When people refer to themselves as “single,” their voice drops a little.
Must be tradition: every year I disappear for weeks at a time, only to return with a post for Valentine’s Day, telling you how gifts are everywhere, or how you can’t deny the love in your life, whatever shape it takes. Even if you personally chase it out your front door with a broom, love finds a way in. I don’t care if it’s some stray cat nuzzling your ankle, or the grocery clerk taking extra care packing your bag, it’s there, in one form or another.
This year, I don’t want to neglect the permanently disgruntled, the ones you can’t hug or tickle into any semblance of mammalian warmth for the simple reason that they won’t let you. Whether they weren’t held enough as a baby, or they’ve been burnt by one too many asshole, they’ve decided to give humanity the pink slip. They believe nobody loves them, or that they can’t love anybody, but somehow, bitterness rather than acceptance accompanies their wholly self-imposed belief.
I’m here to tell them all the reasons they don’t have it so bad.
That is correct, the serial relationship addict that I am thinks it’s okay — sometimes even better — to be single. Before you say I don’t get to call myself an authority on the merits of singlehood, please take note of my credentials:
Now going on four decades, I’ve deliberately and successfully avoided marriage. My alone time is more valuable to me than toothpaste. I’d give up toothpaste for life and use chicory sticks to clean my teeth before giving up my alone time. I’ve attested time and again that I find myself in relationships only when I can’t help it. It’s that little fucker Cupid’s fault.
I’ve lived without financial stability all my life — I’m quite good at it — therefore I’m not afraid enough of poverty to be in a relationship for anything less than planet-jostling, mutual take-me-I’m-yours love. You think it’s easy giving up the fringe benefits provided by “bulls waiting in the pen” while you’re single? Nothing scatters all those burly friends — who jump to work on a woman’s car or put up a shelf or write a lawyer’s letter on her behalf — faster than when she gets into a relationship with someone other than them.
Finally, when not in a relationship, I was the girl who spent one or two hundred days out of the year on a road trip. It’s not like the urge to hit the road went away just because I got into a relationship. Only the practicality did.
So yeah, I may be in a committed relationship, but I’m fully qualified to talk about how being on one’s own is pretty flipping great too.
When some people refer to themselves as “single,” their voice drops a little. But proud single people call themselves “independent” or “too busy,” ascribing accomplishment to being single the same way 1950’s girls behaved like a marriage proposal was a Nobel Prize-worthy feat.
Being happily single is an accomplishment in a society presenting the family unit as an idyllic reward at the end of the quest for a mate. That’s not even touching on the media haranguing us at every turn to be attractive so we could land said mate. Yeah, yeah we would die out as a species if everyone willy-nilly decided to be “selfish” and not have children. But not “everyone” needs to personally take on the responsibility of populating the planet, or feel shame if they choose not to.
Of course, there’s the question of being biologically programmed to seek a mate. I suppose if I didn’t have a partner, it would just be one more thing I didn’t have. I don’t have an English castle or a Pulitzer or eternal youth, and somehow, I find ways to cope. There are also plenty of smaller, more attainable items on my list of unrequited desires, so I’m well-versed in the disgruntled department. For example — and this is my shame — for every ten endeavors I apply/submit/audition for, I get nine rejections. I’m talking endeavors big and small — acting, writing, filmmaking, modeling ski masks (get it?)…
My god, I even got turned down for participating in market research, an industry that notoriously takes anyone who may or may not roll their belongings around in a shopping cart, as long as they say they own a company and have a need for high capacity servers. That is, if “they” are not me.
Now that we’ve determined I’m experienced in both being “single” and “disgruntled,” listen up Alone Curmudgeons, because you might be someone’s envy:
When you’re single, there’s no one to take you for granted; you get to be always right; you are free to fart; you’re not one of those never-farting “in love and annoying” people saturating your friends’ Facebook; you get to grow old in peace without wondering if your partner still finds you attractive; you do what you want, when you want and give the finger to compromise.
Certainly it’s nice to have a hand to hold, someone with whom you can bitch and moan, watch Netflix, share a laugh and a meal. But if you do, the rest of the time you better be hard at work communicating, practicing respect and patience, being pleasant when you don’t feel like it, preventing the erosion of romance, engaging in new activities even when the couch is calling, and once in a while, doing things their way.
Yes, it’s worth it.
But so is being single.
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