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Single and smiling on Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2009

There’s nothing quite like Valentine’s Day to remind me that I’m unmarried. istock_000007992023xsmall


Not long after my divorce, people started asking me the most astounding question. “So, are you seeing anyone new?”  The implication was that one’s status a single woman was assumed to be highly undesirable, unnatural even.  Well-meaning relatives and acquaintances were quick to reassure me, “Oh, you’ll find someone really nice, you’ll see.”


Once I might have appreciated hearing this. But in years in which I’ve been on my own, I have come to a startling realization.  I’ve discovered how intensely pleasurable, rewarding, and invigorating it can be to live a life without a partner to worry about having to please.


Which leads me to wonder: why this universal assumption that I’m supposed to want to find a partner? Where is it written?


Well, all right, so it is actually written in the Old Testament. As God ponders fashioning a companion for Adam, He is said to have thought, “it is not good for man to be alone.”  Well of course Adam needed a helpmate, particularly since he had quite a lot of work to do to populate the planet. But did anyone ask Eve how she felt about it? Notice God never said anything about Eve needing a partner.


I can’t argue with the need to perpetuate the human species.  But aside from that, it can sometimes be hard to imagine why anyone would willingly give up the immensely pleasant experience of going through life according to one’s own rhythms and dictates.


What’s to love about being single? Let me count the ways. Freedom to decide where and when to travel, how to spend weekends, or what relatives to invite over, regardless of how boring or annoying someone else might find them.  Freedom to furnish the family room with Queen Anne chairs instead of a leather recliner. Complete access to the remote control.  Doing everything my way, every time.


But it’s not all about self-centered pleasures, either.  Independence offers me countless opportunities to give of my time and myself, in ways that being bound to another person does not often allow.  A friend calls me one evening; she’s had a fight with her husband, and her sons have gone out. “Come right over for dinner,” I tell her, and she does. She never would have felt comfortable intruding on the walled-off private life of a married couple.


And then there are all those hours one aches to devote to saving the planet, feeding the hungry, curing a disease, or electing a candidate – all those things that so often strain a marriage or partnership. Remember the movie Norma Rae, when the husband of Sally Field’s character complains because she’s spending so much time organizing a union? Or Erin Brokovich, whose passion to earn retribution for industrial pollution victims causes her left-at-home boyfriend to ditch her?


But it’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m supposed to be thinking about love. What about love?  Am I arguing for independence over love?


Not exactly. Love is a grand and wonderful thing. But I’ll say this. When you fall in love and become part of a couple, there’s gain, but also loss.  Love comes with a cost.


I’ll admit that there is one pitfall of staying unattached. When you do meet The Right One, the pleasures of single life can be awfully hard to give up. 


[Note: This post was adapted from “Where Is It Written?” in Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey by Jessica Bram, Health Communications, Inc., April 2009.]

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2009 9:48 am

    Well put, Jessica! Such a refreshing break from the normal Valentine’s Day treacle. I love your honesty.

  2. March 11, 2009 9:35 pm

    Thank you!

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