Listening to or reading social posts made by friends, acquaintances and strangers as they express their joy of being in relationships, finding the one or having gotten married, usually puts me in a reflective mood. Their descriptions usually include words and phrases such as – love of my life, the one, soul mate, the best thing that’s happened to me and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. With the mental imagery they create, when influenced by too many romance movies, ads, novels and still images capturing moments of love,- who can resist?
Finding a life partner and settling down is an expected step in our progression. Thoughts on that aside, my current conflict lies with the absorbed unspoken message that coupled status or married life equates to proof of one’s happiness or that it is the only path to a happily ever after. I notice it in the behavior and words of so many singles, as they express concern on when and if they will ever find a partner.
Setting aside popular relationship goals hash tags, as well as our heavily influenced expectations of love and married life, I can’t seem to be convinced though that my current single path doesn’t provide an opportunity for a “happily ever after” as well. I mean, what mental images are some dreaming up in relation to the daily lives of couples that make them so unhappy with their own single lives? To me it’s all a matter of perspective and here are some reasons why:
Feelings of Happiness
When couples express they are the happiest they have ever been, it is usually during those high moments of the relationship, when energies are flowing or when they are having reflective moments on all that is good or bad in their lives. I get this because I am the happiest I have ever been at various moments of my day and I usually feel I can shout to the world in these moments, and I do. For instance, when I push through a difficult workout at the gym I feel I can soar. When I am able to resolve a situation at work or finish a project successfully I step with confidence and when I do something for someone else and their face lights up, I feel great and of value on the inside. It’s not the same? Yes, actually it is, but how about we deal with that in another post.
At the height of our senses, as we absorb each other’s happiest moments, we seem to forget that being the happiest we have ever been does not mean having a life without problems or having a continuous feeling of happiness. Life just isn’t set up that way. Ask the woman, who felt her better half liked too many photos of his just a friend lady friend on social media, or the woman who had to sit on a wet toilet seat in the middle of the night.
Love and acceptance
Everyone has the need to feel loved and esteemed. As singles, one of the times we feel we lack these most, is when we hear others being referenced to with terms of endearment. These reflect feelings of warmth, fondness, acceptance and pride. The words wifey, my wife, my girlfriend, reflects feelings of pride and belonging to. Babe or baby reflects care, love and special place. Sugar dumpling and honey pie (lol, forgive me, I am out of the game) expresses fondness. To those that never hear these words, it’s not the words that matter, but the feelings and thoughts of not belonging to or not meaning as much to someone else in this regard. It is natural to feel like you are missing something extra, but if we stop to think about it, we receive terms of endearment outside of romantic relationships as well. My family and friends refer to me as Danes and dansywansy. Someone may refer to you as, best friend, big sister, my ride or die, or my friend from friend land. It isn’t that you are lacking in love and acceptance, you are just not focusing on the love that’s coming to you.
Intimacy & Sex
We all have an innate desire for intimacy. That is to feel close and to connect deeply with another heart. There is also our innate desire for sexual contact. Couples seek and express intimacy through sexual contact. Based on this, singles have been boldly asked, but how do you cope without? I always find it funny that there is so much laughter, talk and curiosity on the lack of sexual encounters of singles and how they cope and almost no talk on sexual encounters as it relates to couples. The existence of a satisfying sexual rendezvous isn’t a reality for many. It’s not like in the movies, where there are no children, no sharing of responsibilities, forced sex or no sex when there is a lack of energy, no psychological traumas, no sexual limits or dysfunctions, no differences in sexual desires and no annoying bad habits. And that’s just the short list. When I think about it that, the single reality isn’t that bad. How do we deal with it though? Quite frankly just like coupled folk. Some find sport, some find alternative measures and some go to sleep unsatisfied. Obviously it’s not the same for everyone and whether or not their packaged deal is worth it is every individual’s choice to make. But sex on its own cannot secure intimacy. It isn’t proof that you are loved and it certainly does not guarantee that you will be loved. Platonic intimacy though and satisfying social connections can be achieved outside of a coupled relationship.
One person describes their lonely single life, “I’m sitting here petting my dog, watching reruns of Sex in the City, eating dinner for one on a snack tray”. I laugh because, like why are you eating off a snack tray? Maybe that’s why you are down and not really because you are alone. On a serious note though, when I do feel lonely it’s usually an indication that I am bored and need to find something to do or it’s time to get out of my head and feelings and reach out to someone. When I do reach out, depending on who I reach out to, I realise one of three things: one, that it didn’t take much and it was better taking the initiative rather than wallowing in self-pity; two, momentary boredom or feelings of loneliness aren’t experienced by singles only; and three, I am thankful I don’t have the work load or the experiences that some people have in the name of having company.
Someone made a statement that, “I meet a lot of singles who want to find a wonderful love relationship, get married and begin to build a life with someone”. Of course anything that is described as wonderful must be desirable. However, why is the building of so many lives on pause just because they haven’t found a life partner? Take your eyes off of other couples for a moment and look around, there is so much to do, so many people to love, give and share with, so many new things to learn and experience. Why would anyone put this great opportunity on hold? By not waiting, I’ve not only learned a lot about myself but I have realized thankfully that there are family life situations and persons that I would definitely not have been suited for.
I am not expressing all this to deny the joys relationships, to trample on marital dreams or to negate the benefits of family life. For many, with the right effort the experience is great. What I’m saying is that with the right effort so is living a happy single life. We all have visions for our lives, but why be so rigid about them or compare our timing so much that we make ourselves unhappy, especially when there are no guarantees. Social connections, love sharing, support and happy memories that are essential to human survival can be achieved by all regardless of their relationship status. Therefore, what ultimately determines my ‘happily ever after’ is all up to me.
If you are single and feel bad about your relationship status, don’t be. When you feel those jolts of anxiety on coming across another happy couple, don’t worry too much about it. I for one feel jolts of anxiety with damn near everything. No need to let it take over your day or your life though. Be comfortable and at peace with your current status, without feeling like you are missing out, because you aren’t. Instead of obsessively focusing on the perceived happiness of others, focus on creating your own happiness and (if it bothers you) for every relationship goals comment or hashtag you come across, share your own single life goals!