When I talk about choosing to be single (from age 47, no less) folk get real angry and defensive with me. They start to tell me how successful their own relationship has been. They tell me why I shouldn’t give up.
A lot of folk tell me that when they gave up looking for a partner was when they
met the right one. As if they haven’t read a word I’ve written. As if I’m talking about them.
And I’m left wondering why choosing to be single makes folk so defensive.
I was recently challenged by a friend, why is this (choosing to be single) so hard? Just do it.
There was some unspoken thing, that I shouldn’t speak about my decision to be single. Society and media and entertainment spend billions of dollars and zillions of hours telling us all we should be in a relationship and that is where true happiness lies. But if I write a sentence or two on choosing to be single, I should shut up. I’m obviously a challenge to something important here.
There is something thoroughly dismissive about the way people respond to me about my choice. And worse, a pressure not to talk about it at all.
I am writing as a woman who has (eventually) chosen to be single, because that is not the dominant narrative in society. I don’t believe I’m the only woman to make this choice, the only woman who writes about it, or the only woman who has experienc
ed what relationships have to offer and decided she wants none of it. Other women are out there, tolerating a relationship that doesn’t serve them, considering a commitment to being single, but without a roadmap. Without a guide. I am writing to tell those sisters why I chose this, why I choose this, and that it is a hard choice.
It is a hard choice. Women turn to other women for support in their relationships all the time. But if you turn to other women for support in how hard it is to be single, they will shut you down. They will knock you down. They will get dismissive – you just haven’t found ‘the one’ yet. Or, once I wasn’t looking for anyone, the right one came along.
All variations of the fairy stories we’ve been taught since birth.
Your soul mate is out there.
You’re too selective. You’re not giving anyone a chance.
You will attract what you deserve.
It will all be okay when you’re not sending out desperate vibes.
I am none of these things. I am a woman who has tasted the fruit, and found it disagrees with her.
I am not secretly attracted to other fruit.
I am not shopping for semi-adequate or bearable fruit.
I am a busy woman, with a busy life, and I will not compromise on fruit. I like it, but it upsets my life.
I get through life so much better without fruit.
I have to wonder whether the weird and strongly reactive responses I get to my life choice are because I am a woman.
I know heaps of men who have made the choice to be single. I don’t know how often they are challenged on this decision. I know I have single male friends who get set up on dates quite frequently. But I don’t think that anyone gets mad at them.
I think that, as a woman, when I decide to be single, I am shaking s
omething within my sisters. I am rattling a tree that was meant to be kept silenced.
I am saying, this world is not set up for single people, certainly not for single mothers. I have considered the dominant narrative, and met with some of it’s offerings. I have tasted some of its fruit, and found that it left me hungry. Or worse – poisoned.
And it would appear that many of my sisters do not like me saying this.
Maybe it would be okay if I were a gay woman – but I’m not.
Maybe it would be okay if I were an unattractive woman – but I’m not.
Maybe it would be okay if I were a financially secure woman – but I’m not.
But even given all the things that I’m not, I will still live the life that I choose.
My friend said sublimely empowering things the other day. She may be 10 years older than me – maybe less. But she offered me an acknowledgement of my reality. And that meant more to me than she could ever know. She said:
“I am Never sharing my bed again, sharing the tv remote, sharing the couch to lie on, the computer, my own music to listen to in other word I love my own company, never get bored or lonely. I have never been as contented as the last 10 yrs when I stopped pretending I liked to live with someone. But I could use a cook occassionally”
And I adore her for sharing this.
Because society offers me a partner as a pacifier.
If I want love, I should partner up.
If I want sex, I should partner up.
If I want to share the financial burden, I should partner up.
If I want someone to take care of things around the house (because I am a small woman) I should partner up.
And yet, I’ve had some partners. I’ve had some husbands. And they never offered remedies for these ailments. Or if they did offer, they didn’t for long.
I am busy. I have three kids with unique challenges. I need t
o earn income, and run my house.
My experience of taking a partner into this mix is that I have one more person to look after, with their emotional, and sexual, and financial fragility.
This doesn’t even encompass the times I’ve given my all to support a partner, who unbeknownst to me actually meant me harm. Physically, or sexually, or financially.
Even if I discard the abusers from the conversation, I am still left with someone who eventually wont give a flying fuck for the wellbeing of me or my children, and will still expect me to wash their fucking socks.
Now here’s the thing. Here’s the real jab. I have been indoctrinated.
I have been taught by my life, and by fairytales, and media, and by womenfolk everywhere who need to believe the myths, that some day my prince will come. Someday someone is going to love you the way you always needed to be loved. If you’re slim enough. If you get your vibration correct. If you let go the baggage of your past. If you forgive those that have hurt you.
And it’s just not true!
I have sisters who have met their partner. They have met a man who means well, and isn’t too chicken to commit to seeing each other through life.
But my girls, that is a rare beast.
Because their narratives don’t support that behaviour.
I am fekn busy. I do not have time or inclination or patience to go looking for some rare beast.
But that myth is powerful. When I’m down, when I’m low, when I need to feel sexy, when I need to feel love – the myth is there as my God and my guide, telling me my life experience and the wisdom I’ve gained is worth nothing.
And when I turn to my sisters for support in my chosen path, responders tell me I’m closed, or bitter.
Sweet hopeful things, I’ve tasted the fruit, with open mind. I’ve even sought out different tastes from those I am used to. They disagree with me, my path, and my parenting.
I wish you all well in your own paths, but my encouragement for you to support me in mine is still there.