Saturday, March 12, 2016

Single and Solid

Hope you are doing well.  It’s been a very busy couple of weeks and I’m happy to finally have some time to write a new post.  This one is about finding information and resources to help you realize that it is ok to be alone, and that it actually can be preferable to be being in a so-so relationship, and far superior to being in an unsatisfying relationship that doesn’t nourish and strengthen you.

As I’ve heard it said, and personally found to be true -- it’s better to actually be alone, than to want to be alone when in an unsatisfying relationship.  One of the hardest things for all of us is that our culture pushes being a part of a couple.  It’s actually counter-cultural to be single and living alone.  The book that I’d like to introduce for this post which brings this topic out very well is First Person Singular:  Living the Good Life Alone, by Stephen M. Johnson.  It’s a book that a good friend recommended to me when I was going through my time of wanting to be alone. 

I’ve found it to be very helpful in working through this and I found helpful exercises and resources to understanding the challenges, benefits and affirmation of the many opportunities found in living life as a single person.  The book itself is a bit dated, from 1977, but the concepts are pretty much timeless.  Although it never really caught on in popularity, likely because it addresses a controversial topic, it’s worth seeking out.  You can find used copies on Amazon for a penny.

Johnson has a lot of great passages, but the one that resonated for me was where he points out:  “The overwhelmingly dominant job description for adult life in America is threefold:  to be part of a functioning couple, to get married, and to stay married.”  
Being in a relationship can be a great benefit in many different ways, but it’s also important to know that we’ve been conditioned to a certain degree, and because of this we often stay in bad relationships far longer than we should.  Many of us have forgotten how to be single, to tolerate and actually be happy with solitude and being alone.  

This is an important place to explore and really learn how to deal with our feelings and become comfortable with ourselves, and truly “solid”, building our confidence in our ability to be happy.  These are also excellent traits to build and bring to our next relationship, thus making future possibilities more solid and satisfying as well.

Know that if you do decide that you’d like to try this, to be alone, and potentially leave your relationship, that things aren’t going to magically improve right away.  Building new friendships and renewing old ones can take time and effort.  The social support networks will need to be re-built and/or established.  Again, it will take time and effort, but fully worth all the effort if the relationship you’re in is not helping you.

An exercise:  If you could go back in time and give an earlier version of yourself some advice, what would it be?  Also, if you were on your deathbed looking back at this moment in time, and your current view on life and your relationship, what would you say to yourself about happiness?
Try to be honest with yourself.  This book has been a help to me.  It’s always important to seek out the counsel of family and friends, and also if you can, to explore with a professional counselor that you trust and are comfortable with.  This is something that could make the difference between sadness and wasted time and years, and finding a better, richer future.  Remember what we’ve discussed earlier in not settling.  Don’t be that person, be your own person, and always strive for happiness and peace and stability in yourself first.

Again, my hope is that these writings may be of some help to people who are in a serious relationship and are debating whether to get married.  My hope is that you will properly evaluate whether everything is there that you need for such a deep and important relationship.

Finally, some quotes I really like:

"If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry."  – Anton Chekhov

"The cure for loneliness is solitude."  – Marianne Moore

Take good care of yourself first.  Be well.