The power of one (October, 2011)
A friend recently broke up with her long standing boyfriend. My heart went out to her, she was so upset, as she lamented, “I can’t be single! It’s a nightmare!!!” Although, I had to point out to her, actually, being single is nothing like a nightmare, honey, it’s rather fun, most of the time. So this one goes out to all the single ladies, a mediation on the power of one.
Being single. It’s that time of your life when you are 100 per cent solo. You’re the master and captain of your own little ship, sailing through often murky, rocky seas with little but the guidance of friends or family and your own painfully gained wisdom as a compass.
Over the past two years I have been mostly single. I say mostly, apart from a few short lived love affairs, misguided crushes and half hearted dates, some of which went on for a few months only to peter out into vague associations and then nothing. I find it hard to stay focused on one person these days. My friends have become way more important.
To be honest, when I first broke up with my most recent husband I expected my life to follow the same pattern it had fallen into for most of my adult life. I expected to be in another all consuming relationship before too long. You see, from the time I was 18 until 38 I had been in committed long term relationships from my first boyfriend through to my second husband with little break in-between. When I first found myself single again I must say the period of adjustment was hard. I was not used to being on my own, fending for myself, waking up alone felt completely strange to me. I felt like the proverbial fish out of water, thrashing and anxiously thrusting myself towards any body of water nearby, or anything that remotely resembled one.
And then something happened. I suddenly relaxed and started to breath.
I found I actually enjoyed being single. And, maybe I’m not alone.
It seems more people are choosing to stay single. I was having this conversation with a friend recently, about how when you are in a relationship, things can become stale, but even though when you are single, you crave the closeness and yearn for that connection… our collective experience has told us to be careful what we wish for. And the longer one remains single the more protective of our status quo we become.
My friend mused, “Maybe we are becoming more selfish?” I thought yes, or, maybe we are becoming more self aware?
I was out at a bar recently, there are people drinking, mingling. What did I see? A black man making a while girl blush. An Irish man talking to a blonde girl about smoking, a very pretty girl spending most of the night alone? Connections. We all crave them, to a point. The internet has totally and irrevocably changed the way we communicate, and the rub is not just online but offline as well. Connections and relationships are much more light hearted and more, transient then they were. Marriage, is no longer expected to last a lifetime. Friendships are becoming more important and often last much longer than romantic entanglements. We who are single spend so much time searching for that perfect person which has become like the holy grail of hearts. The more we search for perfection, the more it evades us.
I must admit to also being a culprit. Many a nice man has crossed my path but like Eddy Murphy’s character in Boomerang, I keep finding the some minor thing wrong and calling that a deal breaker. This one has a big dog, that one has funny teeth, this one is too clingy, that one is too short and the list goes on.
Instead I have found my closest connections with people who are not really suitable as long term partners. People I have gathered around me as friends none the less. A suitable outcome really, but at the end of the day and in the morning I find, I still wake up alone.
And it scares the hell out of me to realize I am coming to prefer it.
Being single, does not mean you have to spend your life alone. Lovers may come and go, but friends can really last a lifetime. If there is a man out there that can be both then that is the man for me, until then, with the help of my friends, I’ll get by.