Every week some new article pops up in my feed reader extolling the virtues of single living. In case you aren’t already aware, according to the authors the two chief benefits of living alone are being able to walk around your apartment naked, and being able to do exactly what you want.
To my nose, these articles reek of desperation. They’re frequently written by 30 year olds who find themselves on their own after a relationship breakup. The key message is generally along the lines of enjoying oneself in a hedonistic way while the intermission lasts, because soon enough Mr/Ms Right will be along and it’ll be dinner parties (fully clothed, one hopes) then weddings then babies. In other words, Real Life will resume again soon enough, so enjoy this break in much the same way as you’d enjoy a week in the islands during winter.
They basic premise is that single life is only ever a temporary state. Nothing articulates the overwhelming prejudice in favour of married living quite like this assumption.
I’d like to offer a corrective to the following commonly cited “benefits” of the single life.
1. You can walk around the house naked
If walking around your house naked is something that you really, really want to do, then do it. Living alone isn’t a pre-requisite. And even if you live alone, you may still have neighbours who object as vigorously as your flatmates would.
2. You can do what you want
By all means, you can have pizza for dinner every night and leave your dirty laundry on the floor. But in the end, you still have to do the laundry and take out the rubbish, because if you don’t, no one else will.
3. You don’t have to put up with other people’s annoying habits.
However, you have to put up with your own, and these will prove to be more unavoidable and even more difficult to change than other people’s.
4. You don’t have to discuss your decisions with anyone else.
You also don’t have anyone to discuss your decisions with. It’s all up to you. You are responsible, and only you. See point 2 again.
5. Your single life is temporary, a hiatus between relationships.
It may be. Or it may not be. But if you continue to treat it as such you may find you have spent a large chunk of your life living in a hiatus. At some point you may need to accept that you are not between relationships, you are in fact single. And then you have to decide if you’re going to spend your life chasing something you don’t have, or embracing what you do have.
I suspect that most of these ideas about single life are just another case of the grass being greener. My point is not that the grass is greener or less green on the single side of the fence. It’s just different grass.