It almost seems beyond people’s comprehension that a woman could relish the single life. ‘You just haven’t met the right person,’ or, ‘You’re not ready for it yet,’ imply that partnership is the default and correct state, and being single is a state of waiting for a partner. I find it quite astounding that people have suggested these things to me, a forty-six year old single parent, someone who has never had a moment of adult life not feeling beholden or obliged to anyone. No one finds it odd when you decide you’ve had enough children (although one woman in a shop did shout to her colleagues that I was selfish for not giving my daughter a playmate). No one tells you to get more pets because you haven’t found the right one yet. No one tells you when your children are grown that you need to start again and have some more. Because it is accepted that there are times in your life for different experiences. To feel content and whole in yourself is immensely liberating. I find it tiresome that in our culture romantic relationship is considered the only worthwhile way to live in life and that it must be maintained throughout life in order to be happy. Even the phrase ‘enjoy my freedom’ is frequently interpreted as freedom to have different sexual encounters. For me it simply means freedom to live my life and invest my energy where I wish without restriction or demands from others. It’s not sexual freedom, it’s freedom in a much broader and more fundamental sense. Most of all it’s freedom from obligation. It’s emotional and mental freedom-freedom from having to micromanage my life to fit around the constant needs and expectations of others. It’s freedom to make choices just for myself-literally physical freedom to go where I want and when. Of course it’s not necessarily possible or desirable to have complete freedom-most of us have some obligations, whether to children, elderly relatives, pets or our jobs, and that brings some satisfaction and sense of purpose and belonging. Our culture, particularly through the media, portrays a fulfilling life as requiring partnership. I’m not arguing against that as a life choice, but I am saying it isn’t always necessary at every stage in a person’s adult life. People who choose to be single are not necessarily doing so because there is something wrong or deficient. We are not necessarily missing out. On the contrary we may be feeling that there is nothing missing. I feel content and whole. I don’t feel lonely. I feel loved by family and friends. Romance is beautiful but it is also highly intensive, demanding and restrictive. No matter how good the relationship, there are expectations and compromises. It’s ok to say it is not in my plans to be in a relationship, and be happy with that choice. It takes more than the ‘right person’. It takes the right time and place, the right phase in life, and in fact it takes me to be the right person. It’s ok to be happy with solitude.
©️Janey Colbourne 2018