A short rant about the pressure to be ‘perfectly happy on your own’

I’ve been single now for coming up five months.

On the one hand I am perfectly happy – work is good, I’m settling into my house, and have the kitties obviously. Who could fail to be happy with three cats of their very own to stroke every single day? I love being able to do everything on my own terms, have all the kittens on the bed without anyone raising their eyebrows at me, spend all my spare money on yellow velvet armchairs from eBay, all that jazz.

But also sometimes I feel lonely.

When I say this to people, or words to this effect, there isn’t a huge amount of sympathy.

‘You don’t need a man!’ people say. (Normally married people. Cheers guys.)

‘Embrace being single!’ (Okay…)

‘You’re perfectly fine just you!’ (Obviously.)

I do know all those things. I don’t NEED a man. I am perfectly capable of doing all the things that need to be done, I have loving friends and family, I can work a drill and I can kick back with a puzzle as well as the next person. I GET IT.

But still, sometimes I feel lonely.

Not in a way where I feel physically alone, but a little bit like something is missing. Just sometimes. Not like I’m sobbing into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s every night or anything, but from time to time it would be nice to have someone squeeze my hand and exchange a glance that’s just for me.

And this is OKAY.

It kind of pisses me off that so often we feel like admitting to this is a weakness. We are pack animals aren’t we? We are DESIGNED to pair off, to work as a team, to procreate. This is normal, and so it’s normal that when you’re not part of a couple, you might find yourself wanting to be, even if just occasionally.

There’s no shame in this.

Why is there so much pressure, especially for women, (or perhaps for men too? Correct me if you disagree), to be independent and single and happy, loving life and standing on cliff tops alone with your hands in the air, praising the universe for your solitude?

Maybe this IS you, and the idea of being in a relationship fills you with horror, and that’s okay too, but we don’t all have to feel totally 100% perfectly happy on our own all of the time do we?

I don't want to be single

Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw on Unsplash

21 Comments

  1. Frugally Challenged
    9 January, 2018 / 9:00 am

    Console yourself. I am perfectly happy on my own and yet an awful lot of people seem to want me to be paired off.

  2. Kerry
    9 January, 2018 / 11:30 am

    5 years single 41 now and really starting to feel lonely life has been hard for 10 years I’ve had to concentrate on 2 very sick children so haven’t had time to make for another – it may seem wrong to say that but I haven’t wanted to introduce a man into my chaotic life nor introduce my children to someone who’s going to walk – I’m now ready to meet someone but it’s so hard, love your blog x

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      10 January, 2018 / 3:05 pm

      That doesn’t seem wrong at all – it can be a huge decision to introduce a partner into your lives and I’ve often wondered in the past whether I’ve done that too quickly. It’s such a difficult balance as a parent because on the one hand you do have to have boundaries, but also you want your children, (if they are old enough perhaps), to see it as natural and normal for their parent to want to date. Just another aspect of parenting to feel guilty about!

  3. 9 January, 2018 / 11:37 pm

    When I was single, the only pressure to pair up with someone – anyone – was from older people. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, but people the same age as me never brought it up. There was definitely more onus on it from within me than outside.

    I get the whole wanting-to=be-part-of-a-couple thing. I craved that for most of my 20s, but the reality is that for my 20s, I wasn’t single that often. I just wasn’t with the right person. Repeatedly! It took me a while to realise that I was better off single than with the wrong person.

    I agree with you, though. It’s only human, and that doesn’t mean it’s in any way weak.

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      10 January, 2018 / 3:07 pm

      I know what you mean – I’ve often found myself in relationships thinking ‘I’m not sure I’m cut out for a relationship, maybe I’m better suited to being single’ and then it dawns on me that I’m just not with someone who makes me happy! Whoops.

  4. Darren M
    11 January, 2018 / 11:03 am

    I hated being on my own and went through my twenties just stumbling from one short lived relationship to another to avoid feeling “lonely”. In the end – around September 2001 – I stopped looking as I felt I was just dating the wrong women, for me, which in all honesty made me even unhappier than when I was single!

    Glad I did as a year after splitting up from a previous girlfriend I met my now wife and we were both fairly relaxed about it all – we just let things happen gradually rather than try to rush to feel like we were in a relationship.

    That said, I do sometimes look at my long term single male friends and envy their lifestyle, seemingly less pressure, less stress (no kids), do what they want when they want without having to compromise. Grass is always green and all that!

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      15 January, 2018 / 3:29 pm

      It IS always greener Darren – why do we do that to ourselves?? I feel like as a species we’d be so much happier if we could just learn to stop comparing ourselves to other people or longing for things to be different. But then perhaps if we never did that we’d just stagnate, and never achieve anything?

  5. 13 January, 2018 / 4:59 pm

    I personally feel like there is more pressure within our culture for women to want to be in a relationship when they’re single than there is an expectation for them to be happy on their own…

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      15 January, 2018 / 12:01 pm

      See I would have agreed with you normally, and I think generally across the media it’s definitely true, but specifically these last few months I’ve definitely felt the opposite. Perhaps it’s just pity and everyone is trying to make me feel better about myself :-)

      • 15 January, 2018 / 2:19 pm

        Fair point :) I suppose personal experiences of single life can differ greatly depending on the interactions that we have with friends and family, as well the ideals that are at play within our culture.

        I became single last year after four years of marriage, and whilst I do sometimes feel the desire to be in a relationship again (albeit a non-traditional one this time), I have historically always felt much more comfortable and content within myself when I’ve been on my own, and when there has been no romantic engagement whatsoever. But that’s just me, and perhaps I just haven’t met the right person yet.

        I suppose I won’t ever know whether being in a long-term romantic engagement of any description can provide a level of comfort and contentment for me unless I meet someone who wants the same things that I want from the interaction. I’d be over the moon to discover that this person exists. But I’m also genuinely happy to live without the love, sex and intimacy that healthy relationships can provide if it turns out that they don’t.

        • Jo Middleton
          Author
          15 January, 2018 / 3:27 pm

          I’m sure that’s not just you at all Madelaine. I feel the same and have often been in a relationship and found myself fantasising about being on my own, or feeling on edge, or like I couldn’t quite comfortably be myself. Although at the time I’ve found myself thinking silly things like ‘what is wrong with me?’ or ‘why can’t I be happy in a relationship?’ when I am on my own again, and get a sense of perspective, I can always see why I ended up feeling like that and why the relationship wasn’t right for me.

          I do still hold on to the idea that there are people who wouldn’t make me feel like that in a relationship, where I could have the right balance, and feel comfortable and content. Those are good words for what’s important to me, whether on my own or with someone else.

          But then also there are always cats :-)

          • 15 January, 2018 / 5:33 pm

            Cats are the best! I don’t have one at the moment, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to have one very soon. I definitely need one! :)

          • Jo Middleton
            Author
            16 January, 2018 / 9:56 am

            I got THREE last year and they are the best thing EVER. I knew I liked cats but I hadn’t realised I was going to turn into a proper cat lady. It’s ACE :-)

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      15 January, 2018 / 12:05 pm

      PS I can’t figure out how to leave comments on your blog but I would be VERY excited to find stamps in the street. I love writing and receiving letters and I actually wrote a letter last week to my niece and nephew in Ireland because I thought it might be nice for them to get something in the post.

  6. 14 January, 2018 / 11:04 am

    Swings and roundabouts! When we have a partner, we often feel we are overwhelmed. When we are on our own , we feel lonely! I have come to the conclusion that we as humans are just flawed! lol.

    I say, when you are lonely go out and do something you like. When you are just having fun everyone wants to be with you! Also, wear a wedding ring, that seems to pull in lots of guys! lol :) I think we want what we cannot get!

    I cannot say too much as I have been with my partner from my 20’s and that is over 2 decades! oh my God! But I can empathise -if not fully understand.

    Have a lovely day.
    Nina

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      15 January, 2018 / 12:45 pm

      I mean, I know men like a challenge, but I don’t feel like I’d be pulling in the right kind of guys by wearing a ring! You’re right though, it’s one of those ‘grass is always greener’ situations isn’t it? I know when I’ve been in relationships I’ve often found myself wishing I wasn’t.

  7. 22 January, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    I was a single mom for 5 years, and it is not easy that is for sure! I’ll start by saying that on one hand it was great that I didn’t have to battle with the other half about the fundamental upbringing and core values I wanted to instill in my child. On the other hand, it was lonely. I spent a lot of time depressed about my circumstances. You are with your little one the majority of the time and don’t have an adequate adult outlet to balance out your mommy mind at the end of the day. One day it just all clicked. You have to like yourself and be able to look in the mirror and say you are doing a good job on your own. That no matter what, even if it is you and your little on on your own for the rest of your life, you will be happy because you have the most beautiful creation life can give you at your side. Thats more when it will happen for you.. You will see life differently and people will see that in you. You will start attracting the kind of people you want to be around, in friendship and partners. The biggest lesson I learned becoming a mom was – I knew exactly what I did not want in a partner, and in a teammate. I knew better what the red flags were and what type of person I should stay away from. I knew what type of person I wanted to be with and did not waste my time or anyone else’s if it wasn’t going to be a long term investment in myself and my son. When I met my now husband of 5 years, we took our time in the relationship and didn’t rush moving in together or getting engaged. It was always the intention of us both but we forced ourselves to go slowly. We wanted to make sure that we were right for each other, and make sure that we would work together to get through anything that came our way. We were together for 3 years before we became engaged and a year before we got married.

    Decide on what type of person you want to be with, in broad general terms…someone who communicates effectively, who is compassionate, who enjoys the same things you do, and has the same sense of humor. After the euphoric love feeling fades away, its the like feelings that keep us happy and evolves our love!

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      22 January, 2018 / 2:26 pm

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful response Meredith! You raise an interesting point too that I totally failed to mention in my post – the difference between being single on your own and single as a parent. I think having children and being by yourself does cause a lot of those balance issues you talk about, and can highlight the lack of another adult in your life. It certainly isn’t as simple when you have children, because you can’t just do whatever you want, socialise with friends whenever you want. it sounds like you took your time though and found the perfect balance – it was lovely to read your story :-)

  8. Bex
    21 March, 2018 / 1:39 pm

    Oh My God YES!! Again!! I’m single and I’m pretty much ok about it, I have a nice little routine, cat sleeps on my bed, my bikini line can run wild, and I’ve just come back from an entirely selfish holiday on my own, but of course sometimes it would be nice to have someone to watch a new boxset with, get up early and go for a spontaneous breakfast with, or just to offer a cuddle if either of us have had a bad day. Being perfectly happy single doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to spend the odd Sunday watching Peaky Blinders in bed with a hot guy. I’m a girl who can do both! ;)

  9. 27 June, 2018 / 6:41 am

    I totally agree , been on my own two years (posted a blog yesterday on thoughts on being single) I don’t need to be with someone but there are times I really want to and not just the physical side , At times I just want to share my life with someone on every level , to talk each other about how our day has been , to cook for and share meals with and tonjsjr cuddle up on sofa with a bottle of wine and either watch a film or just chat about anything

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