Until this year, I’ve always viewed being single merely as a pit stop on the way to the final destination of the societally-revered state of coupledom. But as I contemplate dating now that my divorce is final, I realize the truth of the matter is I could be very happy living out the rest of my life on my own. I realize that being single can in fact be its own desirable destination.
It’s a heavy thought, but I realize coupledom is no longer a major goal of mine. And it’s liberating. Empowering! Sure, I’d like to experience love again — who wouldn’t? — but the difference now is that my well-being doesn’t rely on it. I’ve finally been able to acknowledge that I like doing things on my own. And that being in a relationship can often feel just as lonely. No, this ain’t some divorced woman freaking out about being single and trying to justify how great it all is — it’s someone finally capable of acknowledging that they really like themselves and their happiness isn’t reliant upon anyone else.
I wish I hadn’t been raised to believe that marriage was the ideal adulthood scenario. I wish I hadn’t been routinely conditioned by religion, parents, friends, and society to believe that finding your “soulmate” is the ultimate goal in life. I wish I hadn’t bought into the whole “you complete me” nonsense spawned by Jerry Maguire and similar Hollywoodized versions of true love. Don’t get me wrong, I dig romance as much as the next person but I think growing up thinking that it’s romantic and fulfilling to view your future mate as the completion of you or that happiness will be reached when you find the right person is as detrimental to a child as forcing religion on them.
Why not be a little more open-minded when it comes to relationships and instill within our children the truth about love? That soulmates aren’t a pre-existing condition — it’s a title earned after years of togetherness with another human being; that there isn’t someone else out there that matches perfectly with you and you need to find them and make that match to unlock the happiness available in life. The truth is that there are just as many pros to being single as there are to being someone’s better (or worse) half. Being in a relationship has just as many downfalls as being single — it’s true! — and yet society constantly informs us that love is all you need and love conquers all. Maybe love is all you need but it’s self-love first and foremost, not the love of someone who tickles your fancy. I fully plan to explain to my children that self-love — real, true self-love — is more important than finding love. Falling in love is the key to happiness in the world, but it’s falling in love with yourself, not another person. Sometimes being single is fantastic and other times it sucks. Just like my marriage. Sometimes it was awesome to be part of a team and other times I felt so stifled I couldn’t breathe. But when you’re single people are curious about why and want to fix you up, as if you can’t possibly be content. When you’re married nobody asks why you’re married. In fact, when a married person expresses dissatisfaction with their relationship people are often shocked. Why is that? Why are we surprised a married person is unhappy and expect single people to be unhappy?
An article on The Huffington Post rounded up reasons Reddit users listed for choosing to be single. Note I said “choosing to be single.” It’s a choice millions of people make and not a default position people discover themselves in when they can’t find a partner. The reasons listed really struck a chord with me:
“I’ve yet to meet a woman who has made me think, ‘Wow, being with them would be better than being single.‘”
“People as individuals are wonderful in small doses, but I wouldn’t want anyone around me all the time.”
“Gosh, there are too many reasons to count. I will tell say this, though: I would never consider marriage again unless he was my very best friend first. Otherwise, I’m good being on my own.”
“I know now what I didn’t know then. I’m more selective. For the time being, I’m focusing on me and growing spiritually, emotionally, mentally. I’m not planning to be single forever, but I’m not rushing or forcing it, either.”
“There’s just been too many disappointments in my love life. I’m beautiful, smart, and most importantly, happy being single.“
“I want control over my own life and money. Being single means I don’t have to explain what I buy or how I spend my time.”
Yeah, I’m a divorced woman who is clearly wounded and not looking for love just now and realize I might feel differently a few miles down the road. Regardless, I no longer view being in a relationship as the ultimate goal in life or the thing that will complete my happiness. My happiness is up to me and me alone.
Image source: Monica BielankoMore On