“What a beautiful view,” Sara said as we sat at the Mountain Home Inn soaking in the amazing vista, resting our tired hiking legs. “I just wish I had someone to share it with.”
“Excuse me, Missy, but am I chopped liver? Aren’t we sharing it?”
“You know what I mean; a guy.”
“You’ll find him, sweetie,” I said, trying to sound reassuring even though I know there’s a very real possibility she won’t.
Ah, yes, “being single” — the condition in which many married people wish they were, and in which many single people wish they weren’t.
Which is kind of odd because so much of what Sara loves about being single is her freedom; me, too. No one to answer to, no one to compromise with, no one who has to nag remind us to leave the toilet seat down or to replace the toothpaste cap.
All the niggling details of being coupled that tear away at intimacy and romance and often leave resentment, bitterness and disappointment in their wake.
If only being single wasn’t so … alone.
Except, I’m perfectly happy being alone.
Does that make me weird?
There’s a perception that being alone means lonely; OK, sometimes they’re one and the same. There are 104 million single people in the United States — there’s just no way to know how many are happily single and how many want to be coupled or “unsingle.” Despite surveys that proclaim how happy singles are, the never-ending stupid “How to be single and happy” Cosmo, eHow and Helium articles would make you think, well, perhaps we’re not all as happy as we say we are.
Regardless, learning to be happy alone is one of the most valuable gifts we can give ourselves. Because only we can create our own happiness, no one else. And, we may end up being single for most if not all of our lives. Then what?
There’s nothing worse than being single and wanting not to be single … except perhaps being not single and wishing you were. Feeling alone in a relationship sucks. So does the desperation of wanting to be coupled so much that we find ourselves in relationships we really shouldn’t be in just so we don’t have to be lonely alone.
Despite the whole Quirky Alone movement (which probably has already gone the way of chia pets and pet rocks) and the writings of such singles advocates as Bella DePaulo, author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, I wonder if most singles feel totally happy and complete being single for the rest of their lives, or if they see it as a temporary situation until someone comes along.
And I wonder if women worry more about being single than men do (or is it that society feels more uncomfortable with single women than single men? She’s the old maid or spinster, he’s the lifelong bachelor — which sounds better?).
Interesting what John DeVore, the Frisky’s Mind of Men columnist says:
Men don’t fear the “single” label. We have our own issues and fears, but they are likewise illusory, socially created scarecrows … Men don’t mind being “single,” because we have mythologies that celebrate the whole notion of being on your own.
True; aren’t most of the heroes of our myths men whose women live in the periphery of their lives — if they even have them, that is? Do women have the same mythologies? I don’t think so, but I think society has many mythologies for us (see old maid/spinster references above, or the rumors swirling around powerful women who aren’t married or mothers, like Elena Kagan).
Look at “Sex and the City’s” Samantha, a single woman who wasn’t all that concerned with being coupled — just copulating. She seemed perfectly happy being on her own, enjoying her career and having her close connections with her friends (who mostly did want to be coupled). But her happiness in her life as a solo woman was judged because she was a sexual solo woman (although if she wasn’t sexual, she’d be judged, too — spinster, anyone?)
Like Samantha, I don’t know how to make being single work unless I have the sexual part, too. That’s part of the “happily single” formula for me because I’m just not into the celibacy thing.
Of course, I’m not single right now — I have a boyfriend and love, even though we don’t live together and I am often alone. Nor am I alone — I have a kid who lives with me part time, so that’s hardly “alone.”
Boyfriend or not, though, I’m happy being by myself (I’m pretty good company) and I’ve been happy being single — as long as I can have sex in my life.
- How do you define happiness as a single person?
- Could you be happy as a single forever, or do you plan to have your singledom be just a transitory phase?
- How much does sex factor into that?
- Is being “alone” for you a happy thing, or is it “loneliness”?
More single ramblings:
photo © Nathalie P – Fotolia.com
Once upon a time, there was a Nice Guy. He was attractive and fit, a loving dad and husband. His wife had other ideas, however, and one day she asked for a divorce. He wasn’t bitter, but he was very, very sad. With each day, the pain got a little less painful, and a little more joy found its way into his heart.
Because he was a nice, fit, attractive middle-aged man, a lot of women came on to him. It was weird for him; no one had paid him that much attention in years. It felt good.
One day, not too long after his divorce, he met someone really nice, too. Not only was she nice, but she was divorced, smart, pretty and a loving and devoted mom, so she “got” it. Plus the sex was great and they shared a lot of the same interests. They started spending more and more time together, and they went from dating to an exclusive relationship.
And then, the Nice Guy realized, whoa — I just got out of a long-time marriage. I haven’t had any time to just be, to experience life as a middle-aged single dad, to figure out what I want now that I’m not looking to have
babies with a woman.
Who am I now?
So the Nice Guy told that to his girlfriend, that although
he loves being with her, he’s not really sure he’s ready to settle down until he’s figured out a few things. It all happened so fast, so soon. His nice girlfriend tried to understand, but also felt somewhat pimped; why
didn’t he say anything
before? They split, both feeling as if they’d been
Months later, after experiencing life solo and meeting many more women and dating a lot, the Nice
Guy realized that although
he met a lot of interesting,
attractive and smart women, none had all the qualities that his nice former girlfriend had. He started to wonder if she was The One. Now, he panicked — did he make a mistake? Should he have said, “Well, I’m not really ready for this, but I’m going for it anyway!”
In another part town lived a Nice Gal, an attractive, fit woman, a loving mother and wife. Her husband had other ideas, however, and one day they divorced. She wasn’t bitter, but she was very sad. With each day, the pain got a little less painful, and a little more joy found its way into her heart.
Because she was a nice, fit, attractive middle-aged woman, she hoped she’d meet someone someday. Defying the odds for women her age, she meet a nice, smart, attractive divorced dad — quicker than she ever could have imagined. Although in many ways he was different than the kind of man she thought she’d be with, he charmed her and she liked being with him. Even though she thought that it was way too soon to get involved with someone, they started spending more time together and before she knew it, they were in an exclusive relationship.
But then she’d panic. “I can’t do this! It’s too soon!” she’d tell him, and they’d break up. But then she’d feel lonely and — realizing how much she missed him and how much about him she treasured — they’d get back together. And he was always there, waiting for her to come back; he wanted to be with her.
They’re still together, but every once and a while she wonders, is there a better match for me? How do you know if someone’s The One?
They say timing is everything — whoever “they” are. I don’t know if it’s everything, but it certainly plays a part in a lot of things — from how we develop as embryos to our careers to our love life. Not all of us have the big timing decisions — do we go for the multimillion dollar NBA contract or finish college? — but we all have smaller versions of that. And few distress us as much as the ones that involve love.
What if we meet The One when we’re not ready for him or her?
I can’t deny that timing has a lot to do with the complicated feelings of Nice Guy and Nice Gal.
I want desperately to believe that if two people are meant to be together that they will find each other when the timing is right. But, I’m smart enough to realize, hey, life offers no guarantees.
Not to say that everyone who stays in a relationship when he/she isn’t ready for it will forever be cross-examining it and wondering, “Is there something better out there?”
But I do believe this: unless we have the alone time to figure out who we are as middle-aged divorced moms and dads, it’s hard to give The One the attention and commitment he or she deserves and that we truly want to give.
If we can even figure out if he or she is The One, that is.
- How has timing played a part in your love life?
Photo © petar Ishmeriev – Fotolia.com
“That is quite the dress,” I said to Sara, looking stunning in the orange-red gauzy outfit she wore for a backyard get-together a few weeks ago.
“I don’t know. I think it’s too bright,” she said. “What do you think, Sean?”
“Uh, I’m not the one to ask. I’m colorblind.”
Sean sighed at the familiar exercise; everyone who finds out he’s colorblind wants to play the “color game.” “Look, I can tell you
what I see, but your colors and my colors are different, so what’s the point? We see things differently, that’s all.”
Ah, yes — and isn’t that true about everything?
Haven’t you ever been on a first date that you thought went great, and then you never hear
from him again? I’m guessing he obviously didn’t share your version of reality (although there could be many reasons why he disappeared).
We see the world differently. But it’s not just a guy or gal thing, although, granted, the sexes often see things waaaay different. She thinks the weekend they spent together having sex every which way in every possible location is one step closer to relationship status; he thinks, “Wow, I can’t believe how much sex we had!”
Each of us has different needs and perspectives, and whatever we experience is filtered through that, as well as whatever other distractions are going on in our head at the moment — which is exactly why we can’t see things quite the way other people see things, even though we think we’re seeing or experiencing the same thing.
That’s why when you’re hanging with others and there’s an “incident,” you’ll have as many versions of “the truth” as people who were there. Whose version is “right” or “real”?
Not to get all Rashomon on you, but wouldn’t they all be?
Makes you question whether “reality” is really real.
It can be frustrating, and sometimes I feel like, “wow, you’re not really understanding what’s going on here.” But maybe I’m not!
That wouldn’t be a problem if we approach each other with an understanding that we’re not all the same. The problem is when we start insisting that out interpretation is better than another’s or it’s the “right” one, or if we judge others for their experiences.
And we do that all the time, sometimes in big, dangerous ways, and other times in tiny ways.
“Ugh, I never want us to be like that couple over there,” I recently said to Sean, jerking my head in the direction of a couple sitting at a restaurant table in silence across from each other, seemingly lost in their own thoughts and joyless in their relationship. “How sad that they have nothing to say to each other!”
“Really?” he said, sounding totally surprised. “I was just thinking how peaceful they look, content in their quiet togetherness.”
And so it goes …
- Ever had a shared experience with someone whose perception was vastly different than yours?
- Has someone insisted that your perception of something is “wrong”?
Photo © Christopher Hall – Fotolia.com