It takes a lot of work to psych yourself up to be alone again. Especially if you haven’t been ‘out here’, you know, in the single world, for a long time. Sometimes you fake it until you make it, actually. From personal experience, I started telling people how much I value this ‘alone time’ far, far before I ever felt truly blessed to be in the middle of it.
But at some point, something shifts, and you start enjoying your own company. You start valuing the time you have alone to make a small dinner, read a book at night, or watch trash TV without having to defend your choices. And it becomes fun. Good Lord does it become fun to do whatever you want, whenever you want!
You can do whatever, whenever. Dinner, drinks, dancing, staying in, sleeping, turning off your phone. You can do everything and nothing and suddenly it’s enough.
But at what point does that go too far? When do cross over from fun, single girl to pathetic, cat lady? It’s a thought that scares me a little, I’ll be honest. I don’t know where to draw the line. This article, sent to me by a friend, outlines one man’s perspective on the idea of the line between happy and being “too single”.
Three stages of solitude, each with it’s own milestones, are outlined in that article. Phase one, you remember what life was like before you were single and value your new life (CHECK! How often do I write articles here stating this almost word for word?). Phase two, you fall in love with yourself and become a little smug when you see other couples in public who are clearly suffering one of the unpleasantries of coupledom. Um…guilty. Way, way guilty. It’s almost like you start dating yourself. You take yourself to dinner, give yourself a bottle of wine. I gotta tell you, ladies and gentlemen, I’m pretty smitten with myself these days. But I’ve settled into the comfortable phase of the relationship with myself.
Can I tell you that I recently had an argument with myself over how I would spend my evening? Yeah. I did. I couldn’t decide between reading a book, watching a T.V. show, or taking a bubble bath. I was literally so excited at all three possibilities that I had a mental “Oh no!” moment when I realized there just weren’t enough hours in the day to spend with myself.
The third phase is probably the most concerning. I’ll directly quote the author of the article who so eloquently states the position: “Relief that I’m alone, relief that I’m no longer so hard up for someone to make me happy, relief that I can choose to be present, or be by myself.” To me, the benchmark of this phase is when you turn from being okay with being alone for awhile. Now you’re actually relieved to be alone. There is a difference between happiness and relief, and I didn’t realize it until quite recently. I’ve hit this point, friends.
More than a few times, I’ve caught myself actually saying out loud to a friend “This is exactly why I am single.” Usually they’ve just finished a story involving a partner and an argument they’ve had. Sometimes it’s a big issue, like religion or family functions. Other times, it’s something miniscule. Like, I don’t know…at what temperature the thermostat should be set. The friend will describe the situation, tell me how it all went down, and the first thing that comes to my brain is a wave of relief that sweeps me off my feet and is intoxicating. I’m not just relieved that I didn’t have this argument or situation, I’m literally overcome with relief that there is not a person in my life to create this problem.
Somehow, in this whole empowering life lesson I’ve been living, I’m afraid I’ve trained myself to view people, specifically the opposite sex, as a burden. Somehow I’ve created a situation in my mind where I pick out everything bad about relationships and counter it with everything good about single life. It’s given me some sort of Pavlovian response. The bell dings in my head and I’m relieved to be single.
There are excellent parts of being single. But as fun as it is to be alone, I don’t want to be perpetually alone for no reason. Just as I don’t want to date someone for the sake of dating someone. I want to be with the right person. I want to experience things. I want to share. I want, I want, I want.
So I’ve definitely crossed through the three phases of solitude. But have I gone too far? What is the remedy for coming back?