Why the Romantically Disgruntled Have it Good

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Heart Skewer

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, it finds a way to seep 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 live-in 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 would give up toothpaste for life and use chicory sticks to clean my teeth before giving up my alone time for a mere six months. 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 bulls-waiting-in-the-pen fringe benefits that go along with being single? Nothing scatters all those burly “friends” — who jump to work on a woman friend’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 went away just because I got into a relationship. Only the propriety 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. 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 quest’s end for the appropriate 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 (ahem)…

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 meal. But the rest of the time you better be hard at work communicating, practicing respect and patience, being pleasant when you don’t feel pleasant, 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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23 comments

  1. As one who, for a variety of reasons and circumstances, has made no significant effort to become not-single for a very long time, I have to agree with everything here. I can’t really count myself among the disgruntled. Its more a matter of not being very interested in putting that much focus on just one person, and yes, “the freedom to fart” – no consultations needed, and not fights offer who will do the dishes or take out the garbage. Thanks for a great read.

  2. Well now, my dear. This is a merry tangle, for you seem to be one of the romantically disgruntled in almost the reverse – that you cherish your aloneness so much, it takes a lot a LOT to break you out of it.

    I’m enjoying my singleness now, the way I’m enjoying my lack of children, my lack of ties and the ability to please myself. I haven’t decided whether or not I want to date yet. (I don’t say ‘again’, because I never did, really). At the moment I’m perfectly happy with the love I have from family, from friends, and from unexpected corners which don’t quite count 🙂

    1. I’m glad you’re allowing yourself to enjoy it because there’s a lot to enjoy. And your comment is hilarious about “romantically disgruntled in reverse.” I guess you and I both love how the other puts things.

      1. *grinning* well GOOD!

  3. Brava, good stuff!

  4. I wouldn’t call myself romantically disgruntled, because yes – I adore being single. I don’t go on about it much, because I’m not surrounded by many people who will sing its praises with me!

    I love being able to do what I want, when I want. Yes, there are downsides to being single. I’m one of those people for whom the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Different strokes, right?

    Last week, on the very same day, two friends published essays about why marriage, despite its difficulties, is wonderful. I started to write about why singlehood is so fabulous, but now I don’t have to!

  5. Single people want to be in a relationship, and those in relationships want to be single. Or at least that’s the way it seems according to me and my friends. I believe there are benefits to both, and personally, I would probably find something to complain about either way, because I never seem to be satisfied.

    1. So completely true: “find something to complain about either way.” (I’m many months late in responding, but I agree so much and therefore need to tell you!)

  6. I’m very happily single and am not the least bit interested in adding the complication of that type of relationship into my life. Good friends and plenty of time to do what I want is a great balance. Disgruntled? Not a bit.

    1. There have been times in my life that nothing felt better than my good friends. They were my family, the reason to enjoy life. Honestly, it sometimes seems like no human bond is more essential than friendship.

  7. I’ve learned to love being single – being able to eat what I want, when I want, to clean or not to clean (however I may feel at the moment), to go from work directly to a friend’s house or to the movies by myself without having to inform or (worse) get clearance from someone else. However, there are also things I miss about being in a relationship – I’m sometimes lonely, if I have a crappy day I miss having someone to cuddle up next to, and then there is sex. I’ve learned to work around these things for the most part – I can spend time with my friends or grown up kids when I’m lonely, I can ask them for a hug when I need one – and I now have an “exes with benefits” arrangement with my former significant other. I didn’t want to date, I certainly didn’t want to get naked with someone new (the anxiety!!), and he already knows what floats my boat – so we meet every couple of weeks for a couple of hours. It’s working surprisingly well!

    1. Jana, I’m so late in responding that it might be better not to. Then again, re-reading what you wrote moves me with its honesty and simplicity — I mean the simplicity of solution. Also, exes can be the best. I know from experience.

      1. I’m glad you responded. It’s interesting to me to re-read my comment after all this time. Most is still true — but the exes with benefits thing? I have mixed feelings about that now. I knew going in that it could be a mistake and that I might get emotionally attached, and I did. When we spent time together, I was getting all of the good about my ex without any of the negatives. In that kind of situation, it’s easy to forgot those negatives and to think that perhaps there is a future for you both after all. On the other hand, it was fun times and gave me some closure that I didn’t have before. After three months, my ex basically ghosted away — like he did often in our marriage. Withdrawing from the relationship without a word — just declining invitations until I got the idea that he was done. That hurt — but it helped me to remember how things were in the relationship when we were together. And that is not something I care to repeat. We still interact due to the shared ownership of the house, our kids, his parents — but it’s pretty much all business now.

        Now — what do I do with all of the corsets and fuck me shoes I bought?

      2. Hahaha! Do a photo shoot in them and then sell or burn them, whichever gives you more satisfaction…

  8. GG! I’m baaaaack! Long series of events that precluded internet usage, has now been rectified. I apologize for worrying you and others with my sudden disappearance from the inter-webs – believe me it has been agony going through internet with drawl – tried unsuccessfully to get the doc to prescribe some good drugs but he refused (tongue in cheek here), ratbastard. Ha!

    i love this post – quality writing mi’lady, you just get better with every post, awesome. I cracked up when you said you had been refused a spot in market research. – I think they may have sussed out that you are far above normal, so any data results would be outliers.

    WRT transitioning from hitched to single and back: I have a great story that has burned itself into my brain – much to my dismay. Ha! I was doing a 2 year (as in saw the same folks on a regular schedule and became friends) education initiative and there was a huge black cop who sat close by in the classroom. His schedule was tight and so he often showed up to classes in full uniform, including bullet proof vest, large personal pistol (no mamby-pamby 9 mil police issue for him – he sported a cannon), He was about 6 foot 7 inches tall, around 375 pounds, worked out regularly, had shoulders wider than any I’d ever seen, no neck, a bald polished head, an oiled leather gun belt heavier than I could carry let alone wear festooned with the tools of his trade including lots of bullets. He was so big and without an ounce of fat, that when we had team meetings in the conference rooms and he was in uniform, the wrap around executive chairs were too small (I’m 6’3″ and 250 pounds and i could squeeze a skinny person in the chair with me) and he had to remove his gun and put it on the table (this eventually lead to an intervention which is another story – no casualties, we got it sorted before he shot anyone).

    So, now that you have an idea what he looked like – topped off with the regal shiny dark black skin tones of an African King and sharp eyes that made you sure you were guilty of something with just a glance – he sought me out one lunch hour during the weekend portion of the course. That day he looked particularly dangerous in his immaculate black police uniform with his cannon swinging from his hip and his highly polished leather gun-belt squeaking at each step (he had a work shift when we were done for the day and he lived too far to go back home and return). He walked up close – within whispering distance – and peered down at me. It was all i could do not to squeak and run. Ha! After a moment of silence he said: “I heard that you and your wife broke up.” I acknowledged this with a nod and a “Yep”. He continued: “My wife and I also separated.” (This course was hell on marriages for some reason). “Now I play MY music as loud as I want and I dance naked through the house.” With that apparent attempt at commiserating, he turned and walked away leaving me with that damnable image burnt into my mind’s eye forever.

    1. Oh my god Paul! I haven’t even read your comment or any of the others — but I saw your name, and I’m OVERJOYED! I have been ridiculously worried about you! Me and the ENTIRE internet. You have no idea how thrilled I am to see you. I’m coming back shortly to respond properly, but I just had to get this out. I’m so so so grateful you’re here. BLOGGING IS NOT THE SAME WITHOUT YOU!!

      1. Thank you so very very much for the compliments GG. I truly enjoy and am addicted to you and all the wordpress crew that we hang with. I went through hell when I couldn’t get on the internet for so long.It is a story of a perfect metaphorical storm that culminated in a perfect real storm – a record setting snowfall of 20 inches in 17 hours here in Ottawa – during which a lonely hot dog bun precipitated a power outage and, when all was said and done, returned my beloved bloggers to my computer screen. (All true albeit surreal,by the way) I apologize profusely for my unannounced absence – I feel really bad about it but circumstances conspired against me. It is great to be back and reading your profound prose. 😀

      2. Oh my goodness, this is the best description and anecdote!! I love it.

  9. As an aside GG The first installment of my misadventures while absent from the internet is now up over at Cordelia’s Mom http://cordeliasmomstill.com/2016/02/22/dont-pay-the-ransom-i-escaped-guest-post-by-paul-curran/comment-page-1/#comment-16187 If you have time to drop by for a read I’d be honored. Thank you and Part 2 is up on Tuesday.

  10. Great writing. Put another way- you can’t wait for someone else to make you happy. You have to take responsibility for your own happiness, which it sounds like you have.

  11. Jean-Marie Lawrence · · Reply

    As someone who has been single for six years now (after happily calling off an engagement), I can say this is absolutely true! Having someone in my life would be worth it, and I think I want that permanence someday. ButI’m also perfectly happy being single too. I get to do my own thing, work on my projects, keep my house how I want it, and I answer to no one but myself. It’s refreshing!

    1. Calling off and engagement is courageous! Did you ever regret it? I bet not!

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