I have been single for most of my adult life and I have to say it doesn’t bother me a jot but I’m starting to realise that I’m probably in the minority. I love my own company. I have friends who I enjoy spending time with but I’m equally happy to do things by myself. If what I’ve been reading this week is anything to go by, most other singletons out there feel they’re only living half a life when they don’t have a significant other.
I have to admit I find this somewhat baffling and suspect it’s this yearning that leads so many people into relationships that are far from ideal. I would much rather be in charge of my own destiny than dancing to someone else’s tune, all the while feeling resentful and bitter. I seem to spend a lot of my time listening to people complaining about the so-called love of their life and I
simply don’t get it. I wouldn’t want to be with somebody who I didn’t really like and, if I really liked them, I wouldn’t want to pick them apart with friends. I even have some friends who claim to no longer love their partners but stay in the relationship because they don’t want to be alone. This makes me feel incredibly sad.
Maybe it shouldn’t and maybe I’m being naive. Maybe that’s how the world works and people are conditioned, just like Noah and his ark, to go through life in twos. There’s a common held belief that it’s women who are looking to settle down and men are somehow browbeaten or tricked into domesticity but, in my experience, men are just as desperate for coupledom as women are. I have male friends who hate being single and long to be settled with a family. Similarly, I’ve felt compelled to run for my life on more than one occasion when, after a few nights out with a man, he’s started talking about moving in together. The idea of men looking for adventure and clinging to bachelorhood is, in my opinion, a big fat lie.
When I think back over my own relationship history, it’s not pretty. I’ll own up to having maybe a touch of commitment phobia but, more than that, I genuinely don’t think I’ve met the right person. I’ve been dumped countless times and for a myriad of reasons; too shallow, too intense, too dull, too lazy, too busy, too whatever – who cares? I’ve also done my share of the dumping and usually for one reason only – things were moving too fast and too seriously.
My own needs you see are simple where Mr Right is concerned. It’s nice to have someone to go out on dates and enjoy weekends away with but, no matter how much men claim this is what they want at the start, they don’t mean it. Before long they are asking where you’ve been and who with and displaying stalkerish tendencies by calling and texting every day. By then I’m afraid, for me, the writing’s on the wall and it’s time for the it’s not you it’s me speech.
In fairness, I know that it is me and I also know why. I’ve seen too many relationships that end up like life sentences for both parties. My own parents were childhood sweethearts and my dad died on their 45th wedding anniversary so you’d think I had the perfect relationship role models. If you asked them they would have said they were happy and, maybe they were, but I’d rather put a bullet through my own head than have their life. My mother controlled every aspect of their existence which consequently left my dad with the role of a child which seemed to suit them but wouldn’t suit me. My dad has eight magnificent sisters, all of whom married young, primarily to get out of a home that was dominated by a volatile, bad tempered father. They all married men who I believe didn’t deserve them and who in actual fact weren’t a million miles from the man they were trying to flee. Only one of them divorced and the rest would claim to be happy but it doesn’t look like happiness to me. I don’t want to be happy in the - what’s the alternative kind of way. I’ll settle for contentment in my own company.
I recognise for a lot of people children are a driving force. Lots of my friends were happily single until their biological clock started to tick and they grabbed the first man they could find. Ironically, many of them are now single mothers or, when their relationships broke down, simply grabbed someone else, rationalising it with the idea that that their children need a father figure. I can’t judge anybody for that because I don’t have children and it’s this single factor that has allowed me to be so self indulgently committed to singledom. I know that lots of people can’t imagine a childfree life and I never made a decision not to have children. I just drifted through life, not thinking much about it at all, until it became too late. Just as I never experienced the ticking clock, I have never felt any angst about the prospect of childlessness. It is what it is and maybe my inertia was in fact a decision in itself.
I’m sure there are lots of people reading this with pity in their hearts; convinced that being single will condemn me to a life of being unfulfilled but save your sympathy. I am happy with my lot and wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s not to say that being single doesn’t have its drawbacks. Weddings are a nightmare; you get landed with the only other single person there, who is usually a psychopath, desperate or completely dysfunctional. Sometimes even a combination of all three! There’s also the fact that every time a friend splits up with a partner, they assume that you have nothing else going on in your life and drag you to every potential dating occasion possible until, mercifully, they hook up with someone new and leave you in peace. Then there is the way couple friends seem to see it as a challenge to set you up with any single person who happens to cross their path and you have to endure being ambushed at dinner parties from hell. Even so, the disadvantages for me don’t outweigh the advantages, so single I intend to stay.
Strangely, earlier in the week, my friend had a psychic party. It was a bizarre event which involved lots of wine and a reading for everyone there with an alleged psychic. Buoyed up by half a bottle of wine, I was quite looking forward to news of a glittering new career or an exciting trip around the world. What he did say, however, was far more alarming. Grasping my hands whilst staring intently into my eyes, which let me tell you was more than a little bit unsettling, he told me several spookily accurate things before pronouncing that the love of my life is about to arrive. After drinking the rest of the wine, my trauma did subside but I will keep you posted...