All Articles Tagged "single life"
I had just come out of an exponentially bad relationship of almost two years; one of those relationships that you completely lose yourself and your identity in, and finding your new place in the world after it’s all over feels much like learning to acclimate to living on another planet.
I was 30 years old and beginning my life again. After alienating most of my friends while I was in the relationship because I didn’t want to see the truth mirrored back at me about just how bad the partnership was, I was in desperate need of inspiration, a mentor or a BFF. I was ready to spread my wings and fly solo, to really celebrate my singleness. I was looking for other female voices out there representing the positive, inspirational, joyful side of single life.
Unfortunately, those voices were nowhere to be found. The bookstores offered hundreds of tomes celebrating love and marriage, parenthood and dating. There were books instructing you on how to date a man, land a man, keep a man; books detailing how to “get anyone to fall in love with you” or even “survive your single life,” but not a word aboutcelebrating your single life. Why was everyone treating it as the prologue to marriage instead of a wildly beautiful adventure all its own?
Since I had exhausted all my possibilities and still couldn’t find the voice of hope for single women among all the voices of discouragement, I decided to become it.
I started a column, which soon led to The Single Woman Twitter page, which almost overnight began to pick up steam, which led to a Facebook page, which led to the creation of a website a year later, which led to an e-book, which led to my first published book, The Single Woman: Life, Love, & A Dash Of Sass. As of this moment, The Single Woman message reaches almost a million people across the world, every single day.
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You tell yourself, “That will never be me” when you see the haggard looking woman across the street come out for her newspaper in the only thing you’ve ever seen her wear—her bathrobe. But she never thought that’d be her either! That’s because she missed these crucial signs that she was on her way to becoming a crazy cat lady.
Nobody doubts that you love your man. Nobody doubts that you appreciate having a partner-for-all-activities. And certainly nobody doubts you enjoy having a guaranteed ride to the airport. Even still, everybody misses these aspects of being single sometimes.
One day in December, while I was working with a client, he came clean: “I don’t like working in the winter,” he confessed.
For those of us who find solitude energizing, winter is heaven’s cousin: the perfect excuse to stay inside with ten great books, a lot of paper and a lot of pens; coffee’s optional. For others, winter means misery. Especially for singles, the cold months can be particularly lonely and frustrating.
If you find yourself feeling moody, argumentative, irritable or annoyed during the winter, maybe you are just S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a well-researched condition that affects many individuals between 15 and 55 years of age. Its symptoms are very similar to clinical depression, except they are triggered by the environmental changes experienced when we go from the fall season to the winter solstice.
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I always look forward to going home to California. When I’m not visiting all the various members of my very large extended family, I get to catch up with many of my friends from college and high school over happy hours, dinners and brunches. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is certainly a fruitful time for me to reconnect and just relax. I see that week as my own personal vacation and other than visiting the set number of my aunts and newborn babies in the family, I see that time as my own, which is why I can be very territorial with it. As I prep for my trip, in fact, I’m already plotting to guard my private time carefully, and that’s going to involve hurting a friend’s feelings.
I realize that people grow up and have children. My friend April* is one of them. Most of my friends don’t have children and are happy to hang out during this week. April, on the other hand, always wants to make sure I visit her at her home with her children. (Mind you, she lives a solid 45 minute drive away). I can’t just have her meet me out anymore. Well, actually I can. She just doesn’t want to do that. Her parents live next door and are always happy to babysit.
What can I say? I’m not a kids person. In addition, I feel that when I see my friend, I want to actually connect with my friend. We rarely have time to talk during the year and I’d rather catch up with her at an adult outing rather than spend an evening making goo-goo ga-ga talk with her young children. Although I know she wants me to visit her kids and that it would give her some level of satisfaction for me to do so, I’m just too selfish. I know this is a situation I’ll have to deal with as I get older and as more of my friends settle down and have children, but I’d like to think that I’ll always capitalize on opportunities to have some real one on one time even when I become a mother.
To that end, I plan on circumventing the whole thing and inviting April to dinner. If she insists that I visit her children, I’ll have to tell her straight up that my time is limited but that would appreciate if she could meet me halfway. As a friend, who was once not a mom, I think she should understand.
How have your own friendships changed once kids came into the picture?
*name has been changed
Are single people selfish in nature?
More particularly do single people, who live alone, detract away from the greater good of society? According to Benjamin Schwartz, writer for The August issue of the American Interest, they do. In his column called Selfishness as a Virtue, Schwartz says that the more than 31 million Americans, who are single and live alone, are squandering the tradition of moral reasoning this country was built upon just for selfish pursuits of individualism.
Taking particular shots at Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg, a book that champions the virtues of singlehood, Schwartz writes, “Individuals don’t transfer values from one generation to the next. Individuals are biologically incapable of producing a next generation except in the crudest possible sense of the term. Socialization—the process through which a person internalizes what is good and bad, meaningful and meaningless—is shaped by one’s relatives, the friends and associates who surround a person, and typically a canon of texts that is revered and consulted for guidance. The values of expressive individualism guarantee that the values of future generations will be more or less up for grabs for the simple reason that expressive individualists have a difficult time replicating (the demographic data don’t lie) and an even more difficult time socializing a child. ”
I haven’t read the book Going Solo however I am very familiar with the stigma attached to those who choose to create a habitat of one, especially if you are a woman of a certain age. Single people are supposed to be selfish and lonely and miserable. Your life is a tale of tragedy usually reserved as an example of what not to become. At best you are immature, caught up in a perpetual arrested development, which won’t allow you to face real adulthood. And at the most, you are eccentric weirdo, who is only 12 felines away from being the cat-lady. And now thanks to Schwartz, we can add immoral, valueless sycophants to the list. No way can individuals, living individually, work towards the greater good of society. We are all too caught up in our demands for privacy and single serving packages of meat (seriously, can they get around to making that) to actually want to share any redeeming values, worth sharing with the next generation.
Can single people be self-interested at times? Sure. I used to think that the older I got, the more set in my ways I had become. Now I’m starting to think that it is living alone has more to do with my desire to maintain my blissful habitats and the comfort I created in my own life’s routine. I have a two to three hour window of tolerance for company of others because being around people requires a lot of energy and patience. It’s nothing that they are doing wrong – per say. But let’s face it: Isn’t everyone annoying to a certain extent? Including me.
But does my appreciation of “space” and “privacy” mean that I value selfishness? I think not. I don’t just give to charity, I actually volunteer time in the community, helping neighbors and pitching in wherever I can. I am a mentor to a high school, college bound senior and I am also involved in the lives of my little nephews and niece. I not only spend time with my family; but I am more likely to offer support, financial and physical, to my extended family than my brother, who is married with children (no disrespect to him). In fact, my single status has afforded me more time for sharing and caring, as opposed to doing it out of obligation, which tends to be the case for those who are married or with children.
And this is not just my experience. A recent national survey suggest that single people are more likely to visit, support, contact, and advise their siblings and parents than married or even previously married people. And according to an article in Science 2.0, research in Portugal and Belgium, has concluded that better societies are best formed when individuals are free to act as they wish, as individuals, as opposed to acting in more restrictive social and political dogmas.
I have met many single folks who have packed up their lives on a whim to go off to some far away land for volunteer work through some overseas aid organization. More domestically, we can’t forget about the single folks, who work extra hours at the company while the married folks are off on maternity leave, tending to doctor visits and parent/teacher conferences and jetting off for family emergencies. Without the selfless sacrifices of single people, much of the vital work needed to maintain the ‘greater good’ wouldn’t get done.
Yes it is true that human beings are naturally pack-like creatures. Married people tend to suffer less mental illness and are in better physical health. However, for a growing number of folks, marrying and having kids is not their definition of the good life. And being forced to co-habitat and procreate can have a bigger impact on your health than just remaining a household of one.
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I was 22 when I had my first alcoholic beverage. I can’t tell you what was in that cup, but I can tell you I was wearing a black slinky tank top, snug dark washed jeans, stiletto heels and a chain belt. I remember because when you’ve frantically tried on six different outfits in an attempt to achieve the I’ve-been-wearing-this-all-day-and-therefore-not-trying-too-hard look, then you remember what you finally decided on.
It was one of those “let’s hang out at my apartment” dates that I have come to loathe over the years; but at that time, I would have happily met him at a landfill to eat day old Waffle House grits if it meant being around him. Going to his house was perfectly fine with me because I had his undivided attention there and it was nice to see him in his element. You can tell a lot about a guy from the way he lives and, besides the framed picture of an ex-girlfriend I spied in his home office (laying picture side down for my benefit at least), I liked what I saw. This particular apartment hangout session was different though and marks the beginning of the span of regrettable months that I willfully ignored red flags.
I was perched on the stool at his kitchen counter while we talked about everything and nothing like we always did when somehow the topic of drinking came up. I was in college at this point and more than a year past the 21st birthday party at which I’d horrified my friends by informing them I was still not interested in drinking any alcohol. Who doesn’t drink at the number one party school in the country where the bars in that college town outnumber classroom buildings? Me.
I’d seen people drunk and had no desire to be that idiot (granted, I realize that drinking doesn’t mean you have to get drunk or be an idiot, but I suspected I’d certainly be both if given the chance). I’d also seen otherwise healthy female classmates gain an extraordinary amount of weight as a result of consuming copious amounts of alcohol and I spent too much time in the gym to undermine my efforts with a 500-calorie glass of Long Island Iced Tea. My main objection though was that drinking caused people to stop being in complete control of themselves and I didn’t want to lose control – not even a little bit. I could still let loose and have fun with friends at a party, but I could also drive everybody home at the end of the night.
My well-rehearsed objections were easily silenced in the presence of this man though. Initially, I laughed at how incredulous he was about my having never tasted alcohol as though it were a kindergarten rite of passage. He joked about my being the last sober girl on Earth and I laughed about him stocking beer in his fridge like normal people stock Pepsi. We were talking and laughing about it and I’ve blocked out exactly how that turned into him pouring me a cup of “grape juice” and essentially pouring my strong personality into a puddle on the floor. But that’s what happened. That night, I had my first drink.
To be fair, he didn’t pressure me into drinking alcohol. I’d love to blame him, but if I’m being honest then I have to admit that I wanted to. I wanted to because I was dangerously infatuated with him and thus more than willing to share in his bad habits. We weren’t even officially “together” at that point (or any point actually), but in the bizarre logic that guided my every foolish move with that guy I figured compromising in that area would somehow increase his desire for me. Delusional, I know but I’d already taken an Olympian high-dive off the balcony of common sense weeks prior.
When I was able to look back at that relationship objectively after it ended, I realized that throughout our time together he ultimately brought out the worst in me. Drinking alcohol certainly didn’t make me a bad person by any means, but that was only one example of my changing who I was for want of his unconquerable heart. If I felt I’d changed for the better by the end of whatever that relationship was then I could deal with that, but the girl I barely recognized in the mirror was a girl I didn’t like at all.
People change in relationships and adapt to each other’s personalities, but after that I’ve always been careful to observe if I like the person I’m changing into and the compromises I’ve made. It’s easy to be completely caught up in a guy and abandon all sorts of reason, standards and intelligence while picking up his bad habits or faulty personality traits and keeping them as your own. After we ended, I had to do a thorough inventory of my life and figure out what was me for real and what was something I’d picked up from or laid aside for him.
I don’t believe we can go back to the person we used to be, because time only moves forward. However, I do think we can become a better version of ourselves and choose to only be with people who bring out our best and not people who bring out our worst.
Have you ever compromised your standards for a relationship? Have you noticed a relationship change you for the worst?
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by Meggin Sanez
You know it’s wedding season when you can’t bear the thought of opening your mailbox because of the plethora of invitations to various bridal showers, lingerie showers and couples showers (the list goes on) that do nothing but serve as a chilling reminder of your single status. And need I even mention the debilitating fear of logging into Facebook and having your mini-feed bombarded with pictures of dazzling rings along with black and white stills of your friends donning full bridal garb in windblown fields at sunset? It kinda goes without saying that all of this can be a bit depressing when you can’t even get a man to commit to a cup of coffee with you, let alone a lifetime of wedded bliss.
I’ve been there. And as a single girl who has been single long enough to make becoming either a lesbian or a nun look like better options than retiring alone with 80 cats in a house that the neighborhood children run past on their way home from school, I feel your pain. But just because everyone around you seems to be getting married and settling down doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world because you aren’t. I may not have found my prince charming yet, but I have taken notes along the rose petal covered paths of others. To get more specific on my findings, here are a few things I’ve learned whilst wearing the title of bridesmaid:
Lesson #1: Being jealous gets you nowhere. If your attitude matches the exact same disgusting shade of the kelly-green chiffon bridesmaid dress you are being forced to wear on a friend’s (well maybe ‘friend’ is too kind a moniker for a person making you wear such a monstrosity) big day, you are sure to look worse than you originally thought—as it turns out, jealousy is a look worn well by no one. I’ve attended too many weddings to count minus a plus one…and I’ll be the first to tell you that it can be tough to kick back and watch as swarms of happy couples dance around you. But one thing I’ve learned is that being jealous does you no good. It is just downright exhausting to throw yourself a pity party when you could actually be partying at the reception. As corny as it may sound, positivity is one of the most attractive things about someone. So why waste a perfectly good opportunity to enjoy your favorite cocktails and delicious cake on someone else’s dime? Put a smile on that pretty face and you never know…you may just catch the bouquet…and maybe even a cute single groomsman!
I’m a big believer in appreciating what you have. And, that can also mean appreciating what you don’t have. Instead of staring longingly at happy couples and thinking “I wish I had that” do yourself a favor, and next time you see a couple arguing, let yourself think this: “I’m so grateful I’m not dealing with that.” You can appreciate this, too:
Everyone wants to find someone. In their own way, everyone is on the same search. But it becomes a nuisance to your friends and a drain on you if searching for a partner takes over your life. If you try to meet someone everywhere you go, if you won’t go if you know there won’t be men there, if you’ve become a flirting machine, your friends won’t want to invite you out anymore, and you’ll look desperate to the men you meet. Here’s how you know you’re trying too hard: