As we wrap up February and the Month of Love, I wanted to write to bring legitimacy to the lifestyle choice people make to be single by choice. I am single by choice and many others are, too.
I had a counselor say to me, “You can’t be happy without a partner in life.” I was shocked! I’m not saying I will be single by choice for the rest of my life but for now, and for the past eight years, I have happily been single by choice and I’m not alone.
Google says about half of the adult population of the United States is single, approximately 128 million Americans. The average age of first marriages is 31.5-years-old.
Just like any other lifestyle choice, there are benefits and there are challenges. It won’t be for everyone. I want to outline some of the benefits and challenges so if you are considering a decision to live single by choice, you can make an informed decision. When making any big decisions, I think it’s important to check in with yourself. Of course, you can talk over your decisions with others, but remember, when other people give you their opinions, they are simply sharing what your choice would mean for them. You are not them! What works for one person may not work for someone else. Be sure to consider what other’s say but always put it through your filter to see if what someone else says might be true for you or would you have a different truth?
Let’s start with the challenges. When you live single by choice, you may experience some of these challenges. If you think these may affect you, then come up with a plan to overcome them.
- You may experience loneliness and depression: You may find yourself feeling lonely and maybe a bit depressed. During the day when you are living your life, it might be fine but there are times, when you go to bed at night or wake up alone in the morning, eat meals alone, have news you want to share with someone important in your life, holidays and other special occasions and weekends may be tough when you don’t have a date to do some of the things you want to do. On those rare occasions when I feel lonely, I remind myself that it’s better to be alone than with the wrong person for me.
- Well-meaning others want you in a relationship: There may be people in your life who don’t respect your decision to be single. They may keep trying to set you up and asking about your prospects because they believe you will be happier as part of a couple. When this happens to me, I remind myself that they mean well, and they can’t know how satisfied I am with my choice because it wouldn’t be for them.
- You might feel left out: As you enjoy your single status, you other single friends may one by one decide to couple up. This may leave you with less options for socializing and less things in common with your friends, making it challenging to maintain your friendships. Personally, I have no problem hanging out with couples as a single woman but some of you might. When you are comfortable doing things
- You crave the intimacy that comes with having someone special in your life: This may be physical or emotional intimacy. I must admit there are times when I miss having a special someone in my life. Also, if you are young and want to have children, choosing to be single may make that more challenging. To this I say there is always masturbation and sperm banks. A solution for emotional intimacy may be more challenging, but this can be accomplished with friends.
- Life might be better with a partner. Financially, two incomes can help pay bills. When I think these thoughts, I remind myself I know a lot of married and coupled people who are miserable. Going through the process of dating to find the “right” person for me feels daunting, particularly when I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.
These are possible challenges. You may experience all of them, none of them or most likely, some of them at different times of your singlehood. Now let’s look at some of the benefits:
- You have more freedom and independence: You can do what you want without checking with anyone and you can do whatever you want and make decisions for yourself.
- You have more time to do the things you enjoy. Not having a partner means the time you would normally spend in partner activities is yours to do with what you please. This can also lead to you developing more relationships in your life that wouldn’t be possible as part of a couple.
- Financial independence: When you are single, you won’t be spending the money that normally gets spent in relationships.
- You can end the emotional ups and downs of being in a committed relationship: Relationships often come with emotional ups and downs that are absent in single life. Of course, there may be some drama in single life but it seems to diminish when there isn’t a committed relationship in the mix.
- Better mental health: People living the single life by choice often use that lifestyle to explore and improve their relationship with themselves by working with a therapist, coach or self-growth opportunities.
Is being single by choice the best option for you? Only you can know that. Consider the benefits and challenges and determine what you want for your immediate future. Whatever you do, do not settle for someone who does not treat you with respect. You are enough and you deserve that at a minimum.