alone

All posts tagged alone

Solo…and Loving It

Published September 14, 2014 by singleandfabulous10

I just finished reading Eric Klinenberg’s book, Going Solo, in which he details the remarkable increase of people living alone in the last few decades in the US (as well as in other first world countries). If you are a single person living alone, and particularly if you feel alone, you must (I say, must) read this book.

The statistics themselves are remarkable. But I say read the book if you feel alone particularly because most singletons (Klinenberg’s term) are clustered in urban areas. So, for those outside of urban areas, it’s easy to feel like you might be some kind of anomaly. Particularly for those who, like myself, live in the Midwest, and not in a major city. Here, coupling up and reproducing are still the norm, and the vast majority of people seem to be in some kind of race to see who can secure a mate, followed by a house, a dog, and a kid in short order.

So, one of the things the book does is debunk the myth that getting married is the key to happiness. It would seem obvious, since almost half of marriages end in divorce. So, clearly those people weren’t happy. Of those who stay married, I would guess that a variety of reasons account for that, not insignificant among them inertia, boredom, social status, and religion.

And yet, research abounds on the so-called benefits of being married, in terms of physical and emotional well being. But ask anyone who’s been through a divorce, just how much being married contributed to their health and well-being. And then ask them if they’re eager to get married again, or happier on their own.

Klinenberg’s book goes into detail about dealing with the unique issues posed by being single at a time of great change in our social structure. Right now in the US 27% of households have only one occupant, and the number is growing quickly.

It’s an exciting time, particularly for women. A few short decades ago, options were limited for women who didn’t marry. Now, the possibilities abound. And sometimes, the only limits are those that exist in our own minds, based upon how we see the situation, and indeed, how we see ourselves.

Redefining Failure

Published August 16, 2014 by singleandfabulous10

I think it’s time to redefine failure. As a single person, it’s easy to feel like a failure.

Let’s face it, if you’ve reached a certain age and you haven’t, you know, “found someone,” people are going to start speculating about what’s wrong with you. Because, you might either have some flaw that isn’t readily apparent (Hmmm, what could it be?) or maybe you just aren’t looking hard enough.

But really, the marriages I’ve been treated to an insider’s perspective of are enough to make me feel like I’ve indeed dodged a bullet.

The idea that single people have failed is no doubt the product of social attitudes and the cultural obsession with couple-dom. We do so love a good “happily ever after” story. The trouble is, very few get to see what happens after the wedding.

I’ve been reading a book by Kim Stolz called “Unfriending my ex…and other things I’ll never do.” In it, she talks about how much relationships have changed in the age of the internet. Suffice it to say, things are not always what they appear to be. Some relationships look perfect from a distance (say, on Facebook), but they often don’t hold up to closer examination. Sometimes – more often than not – that perfect relationship  is nothing more than a mirage.

Not that it’s easy being alone, though.

I suppose the idea of becoming a crazy cat lady is enough to make you fear loneliness gone wrong on a level that will have you rushing off on a date with Mr. Good Enough.

I refuse to have even one pet: it might be the first step down a slippery slope to mismatched clothing, talking to my cats, and referring to them in conversation as my babies.

But seriously, before you say “I do,” make sure that what you’re getting is greater than what you’re giving up.

There’s an article that’s been making the rounds recently that’s worth a read: 5 regrets of the dying. It’s a good reminder to “think from the end” so that you create a meaningful life based on your values, rather than on other people’s expectations.

The Truth

Published March 27, 2014 by singleandfabulous10

“The truth about intimate relationships is that…They can never be any better than our relationship with ourselves.” – J. Hollis

People often say that you can never really love someone else if you don’t love yourself first.

Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t be in a relationship if you don’t love yourself. You can be in a relationship your whole life without knowing the first thing about loving yourself.

But the reason I like the J. Hollis quote is because I think it addresses something that many people don’t consider, and that is the quality of their relationships.

I think it’s also true that before we can consider meeting another person’s needs in a relationship, we have to identify and express – and also learn to meet – our own needs. Which is where self-love comes in.

If I enter into a relationship without understanding what I want and need for myself, how can I know what will work for me? And what won’t?

And if I think love means running myself ragged trying to meet someone else’s needs, with no regard for my own, I’m probably going to be left with a giant heap of resentment. And perhaps a shell of a relationship, to go along with it.

Over the years I’ve actually found that time alone is an opportunity to become better acquainted with  – and even better friends with – myself.  And that, as I do this, the quality of my relationships has improved, while the number of relationships I’ve been in has declined.

Unfortunately, one of the things that gets thrown out at single people (a lot) is the idea that maybe they’re not ready for a relationship, because they need to “work on” themselves first.

I think the reality actually is that, the more time you spend alone – if, of course, you spend it in the sincere pursuit of self-knowledge and self-love – the less likely you are to engage in, or continue, a relationship with someone who doesn’t also have a good relationship with themselves. And since, culturally speaking, we don’t really value self-knowledge and self-love, there are a lot of people out there who are merely looking for someone who “completes” them.

All this is to say that, if you haven’t found someone to be with, maybe it’s not because of anything that’s wrong with you.

Really.

The Single Life: Thoughts on V Day

Published February 14, 2014 by singleandfabulous10

“What do you love about being single?”

  • Doing whatever I want, whenever I want. (This pretty much covers it, but I’ll go on, anyway…)
  • Eating whatever I want, whenever I want.
  • Spending my money however I want.
  • Setting the thermostat at whatever temperature I want.
  • Making all of the decorating decisions.
  • Being a bed hog (and a blanket hog).
  • Always having the best seat in the house (and control of the remote).
  • Feeling at peace with myself.

And all the things I don’t have to deal with…

  • Listening to someone else’s commentary (or criticism) on how I live my life.
  • Buffering someone else’s negativity and drama.
  • Feeling disappointed or resentful (for a thousand different reasons).
  • Listening to someone snoring at night while I’m trying to sleep.
  • Sharing (everything).

I was going to write another entry about the downside of being single, but I realized that’s unnecessary because everyone already knows what that is. It’s why so many people get married, and stay married even when it goes south.

“Why are you single?” Because I’d rather travel alone than in bad company…

Aim high.

Solo

Published January 29, 2014 by singleandfabulous10

In Going Solo, Eric Klinenberg reports these interesting – and perhaps surprising – stats on singlehood:

  • 49% of American adults are unmarried.
  • 28% of American households are occupied by one person.

So, almost half of adults are unmarried, and nearly a third of American households consist of a single person.

A lot has changed in the last few decades.

Savvy, educated women typically wait longer to get married than they used to. Or they don’t marry at all. A variety of studies – and common sense – show that marriage benefits men more than it does women, after all.

A lot of people are passing on marriage altogether. And of those who do get married, many divorce. Of those who stay together, whether they’re happier than their single counterparts is a matter of debate.

Practically speaking, one of the tougher aspects of being single is financial. A single person needs just about everything a couple does. Only singles have to pay for it all on one income, rather than two. Financially speaking, maybe it’s better to be married. If you’re both working, that is. With recent unemployment rates, perhaps that’s not a given.

It’s just not that unusual to be single anymore. Or to live alone. The days of the old maid and the spinster are long gone. But then, of course, social perceptions take time to catch up to reality.

Most of the people who pity my single status are considerably older, and married. And if the current trend continues, these folks will soon be in the minority.

“Single people aren’t on the fringe of society – they are society.” – Sara Eckel

Fear of being single

Published December 24, 2013 by singleandfabulous10

A recent study has shown that people stay in bad relationships because they’re afraid of being single.

Duh.

Really? What kind of study is this?

I suppose I might receive a grant to conduct research to prove that winters in the Midwest are indeed cold and often snowy.

Apparently these masters of the obvious conducted a straight-faced survey of a number of people, many of whom admitted they had a fear of being single, and therefore had stayed in bad (ie unfulfilling) relationships longer than they should have.

I would like to say that I don’t know what they mean, that being single is great. But that wouldn’t exactly be true. It’s tricky being alone in a world that’s made for two, as all the (often unhappily) married folks know who cluck sympathetically.

Here’s what I do know: being alone is better than being in a bad relationship. When you’re single, you don’t have to compromise. In a bad relationship, you compromise yourself away, sometimes to the point where the person you once were disappears. You’re lucky to get away with a bit of your self-esteem intact.

Really, though, one of the hardest things about being alone is that people feel sorry for you. It goes something like this:  ‘poor so-and-so, how can she not find someone?’ Well, of course I can find someone. Obviously.

The thing is, I’m not looking for just anyone.

If I’m going to consider giving up the freedoms (and the joys – yes, there are many) that come with being single, he’s going to have to be someone pretty special and in fact (Dare I say it?) downright amazing.

Remember that you set the standard for people you allow into your life. And single is not a four-letter word.

Aim high.

This just in

Published December 11, 2013 by singleandfabulous10

It’s official. I’m going to die alone.

When it comes down to it, we’re actually all going to die alone.

But aside from that, in reflecting on my own melodrama, I’ve realized that it’s all about perspective. The opportunity to be alone is a real gift – even if it only feels that way some of the time.

Create enough drama, or melodrama, in your life and you won’t have much chance to focus on anything else. I know this from experience. Like, for example, bringing dramatic, confused, and misguided people into my life, and then wondering why I suddenly start feeling anxious and resentful.

When we stop running from ourselves, we (hopefully) learn something.

And the ability to move back and forth along the spectrum of experience while knowing what’s true is essential. In other words, you have to be up above it and down in it, at the same time.

Checking out of your own experience is no good. Experience is how you learn. And there’s no point in beating yourself up for choices (i.e. mistakes) you’ve made in the past.

But keep in mind, it’s not necessary to endlessly repeat the same mistakes. When you learn the lesson, it’s preferable to move on.

Here’s to the wide world of new experiences. And new mistakes.

And to getting it right, every once in a while.