How you enjoy being single can say a LOT about you.
A recent study by the U.S. Census found that over 43 percent of Americans between 18-49 were single. Over half of them were women, and that number has increased by 20 percent since 1980. Amazing. And, 46 percent of households are single-person houses. So in many ways, we are becoming a nation of singles.
There are pros and cons to being single, and a bunch of experts and bloggers will tell you about the ever-changing rules of how they live their lives and how you should live yours. But ultimately, what really matters is that you're happy with yourself and the life you choose.
I was single for many years. In fact, I was single for so long that at family functions no one asked me when I was getting married. Now, that’s being single for a long time. Then one day, a few years back, I casually mentioned to my Mom that I would be getting married the following year. She was understandably startled and asked who I was marrying. I told her that I had no idea, but I knew it would happen. And, surprisingly, I met someone special, got engaged and was married the following year. I’ve been happy ever since—though that’s not to say that I didn't enjoy the single life.
There are a few ways to be single.
First, you can be completely unattached and on your own. Maybe you’re searching for someone, or maybe not. Another way to be single is by dating casually. (You still consider yourself single and not tied down, except on those special Saturday nights when you play a little cowboy and cowgirl rodeo.) Or, you’re in a relationship, but not married, so you consider yourself technically single. (Whether you decide to exercise your “single” options is another matter.)
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the three stages of being single:
1. On Your Own
A lot of guys and many women fall into this category of trolling the bars and clubs and gyms and wherever you decide to hunt. You're out so much that at home your staples are ramen noodles, a comfy couch, and a media diet of ESPN or DWTS. You’re probably interested in finding a partner, even if only casually and occasionally, but sometimes it's hard work.
I’ve been in this special place, and at times it's a blast. You're free to go wherever you choose or just sit at home in your sweats and twist open a few cold ones while watching the Knicks game. But over time, you don’t love being alone on those Saturday nights while your besties are hooked up.
This version of single works better when you're in your twenties rather than in your forties. By the time you reach 40, you may not mind staying home on a Saturday night. At this stage, you probably prefer snuggling on the couch with an attractive partner who knows how to whip up a great meal and pour a glass of wine more than being alone and stretching out like Al Bundy with one hand tucked in your waistband and the other around a can of PBR. Just sayin’. No judgments, but ultimately, people like togetherness.
2. Dating Casually
Some people can date up a storm, and they love it. Most men enjoy a variety of partners, especially for a role in the hay. Women like having a stable of different go-to guys for different activities. (Stud boy for sexual release, the intellectual to see that French flick, and maybe a gay friend for lunch.) It’s a great time in life, and it’s great to mix it UP.
Usually though, at some point, things get complicated. And you need to make decisions and do the necessary housecleaning with your group of partners. That gets sticky. I’ll risk being taken to task here, but from my experience, women still are a bit more interested than guys in dating when it leads to a relationship rather than it leading to just more dating. It's generalization but worthy of consideration. And again, no judgments. Whatever works at the time is all that matters.
3. Single, But "In A Relationship"
We’ve all been here. Because a guy hasn't put a ring on it, a woman is still technically single. She can do as she pleases and date whoever she wants. But does she? This one is tricky for the ladies. At times they remain in a relationship far too long, hoping their guy will pay attention and make a commitment. Many guys still consider the word commitment as a death sentence or form of punishment. They fear settling down—I know that I did.
A famous former athlete once said that you can go far deeper in every way with one special lady than when you are juggling multiple partners. Although I loved my variety, I now agree. Women really know how to give when they feel loved, and that’s a wonderful thing.
There are many ways to be single, and they're all be good in their own way. So can being in a committed relationship. What matters is that whatever status of “singlehood” that you’re currently in, you make it work for you.
Make yourself happy first. Then, if you choose, you can share it with someone else.
This article was originally published at On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness. Reprinted with permission from the author.