Being ok while being single isn’t just something single people say while they search feverishly for the next partner. It’s actually a legit state of being, a kind of single person Zen, that you can actually get to. I didn’t think this was possible. But I’m here to tell you, it exists.
Not only does it exist, but it’s not a place where anger and sadness reside either. I mean, there are times I experience both of those feelings when I think about one or two of my ex’s. But generally, a calm has taken over my life, and I’m kind of in love with not being in love.
I’m a serial monogamist. My first serious relationship started when I was 15. From 15 to 42 I pretty much ping ponged from one person to the next. I’d be in a new relationship without processing all that much about the end of the last one. A lot of people are that way. I was that way.
At 42, my last significant (significant meaning: my kids met this person. In fact, in this case we integrated our children and cohabitated in two houses in two cities for 5 years) relationship, ended. And it was sad as hell. It was damaging to all of the children to varying degrees. But it was necessary and while I didn’t pull the plug, I agreed it was time to move on.
Fast forward 4.5 years now, and I’ve not entered a significant relationship since. That isn’t to say I’ve not played the game of love. I’ve met people. I’ve fallen in love. And that’s fun right? Everyone loves to fall in love. What is NOT to love about falling in love? It’s the most indulgent, delicious, heady feeling in the world. That feeling you have when you meet someone and you know you connect. You finish each other’s sentences. Every song feels like a love song. You want to crawl inside their skin and listen to their heartbeat. You lie in bed and draw maps of the stars in the air and talk and talk and talk. You are consumed. You are engulfed. It eludes all reason and sanity. It’s a free fall.
If you’re lucky you can ride that out awhile, it levels off and you find a nice cruising height.
Or sometimes you crash into a mountain. Really, it can go either way. And so it goes, and so it did.
A little over a year ago, I just kind of opted out. That isn’t to say I didn’t play on dating sites here and there. I even went on a date or two. I have friends out and about in various cities I may have visited now and again. But in general I just needed a break. And that is where it got weird.
Once I got over being lonely as hell, I realized something else. My life had a lot less stress in it. Not having to worry about all of the things that seem to go with being in a relationship was really nice. I started working out, a lot. Because I had the time. I strengthened my female friendships. I traveled. I went to shows. Often with friends, but often I did those things alone. I went out of town. Went to places, ate out, saw bands. Alone.. And it was enjoyable. It was all enjoyable.
I feel like there is this pressure that is hard wired into our collective psyche that we shouldn’t be alone. That if we are alone there is something undesirable about us. I have even found myself, when talking to people online and they divulge “I’ve been single for xx years” I think “well what is wrong with you?”. And here I am, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with me. I could be wrong I suppose.
There are times I really do miss companionship. Sex with someone who knows my brain as well as my body. Someone to share silly inside jokes with. Someone to indulge and buy little gifts for. I’m not going to say I don’t want those things. Sometimes I do.
I vacillate between this desire to connect, and my desire for peace. I question my ability to fall hard, fall deep, and not lose myself. I battle between my desire for autonomy, and my desire to be so tightly wound with another person.
I recently posed the question to my online group of people, “what do you most like about being single?” Overwhelmingly, it was a desire to simply BE. Or eat food in bed, it was kind of a toss up. But my take away was this… we are humans. We are programmed to be partnered up. But everyone feels a little like they are losing SOMETHING. It seems like when you are willing to compromise the things you are losing, and seeing the opportunity to gain from someone else, that the road that is most satisfying. I’ve been there. I’ve been willing to compromise. I’ve done that. And when you really love someone, that seems logical. Until it doesn’t.
There is no shame in being alone. I’m not broken. And neither are any of my other alone people. Taking the time to figure out who you are, and what you are, and what you like, without the distraction and influence of another person is pretty important and fantastic.
When you find the right person, at the right time for you, all of those fun silly single person things, well that person should be ok with your choices. And might even enjoy doing them too.
My knight in shining armor just might like to eat Ramen in their underwear binge watching Netflix and drinking cheap wine. Or any of the other 700 things I’ve learned to enjoy by myself, but maybe could share with another person.
I think my desire to be scooped up in the crook of someone’s arm and listen to their heart beat is probably going to win at some point.
But until that happens, I’ve reached single person Zen. It’s peaceful here. And I’m really glad I have taken the time to find it.