Many of us enjoy doing what we want, when we want, without having to single at 50 a partner. Some of us are single by intention. We thrive on our own and with friends.
Some defaulted to it through circumstances. Goodness me, it’s not easy finding a positive representation of single people in films and literature. Thankfully, those fractured souls are nothing like my gregarious, attractive, single friends, some of whom have never had a relationship. Nor are their lives anything like the single life I’ve led for nearly a decade. Though it’s impossible to know how many unattached people there are globally, the number of single-person households is growing. Market research company Euromonitor forecasts that these will rise to 331m by 2020, up from 277m in 2011. I became single when my partner died nine years ago.
His death threw me into a well of grief so deep and dark and devoid of footholds that I thought I would never find my way out. When I did eventually surface from that oceanic sadness, I was in my mid-40s, freelance, and in a much-decreased social circle. There were no work dos, no introductions to eligible men, no way of meeting anyone new that wasn’t virtual. I did briefly window shop online but I felt as if I had fallen asleep in Liberty and woken up in a jumble sale. I am sure there were gems to be found in there somewhere, but I didn’t have the energy to rummage through the crumbled and the rumpled, the torn, worn and downright good for nothing.
I have learnt to enjoy the spontaneity that being single affords me. The Best of Single Life. People who are single at heart lead their best, most authentic lives on their own. It’s ridiculous to assume that everyone who is alone is lonely. It’s just as ridiculous to claim that single people are less connected than those who are in relationships. Studies show that the opposite is true. Once people partner up they become less connected to friends and family because they build a life around their partner.
All cultures stigmatise singletons to such an extent that there’s almost no voice for those who are fine on their own. My research shows that being single can be an immensely satisfying way of living. I’ve always been happy in my own company and I suppose now that I’m older, that self-containment may have crossed the line into being set in my ways. I know I would struggle to be with someone on any level now, and would probably find it impossible to live with someone.
I like coming home to my own quiet space and not having to talk, or to discuss what to watch or what to eat with anyone. It’s not a question of being selfish. It’s more that being responsible only for my own decisions is what makes me content. What does concern her is the future. I do worry about what will happen once I’ve retired and once my friends have moved away.
I wonder if I’ll find being single in my 60s and 70s more difficult, but I guess one way around that would be to have loads of interests. I hope I’ll still able to travel. It’s one of my passions, and luckily I’ve always had a friend to go with, because I don’t much like going abroad on my own. I think the longer one remains on one’s own, the more difficult it is to find another relationship. Having said that, I am a dreadful romantic, so if some gorgeous man were to come along and sweep my off my feet, I’d probably jump right in.