Before I got married, I had an on-again/off-again affair with being single. When we were on and things were good, I loved it; but when we were off, I hated it.
There's a lot to love about being single: you've got freedom and independence, you can come and go as you please, and you can do what you want when you want. You can go out, get laid, and not have to answer to anybody.
It's the life!
If you're not actively dating, you don't have to shave your legs or get bikini waxes on a regular basis. And if you're a guy, you can scratch your balls and fart all you want.
Now that's what I call freedom!
Being single can be the greatest time of your life, or a hell you can't escape. If you've ever been a singleton at a couples dinner party, or at a wedding without a +1, or dateless at a family function, you know the hell I'm talking about.
For years, a girlfriend of mine has been throwing dinner parties attended mostly by her married friends or fellow school parents. Even though I was single, she would invite me, and I accepted because I adore her. The evenings were glorious events, filled with incredible food and wine, beautiful settings, and fabulous people.
And it was brutally tough to get through.
My singleness made me feel like an outsider, like an alien from another planet. I was neither a member of the married club nor the mommy club, and it was made painfully clear to me especially if one of the wives gave me the stink-eye.
Want to know what hell is? Being the only single woman in a room full of married people.
When you're single, people judge, stare, ask questions, whisper and gossip -- especially if you've been single an eternity like I was. They make assumptions and jump to conclusions. They ask why you're not married or have kids, and wonder what's wrong with you.
There's a stigma attached to being single, and a word for it too: "Singlism," the technical term for holding negative beliefs about single people or treating them unfairly because of their single status.
Just how bad is the shame of being single? Well, in China, if you're an unmarried female over 30, you're dubbed a "Leftover Woman."
Okay, now THAT'S brutal.
The good news is if you stay single long enough, eventually the questions will cease. When my mother stopped asking when I was getting married and started asking if I had received my AARP card yet, I knew she had given up.
But some people aren't so lucky -- the questions keep coming.
Just ask Jennifer Aniston, the subject of relentless rumors about her marital and maternal status -- stuff of no one's business. She finally told everybody to fuck off and stop speculating about her happiness in a recent Huffington Post piece, For The Record, and I will tell you the same:
You don't need to be married and have kids to be happy, so STFU already!
If you still don't believe me, I've got science to back it up. In her Huffington Post article, Research Says Single People--Wait For It--Live Rich, Meaningful Lives, writer Catherine Pearson cites studies that say single people are doing just fine, thank you very much.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell also agrees. In her new book, Single Is The New Black, Abrell, a fellow dating expert and late blooming bride like me, emphatically contends that nothing is wrong with you if you're still single. You just haven't met "The One" yet, and that's OK.
Being single is not a curse or a crime or something that needs to be fixed or ashamed of. It's just where you are in life, and the sooner you stop defining yourself by it, or beating yourself over it, the better.
This got me thinking: while you're looking for love, can you find the
love in being single?
It's possible and here's how:
BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF
Don't conform or change for anyone. Stop apologizing and making excuses for who you are. If someone doesn't appreciate you (or your choices, personality, sense of humor, smarts, values, circumstances, etc.) then they're not for you. Period. Don't waste one minute of your precious time trying to be something you're not. Love who you are, whatever you are.
LOSE THE EXPECTATIONS
If you want to be a happy single person, do yourself a favor and stop pressuring yourself about dating, getting married, etc. Stop checking the time, and tapping your watch-- love happens when it happens and not one minute before. As I've said before, you can have aspirations, just not expectations--they'll set you up for disappointment and defeat.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR SINGLE STATUS ASAP
You're single, deal with it. Own it, accept it, and stop bitching about it before you become bitter. The strongest statement you can make as a single person is to live life on your own terms, and show the world you don't give a shit.
FIND YOUR HAPPINESS ELSEWHERE
You know when love finds you? When you're busy with other pursuits and pleasures. Get involved, volunteer, hang with your friends, find a hobby, do the things that bring you joy. It'll take the edge off being alone and it'll keep your life full.
DO THE WORK
Along with finding your happiness elsewhere, it's important to find your healing too. If you're single, that means you've got time to work on yourself. So go inside, tie up loose ends, resolve old issues, and bring closure to things that might be impeding your progress. Being single is a job, so take care of business.
BE OK WITH BEING SINGLE FOREVER
Single friends, this is a tough one to swallow, but I'm here to tell you that your "Happily Ever After" could be right now. You might be single for longer than you want, or even forever, so you better make peace with it.
When I turned 50 and still wasn't married, I did something bold: I blew off marriage altogether.
On my 50th birthday, I made a life-changing decision. If I was going to be single, then I was going to be the happiest single I could be. I would live my life unashamed and proud; I would refuse to feel self-conscious or stigmatized; and I would never allow myself to feel incomplete just because I didn't have a husband or kids.
I decided to find the love in being single, and it freed me.
Then something weird happened. After my come to Jesus moment about being single forever, I found "The One" and suddenly gained membership to the married club.
Those days of being single, not shaving my legs, and letting my pubes grow out are now over. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!
NOTE TO THE GUYS READING THIS: As I've learned, you can still scratch your balls and fart all you want -- it's called marriage.