The unexpected joy of being single
In the last edition of Manner, I wrote about the way that single women are perceived by society, in comparison to their male counterparts, and how we as females face pressure from a young age to seek a partner.
These days I'm all too aware of the gender-imbalanced coercion that we all face and am much better placed to resist it, but I'm not ashamed to say that for years I was completely compliant with society's suggestion that I had to be part of a couple.
Like many women, I had a solid pattern of bouncing from each break-up straight back into the hunt for a new mate. I would never give myself a decent amount of time to recover or reflect, always filled with the fear that time was slipping away towards some dreaded undefinable sell-by date. I stayed in relationships that had long since turned sour and made terrible decisions because I was so convinced that being alone was bad. I was so consumed with trying to be what other people wanted that I lost sight of who I really am.
About 18 months ago, something finally snapped. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted after yet another unhealthy situation that I'd let drag on for far too long, and just couldn't face doing it again. So, I didn't. I put all thoughts of romance and that illusive fairy-tale ending out of my mind and concentrated on fixing my broken self. Ladies; I'm here today to tell you that being single shouldn't be a sad stop-gap between relationships; being single when you embrace it is great!
But you don't need to take my word for it; statistics show that more women are declaring themselves single than ever before, having come to the conclusion that despite social conventions, not everyone thrives as part of a pair.
It turns out there is a whole range of benefits to being on your own that largely eluded me when I was fixated on finding 'the one' but make so much sense now. I’ve listed just a few of them here;
Boost Your Confidence
Nothing builds confidence in yourself and your own ability to manage life like being faced with making big decisions or overcoming problems on your own. Not having the fall back of a second opinion, or someone to delegate a tricky job to (or indeed someone to blame if it goes wrong) does wonders to sharpen the mind, and the feeling of accomplishment when you know you’ve made the right choice, or even just when that picture you hung stays on the wall, is like no other boost to self-esteem.
Enjoy Your Own Company
Being comfortable alone, and not allowing the fact to limit how you spend your time, is very liberating. Even when I was in a relationship, I often missed out on shows I wanted to see, restaurants I fancied eating at, or trips I’d like to take because my partner wasn’t keen. Now I’ve become accustomed by default to just going out on my own and doing whatever I want to do.
Cherish Your Own Space
Unless a couple is lucky enough to have tastes that align exactly, chances are that all cohabiters face compromises in their home space. He demands a TV that dominates 40% of the lounge, she likes the bedroom window open, even in January. Being single allows the freedom to design a home that is exactly to your own specifications. For some that might be a house full of pets. For me, it’s eye-wateringly kitsch Flamingo wallpaper.
Make Time For Others
Instead of focusing on the needs and desires of one person, the time and energy freed up by living solo can be redistributed to nurturing relationships with friends and family. Just having more opportunities to be around, to visit those who are far-flung more often, or to offer help to loved ones when it’s needed can be hugely beneficial on both sides of the coin.
Being single offers boundless spontaneity. Drinks with friends arranged an hour in advance; Why not? A last minute weekend to Rome because it’s too good a deal to miss? Sign me up. Not having to coordinate any and all plans with another person's schedule opens up a world of opportunity to drop everything and embark on an adventure.
This goes without saying really, but the quality of sleep achieved when you’re the only person in the room is wonderful. No snoring, no shifting, no hogging of blankets. Bedtime bliss.
I’m not suggesting that the couples reading this all throw in the towel and go their separate ways; of course there are equal benefits to being in a healthy and loving relationship; but if someone had told me earlier how much I could enjoy being single, how much more sure of myself I’d feel after some time alone, and that there’s nothing to be afraid of on this side of the fence, I’d have wasted far less time getting here.