Being single means different things to each of us. For some
it is a way of life. For a small minority, it is the way we
always will be. For most of us, its is a constant battle with
optimism. Hope springs eternal they say. We weren't designed
to spend our lives alone. For the solitary monk it may be
a life of dedication but for us mere mortals, its is a state
of being that we hope is temporary.
Being single is not easy. It means first of all that we are
daily responsible for every decision we make. We can't share
decision making because there is no one close enough to share
things with. We trust our friends but we will not have formed
as close a bond as we do in a long term personal relationship.
Therefore it us up to us to decide what we do each day, whether
we go to work, what we will have for dinner, where we will
go at a weekend, what we do on vacation and where and how
When we get home in an evening there isn't anyone there (which
is why so often we have cats and dogs) to welcome us. We prepare
dinner alone (or don't bother), run a bath, take a shower
and generally live a solitary existence punctuated by our
social life and friends as well as work routine. One of the
primary issues about being single is not being able to discuss
things on our mind when we want to. In social circles we can
to an extent and we may call up friends on the phone but this
lacks the deeper understanding and compassion we receive from
a close partner in a relationship.
We like to play ideas off each other, discuss, talk, think
aloud and have pillow talk about the future. All of this is
missing when single. Occasional dates or romantic encounters
may provide passing closeness but in effect we remain single
still. There is something interesting on the TV, but we won't
chat about that until we are at work. We have an ailment that
worries us, who do we discuss that with? There is an issue
with a person at work, what should we do. Friends and family
play their part but they don't fill that singleness we are
likely to feel.
Cooking for one is a painful experience. What is the point
of cooking a nice meal if there is no one to share it with.
There is a great movie but we will watch it alone. We need
to go shopping and get something new for the apartment but
we are going to have to do without the fun of deciding together.
Then of course there is sex. Sex-for-one is well known to
most singles but its generally not what we were designed for.
Close relationships offer companionship, understanding, empathy,
friendship as well as love and romance and without them, we
are pretty much left to our own devices to fill that void.
When we are younger there is so much to focus on that it may
not be such an issue but as we get older we begin to discover
that visiting the wonders of the world alone is deeply dissatisfactory.
Being single is a heightened sense because our society emphasizes
couples. From meals for two in the grocery store, to paying
for single supplements in hotels; much is set against the
single person. Why do we pay extra for a single bed when on
vacation? The we have our friends who are in couples which
does much to heighten our sense of singledom. Dinner parties
mean we are excluded due to not having a partner, or we are
matched up with some geek we have little in common with by
friends desperate to pair us off.
Adult society in the West is made up of approximately 33%
single people and this is increasing at a remarkable rate.
Admittedly in many areas of the service industry, singles
are being seen as a new market and opportunities to cash in
on single life are steadily coming into the market place.
But again it emphasis a state of play we may not wish to be
reminded of. When we set off outdoors on a weekend we will
encounter many couples along the way and we find ourselves
wondering what it is about them that got them together when
we are total treasures that no one appears to discover?
Therefore being single means being optimistic. It means keeping
positive in the face of adversity. That adversity manifests
itself through the thought in the back of our heads that whispers
'what if..'. What if we meet someone tomorrow, what if we
spend out lives alone and never meet anyone again, what ever
we never fall in love, what if no one actually likes us, what
if we were meant to remain single. And it is this whispering
that we fight to keep at bay daily by fighting to remain optimistic.
Optimism comes from the general knowledge that most of us
will meet someone, we will find Mr. or Miss Right soon enough.
But as we get older, we start to worry, even start to silently
panic. If we are to meet our perfect match it has to happen
before we are too old. We would like it to happen whilst we
are still young enough. And as anyone in their 30's appreciates,
as we get older , so time speeds up. In our twenties, time
seemed endless. But as the wrinkles in the corner of our eyes
demonstrates, one day we wake up and we are older, much older.
And we are still single.
Being single is to an extent a triumph,. It means we have
avoided the disappointment of dating disasters, wrong choices,
and loneliness within a terrible relationship. It means we
still have our own choices and our own sense of direction.
We have the full sense of self determination and control over
destiny. But at the same time it wears us down. It may be
hard to admit, but the vast majority of us don't like being
single. In fact we hate it.
We hate it because we don't get to share. We don't get to
make happen the sharp image in our head of the perfect relationship
we know is possible with the right partner. We have a never
ending well of 'giving' that so far has been ignored. We want
to give and we want to please. We wish to love and we want
that opportunity. We are ready and willing but we are not
allowed. Its almost like being in an isolation cell in prison.
Being single heightens our sense of the need to give and it
heightens the sense of frustration accordingly.
Being single isn't a cornfield full of casual sex, boozy nights,
general lack of responsibility and carefree existence over
the age of 25. Its a burden that many of us carry. Through
failed relationships we have built up a mental list of the
things we will never accept again in a relationship and at
the same time it provokes and overpowering explanation of
what we really do hope for. Being single isn't about choices,
it is about circumstances. We know that had we been a certain
place, had a certain life, then we probably wouldn't be single.
But where we find ourselves today means that we are. Well
we are for the time being.
By dating we keep our hopes alive. We realize that there is
a light at the end of the tunnel. And whilst the most recent
suitor may not have been the one for us, at least we are heading
in the right direction. And that's how many of us cope with
being single. We do everything we can to keep our hopes alive.
We convince ourselves that being single is by choice and that
we are just waiting to meet the right one. And that's true,
that's exactly what we are doing. But the 'what if' whispers
away. Our body clocks may tick louder, our hair may thin,
but we KNOW we will get there in the end. We hope.
Being single means living with a sense of frustration that
little else can match. We don't have the answers as to why
we are alone. We even ask 'why me?' This isn't how we have
envisaged our lives, this isn't how we saw our future. So
why has it happened? What went wrong. Where did we go wrong?
Where are all the nice guys and girls. Maybe they have all
been snapped up. Maybe there simply aren't any and we are
fooling ourselves. Then we remind ourselves of the few examples
of great friends in great relationships and this provides
us with the temporary proof we need. And then we begin to
question ourselves further. We may even question our own judgment,
wondered if we have missed our best opportunity to be in a
good relationship. Maybe we are simply too choosey? Maybe
it really is all our fault. But of course it isn't.
When vacations and national holidays and Christmas or Thanksgiving
come along, then we are reminded heavily just what being single
feels like. On Valentine's day we are also reminded that we
are yet again this year solitary creatures. However this year
will be different. We feel it. We have our sights set one
on or two potentials and who knows where things may lead.
Who knows, by Christmas we could be engaged.
Married people often think the grass is greener on the other
side. People in bad relationships dream of the freedom of
being single. I have been told many times that I don't know
how lucky I am to be single. The next time someone says that
to me, I will go over and stick my finger in their eye and
remind myself indeed how lucky I am that I decided to do that
all by myself.