Why do I still berate myself for being single? My life is wonderful. I have extraordinary intimacy with dear friends, a rich and varied sex life, and work that is both challenging and satisfying. Yet, in some ways, I still buy into the belief that being coupled is better than being single.
What's wrong with being single?
First of all, I'm good at it. I've had a lot of practice and I enjoy living alone (with my dog--so I'm not actually living alone). I have a particular way of keeping house and it's great to know that when I return home, things are just the way I left them. I can be as obsessive and neat or lazy and disordered as I want, and it 'ain't nobody's business if I do.'
I have lived with partners and thrived. I like being with a man who brings out the best in me: In my last relationship I wanted to be the man I saw reflected in my boyfriend's eyes. And for the majority of my adult life, I have been some form of single: dating, sometimes being involved with a man who is not fully available, or focused on other parts of my journey.
To quote Florence Falk, author of ON MY OWN: The Art of Being a Woman Alone,
"'Single' does not mean alone, lonely or even 'only one.' It does mean being an 'individual.''"
As much as I have enjoyed being half of a couple, I enjoy being an individual. Of course the two are not mutually exclusive, but when single, why not relish it!
Like Gwyneth Paltrow, I know the power of 'conscious uncoupling': My two longest relationships have yielded two of my best friends. This, for me is one of the perks of being Gay--lovers are often transformed into friends. They are my sounding boards, my confidantes and a boundless source of wisdom and inspiration. Being lovers helped create intimacy and we have harnessed its beauty and power in another form.
Another perk of being single is sexual variety. In recent years I find my sexual relationships to often have a quality of specialization. With one friend with benefits I'm a dominant top, with another I give up all control. I have buddies to call when I'm in a particular mood: Do I want or need cuddling and kissing, or animalistic release? It's not impossible to have such variety with one partner, it's just not likely.
I'm not writing to boast of my wonderful life, but to air the upside of being a healthy single man of a certain age. I have no problem with other people choosing to be in a relationship, monogamous or open, but those of us who are single need to be speak up and be visible. The couple-ism in our culture is directly or indirectly sending a message that being single is less than. Enough already!
All of us have internalized our culture's values, our family's values and our community's values. Therefore, periodically, it makes sense to examine what we' believe' and see if it matches where we actually are in our lives. For many men and women, being singular is not only appropriate but valuable. As one friend pointed out it's a lot like being a 'childless by choice couple': The differences disturb some, the benefits are obvious to others.
I love that people are getting married all around me. I am thrilled that just three years ago, I wrote about Federally recognized Gay Marriage as something I hoped to see in my lifetime--and it's already here (with a bunch of court cases pending to make it available in all 50 states). However, every couple doesn't need to get married.
And, every man doesn't need a mate. So a toast to being fine with who you are and who you're with (or not with). It's time to explore variety of expression and form without judgment--singly, paired or whatever rocks your boat.
Today, I'm single and nothing is wrong..