This is quickly becoming what I’m going to remember as the year of the wedding. While I am confident that the Chinese calendar will not call it that, it’s already looking by years end almost all my friends will either be married or engaged.
Of the single friends left in my circle, well I’m about it. No relationships on the horizon, or pursuit intended, just me and the stack of books to work through with a never ending list of Netflix suggestions. No, I’m not done watching yet.
What’s remarkable to most I speak with, is that I’m very okay with it.
The hardest part about being single, as your friends pair off and find love, is that they start to look at you strange. It is as if you being single is a degenerative disease, slowly you must be eroding under the sorrow of not being in a relationship.
Among the challenges of single life is that as friends pair off and find love they start to look at you strange. Your extended family begin to ask uncomfortable questions that remind you why you would choose to avoid reunions if you could. It is as if your singleness is a degenerative disease, they imagine that you are slowly eroding under the sorrow of not being in a relationship.
Being single is not a disease. It is not an abnormality of nature or a chronic condition of the unlucky, ugly or unloved. Shocking as it may sound, being single can be a healthy, purposeful choice for many. It can even be useful for those who’d rather not be single.
Let me put my cards on the table — I don’t actively date for a variety of reasons. Unlike the crap most would use as an excuse, I’ll say without a trace of irony or sarcasm my work is my focus. It would take a remarkable woman to distract me from it, and to date I haven’t met her.
Some may be productive when emotionally engaged or interested, I personally know the limits of my focus. My decision is not the same as others, and I’m aware of it. It’s the result of not only my context and career, but also temperament and disposition.
When people wish me in a happy romance, I believe they mean well. From their perspective, a relationship is a key cornerstone in finding happiness. Personally, I’d be happier than they are if I could afford a secretary to manage my schedule and book my hotels. To each their own.
Benefits Without Friends
Admittedly, I still have limited life experience, I’m still young after-all, (“Plenty of time to find a wife.” my friends say). During this time however, I have observed a few active benefits to my decision to remain single for the time being. Benefits that don’t begin with alcohol and end with a morning of regret.
You are more than the sum of your relationship
“And the two become one.” is the essence of the marriage relationship, with two people ideally forming a unit and bond that lasts until death. As a single man, I am not defined by the relationship I am in, by the woman I’m dating, or the potential future we have together. It is not necessary to judge based on such standards, but it happens far too often.
I don’t have a question as to who I am or what my purpose is, I know myself (as the philosopher suggests). There’s an inherent danger for many to see their self-worth based on those they love, the people they have dated and the validation they receive in those relationships.
Learning to define your identity alone is not always easy, we start off defining it by our parents and to an extent will always feel that influence. As we age we need to find it on our own, without the use of another person and identity as a cover for lacking one of our own.
Optionality… Risk…. Reward
There’s a lot to be said for having options, and I’m not talking about Tinder or Hinge dating. I’m talking about options that matter for more than a passing moment.
In a relationship there are two to consider, two to care about, and two that matter. It is a relationship that may be wonderful, but because of the nature of relationships, there are limitations and constraints based on care and concern for the other person (unless you’re a jerk, in which case you’ll be single soon enough).
The freer your options are, the higher risks you are able to afford. The more you can do without and the more you can work for something better and greater. This can be possible in the right relationship also, but doesn’t always allow you to make the choices easily or clearly.
Slay Your Doubts
I’m not going to try saying that there isn’t a downside, that there aren’t darker moments of doubt and anxiety. It’s easy to start asking yourself if you are good enough, if you are perhaps unlovable. These are doubts common to all mankind, we don’t get to opt out of them.
When in a relationship, it’s easier to cover up these doubts and insecurities, there’s someone else there to reassure us that we are a valuable person. When you’re alone there’s only the sound of your voice, hollowly trying to whisper against the winds.
It’s painful to feel worthless, to know you are a person of use and meaning but emotionally feel drained of any courage to stand against the nagging voice inside saying, “Why bother? You don’t matter.”
It should be no surprise that most of us will jump at the chance to avoid these moments of doubt and confrontation, choosing to remain comfortably at ease in a relationship of any kind so long as it grants us the soothing of our doubts and the quieting of any insecurity.
But, it doesn’t fix the problem. The dragon still dwells within the caverns, only sedated and biding its time. We can mask the the thinness of our skin and the shallowness of our self-worth, but only temporarily. We will face a time when we can’t run into the arms of someone else to grant us meaning, or assure us of our worth. The only one who can do that is us. Regardless of how good looking the other person is, no matter how smart or confident they are, only we can slay the doubts that live in our hearts.
This is not to say that a man or woman in a healthy relationship should break up to slay their insecurities. There are ways to confront them within your relationship also, but being single gives you the opportunity to face them mono a mono.
This was by no means a complete list, there are other reasons out there that you may know of. This isn’t to beat the happily coupled with a bunch of sour grapes either, there are genuine benefits to being in a healthy relationship, just like there are to being healthily single.
We tend to ignore the benefits of being single, partly because for many of us it isn’t a choice we make for ourselves. It’s a decision forced on us by the fickleness of love and fate. It is much easier to view it as a temporary state of transient existence, like sitting in an airport waiting for your next connecting flight.
The truth of the matter is that we aren’t born in a romantic relationship, we are born single individual human beings. Hopefully, we are surrounded by non-romantic relationships that love us from the start, people who care for us and want to nurture us into becoming fully functioning independent human beings.
Don’t throw away the foundation set up for being a whole person, don’t loose yourself in your relationship status. You are a person all your own, as a part of a couple or single. If you choose to remain single or just haven’t met the right person, don’t be beat down by the world treating you as a second class citizen, or like you are missing a part of humanity. Embrace the moment you are in here and now, learn to love the person you are and will become.