The pros and cons of serial singledom

For most of my adult life I have been single more often than I have been in a relationship. I’m fine with that. I stopped agonising over my relationship status quite a while ago. Maybe one day my knight in shining armour will show up at my door asking to join me on the couch for Dominos and Netflix. And if that doesn’t happen, at least I can have all the pizza to myself then.

Being single can have its advantages. It’s great to be able to do whatever I want really when going on a holiday for example. Solo travel is da biz. I don’t have to wait around for anybody when getting ready to go to the airport and already get aggravated at the beginning of the trip because somebody, unlike me, doesn’t like to be insanely early for the flight. There’s also no bickering over what to see, where to eat and why don’t you want to spend hours browsing the shops. Some solitude in foreign lands can be a great way to switch off and relax properly.

When it comes to day to day life and dealing with responsible adult chores and necessities like sorting tax, moving house or finding a new job, I sometimes wish I could hand over the decision making to someone else. Just for a little while at least. Enough for me to re-energise so I can tackle the tasks at hand. That’s the downside of being single, you’re responsible for all the stuff all the time and that can be tiring. Of course I can rely on friends to help out or give advice. But I don’t always want to burden them with my problems.

To me trusting a partner with my worries and problems does feel different to confiding in a friend. That said, if I can’t get the emotional support I need from a partner, it can feel unbelievably lonely and sad in a relationship. I too often invested a lot of energy and time into broken relationships at the expense of actually listening to what I want. I was too busy trying to figure out what the other person may or may not want. Being alone on my own terms allows me to focus on my own needs and wants.

Speaking of needs, you know where this is going, S.E.X. Sure you can have The Intercourse when you’re single but unfortunately it requires effort and I’m a lazy bitch. Contrary to what people in relationships might believe, being single isn’t one long big dating bonanza. Just download Tinder and have a look at the “talent” out there. Or try to feel still excited about the prospects of a date after the most mundane back and forth texting which essentially amounts to the question “How are you?” being dragged out over ten messages. No thank you, I’d rather stick to porn. It’s not so much the sex I miss but rather the intimacy of a relationship, spooning in bed and cuddling up in front of the telly. Hook ups can’t replace that.

Cuddles don’t come for free though (I’m street smart). To make your partner happy, you may have to sit through sporting tournaments you have no interest in but pretend you do. Or attend family gatherings with people you can’t be openly hostile towards because they are not your own family. In other words, you can’t be utterly selfish. Imagine all the podcasts I can listen to while you’re hanging out with the in-laws. Who’s laughing now?! (Probably you but it’s just a rhetorical question anyways.)

There are occasions though, when it comes in handy to be a double act. Being invited to weddings, christenings and the likes for example. I often get the impression people don’t know what to do with a person that comes sans 1. Maybe I’m being paranoid but I often sense a mild panic from the hosts “Should we seat her at the kid’s table? Will she run to the bathroom to secretly cut herself because she can’t handle our happiness?”

It may just be my perception but I do often feel singledom is being perceived as a flaw and that people who have never been single for long periods of time find it difficult to empathise or understand why someone might be happy on their own. Maybe it has more to do with their own fears or misconceptions of being alone. I do get irritated though when having to respond to questions like “So why are you single? You’re attractive, funny and smart, it can’t be that difficult to find someone. You must be really picky.”

Thank you for establishing that I’m not a hideous troll and for pointing out that there clearly must be something wrong with me given my bizarre loner status. I know people mean well and probably intend it as a compliment but it really isn’t. It’s just emphasising to me that my “situation” needs to be explained and justified, that it somehow goes against the norm to be single. For example, would it ever occur to you to ask someone “So why are you in a relationship?” I bet you it wouldn’t. Instead of asking someone why they are single, why not ask them if they are happy. Just a suggestion.

While being single may have its shortcomings, for the time being I enjoy being able to plan my own future and make career choices without having to consider somebody else. Whether you’re in a relationship or whether you’re single, compromises will have to be made in both situations. Unfortunately we can’t have our cake and eat it all the time.

5 Comments

  1. Ian

    Great post Anne..remember after being single for years and years and a few more years after that, when I did finally start going out with someone finding it odd and amusing that people were reacting as if I’ve suddenly recovered from a chronic illness..

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