Single is Not the Same as Alone

I’m single.  That mean that I’m not married and I’m not dating anyone at the moment.  That does not mean that my life has come to a miserable end, that I am a poor pathetic creature to be pitied, and that I am somehow unworthy or incapable of sustaining a loving relationship.  Just wanted to be clear on that upfront.

Here’s the thing.  It has come to my attention that there are a lot of people in my position and that they have been given a hard time about it, mostly by themselves.  I was in that boat too for a long time.  I still am when I’m overtired or PMSy.  It’s really easy to fall into old patterns of feeling miserable and sorry for ourselves because we’re not like 99% of the rest of the population of the world.  That’s a bogus statistic, by the way.  It just feels like 99% of the rest of the world is with someone sometimes.

In fact, I just looked this up and found this fascinating table that indicates that today, in 2010, of all women 35-39, which I am, 17.7% have never married.  And that doesn’t account for the fact that the divorce rate in this country is currently hovering around 50%.  So right there the perception of how many single women are out there is probably not the same as the reality.  And if there are so many single women out there, then obviously we’re not alone.  So if you were thinking that or tempted to think that, get it out of your head.

Let’s start this again.  I’m single.  I am one of the 17.7% of women between the ages of 35 and 39 who are single, never married and who knows how many single, divorced.  I am in the company of a whole lot of awesome people.  I am hard at work fulfilling my dreams of becoming a Writer while enjoying a whole mess of hobbies, like cricket and knitting, and taking all sorts of interesting classes, like wheel throwing pottery and yoga.  I’ve got a lot of cool friends, married and single, who keep me laughing.  Does that sound alone to you?  Nah, I didn’t think so.

Here’s what really cheeses me off.  We live in a culture in which singledom after age 30, and even before, is massively downplayed, even sneered at.  It seems to me like everyone is pushed towards getting into a relationship.  How long does it take when you’re online before you run into eHarmony or Match.com?  And how many match-making reality shows are out there?  And how much of the news is taken up with gossip about which celebrities are getting together or breaking up?  This culture pushes relationships like nobody’s business.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love a good relationship.  I write Romance, after all.  I absolutely adore men who love their wives (see my Unlikely Hero of the Week post about Michael Emerson for further proof).  And yes, I would love to be in a good, healthy relationship with a wonderful, loving man.  I would love to be in a good relationship.  The problem with being in a culture that pushes marriage is that people get married far too often for really crappy reasons and then get stuck in an unhealthy relationship at best and an abusive and soul-crushing one at worst.  To my friends in wonderful, happy marriages, AWESOME!  You guys give me hope.  To my friends stuck in those unhealthy, spirit-sucking relationships, get out!

To my single friends I say you can do better than that!  There is a whole big wonderful world out there just waiting for you to take it on!  You don’t need a significant other to enjoy it.  It breaks my heart to see women young and old wither under unrealistic expectations, especially when no one is really sure who placed those expectations on us.  I’ve seen far too many people feel diminished because they are single.  But single isn’t a dirty word.

There are a whole lot of things that we singles can do that people who are married with children can’t do.  It is far easier to volunteer for your community when you don’t have to worry about getting a babysitter, that’s for sure.  It’s easier to take fun classes, go on adventurous vacations, or just pick up and go out on a weeknight without lining up schedules and making sure everyone is free.  It’s easier to get home from work, throw your jammies on, eat cereal for dinner and lay around reading all night.

So many opportunities have come my way because I’ve had the freedom to accept them.  Last winter I “babysat” a family of four teenagers while their parents were in Costa Rica for two weeks, and to this day they are “my” teenagers.  I am a mentor for a simply fantastic 13 year old girl now.  We had a super-giggly girl good time making cookies together last Friday night.  Never could have done it in a non-single state.  Last summer I up and went to England with my cricket team for 8 days.  Best of all, I can stay home, sleep in, and bum around all day if I want to without taking a shower and no one is going to call me out for being stinky and lazy.  Why are these awesome things so overlooked and undervalued?

So what I’m trying to say is that there’s no reason to get down on yourself if the right guy hasn’t come your way.  What I’m really, REALLY trying to say is that there is absolutely no reason to compromise and get together with some old schmoe just because you think it’s better to be with anyone than no one.  That’s why we have a 50% divorce rate, people!  There is so much life out there waiting to be found and explored and you can do it on your own.  You can do it!

Be proud of who you are.  Live your life as it is to the fullest.  And please, whatever you do, don’t settle.

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5 thoughts on “Single is Not the Same as Alone

  1. Excellent post! I’m 23 and single and currently have no interest in dating. I’ve dated guys before, really nice guys actually, but somehow it always ended up stressing me out and at the end of the day I preferred being single and having those guys as friends. There’s something to be said for simply preferring the lifestyle. I’ll probably make more dating forays in the future, but it won’t be because I’m tired of being single – more like I’m interested in dating again. If that distinction makes any sense.

    • It is a whole different lifestyle, and even though I can’t honestly say I chose it, I am very comfortable in it.

      I hate dating too. I honestly wish we had a system for arranged marriages here in the West. No, seriously! I have several Indian friends in arranged marriages who are very happy. I even wrote a blog post about it that I’ll be posting next week. 😉

      • I always hated dating too, I especially hate the game playing that goes along with dating. It makes me want to pull out my hair. Can’t we just be upfront and honest?

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I would love to read even more on the matter- you command your audience and your narrative. You bring up so many interesting pieces of factoids and present them in a way that’s not scary to read. Definitely enjoyed, very much so.

  3. I read all of these in my email subscription and am only just now getting to leaving my replies. Can you tell?

    I didn’t spend much time single, but I spent enough time at it to know exactly what you mean here. I’ve never felt the “need” to have a man. Somehow, no one ever believed me when I said I was free, unstressed, and couldn’t be happier single. The only unhappy part was being introduced to guys “perfect for me” by people who don’t at all get me, on a frequent basis. Oh, and the whole, you’re single! How could you possibly be happy and fulfilled?!

    Tips for other readers that like to fix people up: If you frequently find one of the persons involved mystifying, unusual, and hard to understand, you’re likely to pick a date for them that’s equally mystifying, unusual, and hard to understand. Think about the personalities involved, and when someone says they’re happy to be single, don’t treat them like an escaped mental patient in denial.

    Love is great, having someone all your own to share life with is awesome, but there really is so much more to life, so many more types of fulfilling relationships and certain benefits to singlehood as well, provided you’re capable of enjoying what you have now, rather than lamenting what you don’t.

    All I can say is, try to ignore those who don’t understand, or give them little reason/opportunity to start. Not very helpful, I know, but I get it. I wish more single people would find this place rather than others’ expectations making them miserable.

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