Dogs are great bed companions. I honestly can't think of anything better than spending the weekend babysitting a friend's dog, buying a bag of Haribo for myself and a pig's ear for him/her and taking to the bed at around 9pm for a movie and a few episodes of 'Dexter' or 'Once Upon a Time'.
I get a lot of stick for this. It's sad, I know. It's also very telling that I'd rather 'borrow' a dog than commit to one full- time. I think, well, when I buy a house, I'll get a dog.
But a mortgage is another fairly hefty commitment that requires a certain degree of wealth or naivety, and so borrowing dogs, renting apartments and hoping neither of these shows is ever cancelled is what my future looks like.
You know you've been single too long when you start avoiding people you find attractive.
This happens very occasionally because I'm fairly self-absorbed, so I don't notice people as much as I should, but when I do meet someone I find attractive, I find myself getting nervous – not in a 'Oh, my beating heart' kind of way, but more in a 'I could do without the distraction' kind of way.
Distraction from what, you might ask?
Not a whole lot, to be honest, but recently pottering around on my own, meeting people through work and the odd social occasion, and borrowing dogs for sleepovers, has given me a kind of contentment that honestly none of my previous relationships have.
And I'd like to continue this way for another while.
I'll just have to ignore all the beautiful women throwing themselves at me.
You know you've been too single when you begin making enquiries about the third spot in your parent's three-man grave plot they have lying dormant in our local cemetery. I didn't realise until recently that sharing with them was even an option.
I was thrilled to hear that there were an extra few metres up for grabs.
Having been single for six years, any romantic thoughts of meeting my ideal man, convincing him through a cloud of cigarette smoke that I'm wife material and eventually boasting about my own family plot with said husband, had long dissolved away, and now here I was, hurtling towards my 30th year, with no accommodation booked for the afterlife.
My attempt to call shotgun on the third spot was met with boredom from my mother and a look of alarm from my unmarried elderly aunt.
You know you're single too long when you consider fabricating a passing fling to avoid awkward lulls in conversation when friends ask you if you're seeing anyone.
It's a lull you feel obliged to fill with a quick change of topic or some performance art. Stilts are cumbersome, whereas a lie fits easily on the tip of your tongue, regardless of its size.
Friend, tentatively: "Seeing anyone?"
Friend: "Aaah, sure."
Me: "Only messin'. Course I'm seeing someone – yeah, he's deadly, total ride. We're mad about each other, early days but look, no more than yourself and Fergus, when you know, you know."
Maybe now you'll invite me over to dinner, you smug bint.
You know you've been single too long when the thoughts of 'getting to know someone' fills you with nothing but dread. I was sitting opposite a couple on the Luas recently whose stilted conversation and nervous laughter told me they were at that awkward 'getting to know each other' phase.
This is totally grand when you're swinging out of the Globe on George's Street at 2am and your body is 12pc water, 88pc Kahlua. But take away the booze, dim lights and music, and stick us on a quiet Luas carriage in broad daylight, with a 45-minute commute ahead of us and 100 sets of ears beside us? Zero interest.
I watched the couple struggle through the 30-minute journey and – rightly or wrongly – thought to myself, 'Thank God I'm single'.
You know you've been single too long when the director of a show called 'Singlehood' playfully refers to you as her 'muse'. When Una told me she had an idea for a show about single people and asked me would I be interested in getting involved, we were standing outside the dance tent at the Electric Picnic, naturally, we had a few drinks taken, I'm not sure she'd finished her sentence and I was already announcing our collaboration.
Up to this point, Una was the very self-assured, opinionated, mildly terrifying older sister of my best mate and lifelong lady companion Aine. Growing up, I had been largely ignored by Una, except for one heated debate years ago over the Catholic Church. I'm confident we had a drink taken that night also.
Anyway, I knew how good she was, I loved her work and also felt certain that the show would culminate in some love-struck young fella, bewildered by my single status and hypnotised by my glitzy jewellery, storming the stage and sweeping me away.
I had no idea at that stage of the shady secrets I would end up admitting on stage. The term bargepole comes to mind, and not being touched with it.
'Singlehood' plays at Vicar Street, Dublin on March 1 & 2